Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Junker

J is for Junker.

Like the car I got off a fellow resident at the crappy low income hotel where I lived for three years.  I bought the junker for $200.

It ran, but barely.  A 1976 Ford Fairmont wagon with straight six engine.

It came with dog urine pooled in the spare tire well and a soggy repair manual, which I blow dried dry and carried with me at all times, because the car broke down frequently.  I had the dash cover off because I was in a constant state of rewiring the car's electrical system.  The gas gauge did not work, so I learned the car's mileage, and estimated the odometer reading that meant my gas was almost gone and wrote that on masking tape and stuck it to the steering wheel.

The car brought unwanted police attention, due to its ancientness, its junkyard look (moss growing in body cracks and on the bumper) and its lousy paint job.   The police harassed me anyway because I was known to be in the mental system.  The car only upgraded the harassment.

When it broke down once along the river, and an officer came along, instead of offering help, he told me it was illegal to work on a car on a city street and said he'd be back in ten minutes and if I wasn't gone with the car, he'd arrest me and have the car towed.  I got it going and got away.

When trapping cats with a friend, along the river, in Corvallis, we sat in separate cars, because she'd met me there.  She didn't want me trapping along the river alone.  Not because of danger from nefarious people, but because of danger from the local police.  And sure enough, here they came.

They ignored her car and focused on mine immediately, probably because it was old.  Or for sport, which is what I suspected.  They put a spotlight on the car and blinded me through the windshield, then an officer circled around and came up behind me, like I was some dangerous monster, not a volunteer trying to catch a kitten living on the banks of the river.   There was a trap set by my rear wheel, and one kitten already in the car in a trap.  These clues would be difficult to miss.

Nonetheless the officer ordered me to put my hands on the steering wheel and demanded to know what I was doing here, along the river, so late.  It was 8:00 p.m.  I wanted to mention that, ask in whose world was 8:00 p.m. "late", but I knew better.

My friend got out of her car and started toward us, and was warned to stand still and get back in her car.  She started to protest but then decided she didn't want arrested or shot. (being sarcastic)

Finally the officer realizes I have a valid license, valid insurance and am not impaired and not wanted on warrants. How disappointing that must have been for him.  He told me "Well, lots of criminals and murderers hang out down here."  'Yeah, right', I thought, 'and the danger of police are why my friend insisted on coming with me.'

Despite all the added problems, buying a junker, I suddenly had freedom.  FREEDOM!!!  I could cross that bridge over the river and leave town.  For over a decade, my world was limited to that one town and the distance I could walk.  I had no life no dreams no nothing.

Suddenly, my world enlarged!

I learned quite a lot about mechanics with that junker, trying to fix it along Oregon roads by flashlight.

My contractor brother and his son spray painted it once, for fun, and I suffered the consequences with more unwanted police attention but they did an awesome job!

The Junker

The Cop Magnet
The car finally failed.  Nonetheless I sold it for more than I bought it for because of its engine.  After a time, I got an old Corolla, but it was in failure when I got it.  Stinking used car dealership lied.  It lasted only a couple of years, with nursing.

Living with no car again was difficult.  By then, I lived in a shack outside of Corvallis.  I had to hitchhike with my dirty laundry because the nearest laundry mat was miles away.  Also, the shack I lived in often had no water suitable for drinking and getting water out there, with no car, was not easy.  That's when my brothers arrived with money from my father's living trust (something like that, he had not yet died) and bought me the car I have now, in 2004. They were angels and it was a miracle.  My life was easier again.

 Hard to believe I've had it 11 years.  I've carried thousands upon thousands of cats in its back to be fixed or to new homes.   It still runs despite its very high mileage.  It's no junker, that's for sure.

But the Fairmont was.  That junker opened up my world.  I loved it!

J is for my beautiful Junker.


  1. We had junkers too. Cars with a lot of character (much of it bad). It was only yesterday as we drove past a school that we commented that the teachers hadn't had cars as good as many of the ones in the student parking lot when we were there.
    I am so glad that your world opened up.

    1. Yes, character cars! It's often the case now, kids have brand new cars. I don't know how they get them. We never had cars til we earned them, when young and I couldn't afford one til early 20's, and rode an old used motorcycle I bought for under $100. I've not owned a lot of cars in my life, but some were definitely "characters"!

  2. Sounds like you learned a lot about cars fixing up your junker. Glad that you have reliable transportation now.

    1. I did, and I'm glad the car now is reliable also! Now cars are much much harder to DIY fix, being sideways in the engine compartment and computerized.

  3. Interesting about your Junker car, anything out of the ordinary calls for attention from most people, but it got you going and that was a great thing.

  4. I had two junkers and it was great to be able to tweak the engine, cars today look like complex computers when we lift the hood.
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    1. Yes, now they are not so easy to fix. My goodness, even your comments are works of art.

  5. well done for learning to fix it yourself. I used to volunteer at an animal rescue many unwanted cats - the first thing they did, after initial TLC and settling- was fixing them so they did not breed.

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