I had to sneak another peek out the dining room window. Sure enough, there it was! Parked right outside on the drive rested a shiny new 1956 Chevrolet. It was too good to be true!
Plopping back down on the living room sofa, I started counting my blessings … a two-tone green 1956 Chevrolet Impala 2-door hardtop. Hard to believe. Even harder to believe was the V-8 engine under the hood – complete with the power-pack 205 h.p. option sporting dual exhaust and a 4-barrel carburetor. The standard shift, rather than Powerglide transmission, meant it was geared to go. What more could a 16-year-old kid desire?
Now it was up to me to figure a way to talk Mom and Dad into giving me the keys. After all, it was their car. All I had invested in it was a lot of input.
Fortunately, the city man, Ray Hammond, had recently flooded the low spot next to the town’s water tower. Freezing temperatures had produced an excellent ice skating pond. What better excuse could I ask for?
Dad wasn’t buying the ice skating idea, but Mom slowly gave in. After all, we could sit in the car and warm up every so often. It made perfect sense.
First I drove to Slick’s house, then we picked up Kooker. It took awhile, but eventually the Chevy was parked on the east side of the road next to the skating pond.
The pond was packed. Seems every kid in town – and a bunch from out of town – had decided to test out the new ice.
Before long everyone seemed to notice the Chevy. A crowd began to form next to it and questions started to fly. “How many horsepower?” “How fast will it go from zero to sixty?” “Can it lay rubber in all three gears?”
Charlie Gregg seemed especially interested. He wasn’t wearing skates, so he walked around the Chevy three or four times before he walked back to his 1956 Ford. He drove away, but before long he returned.
Charlie rolled down the window and shouted: “I’ll race you from Thornwall’s corner to the tracks.”
Whoa, no way could I do that. Mom and Dad would shoot me if they found out.
It took awhile, and I think Slick was the main motivator, but we eventually ended up out at Thornwall’s corner.
I remember the Chevy crossing the tracks about a car-length before the Ford. It marked the beginning of a long tradition - one that probably should have long been forgotten!
(Ed Rood is former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife, Sharon, live near Cambridge.)