It was a cold, and very lonely day in January 1971. I was at the one house, other than my own house, which always filled this 13-year-old boy with joy and happiness. However, this day would be different.
I was at my Grandparents house in a small town, in Northern Louisiana. I was there this time because of another death in my family. My Grandfather, my namesake, had passed away on my 13 th birthday. I was cold, scared, and now all of a sudden, very alone. It was only 4 years before this day, I had experienced the same feelings. In 1967 my Father had passed away as well. It seemed like I was just over that shock, when now, my Grandfather had just passed away.
Oddly enough, my Grandfather was very instrumental in the healing process, of the loss of my Dad. Papaw was a Baptist Preacher, who always had the right words, the right hugs, and the right sayings to help this young boy cope with the loss of my Dad. I never thought, I would lose my Grandfather, my namesake, also. After all, my Grandfather bragged and called me his “shadow”.
On that cold day in January, I sat outside, on the back steps of my Grandparents house just staring forever, into space, and really looking at nothing at all. It was if, all my lifeblood was gone. After all, the two most important men in my life were now missing from my life, forever. My two mentors, my Dad, and Papaw. Just gone.
I wanted to cry, I wanted to talk to someone, but most importantly, I just wanted to reflect on them. I wanted to feel them one more time. I wanted to hear them laugh, talk, or if possible get a hug from them. However, deep down inside, I knew this would never happen.
I began to remember some of the words and sayings my Papaw told me nearly 4 years ago, prior to this. That was some comfort, but sadly, those words were just not enough.
As I sat there alone and cold, looking out over the back yard, I heard a noise like I had never heard before. It was very loud, and it got louder. It sounded as if a jet plane was about to crash land into my Grandparents house. Loud enough to make this 13-year-old boy forget for a moment about his lonely world
I rose up off the cold brick steps and peeked around the corner of my Grandparents house, to see what was making that kind of a noise. In lack of better words, what I saw that on that cold day could have been a space ship.
There was the most BEAUTIFUL CAR, I had ever seen in all my life — parked right there behind my Grandmothers, blue Pontiac Bonneville**.
This car was so beautiful, I had to investigate. As I got closer, I could see a Chevrolet Corvette*** parked in the driveway. I could see it clearer, as the tears in my eyes began to dry up, and go away.
The paint was silver, with a leather turquoise color interior. There was a black Convertible top, and a 4 – speed on the floor. Of course the music was blaring through the in dash 8-track stereo system. The year was close to a 1969 to a 1971 model.
The driver of this Corvette was a family friend. I knew him immediately. Jerry smiled, as I walked around his car, looking in amazement of this beautiful vehicle. Then Jerry said those words, I so wanted him to say. “Hey kid, wanna go for a ride? Maybe, go get some ice cream?” Oh Yea!… but first I had to ask Grandmother for her permission.
As I was running to the side door of her house, Mamaw surprised me, and met me at the door. I was talking so fast I do not know how she understood a word I was saying, but she did.
She agreed to let me go for a ride, and I saw her look at Jerry and “wink” at him. At the time, I thought nothing of this, she was a sweet lady, and that was just her way. Later, I learned she set this whole meeting up for me.
The Corvette had door handles, which you had to place four fingers on top of the handle, and then press down. Never had I seen this before. How cool was this I thought to myself?
Then the moment of truth. The door to this Vette, my ticket away from sadness, opened. I slowly slid down into the turquoise leather seat, and Jerry pointed out where the seat belt was located. Although not mandatory at the time, Jerry just grinned, and suggested, I should — “Buckle up”. Which turned out to be a wise choice.
I buckled up and Jerry fired up the engine. I do not know the engine size; I can only imagine it was a big block. Whatever it was, it was loud! I was looking at the gauges, when he started the engine. All the gauges sprung to attention, all of them, shaking as the RPM’s of the engine revved up. Jerry turned off the stereo, and I could hear that big block engine singing. That’s all the music this 13 year old boy needed.
Jerry asked if I wanted the top up or down? Well, cold or not, this is a convertible. I was so excited; I was shaking, as I said down please. Jerry placed the top down, and we began to slowly back up.
I can remember those huge front fenders, as if they were slicing their way down the driveway. There was a major highway in front of my Grandmother’s house, and we slowly approached the stop sign at the intersection of the highway. “You better hold on” said Jerry, and something about “I’ll try to catch third”.
Then in a flash we literally blasted off. He spun the tires in first, he spun the tires in second, and he “caught” the tires in third, and probably 4 th as well. All I remember we went from stop to “OH MY GOD” in just a blink of an eye.
From this highway we entered the Interstate, and that is where it really got fun. That Corvette was screaming down the Interstate and Jerry was so cool looking, going through all the gears.
We approached the exit where the ice cream store would have been located. Jerry yelled and asked if I wanted to stop or keep going? As if he had to ask. Go Go Go. Is all I could utter. We turned around probably five miles down the road.
I was so excited watching the gauges, bouncing around, hearing the engine screaming, and the wind in our faces. This was the best medicine ever, for a broken hearted young boy. We finally pulled up to the store for ice cream.
This was a college town, with a lot of college girls. I remember several girls giggling and flirting as we pulled this beautiful car to the curb. Of course I could only wish they were looking, and flirting at me, oh well I was just 13.
Jerry took me home after our ride. I was a different person when I returned home. My self-esteem and self worth were so high. I felt so good about life and myself. I had so many stories to tell my family and friends about my ride.
Jerry was truly a family friend, and now my Knight in a shinning Corvette. Jerry did not have to take time out of his day, to do this. Jerry was in college, and very busy studying, I am sure.
However, Jerry heard of a 13-year-old boy, hurting, cold, and alone. I never told Jerry how good he made me feel that day, but I believe he knew. I never told my Grandmother thank you for setting all this up either, but somehow I think she knew also.
Many years have passed since that day. My life and Corvettes both have changed dramatically. I would just offer this letter to anyone with a Corvette, who knows of a young child hurting, or is alone. I would encourage that person to take the time out of their busy schedule, and take someone hurting, or in pain, out for something
as simple as ice cream.
Jerry’s Corvette was magical to me on that day. I will always be thankful for the Healing Powers of his Corvette, and the time he took out his day, to put a smile back on this 13 year old boys face.
* Corvette is a registered trademark of the General Motors Division
** Pontiac Bonneville is a registed trademark of the General Motors Division
*** Chevrolet Corvette is a registered trademark of the General Motors Division