Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Sorry for the delay, Doris, but my TR3 was stolen last night

Dodge Days

(This is Part Two of the mildly amusing saga of a boy, whose life is measured not "by coffee spoons" but by used cars.  This story won't make a lick of sense to anyone who hasn't read Part One.)

Sometime during the night, a thief, or thieves had “hot wired” my Triumph TR3 and zoomed off with it.

And there I was, practically stranded in a brand new city, with a new job, few friends and no transportation.

Triumph TR3  (1955)

Not only that, my little blue magic carpet to Rock Hudson and Doris Daydom.....wasn't even paid for yet.

Nor was there any insurance on the car.

As the days went by, hope for the police finding my TR3 became dimmer and dimmer. All I could do was to grab the first clunker I could afford.

I scraped up $150 for a 12 year old 1950 Dodge.
1950 Dodge

The best thing one of my friends at the radio station could say about it was, “It takes a lot of character to drive a car that ugly.”

I think that was a compliment.

It seemed to drive OK. It certainly SHOULD have. The salesman assured me that it had been owned by a little old lady who ...(oh, you know the rest)...... It had one of the early automatic transmissions called “Fluid Drive”or Gyromatic or something like that. It actually was pretty smooth.

River House Arlington, VA
My apartment was right across the Potomac river in Virginia so that's the jurisdiction I called every week inquiring about my stolen TR3. The State police assured me that they were “hot on the case.” The officer told me that they had issued a five state alarm out for my car, so in his opinion, it was just a matter of time until they found my car.

Meanwhile, my job was going well, and I was beginning to learn the ways of the big city a little better but I had pretty much put my social life on hold.

I found that any positive impression that I would make with a potential “date,” quickly disappeared once I arrived at her house in that homely 12 year old character chariot. So I all but dropped out of that scene for a few months.

The only thing that brought me back in was a girl I had met briefly who was visiting a friend of hers who worked at the radio station. The desire to get to know this girl was so strong, I threw all caution to the wind and asked her out.

1950 Dodge be damned!

She either didn't notice or didn't care what kind of car I was driving her around in, because she never mentioned it and that date blossomed into many.

And, you guessed it.

Unbelievable as it may seem,  it was Doris sitting next to me....... in that old Dodge!

Imagine that!

But, the story didn't end there. A few months later, I got a call at the apartment and a voice said, “Mr. Shephard what are you going to do with this little blue car that's been parked in my apartment's lot for the last 6 months ?”

A resident of a building about a mile from my house had been seeing my TR3 parked in his lot since probably the day it was stolen and finally had looked inside and retrieved an envelope with my name on it. ..and called me.

It was a sight for sore eyes! It was dirty, but apparently in good shape....except for the tires (which were almost flat) and a dead battery.

I cranked it started and drove slowly toward a filling station about 4 blocks away. It was the same station at which I had planned to get gas before I left for work the morning I discovered it had been stolen. It only had a spoonful of gas in the tank, which is probably the reason that it had been abandoned only a mile from my apartment. Thieves don't usually stop and get gas before making their getaway.  Otherwise I probably would never have seen it again.

Half way there....a red light began blinking behind me. It was the Virginia State police. I got out , smiled and told the officer that I knew what he was thinking.....he thought I was driving a stolen car, right?

“I don't know anything about that, boy," he said, "but I know you're driving on expired North Carolina license plates and that's against the law.".

“Well,” officer,” I said, “my car was stolen six months ago and...........”

“Tell it to the judge.” he replied.

With that clever bit of banter, our discussion ended and he handed me a ticket.

I suppose it could be said that theoretically the Virginia Police Department's hard work finally paid off......they had found the stolen TR3.

The fact that I was driving it probably wasn't included in their statistical report.

A few weeks later, I took a day off from work, located the courthouse where my case was to be heard, and told the judge that I hadn't  "ignored the law, but felt that the law had ignored me."..........which he didn't think was as cute as I did...........but he didn't slap me with a fine.....only court costs. (I guess to prove to me that the law really wasn't ignoring me.)

I sold the Dodge for exactly what I paid for it; $150.

The young fellow who bought it would catch one of my broadcasts from time to time and for the next four or five months called just to let me know how great that Dodge was running and thank me for selling it to him.

And Doris, I mean Linda, mentioned from time to time how much she missed having roll down windows and inside door handles........

I did too.

Damn! I had sold the wrong car!