White Lightnin’

Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Linda and I did something yesterday we haven’t done in a long, long time.  (Oh, please, clean it up!)
We went for an afternoon ride in the car. Not just any car..but our old white Lincoln..the same one I used to haul leaves in a couple weeks ago.   
I’m sure this will sound strange to a lot of you but we tend to keep our cars so long that they become like pets;  members of the family with their own unique personalities. We even give them names. Linda and I used to have identical 1984 Lincolns that we called Abe and Mary Todd.  Our 1994 Camaro is “Flash” and the leaf hauler is “White Lightnin.”  
But we’re not the only ones; our daughter in Arizona has a banana yellow Mazda called “Chiquita Cheetah” and our son in California dubbed his Mini Cooper, “Mouse.”   Christy’s chiquita cheeta and James’ mini mousssMy quirky cousin has names for his cars too. He calls his Sonata “Frank.”
Anyway,   after 18 years, “White Lightnin” seemed to be saying she’d gone long enough and started developing all kinds of problems: rust, of course, the radio quit, then the headliner started falling so Linda glued it back up.
Driving to work one day, as I was crossing the viaduct downtown, the throttle stuck wide open. As my life flashed before my eyes, I managed to get the thing shut off and stopped before slamming into the Sea Dream sculpture on 2nd Avenue. You know, the one that looks like a ripped up golf ball.
After spending money to get that problem fixed, the power steering started to leak..leaving big spots on the driveway and then, last winter, the heater stopped working and the battery went dead.
I took her back to Tom at Airway Service who, after a thorough examination, came to me looking like a doctor about tell a patient that the tumor is cancerous. He said it was going to cost more to fix than it was worth.  “Doug, she’s got 170 thousand miles. It’s time to just let her go.”
I sadly nodded and on the cold ride home decided to unload “Ol’ Whitey’ in the spring. She sat there like a big snow-covered lump in the driveway all winter long. In April, it was time to say goodbye so I put the battery charger on high for several hours..filled the power steering unit with a fluid that’s supposed to stop leaks..turned the key and, I’ll be darned if she didn’t fire right up. She’d bravely decided to face the end with her motor running.
That’s when the miracles of the Lincoln began. It turns out the battery wasn’t dead..just low. The new fluid must have worked because it stopped dripping. The heater was still on the fritz but the air conditioning  functioned..sort of. It was if Ol’ Whitey was saying..”let me get you through one more summer, pal.” So, I felt kind of bad when, with another winter coming on,  her last official duty was to haul bags of leaves from our yard to the drop-off site knowing when we were through, she, herself, was going to be hauled away… to the junkyard. That’s when the greatest miracle of all occurred. The heater began to blast hot air once again all by itself! I’m not kidding!
I don’t care what anybody says; this car has taken on a life of its own; able to heal itself.  I figure that’s nothing to mess with so before we went for our drive yesterday, I took her in for the first wash she’s had in two years, filled the gas tank full and checked the oil..adding a quart.  She performed flawlessly and kept us toasty warm on our 125 mile journey around Southwest Minnesota. On the interstate home from Luverne, just for the heck of it, I decided to try the radio. Do I have to say it?It came right on!
I’ve now decided to change her name from White Lightnin’ to Christine. The miracle car..say hallelujah!
Any favorite car stories? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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