This story is not what you think; it is not about a person. I constantly say goodbye to plenty of them lately. Every week it seems, sometimes more than one a week. Some are younger, some are older and some are the same age as me and Linda. I have now said goodbye to an old friend and sold it to an old friend.
Sunday, I agreed to sell "Old Reliable" my original 427 FE engine to be used in a ‘63 Galaxie, "Light Weight", my old ‘person’ friend is building. That old "Low Riser" 427 engine consisted of major parts from my black ‘63 Mercury Monterey that I bought brand new when I was 22 years old. I have written about that car several times in stories and blogs. How I came to own it and the history of it.
The 63 Black Merc. 1963 2 weeks old--me 22 - Old Reliable in it's original home--the black 63 R code Merc
In 1966, when I was 25, I sold that ‘63 R code to my friend, a body man who worked at the Peterman Ford dealership in Peru, Illinois. Linda was against selling the Merc. She reasoned everyone would think I sold it because of her but that was not the reason. In ’66 I was still a mechanic at Peterman’s Ford; I needed the money to start my own repair shop. I made my move in August of 1967 to open my own shop full time in Lacon, Illinois.
I would miss some of the perks I had at Peterman's, especially when he sometimes used me as a chauffeur, picking up VIPs at O'Hare to bring back to LaSalle/Peru. Peterman offered this service for as long as I can recall. (I may have told you about this driver stuff before in this magazine). Being a driver for those VIPs was a fun job. When I was scheduled to drive, I would clean up nice, put on some fashionable glad rags and draw out one of Peterman's new 390 Galaxie four door XL’s. Those VIPs were always in a hurry, especially the politicians. They would tell me, step on it Jim, don’t worry you won’t get a ticket! I would run 100 mph at times, delivering my passenger to LaSalle/Peru and never getting stopped. What a blast!
Exact replica of Peterman's car I chauffeured Navy Mothers to Great lakes in
One time I drove the "Navy Mothers" to Great Lakes. I drove very smooth, and adhered to the speed limits with those old gals. The Navy Mothers Organization had an award for the graduating recruits and these four women were the representatives presenting it. The car used for that type of service was Peterman's cherished 1958 green Lincoln Continental. It was like brand new. Even though we had new 1966 Lincolns in stock, this ‘58 had class!! Awesome car!
Another driving job I shared with a fellow employee named Jocko. This was a local driving job. We would take a special van and wear clean, crisp Peterman Ford uniforms. Peterman provided Jocko and I and the van to pick up handicap kids to drive them to their group therapy. We would also go back later and bring them back home. We had to carry most of those kids.
Luckily for me, I had some experience dealing with the handicapped. When I was 21 working in Rockford I had a short relationship with a girl that was handicapped. I wrote a short story about her and that experience and how it changed my life. I need to get that published. Linda says it’s the best story I ever wrote.
Oops! I’m rambling again. Let’s get back to "Old Reliable."