By ZACKERY BEDARD
Climbing into my father’s 1987 square body, old school Chevy Silverado was one of the most difficult things to do when I was 3-years-old.The truck, with its 27-inch tires, was so tall that I had to use a step stool and use all my strength to climb into the passenger seat. Once I got myself situated on the grey leather bench seat and got all buckled up, I felt as if I was towering over all the other cars on the road. The sound of the eight-cylinder block engine, which exploded when the key to the ignition turned to the point where even my mother, who was in the house, knew we were about to take a trip in the big blue truck if my father failed to tell her beforehand.
I cherished every second of those rides in that truck. Patiently waiting to take off, I would smell the exhaust from the fuel burning, which I now know is the smell of a hard-earned paycheck going into the tank that gets a measly 8 miles-per-gallon. Hitting even the smallest dip in the road would rock the truck sending me on a journey just inches off of my seat. I couldn’t resist wiping the dashboard that was covered in dust, which collected from the previous trip that I took in the big blue truck.
The last recollection I have of the blue truck was when my father was driving around our backyard, which the White Pigeon River flows through and tends to flood. On those days it was a playground for the big blue truck, as the solid ground turned to mud. He managed to get the unstoppable four-wheel drive behemoth stuck. I opened the door and lowered myself back to earth and inspected the wheels to assure that it was in fact stuck. My mother captured the moment on camera before I told her “Big Blue is tuck.
After that moment, there was no more blue truck, as it went through a drastic change in 1997 equivalent to that of Caitlyn Jenner’s in 2015. It had to undergo a slight modification of the body style. It also got a sleek black paint job to complete the change. Ever since I turned 16 it has been my favorite vehicle to drive. My father was able to take of it for over thirty years and I plan on continuing that streak.
He will always call me to check up on how “she” is doing away from home. “She” misses being home, but is doing just fine, I tell him. I will take the truck back to my hometown and park it in our garage so my father and I can go out and get our hands dirty by changing the oil and working on parts that don’t need fixing. Then I depart from my small town and take the truck back to Kalamazoo.
Instead watching the image of barns and cornfields fade away in the rearview mirror, the image is replaced with bars and college apartments, which makes driving around the city of Kalamazoo demoralizing at times. That is when I turn on my favorite artist Granger Smith and start singing lyrics like “freedom is the miles I’m rollin’ on” and “those miles and mud tires, smoking backroads like a bonfire” I am back in my hometown cruising down the dirt roads, kicking up the dust.