We had an old, used and very beat up Pinto when I was growing up. It was the second family car. It was the beater that Daddy-O took back and forth to work each day, while Mother drove the good old paneled station wagon, the reliable family car.
The Pinto was the colour of rust. Or maybe it was so rusty, that was its color? The Pinto also had a few other problems than its exterior. There was a large and rusted out hole on the floor of the front passenger side, so dad had laid a piece of wood on the floor and covered it with a floor mat since it was rather disconcerting to look down at one’s feet and watch the street whizzing by. And if he drove through a puddle, a good dousing would surely follow. The driver’s side door was also a problem. It wouldn’t stay closed. So Daddy-O used a bungee cord and once he was settled into the driver’s seat he tied the door closed across his waist to the emergency break in the center console. Otherwise, the Pinto was a perfectly reliable sort of transportation and got him to work and back, and a trip to the market for the occasional quart of milk.
The Pinto was a life saver once, rather than the life taker it sounds like it could be. It was Christmas day and we were hosting Christmas dinner for the family. My aunt, uncle and cousins were all here visiting from Texas and they were staying with my Grandmother F. They were all coming to the house, from a neighboring little town. BUT, it was cold. Lung shattering cold. Freezing cold. Nothing was running cold. Freeze the pipes in the house cold.Hurt to breath cold.
My mother was cooking up a storm and my brother and I were alternately playing with our new Christmas toys and helping Mother with setting the table and just trying to be out from under foot. Then my Uncle called. In an effort to try and make sure the cars would start, he lifted the garage door and pulled his car in half way. Well, the weather was so cold, neither his car nor my grandmother's would start and since they were hood to hood, they couldn’t even get an angle to jump start them. Uh-oh.
My mother said the F-word on Christmas day.
So, being the good eggs we all were, Daddy-O said it was no problem and said we would come to them if the stations wagon could start. It didn’t. Mother was fit to be tied with all this food and gifts and it was Christmas- the relation had come all the way from Texas for this event and no one could get to each other.
On a lark dad tried the Pinto, just to see if it would start, never thinking the rust bucket with the bungee door and hole-y floor board would even come close to remotely turning over… but it did. On the first try.
So my family of four piled into the car. My brother and I were crammed into the back seat, with all manner of food stuffs packed in around us. The hatchback was loaded with presents. Mother, who was still furious, sat shotgun, covered in a blanket in addition to her winter woolens- you know, because of the hole in the floor? And off we went in the rattletrap, to celebrate Christmas.
Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go… in one scary Pinto!