Mustang Katy by
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(6 Stories)

Prompted By My First Car

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Boy, Mustang, beautiful girl. Life is good.

I inherited my brother’s purely functional Chevy II when he went off to college.  (A family friend tested cars for Consumers Reports and he was able to buy his test cars very cheaply and so passed on to us at cost a Chevy II he had just tested.)  But in the spring of 1966 (my junior year in high school), my father rewarded me for being a pretty good kid by saying that I could trade in the Chevy II for a Mustang.  As I recall, Mustangs listed for about $2,100 then and convertibles for $2,400, though I knew that the guy who owned the dealership was a patient of my father’s and that there was probably some sort of a deal involved (that’s why they call it a “dealership,” right?).  Having thoroughly research the topic — i.e., read the brochure inside and out — I chose a metallic blue convertible with the optional 289 engine; after all, why not have a teenage boy drive a truly overpowered car? I do not have a picture of my car, but the attached picture is exactly what it looked like.

I used to drive some of my pals from my neighborhood to and/or from school most days.  My favorite passenger was Katy, whom I had known for years.  In fact, she was my first “girlfriend,” but then had the audacity at age 6 to abandon me for first grade, since she was a year older than I was.  Nonetheless, we remained good pals.  It also helped that she was beautiful and incredibly cool, even if too old for me.  I even remember that her senior year she was doing research for a paper about this hallucinogenic drug that the US Army had experimented with in the 50’s.  It was called LSD.  And she looked so sexy and sophisticated smoking, I even let her light up in the car, much as I hated the smoke.

When I mentioned that spring morning that I was going off to the Ford dealership right after school to pick up my new Mustang, Katy asked if she could join me.  Thank you, God.  So we went to the dealership and I did the paperwork to trade in the Chevy II, get the Mustang and have them transfer the plates.  As soon as Katy and I got into it, we put the top down — though it was still pretty chilly — and, of course, found the local Top 40 radio station.  We joked that the first song we would hear had to be “Mustang Sally,” which Wilson Pickett had just released.  No such luck, but it was the Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B,” which was almost better.  So off I drove, with the top down, pedal to the metal, radio blaring, and beautiful Katy next to me, smoking (in several senses of the word).  That was, of course, decades before cell phone cameras, but, if there had ever been a perfect moment for me to take a selfie, that was it.

Profile photo of John Shutkin jshutkin


Characterizations: been there, well written

Comments

  1. Profile photo of John Zussman John Zussman says:

    You paint an iconic portrait—teenage boy, girl, and sports car. I love your small asides, too, about dealerships, teenage drivers, Katy’s audacity, and musical accompaniments. Great story.

  2. Profile photo of Scribblerjim Scribblerjim says:

    Mr. Shutkin, my name is Jim Willis, and I am writing an anecdote-based book on the 1960s for ABC-CLIO Publisher. I enjoyed reading your story about your Mustang and wondered if I could include it in my book. I’d be happy to send you a copy when published later this summer. I can be reached at jmwillis515@gmail.com.

  3. Profile photo of Suzy Suzy says:

    Great story, John. Your wry sense of humor is evident in such phrases as “my father rewarded me for being a pretty good kid” and “why not have a teenage boy drive a truly overpowered car.” And the best line of all: “beautiful Katy next to me, smoking (in several senses of the word).” Still, I don’t see how this Mustang could hold a candle to your Karmann Ghia.

    • Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin says:

      Thanks much, Suzy. And Mustang Katy barely survived one wicked cold Boston winter; thus came Karmann. Perhaps Karmann will reveal his stories in a later post — but where to begin? Transporting a ping pong table with a few college pals? My favorite law school study hall thanks to NY’s alternate side parking rules?

  4. Profile photo of Kit Kit says:

    Wonderful story, John. I never knew there was a pre-Karmann car. My memories of the Karmann Ghia (and thank you, Suzy, for spelling it) are of driving to D,C, for a march with too many people crammed inside. Or am I making that up?

    • Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin says:

      Thanks so much, Kit. My recollection of the March on DC was that I swapped cars with my mother the weekend before to make the drive a bit roomier (she had an Impala convertible), but that could be my memory playing tricks on me. And, in any event, we certainly had plenty of other fun long rides in dear old Karmann with too many of us crammed in — probably to and from New Haven, etc.

      • Profile photo of Suzy Suzy says:

        My memory is the same as Kit’s, driving to D.C. in Karmann. I have no recollection of an Impala, that sounds way too luxurious! And we stayed at my sister’s house. But who was in the group that went? That might tell us whether we could plausibly have fit in Karmann or not.

        • Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin says:

          Suzy — I defer to your and Kit’s memories; that’s a 2/3 majority. Plus, I can’t imagine my mother agreeing to tool around in Karmann for a couple of weeks (despite her anti-war feelings). And I definitely remember staying at your sister’s, but can’t remember the whole crowd who was there. I also remember those candles that we carried on the march from Arlington Cemetery Friday night, and how hard it was to keep them from blowing out and/or burning up the Dixie Cups they were in. So much for deep political thoughts…..

  5. Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau says:

    Love the story and your writing style, John. Particularly, “smoking” Katy, in every sense of the word! I, also, hate smoking. I’m not sure I would have been so permissive, but young love does strange things. With the top down, hot girl and great tunes on the radio, you paint a great picture of youth.

    • Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin says:

      Thanks so much, Betsy. Of course, smoking was a whole lot more acceptable then — even for non-hot girls — that objecting to it would have probably been considered rude. No such things as non-smoking areas then, and I don’t recall that there were even non-smoking rows in airplanes (not that that ever made much of a difference).

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