Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Model T For Sale

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I was out driving the other day—on cruise control… iPod shuffling… seat heater on.

I was doing 70 computerized, fuel-injected miles per hour when I passed a used car place out in the country that specializes in what I call, “rural exotics”.

You know—old American cars. Cars from before 1960.

Kaisers  Desotos. Hudsons. Studebakers. Cars that spent decades in dusty old barns or in the box elders and weeds behind the  outbuildings on some farm.

I’ve never met the guy who runs the place, but I’ve admired his inventory from the highway for years. He always has something unusual over there in the weeds, and this last trip he really outdid himself. He had a 19-something Model T Ford roadster.

It was rusty. The roof fabric was tattered and falling in. It probably didn’t even run, but there it was—a Model T for sale. Probably the only Model T for sale like that anywhere in America.

The scene was a late autumn roadside vignette—a Norman Rockwell painting waiting to happen. Or if you threw in a couple of pheasant roosters hunkering down in the dead November grass, maybe one of those schmaltzy shopping mall wildlife art prints.

Schmaltzy or not, it melted my careworn, technology-jaded, modern-car-driving heart. It was nice to be in a world where you could still buy a Model T from a guy at the side of the road. I don’t know how else to explain it—it was just nice.

If there were still Model T’s for sale at the side of the road, then maybe we weren’t going to hell in a hand basket. Maybe there was still a little old-fashioned, positive, “on-the-up-tick” American “can-do spirit around—the spirit that built millions of Model T’s in the first place.

Maybe there was still a simple rhythm and pace to the seasons. Maybe  things would turn out all right after all.

It was the sweetest little scene I’ve zoomed past in years. It lasted maybe 20 seconds, then it was gone. I had a meeting to get to and just thinking of it, the cares of the world returned.

They returned, but they weren’t quite as heavy. I’d seen a Model T for sale at the side of the road. A Model T, for heaven’s sake. Life was good.