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ROUNDING THIRD: Lessons learned from my first car

John David Fay
Sentinel columnist
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Posted 1/15/23

Do you remember your first car? I ask that because it brings up a lot of fond memories for a lot of folks. For me, however, it was a nightmare — but it was a great learning experience.

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ROUNDING THIRD: Lessons learned from my first car

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Do you remember your first car? I ask that because it brings up a lot of fond memories for a lot of folks. For me, however, it was a nightmare — but it was a great learning experience.

I wasn’t into mechanics like a lot of the young guys then, but I saved up some money and paid $500 for a 1959 Opel in my senior year of college (1962-63). I bought it from a “friend” of my dad’s. It turned out to be a Class A lemon, and I should have known when the door handle fell on the floor as I drove it out of his driveway. Many of the parts fell off in the succeeding year, but the real climactic point came as I returned home on Route 20 in June of 1963.

The car was packed full of four years’ worth of junk when I stopped at a restaurant for lunch at the top of Jacob’s Ladder. When I started downhill into New York, the brakes failed. The emergency brake had broken earlier, and I couldn’t afford to fix it. Down I went hell bent for election with no way to stop. The car had synchromesh, which eventually allowed me to slow down, and I cruised to a garage.

It cost me my graduation watch to pay for repairs, but I made it home. Dad was very sick then, so I just sold it back to the guy for $75. He sold it again for $300. What a life lesson. The Poem:

First Car

The goal of every teenage boy is to have his very own car.

Well, I had mine at 21, but it didn’t take me far.

I hadn’t driven the car a mile when the door handle hit the floor.

I’d like to tell you that was the end but there was a whole lot more.

Part by part, piece by piece, it fell apart at the seams.

I’d found a four-wheel nightmare instead of the car of my dreams.

You may not believe but in ’63 gas was just 19 cents per,

But the maintenance on that loser cost me cash I’d have spent on her.

She left with a guy in a Chevy — and a sleek Corvette to boot.

He laughed and took away my girl while I stood there destitute.

It taught me a valuable lesson: if you act like a loser—you are,

And you can’t tell a book by its cover or the driver’s worth by his car.

I’ve never been one for flash and dash, I’m a blue-collar guy at the core,

But this is a world of “What do you have?” and nobody knows it more.

My heart is on my sleeve, it’s true, I’m open to see you can bet,

What you’ll find with me — and my friends — what you see is what you get.

It’s a lesson that life does teach us — not the clothes or the car make the man,

And if someone tells you diff’rently — run away as fast as you can. JDF

Favorite one and two-liners:

• The car you really need to worry about is the car behind the one in front of you.

• We divorced religion from education and now we have a bunch of clever devils.

• They say mistakes are what make life interesting. If so, mine would make a hit movie.

• Laziness is just taking a rest before you get tired.

• Lately, I’m relieved if someone is giving a eulogy and I can still hear it.

• We have it all wrong. We should take comedians seriously and laugh at politicians.

Finally: Gen. Colin Powell died over a year ago, Oct. 18, 2021. At a conference in England, he was once asked by the Bishop of Canterbury if the war in Iraq was just “empire building by George Bush.” Powell replied, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked in return is enough to bury those who did not return.”

That’s all for now. See ya! JDF

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