White Lightnin’s Last Ride

Posted: Friday, November 12, 2010 at 7:43 am
By: Doug Lund
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If you’ve ever taken that sad trip to the vet to have an ailing pet put to sleep..you’ll know how I felt this week.  

White Lightnin’ our 1990 Lincoln Town Car, which I’ve had for 18 years and written about several times here, is gone. Her just reward for such long and faithful service is a spot in the Ewe-Pullet yard at Nordstrom’s Auto Recycling near Garretson to be picked over for parts and stripped clean by salvagers like vultures on a dead wildebeest..then squished flat and melted down to hopefully be turned into steel to make another car for somebody some day. 

Nordstrom's..White Lightnin's final resting place

Nordstrom's..White Lightnin's final resting place

I’d been driving Ol’Lightnin’ up until this past week and, in fact, would have kept her through another winter but try as I might, I couldn’t get her finicky heater to function again..so I had to make that dreaded call to Doug at Nordstrom’s.   He had read a blog I’d written several months ago telling about the old Lincoln’s eerie ability to heal itself: a leaky power steering unit that suddenly “stopped” leaking, an air suspension system, radio and heater that mysteriously sprang back to life..and other restorative oddities. But this year, many of those same problems returned so I reluctantly called a Sioux Falls business I saw in the Shoppers News that advertised it will pay top dollar for any vehicle in any condition. But when I told them what I had they said “NO..NOT INTERESTED.”  What an indignity. That’s when Doug from Nordstrom’s let me know that I could bring her out there and he’d even give me a couple hundred bucks for it. (That’s one good thing about big heavy cars..they’re worth more as scrap.) “Should we send a truck out to haul it in?”Doug asked.  “Oh, no,” I said, “She runs just fine. I’ll drive her there myself.”

On that last ride, as we smoothly sailed down the road , I couldn’t help but think of all the places we’d been in that car and how great she looked when I bought it used at Frankman Motors in 1992. Her lovely white paint job glistened in the sun and every passenger commented how she rode like a dream in town or down the highway.  When our daughter, Suzan, got married..the Lincoln served as their private limousine, shuttling the happy couple around on their wedding day with dad as chauffeur.  

When I pulled in to Nordstrom’s, I half expected the radio to come on and the heater to start working as a one last desperate attempt to save herself.  But not this time; she was ready to accept fate.

Me collecting my 30 pieces of silver from Nordstrom's Doug Abeln

Me collecting my 30 pieces of silver from Nordstrom's Doug Abeln

“Do you see a lot of people who get emotionally attached to their vehicles and are reluctant to give them up?” I asked Doug as I’m snapping pictures for posterity.   “ No No..lots of folks feel just like you,” he said. “If you’re taking photos for your blog would you like to hang around for a shot of the fork lift loading it up and hauling her off to the yard?”  “Naw, that’s alright. I said. 

Just then I noticed some fluid start to slowly drip down from White Lightnin’s power steering unit.

I’ll miss you too, old friend.


  1. Sweeps says:

    We can’t even say “Rest In Peace, White Lightnin'”! How about well served, good and faithful friend!

  2. Christy says:

    Good bye Ole Girl . . . I will cherish all the memories and still look for you when I come home. Godspeed White Lighten!

  3. J.P. says:

    Doug, I still have my red 1984 Ford F-150 that I bought new. Old Red is now relegated to trips to the landfill and transportation when the snow gets over six inches. The heater works as does the radio. However, the floor, or what’s left of it, offers a spectacular view of the pavement. I’m sure to shed a few tears the day Old Red goes to the boneyard.

  4. John Mogen says:

    Say it ain’t so! White Lightning probably still had a drum or two in her trunk–lot’s of “Mogen’s Heroes” memories!
    Go Bears!

  5. bk says:

    I saw someone that looked a lot like you in the Office Bar in Montrose SD ON 11-12-10 at about 4:00 pm???????????????

  6. Doug Lund says:

    Guilty, BK..One of the joys of retirement is driving around checking out small town watering holes with our friends. Next time, stop and say hello.

  7. grouse says:

    O.K. Here are a few phrases one has to say at times of sorrow like this. “He’s in a better place”. “You did everything that you could do”. “He’s not in pain anymore”. “He’s driving the Lord around now”. “You know the Lord doesn’t use cheap gas”. “He looks like he’s just sleeping”. “Do you think they could afford that big a show”? “I wonder what Doug is serving for lunch”? “Do you think the preacher will stay for lunch or just go home”? “I’ll bet the preacher is glad that one’s over”. “They shouldn’t play songs like “The Little Nash Rambler” at solemn times like this”. “Do all cars go to heaven”? “Do you suppose hell for cars is going to Jiffy Lube”? “What if he comes back as a Yugo”? “Did the lighter still work”?
    Anyway RIP.

  8. SD Transplant says:

    It’s funny how we become attached to our vehicles (maybe because they are the only thing we have paid off…!)… However I have reached the point with my ’98 Camry to fill up the ole gas tank and leave her running in the street at night with the doors unlocked!!! Then again… as I said… it is paid off…

  9. Suzan says:

    Say it ain’t so! Sorry, I didn’t get your message about White Lightnin’ photos. I’m sure it’s here somewhere, but it might be awhile before I could dig it out! Good memories of that big, beautiful, luxury car! She’ll be missed.

  10. Dan says:

    It would be proper to say, ” rust in peace “. I think most of us can remember a favorite car. Mine was a 1965 Mustang. Wish she was still here.

  11. Marsha says:

    I am far from having one as “well-used” as this, but still occassionally have fond memories of my very first car. I was a sophomore in college in 1995 when I purchased for myself an ’89 Buick LeSabre. Ok it’s not the dream car, but served me well the short time I had it. Probably the best memory because I remember working so hard while attending college to buy a car, and the pride I had when my dad looked it over for the first time with approval! May White Lightnin’ meet my ‘Ol Blue in auto heaven.

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