My great uncle bought a four-door Oldsmobile Delta 88, new, back in 1983.
He was my mom’s uncle, making him literally my great-uncle. He also happened to be the finest fella not of Nazarene descent to ever walk the earth, making him great in both senses of the word.
My father bought the car from him some years later. By definition, it’s a car. But for anyone who can’t imagine what it looks like, a boat would be a more fitting classification. It’s huge and just kind of floats down the road.
My father always said he was going to give the car to my wife, as she likes the big old cars. I bought her a 1976 Pontiac Bonneville back when we were just starting out. She stands about 5’2”, so all you could see was my wife’s head floating down the road in that tank. The Bonneville is long gone, but she always liked it and so did I.
My father did end up giving her the Delta 88, much to our chagrin, when he passed away in January.
My great-uncle had taken great care of the car. It was always in immaculate condition. My father let it sit for most of the time he had it, especially in the later years. That’s probably the worst thing you can do to a car.
We had it towed up to a buddy of mine’s shop. I told him to put no rush on getting it back road worthy. It was a thing of sentiment, not need, so we were in no hurry to get it back.
As the weeks and months went by, I felt like the ol’ Delta 88 was beginning to lose some of that sentimental attachment we had to it, back when my father’s death was fresh on our minds and hearts. His would not be the only sadness this year would offer us, just the first. I was starting to regret the decision to put money we didn’t have into a car we didn’t need.
When the day finally came that the 88 made its way down to its new home in God’s Country, I was curious what we would feel.
It didn’t take long to realize there was still quite a bit of sentiment attached to that car. The shop that worked on it went above and beyond its task. It runs like a champ and purrs like a kitten. They even cleaned it up where it’s a color I hadn’t seen in years: its original color.
There sat an Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, still in its plastic wrapper, dated Sunday, April 28, 2019. It was in the front passenger seat, leading me to believe that was probably the last day the old man ever sat in the 88.
There’s plenty of junk in the car, as was my father’s way. I’ll throw most of it away, but I think that newspaper is going to be riding shotgun for the foreseeable future.
As an added bonus, I asked my daughter, who will be 16 in a few years, if she thought she might want to drive it to school. Her response was “It does look pretty cool.”
My daughter, driving to school in an old tank made of metal. Not a bad thought at all.
Toby Nix is a local writer, guitarist and investigator with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. He is the author of two books, “Columns I Wrote” and the newly released “A Book I Wrote.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org