• author
    • Randy Graham

      Columnist
    • September 23, 2013 in Columnists

    The titty pink Ford

    Photo: Randy Graham

     

    It wasn’t always pink. When dad bought the ’54 Ford as a second car for mom’s use, it was an off-white color with rust spots here and there. It also had bald tires and a tired old engine that needed 30-weight oil every week. Gasoline was 31.9 cents per gallon so between the cost of a quart of oil and a tank of gas I couldn’t just drive it any time I wanted.

    Besides the cost to maintain it there were other concerns. The brakes were iffy, at the best of times, and I can remember mom pumping the brake pedal before actually applying the brakes. With a death-grip on the large steering wheel, mom would whisper “please” and we put trust in God that there was enough brake fluid in the car to stop us at the bottom of the hill.

    This is the car I learned to drive when I was a 15 year old sophomore in high school. I can remember the first time I drove it. Mom drove me to the mud flats at the bottom of the Hayward Bridge. We went all the way down there so I could learn to drive without hurting anything or anyone. Mom showed me how to use the hand crank to roll down the driver-side window and to reach out to manually adjust the side mirror.

    I remember mom telling me to keep my eyes on the road and not to get distracted by anything. Just as she finished giving me this sage advice, a jackrabbit bolted in front of the car and across the road to the left. I looked at the rabbit and before I knew it, the car was going exactly where I was looking, which was off the road. Good lesson to learn my first time behind the wheel. I wasn’t allowed to drive anywhere but in the mud flats until I had mastered the ’54 Ford.

    I also remember the automatic transmission. It was a column shift, which was popular at the time, and made learning to drive easy (or at least, easier). By column shift, I mean there was a shifter rod coming out the right side of the steering wheel column. You had the choice of putting the shifter into “P”, “D”, “N” or “R”. I learned to grab a handle under the dash and pull it to set the parking brake after shifting into “P”.

    This was a good and faithful car even if it was a little worse for the wear and not necessarily safe to drive. One day Dad decided to surprise us by getting it painted. He drove it to work one morning and came back from work that night with a “loaner” car from the Geary Ford new car lot. This new model was a 1966 Ford Fairlane and it looked sporty.

    The next night dad drove home and parked the ’54 Ford at the curb in front of the house where we could see it out the front window. He came in the house all happy and proud and announced, “I called in a favor and had the Ford painted for free”.

    This was a little after 7 p.m. and it must have been sometime in winter because it was already dark outside. We rushed out to see the car. Because of the dark I couldn’t see what color it was but it looked to be white, shiny and brand new. I went to bed that night with a smile on my face. I dreamed about driving it on the weekend.

    When I woke the next morning, Mom had not yet taken off for work so I got to go out and look closely at the new paint job. To my surprise and chagrin the new paint was a fleshy pink color. Think Mary Kay Cadillac pink. At least Dad’s heart was in the right place.

    We eventually called this second car our “titty pink” Ford. I drove it for two years before going off to college at UCSB.



    • I can just picture this scenario when you woke up and saw titty pink. Great story.


      • Maya North

      • September 23, 2013 at 7:40 pm
      • Reply

      Oh geez… But what a grand old car. Just one year older than me! 🙂



    • That car served us well. Glad you both enjoyed the story. It’s all true.



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