The Driver of that
Baby Blue Pickup is Mine!
In Littlefield, Texas, in November of 1978, dragging Main Street was a cool thing to do. If you never got to drag Main, it involves lots of fuel, lots of honking and lots of laughter. On any given Friday or Saturday night, you’d pile some friends into the car you borrowed from your parents and head to the center of town.
Main Street in Littlefield was really Phelps Avenue, a two-way street that ran from the County Courthouse to the block before the train depot. We would drive south to the courthouse, make a right-hand turn and wind through a parking lot, then head back north. At the intersection before the train depot, we’d make a right turn and go to Nelson’s Hardware, turn around and do it all over again…and again, and again, and again…until curfew. Every teenager in town was doing the same thing, so there was bumper-to-bumper traffic. If the weather was warm, the windows were down and the music was blaring. If the weather was cold, the heater was on high, the windows were down, and the music was blaring. It’s difficult to convey just how fun this was!
The Drag was four blocks long, interrupted by four traffic signals. One block to the east of The Drag was a one-way street going south. One block to the west of The Drag was a one-way street going north. If we saw someone we wanted to see again, we just turned at the next intersection and went down the one-way to situate ourselves back on The Drag to pass that person again. That’s where my story begins.
On a Saturday night in late November, I was lucky that Kim (a sixteen-year-old licensed driver) was willing to take my best friend, Holly, and me to The Drag with her. We hadn’t been there long when we passed a pickup with three cute guys in it. Immediately, I said, “The driver of that baby blue pickup is mine.”
I asked Kim to go back around so we could see them again. She made the block via the one-way street, and we were, once again, passing by that pickup full of cute guys. We did that a couple more times and finally got the courage to ask them to pull off The Drag and meet us at the Car Wash, a place to stop and chat.
Introductions were made, and I found out that the cute driver was named Steve. I made sure he had my phone number before we parted company that night. I hoped that he would soon give me a call. Indeed, Steve called me the next week and asked if I’d like to go “get a coke” the next Friday night. Yippee!
I’m not proud of this next part of the story, but you might as well hear it from me. I was fourteen. He was nineteen. I lied to him and told him I was seventeen. Maybe you’ve heard Sir Walter Scott’s quote, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Yeah, well, I’m afraid I chose to keep spinning that web because my parents would have never let me date a guy that old, so I told them he was seventeen. Judge me as you will. I know it was wrong, but he was so cute! It was a couple of months before I told him that I was only fourteen. He says that by then it was too late, he was in love. It was over a year before I confessed to my parents and by then, they had gotten used to him being around, but they were not amused, in the least, with my lies.
My parents were freshly divorced at this time. Had they been together and presented a united front, I’m all but certain that Steve and I would not have dated at that or any other time. I’m not saying the end justifies the means, I’m just telling you what happened.
Steve lived in Levelland, a small town about twenty-five miles away, which was a long distance telephone call to Littlefield back in 1978. For the whippersnappers reading this, before unlimited local and long distance cell phone calls, we had corded phones in our homes (that were attached to the wall), and it cost a fortune to talk to someone who lived in another town. His long-distance phone bill ran about $400 a month. Yes, $400! That’s true love, wouldn’t you say?
My house was about forty-five minutes from Steve’s house. He came to see me most Friday and Saturday nights and some Sunday afternoons. I lived fifteen minutes from our small town of Littlefield and about forty-five minutes from the big city of Lubbock. There is no telling how many miles we rode together in the two years that we dated. We made countless trips up and down The Drag in Littlefield with the Eagles, Boston or ELO blasting from the 8-track tape deck. We’d go eat chili cheese hot dogs (which we called Der dogs) and fries at Der Wienerschnitzel, then catch a movie in Lubbock or we’d go to Levelland and make The Drag there. Between the phone bills and gas for his (baby blue) pickup, he invested quite a lot in our relationship.
We often talked about our future together and about being married. Steve was a farmer, so on one of our Sunday afternoon dates in late July, I was helping him move irrigation pipe on his farm, because that’s what you do on dates with a farmer. I asked, “What if we don’t wait to get married?” He just stared at me, then asked, “Really?”
There was no formal proposal on bended knee; there were no roses or other elaborately planned events, but we sealed the deal – the driver of that baby blue pickup was mine and he’s still mine all these years later!