STOW, New York - It was somewhere between Stow and a joint called Snug Harbor that John Rupp's red '65 Mustang went off the road and into the ditch, flipping upside down in the process, which then involved state troopers, insurance companies and all kinds of raining hell from parents.
That car could fly and in that memorable incident, apparently did, even if briefly.
It turns out that the Class of '66 had at least three Mustangs to its credit: John's which ended its useful days after hitting that ditch; a 65 maroon Mustang I owned for about year before I traded it in for a blue Volkswagen bus formerly owned by the Arrison family of Lakewood; and a third, a blue '65 owned by Cheryl Towers. Both Cheryl's and mine were owned post-graduation, but still, they were 1965 Mustangs. And Cheryl has a great story about her car which I will let her tell you herself at the reunion next year. (It did involve an Englishman, an airport and an art gallery, but that's I can say.)
Cheryl, you are going, right? July 15? Mayville?
My Mustang was picked out by my girlfriend at the time (later the first Mrs. Fitz) who hated my Triumph Spitfire with an intensity that was scary. Perhaps it was because it only ran about half the time and when it rained, there wasn't much reason to put the top up, it leaked so badly. But the Mustang had one incredible fault that I didn't understand fully at first - white upholstery. Bright white. White as in 'I dare you to keep me clean, bubba.'
And so in the first test of our relationship, I said "No Way!" But, of course, I did buy the car, after a promise, a solemn promise, practically a blood vow taken at midnight under a full moon that my girlfriend would keep that upholstery shiny as long as we had that car.
The day I sold the Mustang, I reeked of vinyl cleaner and made my own promise.
The Mustang was a great car, however, so simple that even I could work on it.
And now, every once in awhile in California, I'll see some 16-year-old sweetheart driving down the road in a beautiful, restored '65 Mustang (usually a convertible) that her dad no doubt spends weekends polishing and worry about almost as much as how fast his daughter is tooling around in the machine.
When my daughter turned 16, I bought her an old practically bulletproof Chevy Nova that she drove for years. (Being bulletproof in parts of California is very important.) That Nova was the envy of some of her friends whose dads wouldn't let them take their cars on certain types of high school expeditions - such as fording local streams or using them to go off-road.
I figured, 'Why not?' We did it all the time.
Now, here in Valois, New York, this summer I'm bombing around in my late mother-in-law's wheels, a 1992 Buick Century, which, of course is a four-door sedan and white, literally owned formerly by a little old lady schoolteacher.
Where is that Mustang when I need it?
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