Climbing up into the cab, dripping wet with dirt clinging to my feet, I reached for Dad’s hand as he pulled me up into his lap and I “drove” home from the swimming hole. This was my earliest memory of Dad’s 1978 Ford F150, which he purchased in September of 1978.
Having been jilted by his fiance, Dad was looking for some solace and what better than a new truck to “drive” your troubles away. Gas prices having risen to fifty cents a gallon made the purchase a cinch: a trade of a Mazda pickup and five thousand dollars settled the deal. Who says money can’t buy happiness? Five years down the road, Dad met Mom. Thirty years and five children later, it’s still Mom’s favorite dating rig.
It came with a 351M and Dad stroked it to a 400. He added a four-barrel manifold and a Holley carburetor. This made it quite the workhorse. It has pulled large loads of firewood, hay, and everything from ski boats to manure spreaders.
With all seven of us hunting, there was plenty of dragging to be done. I remember one particular elk hunt. With two elk down, three feet of snow, drifts up to five feet, and several miles from the truck, we knew it was going to be a long drag. What a relief to see Dad coming in the ’78, chains on all four, powering up the hill with snow billowing over the hood.
We’ve all left our mark on “Ol’ Blue.” Imagine my Dad’s dread when Mom asked, “Which do you want to see first, the truck or the boat?” One dark night on a winding gravel road, a young driver, a horse trailer and a long day in the saddle met with an unmarked ninety-degree turn. “Ol’ Blue” took a hit for the team. Young driver number five had some banking issues: youthful panic turned a scratch into near fatal wounds for “Ol’ Blue.”
It’s time to erase the scars.
Evenings were spent poring over the LMC Truck catalog. “Dad, should we replace the passenger side mirror with its “Y” shaped crack?” I asked. “It’s been that way since I bought it,” He replied. “You decide.” We left it that way. Every old truck should have its own signature mark. Parts were on the way: grille insert and shell, chrome, passenger side door, door panels, metal door handle cups and a seat cover. All the memories made in the ’78 had come to a crescendo in this one big dream: making it look like new. Dad and I spent all our spare time hammering, sanding and then taping. It was finally ready for some new paint. Those feet that once had dirt clinging to the bottom of them now had blue paint. I discovered it was easier to wash off the dirt.
The years of working together made Dad and me a pretty good team as we fitted the door and snapped chrome into place. I must admit, the most appreciated new part was LMC’s development of the metal door handle cups. (The original cups were plastic. Many a little finger was pinched in the cracks that had developed over the years.)
I don’t climb up on Dad’s lap to drive anymore but he goes with me when I take it for a spin. I even wear shoes now – sometimes.
Thanks, LMC Truck, for the parts that made “Ol’ Blue” new, and thanks to an awesome Dad for all the wonderful memories together.