Back in the day (yeah I said it) we had a van. Sure, now people drive SUV’s and minivans…but back in the day — we had a van. We were cool. My father, being the industrious, inventive man that he is (and frugal) decided to convert a 1979 Ford Cargo Van into the family automobile.
“FORD stands for fix or repair daily” – Dad.
This cargo van was a beauty! It was baby blue with no windows, no carpeting and no siding. Because I was so little, I distinctly remember it’s massive sliding door. But, he was a man with a dream! He had a vision!
He sawed. He chopped. He nailed. He took a beer break. Then he glued. He sewed (really?). Then he took another beer break. He worked and sweat some more… and then, voila! The family van was complete! It was fully loaded, like a mini-RV. My Dad was way before his time. It was Pimp My Ride of the 1970’s! Benches that converted into a bed, wood paneling, carpet, sink and a mini-fridge! We were riding in style.
We did a lot of camping and road travel so this was a hot set-up for our family. There was no toilet, so we always had a coffee can on-hand for long trips. Do you know how hard it is to pee in a coffee can while going 65 down the freeway? Needless to say, we have a lot of great memories with Dad’s “Baby Blue.” We traveled to Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. We went on camping trips several times of year. It was where Dad sat when he broke his ribs while camping. It was where I had a fish bone pulled out of my foot (yuck!) It was where my Grandma joined us on one of our great big adventures across America.
The van was just another home away from home. In it, we ate fried chicken. We sang songs by Willie Nelson (“On The Road Again” is forever burned into my brain). We watched movies and had cold drinks. Many naps were slept upon the benches. It was a cool place to be a kid.
So today, when I climb into my fuel-efficient, bucket seat vehicle with more gadgets and buttons than I know what to do with, I will think in great fondness of that giant, gas-guzzling, window-cranking, cup holders clinging-to-the-door, Big Baby Blue Van. I am glad my Dad was such a visionary. Great memories, great times.