It was the Summer of 1971. I had turned 16 in May and had passed my driving test and now had my drivers license.
As mentioned earlier, I had a job at Rickey Restaurant in New Port Richey Florida. The work was not hard and the employes were friendly.
Richey resturant was a small diner that sat around 20 people. It had a small pond out back with a rather large aligator in it. Fanny, my boss, would after the diner had closed, dump scrapes out for the creature. It’s a wonder she was not eaten alive by the monster! I was a bus boy and earned a whopping 1 dollar an hour. My duties included keeping tables clean, bussing dishes to the sculley for washing, keeping the restrooms clean, and whatever my boss Miss Fanny wanted me to do.
I was allowed a meal free on my shift for work and a half hour to eat it. Richey restaurant had the best tasting hamburgers because they were ground fresh daily from top grade sirloin. That is what I usely got along with a plate of steak fries until one day as I decided to clean out the meat grinder in the kitchen….
I unscrewed the wing nut of the grinder, removed the die and blade, and pulled out the meat auger out. To my horror out came dozens of maggots too!
I never ate anything made of hamburger at the restaurant again. I would only eat things that were either boiled, fried, or roasted. But never ground.
My desire and need for a car increased. Especialy after riding to work in the rain on my motorcycle. So I began to hint to dad that I was about ready to start looking. I had saved up 650 dollars so far. Dad said to save up another $150 and that we would then start to look.
So I contuniued to work the 150 hours to make up for the deficit. Soon I did just that and one summer Saturday we got in the car and started to hit the dealers in the area.
We stopped at a number of dealers in the area. Out came the salesman with their fake smiles on and the firm handshakes. To tell you the truth I liked all the cars! Dad did not and we walked away from numerous dealers without a car. We made it as far south as Ridge Road and to the Volkswagon Dealer there. They had a nice collection of cars. I was not looking for a high performance car. I wanted one that would sip gas, be safe, and be friendly to my sparce wallet! We looked at used Honda’s. We looked at used Fords.
And then we saw a 1968 Rambler Amercan 2 door coupe. It was clean and had low milage. It had a streight 6 engine with 3 on the colume. I was in love and wanted it so bad I could taste it! The salesman wanted $800 for it. I had $800 dolars in my pocket and I would have given the whole “wad” to the saleman to have the car!
Dad tried to tamp me down and motiond me to stay quiet. He looked and looked at the car. “Tires are not in the best condition. Some dings on it too. We will give you $500 for it.” The salesman shook his head. “We can’t let this fine car go for so little.” “Okay.” said dad. “We will just have to look somewhere else.” and he motioned to me to follow him out the door. I was in a panic! Way was dad doing this? Then I found out why dad did this. The salesman said “Wait! Let me go tell my manager your offer. Don’t go away I will be right back!”
So we waited. Dad looked at me and winked. I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest! “Steady son. Let’s see what happens.” Presently the salesman came back. “My manager says he could lower the price to 700.” Not low enough said dad. Thank you for your time.” “Wait!” said the salesman. “Let me see if my boss will go any lower.” He want to his bosses office. Dad leisurely walked around looking at the new inventory. I paced like I had a wife in labor! The salesman came back and said “We can go to $650 and no lower.” Dad said “If you also pay the tax and licensing fees you have a deal!” The salesman told his boss this and we had a deal! I took a deep breath and began to relax.
So after all the paperwork was signed I was handed the keys to my first car. I was in heaven! Dad got in his car and I in mine and we made our way home north up US 19 to home.