I had this 1977 (maybe ’78, or ’62, I’m not good with that kind of stuff) Ford pickup, pretty cool, no, actually, really cool. It was a birthday present from Robin. We were in Twisp that weekend of my birthday and when I got up and moving, I was lured outside and there it was.”Who’s truck is that” “Yours”. Yay!!! I’d never had a truck before! So I went out and looked at it, it was perfect. ” Uh, what’s with the Cowgirl painted on the door?” Well, we had to go meet the owner to sign the papers, and I’d get the story from him. Tex, yup, that’s his name, and trust me, I’ll never forget him.
Tex Johnston did a famous barrel roll of the new Boeing 707 over Seafair in 1955. It shocked the aeronautics world.
I’m pretty sure my Tex was not that Tex, but my buddy Greg probably planted the seed, so for years when I told this story, my Tex was THE Tex.
We drove out up behind Mike’s house (totally another story, maybe I’ll get to that) and met Tex and his lovely wife, um, I guess she was the Cowgirl. They were definitely old enough to be doing barrel rolls in 1955,Huh Huh, anyway, as we walked in to the house, we passed their Cadillac, or Lincoln, or Buick, or whatever, (I did mention I wasn’t so good with that stuff didn’t I) it was a really big fancy car, and it had the same Cowgirl painted on the passenger door. Then we walked by their motor home, and by golly if there wasn’t a Cowgirl painted on the door of that too! We introduced ourselves and had a jolly little talk, and then Tex got down to bidness, “yup, that truck is knee deep in rubber, ( swear to god) and it has a 20-30 rear end cuz I used to pull a trailer and …” (there is absolutely no way I heard that right or would have any comprehension of what he was talking about or what it had to do with price of coffee in Columbia) Be that as it may, I was going along just fine, looking like I had a clue, signed the papers, and then, got the hands on tour. I continued to go along for the ride, Tex telling me about engine and the running gear and the U joints and…and when he finished the orientation, my only questions were, where do I put the key, and where do I put the gas, don’t laugh, I probably had the key thing figured out, but it had two gas tanks, and a switch deally you had to flick to change over the empty gas tank to the ( hopefully) not empty gas tank. They should start making cars with automatic stuff, like computers and flashing lights when something’s wrong, don’t you think? I know he told me the story about the Cowgirl thing, I don’t really remember, all that mechanical stuff kinda put me in a haze, but I’m sure it represented Mrs. Tex.
But that’s not really what this is about.
It’s about the truck. The truck was great, and I loved it( in case your wondering, Hell yes I kept the Cowgirl!) and really only ever had one problem with it. A few years after I got it, the heat was stuck on. Fine all winter, but as the weather heated up it started to get uncomfortable, but it’s not like Seattle gets all that hot, I dealt with it. No, No, I didn’t fix it, ha, actually, no, I didn’t take it to a shop and have it fixed, I just tuffed it out. The fan worked, it wasn’t as if it was blowing hot air continually (please, don’t even go there!) But even if the fan wasn’t on, it still blew hot air (stop, not funny) gently, I rolled down the windows a lot and took frequent breaks, started carrying a cooler with ice and water with me all time, that kind of stuff, preventative actions, yeah, smart, eh?
One day, probably July, or August, the grocery store I managed didn’t get a delivery of product, and that’s bad. I called the warehouse and made arrangements to go pick up as much of the needed product as I could fit in the back of my truck. That particular day was unusually warm for Seattle, mid 90’s or thereabouts, as you’ll no doubt understand in a minute or so, it could of been 110°, that is, it got hot!
My store was on the northern border of Seattle, literally, and the warehouse was in Tacoma, so, about 40 miles away, and Seattle traffic is normally passable from between about midnight and about 5 am. I left the store around noon or so, it would turn out to be a long drive.
I got out on to I-5, headed south, and, it was hot! No, seriously, it was really hot. I was dressed in my normal attire, white shirt, tie, black wool dress slacks, black socks, dress shoes (I know there’s a better name for those shoes, but it’s been some years since I’ve worn them, and I just don’t care what their called), by Northgate (3 miles), I pulled off my tie. By the ship canal bridge (driving approximately 0 miles per hour) I took off the white shirt (ever so neatly, not wanting to look disheveled upon my return to the store). Then the tshirt. That done, possibly to the convention center by now, (another mile) I unlaced my shoes and kicked them off. Now, well into downtown, I was pulling off my socks. At this point I should probably explain that the heater outlet is located directly next to the right side of your right foot. My right foot had a fever of 109° and should have been taken immediately to the emergency room, not just any emergency room, THE emergency room at Harborview trauma center. It is on fire! That not being an option for the man on a mission, I kept on truckin, like, roll on down the highway, (BTO, nineteen seventy something, Keep on truckin was earlier than that) hey, my radio didn’t work that good, so I had to use my imagination! Speaking of imagination, well, maybe it was simply incredible retention, I remembered the sawed off baseball bat that was in the part of my truck that makes it a Super Cab! I kinda tended to have a lot of stuff in my truck(continues to this day) and I was prepared for any roadside emergency (You’re probably thinking about now that I had tools and a jack, or timing lights or spare spark plugs or…Nope, I had my AAA card), anyway, there’s a lot stuff back there. Since I was now getting close to where I could see the KingDome (whatever, I’m old) and going, oh, -3 miles an hour or so, I reach back and did that kinda looking at the road thing, but I was really looking for that bat.( Yup, way worse distracted driving that today’s air quotes” “,texting, but who am I to judge, I’m two generations away from kid’s, let alone grown up people, wearing helmets when they ride a bike) Found it, and needed it for the plan to work. Just one more thing. The pants, they gotta go. It’s tougher now that they’re kinda schwetty, but I can do it. What a bad time for the traffic to start moving. Ahhhhh! That done, I put the plan into action. I take the bat and point it down toward the flames coming off my right foot, slide the foot away, and put the bat to the pedal. Double Ahhhhhh! Instant relief. Now the rest of the plan. I had to get my right foot out the window. Now I know a lot of people don’t drive around with their foot out the window, but those that do, hang their left foot out, you know, the one closest to the window. I, however, had a unique problem and a totally “out of the box solution” and I’m about to execute it, well, come hell or high water, something’s getting executed here. Since my foot was not needed anymore down at the pedal, I adjusted the seat back a ways, for me, there’s always plenty of room to adjust the seat back. Then maneuvered my right foot kinda under the steering wheel and up and out the window. I was pretty flexible, and OMG, “I’M ALIVE!
Traffic was flowing fine, my foot was cooling off, I’ve taken the exit for the warehouse, and I’m in my skivvies.My next mission is finding a place to park, between two semi trucks, to put my clothes on, so I can pick up the load. I did, alls good, back to Seattle. The rudimentary air condition system I created on the way down was in effect on the way back as well, but done while the truck wasn’t moving.
Just a couple of side notes,
1st, the groceries I picked up were supposed to be refrigerated, so much for that!
2nd, I made another trip a few weeks later, equally uncomfortable, but not as long, and I was dressed better for the heat, up to Whidbey Island to visit relatives camping there. When I had finished telling them this story, my friend Greg went over to the truck, connected the clip back on to the heater switch, in, oh, 2 seconds. Fixed, all over. Much more comfortable ride home.