Hey folks, let’s rewind once again and explore the splender that is Wes. I’ve said before and I will say it again. This here blogging stuff it’s good therapy.So here we go. Let me tell ya about a couple of vans that we had when I was growing up. I’m sure we had more, but I guess these ones left an impression on me ‘cause I can only remember stuff about them. One when I was young and one when I was old enough to drive … One year, the fam decided to take a road trip to Ontario. P.E.I – Ontario, It seems so far of a drive to a kid. Now I have no problem driving it. It’s like 20 hours or a little less.
We loaded up the old van … As I’ve said before, my Dad had a passion for old cars, vans, etc. Well, this was no exception. He bought it for $75 I think. Crazy! I can’t even buy a tire for my car for that much. It was a ‘79 Chev panel van. It was amazing. I remember Dad being extra-excited that it had a 350 big block engine in it and not the typical 305, and dual exhaust out to the side in front of the rear tires. Wow, That engine, what a nice rumble ( listen to me like I know anything about cars. Ha ha) It was red with black running boards on the outside, and was all pimped out with carpet and Pine wood on the inside. It even had a bunk at the back.(Can you picture it?) On some other occasions, I’m sure it would have made a great shagon wagon, but to us it was our family van (it was long gone by the time I was old enough to drive. Quel dommage.) OK, back to the loading up of the van … We loaded all our stuff and headed off to Ontario. Oh ya, there were 7 of us – my grandmother, my aunt and the five of us. The van was only a two-seater. (Two captain chairs at the front) We put an arm chair for my aunt and a lawn chair for my grandma,(Yep we’re hicks) us kids just hung out in the back in the bunk or there was also a bench under a huge speaker at the opening to the bunk that we could sit on. (And what a sound system… 8 track). This was before the seatbelt law. You only needed seatbelts for the seats that were stationary in the vehicle. That’s nuts. The folks decided to drive through the States(cheaper gas) and come out in Niagara Falls. I don’t recall too much, except it was hard to get a motel with Canadian money. Dad even tried to buy something with a $100 Canadian bill so he could get American change, but they gave him back Canadian. “Those bastards gave me Canadian money back,” he said. I also remember this trip because it was the first time I got to taste beer. (or at least the first time I can remember liking it) It was a long hot drive and Dad was thirsty, so we pulled over to get a drink. The old man bought a beer. “This is great,” he said, “You can get beer at the corner store.” I remember Mom scolding him for drinking while driving. He just said, “Relax, it’s light beer,” and it was. It was Coors Light and he saved me a sip. Ah yes, “Welcome to manhood,” I thought. Ha, I think I was 11.
We arrived at the U.S. border and the guard was asking the usually questions and looked in and saw all 7 of us and laughed. He told us to have a great time in Ontario and to have a safe trip back. (he reached his hand in and knocked on the wood trim as he said this) Wow, now you would be hauled in for interrogation or immigration, the van ripped apart and they would want to see all your papers. Times do change. Dad later traded that van for a Chevette of all things. An even trade. Who does that?
Now we come to my shagon wagon. Another one of Dad’s many “luxury” van deals. Man, even in its day I’m not sure this thing was ever luxury. It was a 1969 or ‘70 Ford van. It had over three-hundred thousand kilometres on it, maybe close to 400,000 when he bought it. I think he only paid $200 for it (big bucks). It needed paint. No problem, the folks painted it with rollers and paint brushes in the front yard – so professional. It was a camper van and had a pop up roof, like a VW van. Armstrong steering (not power) and no power breaks, and to make things worse, the steering was loose and had about a half of a turn of play, so when driving it, you looked like you were over-acting in a driving scene from an ‘80s movie. And to get it stopped, you had to almost stand on the breaks. Ah yes, good times. It was a workout driving that thing. (steering back and forth and standing on the breaks). You would be covered in sweat when you arrived at your destination. I camped in it for a summer at my girlfriend’s house. We both worked together, so it was convenient to drive in together Everyone at work would always say, “Wes … You live in a van down by the river.” I had no clue what they were talking about. Apparently, it’s a skit from SNL with Chris Farley I didn’t have cable. I lived in a van down by the river, for Pete’s sake. I was big, like Chris Farley, and stayed in a van, so my co-workers thought it was funny to poke fun at me, all day, every day. It was all good fun. I would just shrug it off and laugh. I just now viewed a clip of Chris Farley as Matt Foley (“I live in a van down by the river”) on You Tube, and yep, it’s still funny! (I love technology and the Internets. Everything is out there.) What a great summer I had with the old van. I would drive it to work when we had a split shift, just in case we wanted to take a “nap.” I also took it to a few staff parties. It’s always good to have somewhere to lay your head after a long night of drinking the wobbly pops. It wasn’t great, nor was it a good van by any means, but it served its purpose, got me from point A to point B. I’m not sure what Dad did with it. I know they still had it when I left for college. He should have taken it to the wreckers. He more than likely traded it to someone for another car that they would use until it was worn out or could be traded for something different. Trading and driving, and trading again, or buying $100 vehicles … growing up we had many good vehicles and many not-so-good ones I guess that’s the risk you take when making these kinds of deals. Thank god I didn’t inherit that gene. I like my vehicles on the newer side. What can I say? I’m high maintenance.