Back in the early 70’s, when gas cost $0.36/gallon and my usual request to the gas attendant was “two dollars, please”, two bucks didn’t go far if you drove big, clunky, gas guzzlers. Young and broke, I drove used, ready-for-the-junkyard cars.

First, there was the ’64 Chevy Malibu with holes in the floorboards; when it rained you had to lift your feet and your pocketbook and anything else that was lying there. Fred Flinstone’s feet could have driven the Malibu faster.

Then, my favorite: the gigantic, ’66 Pontiac LeMans convertible, buttery yellow, with an extra-long bench seat in front, seating five comfortably, if one of the gals was super skinny. It was a party in a car every day. Thinking back, Pontiac should have paid me money for that tag line!

SPOILER ALERT: One day as I was manually lifting the convertible top to snap it back into place (it wasn’t automatic), I tugged it upwards, and my head went right through the canvas-type material. Luckily, my mother sewed it up with needle and thread provided by my boyfriend’s mother who worked in a hospital’s operating room. Can you imagine the size of that needle? Ouch!

Oh, there were plenty more jalopies and lemons: an old Volkswagen Beetle (purchased for $50 bucks, no lie!) which my brother drove into a ditch and left there! A two-seater Fiat convertible which my best friend borrowed for an hour and, which puttered out of gas smack in the middle of the Long Island Expressway, which caused greater commotion. If you know anything about the Long Island Expressway, you’ll know how bad it was. Vulgarity in thirty-five languages.

I drove lemons with bald tires and windows that wouldn’t open or close; a white Chevy Impala whose windshield wiper blades remained stuck in the “ON” position; a Buick with 92,000 miles on its wheels which I drove from NY to Wisconsin and back, without a second thought. There were cars that regularly overheated, or lost tail pipes; cars without speedometers that worked, radio antennae bent in half or missing completely.

If I were to count all the money I spent on buying and repairing those clunkers, I could have bought a Mercedes Benz.

But heck, it wouldn’t have been half the fun!

Until next time. Where a martini and a good book meet.

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Donna Lattanzio, Author