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Wyoming! Freezing and $1.00 Car Repairs

by Frank Stoddard, ACS

Wyoming!! I have always loved Wyoming. It is the place with wide open spaces and where the culture is not to get into other folk’s faces.

In the 60’s, some of you remember that many people were opposed to the Vietnam conflict.

Well, in late 1968 I was driving from N.C. to Marine Corps Barracks, Lake Meade, NV. I was first on my way to visit relatives in Idaho and Montana. Somewhere in the middle of Nebraska (not Montana) the heater of my 1963 Olds 88 went out.It was about 10 below zero. The Interstate was not quite complete yet, ending in Sidney, NB. I pulled into town to get help. They could not fix my car’s problem, so I drove on to Cheyenne. I had to have the windows down because the window would glaze over, I was wearing all my military clothing trying to stay warm to no available.

I was just plain cold.

I got to Cheyenne and puled into a garage. After about two hours they came out and said it was fixed. I asked them how much was the bill and the fella asked me if I was in the service. I said yes! He then said, “I was there myself son, that will be $1.00.

Frank .. YES, it is COLD COLD COLD in Wyoming!! After being exiled from Saigon I was sent to a co-ed boarding school in Scottsdale, AZ.

Christmas break of 1961 came and everyone went home for the holidays … except me … my parents were in Viet Nam so I couldn’t go home for the holidays. So I decided to take a road trip to Chicago where my girl friend (well, one of them anyway – lol – my favorite one at the time) from school lived. I headed out in my 1959 Chevy Impala convertible.

Some place in the wilds of Wyoming (I’ve forgotten exactly where) I blew the clutch … set by the side of the road in a snow storm for hours freezing my you know what off (convertibles are not the car for Wyoming winters – lol). Finally a guy in a pick up truck came by that happened to have a tow chain and towed me to the nearest town (miles away).

The repair cost most of the cash I had with me for the trip. I than found myself short on cash for gas and food, etc. to get to Chicago and back to AZ. … so ended up pawning my guitar and a rifle I kept under the front seat (for protection on the road) at some pawn shop a couple towns up the road … than blazed it on to Chicago where my own true love (of the moment) was waiting for me.

Had a great time with a FREEZING white Christmas in Chicago. I don’t know what was worse *the Windy City* or the *Wilds of Wyoming* … but, AZ sure FELT GOOD once I got back down there – LOL.

Just for fun and kicks we took a ride down Lake Shore Drive on evening of Christmas day with the top on the convertible down … lol … everyone at the Christmas day dinner kept telling me * I HAD TO SEE* the Christmas lights and decorations while visiting Chicago … so, I said “lets go — give me the grand tour” — and we loaded up the car.

Once on Lake Shore Drive … I hit the switch to lower the top on the convertible (I think my girl friend’s family in the car thought I was INSANE at that point) … Got a lot of strange looks from passersby in other cars … just imagine a bright red Impala convertible with AZ license plates cruising Lake Shore Drive in the dead of a freezing Chicago winter with the top down — LOL — 🙂 — with my girl friends’ mother and aunt sitting in the back seat in their *mink* coats (wish I had a pix of that — LOL).

I must say the Christmas decorations and lights where impressive! Chicago does it up right for the holidays!

Once Christmas break was over and it was time to head back to school in AZ., I offered to give my girl friend a ride back to school with me … BUT her mother thought it best she take the plane (I got the feeling my girl friend was relieved her mom insisted she take the plane — LOL).

While in Chicago I phoned my bank in AZ. and had them Western Union some cash to me in Chicago for the return trip to AZ. … I went back through Wyoming to retrieve my guitar and rifle from the pawn shop … after about an hour of haggling with the guy at the pawn shop, I ended up paying 3 times the amount he gave me for them, to get them back … what a blood sucker he was!

Once I got to warmer weather I put the top down on the Impala and cruised on down to Scottsdale with the radio blasting rock’n roll all the way back to school … justa soak’n up the those wonderful rays of WARM sunshine … LOL

When Spring break came around … I went where it was WARM ( South across the border to Mexico … PARTY CITY!) … learned my lesson about going North in the winter time … LOL

Bob

Bob, What a great story. I’ll bet you wish you still had that car. If I remember right, that was the Chevy that looked like it had curved wings with the big fins, kinda’ like a bird.. A very distinct, good-looking auto.

The other thing I noticed that your school was co-ed. Gosh I wish mine had been. Oh well, if mine had been co-ed, my whole life might have been different! HeHe!

I can just picture the “Saigon Elvis” shooting across America with the “rock” blaring in his red convertible. Sir, I salute you!

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