1958 Chevy Apache pick-up truck, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.
When I was 39 years old I let Jim know that for my 40th birthday I wanted an old truck. I wanted a truck that was about my same age. Something big, bulbous, and roomy. I wanted a truck that would remind me of my grandpa, who when he wasn’t riding a horse was bouncing up the dirt road in his old pick-up, on his way to the saloon.
I learned to drive in my sister’s VW bug when I was about 13, but I honed my skill in Dad’s 1971 Chevy pick-up when I was 16. Mom and Dad went on a long trip to Lake Powell that summer, and never suspecting that I’d attempt to drive a stick shift that didn’t even use first gear (except to pull a camper up a hill), they left the key behind. My friends and I went off-road, down ditch banks and in the rolling sand dunes of Albuquerque’s west mesa, in that pick-up. We got it stuck but were able to get a tow out of the hole I’d plowed into.
And so the one thing that called to me as my 40th year approached was a good ol’ truck. Jim eventually found one, although I believe it was not until after I’d turned 41. The find was worth the wait.
It had belonged to an old farmer from around these parts named Mr. Tenorio. Everyone knew Mr. Tenorio, and everyone knew his 1958 Chevy Apache pick-up with its original forest green paint.
For a couple of years I was in old-truck heaven. Manual steering, unwieldy stick shift, doors that only closed after slamming them with all your might several times. This baby required muscle. I remember once taking my friend Anne out for a spin. We rounded a corner and her door flew open. The truck didn’t have seat belts.
Jim and I used the pick-up two seasons in a row for selling apples, chile, and other produce at the local Growers Market. Our booth was one of the most festive; someone who was making a promotional video for our little village asked if she could film us, and I know the appeal was that 1958 Chevy Apache and the red and yellow apples and green chile all laid out in produce baskets in the truck’s bed.
Last week we sold dear Mr. Tenorio’s truck. For the past three or four years it has sat unused in our driveway, its green body rusting away bit by bit each day. I might have liked to hang on to it forever, but Jim and I are letting go of all the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years that we no longer truly need or want.
We sold the Apache to a young Chicano from a town south of here. I didn’t meet him, nor did I watch the truck pull out of the driveway. I was certain this was the right thing to do—we had no plans to fix up the truck to its former glory, and Jim got the feel that this guy did—yet…. I didn’t want to know exactly, down to the last tattoo, what the new owner looked like. And I didn’t want to have to say anything to him or to the Apache.
I said my goodbyes later. I noticed the pile of dead cottonwood leaves that had accumulated since fall between the truck and the juniper bushes. The driveway had a lot more room. The house seemed empty. Funny how something outside the house could make the whole thing look slightly vacant. Mr. Tenorio was gone.
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