North Texas students, I was a commuter. After years of driving
every day from Justin to Denton in a car borrowed from my parents
or bumming a ride with a friend, I got the car of my dreams. It
was a brand-new 1968 Ford Mustang. It was like jumping out of the
Dark Ages of that old borrowed car into the dream world of the
hottest set of wheels on the street.
It had 289 cubic inches of Cobra kit-equipped engine under the hood.
Nothing could beat it. Little did I realize that the difference between
my parents' old car and my new wheels would be like piloting
a Piper Cub one day and taking off in an F-16 the next. The first
day was a good example.
After leaving Justin for Denton the first morning, I parked my new
Mustang in the vacant parking lot of the Welch Street Church of Christ — I
didn't want any dings on my new "baby." As soon
as I parked, I realized the
new-car smell was being overpowered by an odd metallic burning smell.
I checked around and didn't see any smoke or fire, but I knew
it was there.
Finally I spotted it — the emergency brake was engaged. I had
driven all the way from Justin to Denton with the brake on. By this
time I had to get to class. I'm not sure what the professor
was talking about that day because the only thing I was interested
in was how much a new brake job would cost. That was if I could get
home without having to use the brakes.
As soon as class was over, I headed for
the Mustang. A test drive proved my fears unfounded: The brakes worked.
Thank goodness. I wouldn't have to face that
You did what?" speech from my father.
I knew it would be clear sailing now. After all, the brakes worked,
it was a beautiful spring day and I had a brand-new, high-powered
sports car — why not go home the long way? Yes, I'd drive
to Argyle, then to Justin.
You can learn a lot by taking a long drive in a new car. One of
the things I learned was that car dealers don't always fill up the
gas tank. I learned that lesson outside of Argyle. The needle on
the gas gauge was on "E" — as in "Empty,"
not as in "Enough to get you home."
Fortunately, a sympathetic stranger pulled up and, after shaking
his head, rolling his eyes and mumbling to himself, offered to get
me some gas. I had earned a college degree in driving a new car that
day. From then on I always tried to remember to check the brakes
and the gas tank.
After graduation from North Texas I became a second-grade teacher
in Tarrant County at Watauga Elementary. My "new" Mustang
took me to teach my first day of school, and most days after that.
Time passed on. I got married, moved, had a daughter, switched to
teaching the fourth grade and became a grandmother.
Finally, last year, I decided it was time
to retire from teaching. On my last day at Watauga it was my "old"
Mustang that I loaded 33 years of memories into from a career of education
and drove home.
Over the years, my Mustang has remained a faithful member of the