AND THEN I SAW THE PACER

On more than one occasion it has been noted that in my head I am still 20 but the reality often intrudes on the illusion. I am quite sure there are other individuals that suffer a similar disconnect between the perception of age and the reality.
It is not always a physical shortcoming that kicks the illusion of youth to the curb. A few years ago I was writing a feature on the unique Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California for Cars & Parts when a pristine AMC Pacer brought me up short.
Standing before me was a bulbous blue and chrome manifestation of my true age. I had worked on these cars when they were late model trade ins, and now they were museum exhibits!

San Fidel, New Mexico – Geezerville

In recent years this line of thinking has become more prevalent, another sign that Gezzerville is my next stop. I am quite sure this is caused by something more than advancing age, creaking joints, and ear hair.
To a large degree I believe it is the speed with which the world is changing that may play a large role in this. After all, if I take but a moment to stop, to think, and to look around me, there is very little evidence of the world I once knew.
Perhaps this is also a reason I have such a fascination with Route 66 and the empty places. It might also explain my quest to travel that road in a vehicle older than I am.
Simply consider the technology behind this blog post compared to what it was when I sold my first feature article in 1990. That article was written on a 1948 Underwood manual typewriter using paper, and carbon paper. The photographs were taken with a 25 year old, 35 mm camera.
The article, with photos, was sent first class mail and it took four weeks to receive a response, via first class mail, and an additional two weeks for receipt of my check. Phone calls weren’t really an option, as I was not home during the day and did not having an answering machine. However, I did have a rotary dial phone.
You may ask, just how old are you? Well, I remember with clarity my dad paying .19 per gallon for gasoline on a trip through Mississippi and the first time gasoline was paid for with money from my pocket, it was .29 per gallon.
In late 1964 my dad purchased a year end close out Ford Fairlane. He asked about the availability of air conditioning as his plans were to move from Michigan to Arizona in the next 18 months. After numerous phone calls, the dealer informed dad that he could not find a vehicle so equipped but he could order one and have it in about four weeks.
On one of our trips across Kansas in about 1966, we stopped for gas and ended up being investigated by the local police. The suspicious activity was in dad trying to pay for the fuel with a one hundred dollar bill, something not often seen when a tank of gasoline cost less than six dollars.
After driving a wide array of battered old trucks and cars, I made the decision that with the money being earned at the mine a new truck was in order. So, in late 1980, flush with cash, I stepped into the showroom at Busby Chevrolet in Silver City, New Mexico, and purchased a three year old 3/4 ton Chevrolet truck, fully loaded, with camper, for $2,995.00.
This was quite a step up from the first car purchased with my hard earned money – a 1964 Rambler American station wagon for $225.00. And the price paid for that Chevy stands in stark contrast to the $3,000 paid for a ten year old Jeep Cherokee in 2008.
Even the lexicon has changed. As an example, when I was a young man “gay” meant happy, not …
I refuse to resort to “back when I was a kid” or “those were the good old days” even though the current era often has me looking back at the truly cockeyed 1960s and 1970s with wistful romanticism. I still adhere to the adage that when ever you are alive, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.
If it were just the popping joints, the thicker glasses, the receding hairline, and the price comparison on getting a set of partials, I might be able to keep the illusion of youth going just a bit longer. However, when combined with the dramatic and sweeping changes of the modern era maintaining that illusion becomes a chore unto itself.

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