It takes about two months from the time I write my editorial to when it first hits the newsstand. On the way to the office this morning, June 12, 2008, the price of gasoline at the 76 station near my house was $4.59 a gallon. On my way home when I drove past the 76 at 6:40 p.m. the price had risen to $4.67. I can't put a finger on it, but I have a strong feeling that by the time this issue hits the newsstand on 8/19/08, the price of gasoline will have risen to over $5.
Five bucks. It's funny how two words strung together can trigger a memory exactly to the moment in time it happened. Right to the instant I yanked the nozzle from the premium pump, I remember the summer of '76 at the Shell station in El Monte, California, where I lived and had my '65 F-250. Like it was yesterday, I remember putting $5 worth of Super Shell in my Ford meant that I would have a half tank and could drive to San Pedro and back with gasoline to spare. Just as clear, I remember pondering that the price of gasoline had near doubled in only three years and wondered where it would stop. I doubt I had any thoughts beyond the next year, but I do remember thinking one day my '65 Ford would be considered a classic. With this in mind, the next day I took a drive to El Monte Ford, and bought all of the body and trim parts that I knew I would need in the future. It wasn't because I was smart enough to know to do this in advance-to the contrary, I had learned it the hard way a few years earlier in 1972 when I tried to buy some rubber weather stripping for my '56 Courier and it was no longer available. Not that I'm one to get off on a tangent, but bringing up the '56 Courier reminds me of when I went to the Ford dealer and the zit-faced kid at the parts counter didn't know anything more about a Courier other than it was Ford's new little truck from Japan, and that I must be some kind of crazy person.
Because I have the job as editor of Custom Classic Trucks, I get a lot of folks who ask me what my all-time favorite truck is and if I own an example. Not for any of the reasons that one might think, but, based purely on personal nostalgia, my all-time favorite truck is a '65 Ford F-series. I was 23 when I bought my '65 in 1975, and I drove it for 23 years before I sold it to a 23-year-old kid from Reno in 1998. That old "Slick" (for those unfamiliar with the term "Slick" please visit www.fordtruk.com) was a real workhorse. The truck was bought new in late '64 by a construction company based out of Newport Beach, California, and shipped north to Alaska. In the summer of '73 the truck was then shipped south of the border to Mexico. I don't know if any of you are familiar with how extremely harsh a truck's life in Mexico can be, but it might as well have been shipped to the French Foreign Legion and stationed in a country with a name no one can pronounce. By the time I took ownership of the F-250, its frame had a crook in its back so bad that the top of the bed rubbed against the back of the cab. There was no mistaking my '65 F-250, its stance made a swaybacked horse look like a Roman chariot race across Kansas.
In 2002, after driving my dad to his doctor appointment in Newport Beach, we sat stopped at a traffic light and talked about the gas prices we saw posted on each corner. Suddenly my dad stopped talking about gasoline, and said, "Look there's your old truck." At first I thought he mistook it for one that looked just like it, but sure enough there was a faded red '65 Ford with a deep sway in its back. The light to make a left-hand turn changed to green, and my old '65 drove right past us. For a very short moment in time I got to relive everything that I had done to the truck to make her mine: from the '77 F-250 disc brakes with the calipers I had painted red, to the GMC wheels and hubcaps that were takeoffs from my neighbor's new Suburban. Most of all, I remember that it was to be the last time I would ever be able to doubt anything my dad had just told me-John Gilbert