Light & Shadow #24

Going Strong — Nampa, ID Circa 1988

One thing that often strikes me as I begin to write about these pictures is that they look old. The inherent quality of black and white is one factor. Another is that just like me, they ARE getting old.

I think the truck makes the photo look longer in the tooth than it is, but that’s what caught my eye in the first place. Vehicles on a farm tend to have long lives — this one had been in service for 40 years. For all I know, it’s still going.

I’m reminded of the old Chevy grandpa Kalisek used on our farm when I was a kid. It was the same vintage — 1948 or so. I can almost smell the interior and hear the starter growl when activated by the foot pedal. It was a no-frills truck that customizers work magic on today.

In the early 2000s, Chevy, Ford, and Chrysler all tried their hand at retro-styled vehicles. In Chevy’s case, grandpa’s ’48 provided design cues for the SSR. It was a pickup, convertible roadster and custom hotrod all rolled into one.

It was expensive, couldn’t find its niche, and didn’t last but four model years. They struck a chord with me.

One day, I saw one at a dealership and stopped by to kick the tires. The car was ten years old by then. I couldn’t justify their price. Maybe no one else could either, because it sat there for months.

Then it disappeared. Damn! I’d been ogling it for all that time and somebody — wait! There it is, way at the back of the lot. I don’t know about you, but I took it as a sign. A few days later, I was strutting around in my Redline Red SSR.

One day I roll up to the window at the coffee drive-thru. A requisite for employment at this particular establishment is to be chatty with the customers. The kid — I think he had dreadlocks — leans out of the window. After looking me over, bumper to bumper, he asked, ’Hey man, are you from outer space?’

He wasn’t the last curiosity seeker I’d encounter with that car.

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