Part 7 – Paradise Lost: The Torino Meets the Dat

The ElephantThe Elephant…

and the flea

and the flea

Status: still car-less after the demise of the Pinto. I’d found a new job working as a receptionist-typist for an outpatient dialysis facility right in my own neighborhood — which meant I could walk to work. Walk to work! D. rode to his job with a fellow teacher.

But three months into my daily meetings-and-greetings-and-typing-and-griping, I received an urgent phone call at the office from the hubby.

“I have big news,” D. said.

His friend, Kevin (husband of Nancy B. — D.’s hypothetical, alternate wife choice mentioned in Part 3), had invited D. to go into business with him.

Kevin lived in East Hampton, Long Island and made hand-carved signs in his three-car garage. Business was booming, he said — not that we needed a lot of persuading. Check out the East Hampton scenery below:

Paradise found.

Paradise found.

D. finished out the semester and quit his teaching job. I gave notice right after that.

A month before the move, we succeeded in finding the un-findable, just north of East Hampton — an affordable year-round rental house in Sag Harbor. Things were going our way…)

Lovely Sag Harbor

Lovely Sag Harbor

Of course, now we needed a car — like, immediately.

So, I called the go-to guy for all things automotive: my father.

Because we were moving to an old whaling town, he obligingly came through with a leviathan: a 1971 Ford Grand Torino station wagon with a gazillion miles on it.

In addition to its colossal size, there was no radio, no heat, no a/c, and the shredded upholstered ceiling hung down like papel picado on Cinco de Mayo. But, hey, the bench seats were comfy.

To start up the Torino, D. had to jam a screwdriver into the carburator while I sat behind the wheel turning the key and pumping the pedal — every morning, noon and night.

Car botherations had been a part of my life ever since I’d learned to drive so I just did what I had to do and soaked in the beauty of my surroundings.

September and October ’80 — with brilliant blue skies and white puffy clouds, glistening harbor, crimson-streaked sunsets, and honeysuckle-scented air — were idyllic.

When November rolled around, the temperature dropped and the winds howled. Then, the bottom fell out.

The sign-carving business, as it turned out, was seasonal. Hello? I guess Kevin had neglected to mention that. Incoming revenue had disappeared as fast as the tourists.

Soon after, the Torino called it quits, too. Not even a diamond-encrusted screwdriver — or harpoon — could have gotten that sucker going. Beached in our driveway like a dead whale, there it remained, unmovable.

Courtesy of Dad, a 1971 Datsun 510 appeared on the scene, a “rescue” car that we kept parked at the top of a small hill. We needed the momentum the incline provided when we push-started it every morning.

We were broke. Not only that, we were poor. But gold was high, so I sold a couple of necklaces to pay the rent.

Irony of ironies, that humbling experience prepared me for my next job — selling jewelry in a high-end store in East Hampton. It wasn’t that bad of a gig, as long as I remembered to recite these mantras to our customers: “Treat yourself!” “You deserve it!”

Coming in Part 8 – Dat’s All, Folks!

What I Was Reading: The Dead Zone (King), Sophie’s Choice (Styron), Cruel Shoes (Martin), The Right Stuff (Wolfe), Will (Liddy), The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Fowles).

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