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Back to School...


This week I send my baby off to Votech in Alexandria, MN. I'll have “The Empty Nest”, and to say the least, I’m not liking it. But it made me think of all those back to school days, I had growing up. They are sure different than we had in the 1970’s and 80’s. When I look at today’s parking lots, I don’t see anything. You’d work all summer walking beans, bailing hay, and other odd jobs to get enough money together to buy your ride, or get it ready to show off that first day of school. I was a Blue Dragon, Cheerleader- Garretson High School, Garretson, South Dakota. A town of about 800 people in Eastern South Dakota. Growing on a farm-slash salvage yard, I drove whatever was running that day. 23 different vehicles from freshman to senior years.

My sister, Suzie and I were, well, a little wild. Dad was always trying to tame us down. “Girls, it’s 6 miles to town and there should only be about 13 miles on that odometer.” We really didn’t think he’d ever written that down or kept track, but we learned the hard way. “How did you get 300 miles on 1 weekend, Yvette?” “Just Driving around town, Dad.” That didn’t fly, too well. Ole’ Arty thought he’d pull one on us girls, and we had to go to town with no headlights on a Caprice. “Better get home before Dark, girls.” Well, we didn’t quite make it , and I drove with flashlights hanging out the windows. Yeah, we might have been a little wild.

We always had Dad’s hopped up pickups, but finally I got a 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and joined the ”cool kids” in the parking lot. Back then, the parking lot was filled with Chevelles, Camaros, Novas, and lots of pickups. I had 32 kids in my Class of 1983, same kids from kindergarten to senior year. Most of us were farm kids and there were a lot of 4x4 pickups with lift kits, and everybody had a gun rack in the back window. They weren’t empty either, everybody had a shotgun or rifle in their truck. There was no "politically correct" either, and no problems. The last day of school, all the guys would take off their exhaust, put on bad tires and spend all afternoon burning out in alley below the study hall and principal’s office. The guys in our class had a Rambler Classic and they torched the roof off in shop and made a convertible and we drove around all day.

I think of all those Chevelles and 68-69 Camaros that were a dime a dozen. They were “cool-girl getting” transportation. We used to race out on a stretch of road by Risty Corner, go parking on Smoke Road, and Cruise the Loop in Garretson. We would work our way between Dell Rapids and Jasper, to the dances in Trent. Those slicks on the back, loud exhaust, and hot motors. Cool to the core and so much fun. I did quite a bit of “fast driving” in a 1965 Chevelle SS 327- 4 speed, along with a 1969 RS/Z28 Camaro 302 4 speed,- 1985 Iroc Camaro, and many hopped up pickups. They weren’t collectors back then, but cool, fast fun.

Little did I know, that my soul mate, my husband, was equally as wild in Rock County with many Chevelles, or whatever you could get for $200.00. He had wrecked many a muscle car in his day. He even had a Biscayne that he hung christmas lights along the headliner that were hooked to the radio so they blinked along to the music. Aldo Nova was a wild hit with the lights. When he was 14 he bought a 1955 Chevrolet Shortbox Stepside pickup, that we still have today. It was his high school truck that he painted in shop class. That’s just what you did.

We both loved that speed and just had fun. I think of all those Chevelles that got ruined in the name of fun. It was fun, Uffda! If only we could go back to those days of $500.00 Chevelles and Camaros and pack them away. But really, would we trade that race? Parking with the 8 track playing? Well, that’s a tough call. Nah! Now we work to get back that car we had in the “Glory Days.” We long to hop in and get those cool memories back. That’s why we buy old cars; it’s memories. People may say investment, and that is true, but I say, that most of the purchases had a memory tied to them. For me, I can still smell Dentyne Gum and Miller Beer when I sit in a 1969 Chevrolet ½ ton pickup, the glow of the dash lights on a 1965 Chevelle, or the familiar sound of Blue Oyster Cult on the casette player in my Husband’s Chevelle. Wow, those were a great times. Today, I have a 1965 Chevelle SS and my clerk, Kara, has her 1967 Chevelle. We both may be a bit older, but our cars are little time transporters, back to the days of cool. Throwing pom poms in the back and driving fast. Yep, we get in those cars and we’re 19 again. I love my old cars as much as my sellers, bidders, and family.

Yvette VanDerBrink-The Lil’ Nordstrom’s Gal VanDerBrink Auctions

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