Thursday, July 29, 2010

EL Bevy Chevy

I bought my first car in Houston, Texas in 1978. It was a 1974 Chevy Malibu full size station wagon…very sexy. My roommate and I were two Canadian nurses working in Galveston at the time and we went halves on the car, hence the name EL Bevy Chevy. The EL stood for our last names, Edwards and Landry, and the Bevy Chevy was just because we liked the sound of it. My Dad, who was visiting at the time, gave us a little help in picking it out. Actually we had pictured buying one of those VW vans so we could travel in it but we were willing to settle for the station wagon. In a pinch you could camp out in the back of it and it did look easier to drive.

We got it home and Dad was careful to make sure we had the trunk loaded with emergency gear like booster cables, cans of oil and a funnel, electrical tape, and a few basic tools. Before he and Mom left to return to Canada, he also gave us quick instructions on how to check the various fluid levels, boost the battery and change a tire. It all looked simple enough. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to have the kind of independence and freedom that owning that car gave us.

Of course it had its little quirks. A couple of months after we took ownership it started to belch blue smoke out the tailpipe. We thought we might be on fire but the mechanic said the rings were worn so that oil was leaking out. Replacing the rings would cost a fair chunk of change and we didn’t have that kind of money. Instead we opted to ignore the blue smoke and just keep adding oil every time we filled the gas tank. I confess we weren’t thinking much about the environment at the time.

At the end of the year our work visas ran out and we decided to load everything up and drive back to Canada. It would be our one big road trip. We packed all our worldly goods into the back of the car, armed ourselves with a good road map and set out heading north.

We hadn’t even driven a full day when poor old EL Bevy Chevy just seemed to run out of steam and die. We coasted to a stop at the side of the road and I got out for a look under the hood. Perhaps it would be something really obvious. In point of fact the engine was covered in frothy pink foam and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what that was all about. It looked like prayer was our best option. We weren’t there long before a Good Samaritan came along and we learned the value of the items my Dad had stocked us with. It turned out that we’d blown a hole in a hose and the pink foam was our transmission fluid. The electrical tape temporarily fixed the hole and the can of oil would do as a temporary substitute for transmission fluid. It would at least get us to the next town and a garage where we could get everything properly repaired.

You’d think that was enough excitement for one trip but two days later we came out of the motel we’d stayed in to find one of the tires completely flat. No problem this time. We pulled out the jack and the spare tire and went to work. We wouldn’t win any prizes for speed but between the two of us we managed to jack the car up, remove the flat tire and get the spare put on. We were feeling very competent as we tightened the last of the little nut thingy’s and stood back to admire our handiwork. Oh foolish pride! Imagine our humiliation when we realized neither one of us had any idea of how to lower the jack and we were going to have to ask for help after all. The gentleman who came to our assistance was having difficulty keeping a straight face as he flipped the little lever on the jack to enable him to crank it down again.

We did make it back to Canada safely and I bought out the other half of the car so EL Bevy Chevy became my own as my roommate and I went our separate ways. By then I’d become quite attached to the old girl. We had history together. In the end she played a big part in the early days of my relationship with Bev, the man I would eventually marry. He had a pickup truck and whenever my car broke down or refused to start in some parking lot, he would come to my rescue and use his truck to tow us to the nearest garage. He was my hero and EL Bevy Chevy gave him lots of opportunities to shine. I loved that car.

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