“Come on and be a sport.” Lidge encouraged, “It’s not gonna hurt ya just to take a look at it!” Well here’s another fine mess he’s gotten me into! Before I could get to Mariah for a little additional backbone, Lidge had me in the Torpedo headed toward town! Lidge and the dealer were clearly in cahoots, and once on the lot, they joined forces and began working me over something fierce! The commodity with which Lidge and his enthusiastic accomplice were bound and determined to saddle me, sat spit-shined and serviced in the middle of the showroom floor. Up until now, I’d shunned the automobile age and clung tenaciously to my mules, but today’s sales pitch comes at an opportune time. The majority of my mules are long of tooth, and begging to be put out to pasture! Truth be told, I have to fight back drool every time my buddy fires up his sporty Ford.
As luck would have it, the featured carriage today is a brand new 1913 Ford Touring car. Unbeknownst to this salesman and my buddy, is the fact that I’d already fallen in love with this very model when it was featured in a newspaper article the previous month. Henry Ford himself had recently presented this particular model to his good friend, Naturalist and poet, John Burroughs. Mr. Burroughs and I being of a similar vintage, and sharing a common interest in the environment, I’d already entertained visions of reclining proudly behind the wheel of this very machine.
The salesman encouraged me to climb aboard and take the long, lean jitney for a spin, and Mr. Kinney was all prepared to add his own encouragement, but it wasn’t necessary. I didn’t need to be asked twice! Quickly climbing into the driver seat, I donned my goggles as Lidge climbed up alongside. Being unfamiliar with the mechanics of the three peddled craft, I gingerly took the wheel and turned to Mr. Kinney for assistance. “Ok,” Lidge instructed, “The spark is the lever on the left of the steering column. Retard the spark by pushing it clear up, and give her a little gas by pulling the lever on the right, down about four notches. The floor pedal on the left is the two speed clutch, the one on the right is the brake, and the one in the middle is reverse.” With that the salesman gave the crank a couple of good swift spins, and the little machine sputtered briefly and then purred like a kitten. That’s all it took and I was head over heels in love!
It took a little doing to get the hang of that two speed clutch, and my first few attempts at finding reverse resulted in a couple o’ nose imprints on the windshield, but soon we were cruising through town, grinning widely, and waving at the admiring crowd as though we were royalty!
Met eagerly by the salesman as we arrived back at the dealership, I donned my best poker face, feigned nonchalance, and casually enquired, “How much?” “I’ll tell ya what I’m gonna do old-timer.” the salesman responded patronizingly, “since you’ve come in here with one of my best customers, I’m gonna make ya a deal! Anyone else would give six hundred and fifty bucks for this little jewel, and go away happy, and I’m gonna price ‘er to you at six twenty-five! “Would ya take five fifty?” I fired back with a doubtful grimace, and the salesman felt the nibble and set the hook! “Five seventy-five” he offered with a confident grin, “Plus tax and license, and ya can drive ‘er home today!” “Done!” I quickly responded, shaking his hand and pulling out my checkbook. I thought Lidge was going to drop his teeth! He quickly pulled me to one side and whispered excitedly in my ear, “Are you sure you don’t want to discuss this with Mariah, before ya write a check?” “Nope!” I responded confidently, “Around my house, the gentleman wears the pants!”
Well, I have to say, ol’ Lidge was mightily impressed! ‘Course he doesn’t realize I’ve been saving for this for years, and I’ve already secured the approval of Mrs. Camp. “Obie’s Quest”