I want my classic car backWritten by Nolan Baker Mark Clair | | email@example.com
It was late 1979 and I (Mark) was 18 years old and heading off to Michigan State University for the beginning of my college adventure. I was excited about leaving home and venturing out on my own and was looking forward to what college life might bring, but my situation was somewhat complicated by the lack of mobility. I did not own an automobile and I was on crutches as the result of having knee surgery because being injured playing high school basketball. Not only would I have to navigate the MSU transportation system to get from one side of the campus to the other for classes, I would also have to “crutch it” on some of the long distances from the bus stop to the classroom. I can recall being so tired at the end of the day that when I arrived back at my dormitory room I would just collapse on my bed in exhaustion. My knee injury was so severe that my doctor referred to me as “the guy with a knee of a 50-year-old.”
I eventually shed the crutches, but this did not solve my other transportation problem. I had no wheels. Fortunately, once you were on campus there was not a great need to have a car, but I am sure you all remember at that age that having your own transportation was important. My dad, who in some ways was quiet like me, never really communicated certain types of things, so when he showed up one day at college with a car, I was completely floored. Not only was it a car, it was what would be considered today a “classic” car. It was so cool it seemed “classic” then, but I don’t really know how a 1969 Camaro could be considered “classic” 10 years later. Maybe I felt that way because at age 18, 10 years was a long time.
The Camaro was blue with a white vinyl top, white mag wheels and a white racing stripe on each side. It had a 450 4-barrel engine that gave it a lot of power when you hit the accelerator. Being from Detroit, I had grown up listening to the rock and roll radio station WRIF and the famous DJ Arthur Penhallow (better know as “Arthur P”). He had this thing of saying “baaaaaaaaaabbbyyyyyyyy!!!!!” WRIF came out with bumper stickers that said “Baby!,” so I had one affixed to my back bumper. I was cool, or at least thought I was.
I had a lot of fun at Michigan State, but after a year there realized I was having a little too much fun. I wasn’t getting done what I went there to do (like classwork, studying, etc.), so I reluctantly made the decision to transfer to a small Christian college in Springfield, Mo. I thought this would get me into a better environment so I could concentrate more on my studies. It was the best move I ever made, because there I met my then-future wife Lisa. On our first date we were driving down the main drag in Springfield on our way to a movie, when we stopped at a traffic light. My Camaro would sound like a boat when it came to a stop, “blubblubblubblubblubblub.” Lisa turns to me and says “boy, that car next to us sure sounds bad.” I about died laughing. It was my Camaro that was making that sound and here we are on our first date and this is what she says! A precious moment that will never be forgotten.
The Retirement Guys have been talking about how “things ain’t like they used to be” and how “the old plus the new” can equal a better retirement. It may not be the same as the past when you could rely on working for one company your entire career and retiring with a nice pension and Social Security. Therefore it is critical that we be as self-reliant as possible. We can do this by drawing on lessons we have learned from the past like working hard, being persistent, making sacrifices, persevering and combine those qualities we learned from our parents and grandparents with the new technology that is available today. Cars aren’t as cool as they were in the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, but because of advances they sure are a lot safer and more fuel-efficient. If you think back, seat belts were not even standard equipment on a new car. The same goes for the world of investing and financial and estate planning. There is new technology and new tools available that you may not be aware of. Make it a point to find out what they are.
As for my precious Camaro, it eventually rusted out and I had to sell it for $900. It grieves me to this day that I did not even think to take a picture of it. All I have left are the memories.
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