Hard to keep on trucking without right vehicle
The Kansas City Star
It sounds like a country song, but it didn’t take long before I started to really miss my truck.
I’d always had trucks, starting with a 1969 Volkswagen bus. I bought it used in 1976 and kept it nine years, letting it go only after it had more than 217,000 miles on it. By then everything manufactured with it was rusting out or falling off.
I saw the country in that bus and used it in restoring my first house, turning three apartments into the single-family home it was meant to be when built in 1913. The second vehicle was a new 1985 VW Vanagon.
I called it my time machine because my daughters grew up in it, and it helped me move into and keep up with the maintenance on my second home.
That van carried us all over the country, too, and went more than 230,000 miles when every fluid it had started leaking out.
My 25-year love affair with Volkswagens ended when I got a new 2001 Honda Odyssey. It took us on our last family vacation and hauled my daughters to college.
The Odyssey helped this sandwich-generation baby boomer keep up with my aging dad in St. Louis and post-college daughters living in North Carolina and Nebraska.
It helped me to move from near Martin City to a downtown apartment and then to my current home in the Northeast area.
But it was only 10 years old with 240,000 miles when the transmission started to fail. Instead of having the old van fixed, I traded it a year ago for a 2011 Toyota Corolla, like the ones my daughters drive.
The car gets me around, but that’s about it.
I started missing my trucks immediately because I’d normally toss my old bike in the truck, park at The Star and ride all over downtown without worrying about parking. I can’t do that with the car.
I really missed my trucks at Christmas when my daughters visited. Instead of everyone piling into the van for a night out, we had to go in two cars. And I missed my van more this spring when my hot water heater died.
I went in the basement about 5 a.m. to exercise and noticed water flowing from the 13-year-old tank. That’s never a good sign.
It’s as if an aneurysm in the tank had burst, and the heater’s life was draining away. The leak killed the gas-fueled fire.
I cursed, not because the tank had gone bad but because I no longer had a truck to head to a hardware store, pick up a new tank and have it installed within an hour. I have done that more than a half-dozen times on my previous homes, my sister’s house and friends’ homes.
My dad taught my siblings and me how to do such work as a way to stay ahead of the costs of owning a home. But without a truck, what would have been a snap became a challenge.
Now I needed time to find a truck. The best I could work out was for my sister and her fiancé, who has a truck, to come to my rescue on a Sunday.
Meanwhile I had to figure out how to avoid facing cold showers for six days. That challenge took me back to when I worked at my dad’s chemical company where we’d heat large vats of water on a stove to prepare compounds for production.
Thank goodness my house has an old bathtub. I also have large pots for cooking when family comes for dinner.
That enabled me to boil water using all four burners on my stove. The water went into the tub. Adding cold water gave me just enough for an old-fashioned, 19th-century bath.
More than ever, I’m a believer in hot water tanks as wonderful inventions.
They provide a bounty of hot water at all times and in a reasonably inexpensive way. After a week of hauling boiling hot water from the kitchen to the bathroom, I also can testify that the convenience of a hot water tank is impossible to beat.
After 90-minute workouts, hot showers can’t be beat. A shallow-water bath is cleansing, but a shower washes away aches and pains.
I still only have a car, which is more fuel efficient in these times of high gas prices. My sister gave me a bike rack so I can pedal downtown again.
But I continue to long for a truck. Perhaps one day when they’re all electric I’ll share a new verse to this old country song.
To reach Lewis W. Diuguid, call 816-234-4723 or send e-mail to Ldiuguid@kcstar.com.