Thursday, September 23, 2004

Pigs, Plugs And Automobiles

My first car was a 1967 Chevy Camaro - jet black with a vinyl roof.

My first dog, that wasn't the family pet, was a mutt named Max.

I bought that Camaro for a thousand dollars in 1975 or 76. I didn't appreciate what I had at the time. I wrecked it twice. Once I ran it into a fire plug in broad daylight in the middle of the upper middle class Dallas suburb of Farmer's Branch; the other time I ran it into a 400 pound pig in the dark of night on a farm to market road near the very rural town of Flower Mound.

Both wrecks were quite a feat. Both were completely my fault. Both involved drugs and booze.

In Farmer's Branch about the only fixed object I could have hit was a fire hydrant or a golf ball washer. In Flower Mound in the dead of night moving targets were equally limited. Yet I managed to hit them both- a fire hydrant and a female porker. Few people can boast of such accomplishments. Few people would want to I suspect.

Those stories are for another day perhaps, although I made passing mention of them in another post last February if you're really bored.

The reason I thought of my old Camaro today was because of this picture.

That's not the Camaro I owned, although mine looked a lot like it. The one in the picture is a 1968 and it was owned by a guy named Vernon Wayne Howell. His had a 427 engine...mine had a 327. I don't really know what that means but it's important to car guys.

He took a lot better care of his Camaro than I did mine. That's what his looks like today. I suspect mine may look like a six pack of Old Milwaukee or a Zippo lighter.

I did have my Camaro repaired each time I wrecked it, but eventually I let it fall apart. The vinyl roof started peeling away... I vaguely recall using duct tape to patch it because the roof actually sprang leaks. The dings and dents stood out more than the slick black paint job. It ceased resembling a sleek "cool car" and instead betrayed the reality that it had been driven hard down the rough roads of life....and had run off the roads on numerous occasions as well.

Eventually I got another car...a ghastly semi-metallic gold Ford Capri.

The Capri was a dream car compared to the Camaro. It ran and it didn't leak.

While in college, I parked the Camaro in my back yard and let in rot in neglect. After a couple of years, two guys I sort of knew begged me to let them try to save it from the destiny of becoming an overgrown flower pot. They offered cash, $300 (in payments of 75 dollars a week). I wasn't a soft touch though, so they upped their offer. They threw in a dog....Max.

I took a little better care of Max than I did the car. He was not the best dog I've ever had...he was stupid, hyper, and liked to get drunk.

We had a lot in common back then.

Max died years ago, but I'm certain he outlasted the Camaro.

Still I think now if I had taken better care of that car I might be able to sell it today for a lot of money.

Vernon Wayne Howell's Camaro is being sold this weekend at an auction up the road in Fredericksburg. They say his car might fetch $60,000.

My Camaro wouldn't be worth near that much. I don't think Vernon Wayne Howell's is either, but there's no accounting for taste.

You see Vernon Wayne Howell used to drive his Camaro to town and back home. He didn't venture very far from that course. It's not the low mileage that's the selling point though. "Town" to Vernon Wayne Howell was Waco, Texas...and "home" was a little ranch where he lived with his "family". They called that little ranch Mount Carmel. They still do.

His family called themselves Branch Davidians and they knew Vernon Wayne as David.

David Koresh.

They treated him like the Messiah, but much like Max...he's not around today.

His Camaro was wrecked too by the way. He didn't run it into a pig or a fire hydrant...a DEA agent drove a tank into it. It's been repaired and repainted but there are still a few marks where you can see that a tank bumped into it.

There's also a mark on the engine....evidently Koresh had it stamped on the engine block. It reads: "DAVID'S 427 GO GOD"

They may find someone to spend huge amounts of money to own David Koresh's Camaro this weekend.

I'll cling to my memories of fire hydrants, pigs and an occasionally drunken dog named Max.

I'd pay a lot to hold onto those.

Vernon Wayne Howell I'd rather forget.