Look Ma, It’s a Tank

Paul Richardson
Neosho Daily News

There are those “in between” times. Sometimes they are relatively short, other times they can extend into years. I was in between my sixteenth birthday when I received my drivers license and the day that I was able to obtain my first car. You can recall that period, you know, the one where your only option is to borrow the family car, or in my case if the family car was already in use, my dad’s work pickup.

Use of the family car was a blight at that time because my parents had moved into the “family man” period. In the past my dad possessed some very cool cars. Ones that I would have loved to have driven. By the time that I could drive things had degenerated to big four-door Mercury or Buick models. These were at the top of the list and it got worse from that point on. Lying on the palette beyond the work pickup were dump trucks, trucks with a-frame winch beds, real work trucks. 

The work pickup was clean, no clutter on the floorboard. All tools were stowed away in their appropriate tool boxes. The bench seat wasn’t torn or dirty. It was, however, industrial yellow with a flat bed, three-speed on the column, no radio and as obvious as a three-carat diamond in a pig’s ear. A fine work truck purchased by my dad through one of the local dealerships. I believe this one came through the hands of Bobby Patterson at Jeffers’ Ford Dealership. It wasn’t purchased new; it was a scheduled upgrade of the Empire District Electric Company. As they upgraded their fleet, dad would upgrade his work equipment with their trade-in’s which came ready-made, the correct color and without a bed. Exactly as he wanted since he had his own flat-bed ready to transfer from the pickup he was retiring.

The reason this comes to mind is because I was driving down D Highway the other day and recalled a night during this “in between” time when I was taking my friend and schoolmate, James Francis O’Leary Ross, home after a night on the town. We were racing down D Highway, probably not all that fast but faster than my dad would have approved of. He may have driven faster, but it was his pickup and I was his sixteen-year-old son.

James and I had been in Neosho at the bowling alley, not Edgewood Bowl but the one downtown, Flower Box Lanes. We had met a couple other schoolmates there, Bill Lemaster and Terry Shepherd. Terry had just obtained his first car, so they arrived together. During the course of the evening, Terry and Bill made a couple of new friends of the female persuasion. On our way to James’ home, he began to assess our inability to make any headway with any of the girls in the bowling alley. He was certain it all rested on the vehicle.

James and I were both introverted, reclusive, nerdy, types, but I am certain that he was right. It had to be that industrial yellow pickup!

-Paul Richardson is the proprietor of In Sane Marketing Solutions. He writes a weekly column for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser, The Horse I Rode In On.