Some people say there is no such thing as love at first sight, but I have to say that isn’t true. I've been married to my husband, Steve VanDerBrink, for 23 years. Now if you ask him, he’ll tell you it’s about 50, and tell you I’m not easy to live with!
It seems that the love of old stuff is just as strong as true love.
When my husband was growing up, he used to play in Lems Auto Salvage in Doon, Iowa, with his cousins. His Uncle Frank lived across the road. He can sit for hours and tell me about the MOPARS, Impalas and trucks that were in that yard. Meanwhile, little did he know that I was about 50 miles to the west in Garretson, South Dakota, and I was doing the same thing.
They say that opposites attract, and there is some truth to that. But my husband and me, I would say that we are two of a kind. Both loved driving fast, fast cars, and just having FUN. When I first met him, he had a blue-and-white 1984 Chevrolet pickup. Sharp. That was back when you sat in the middle and listened to cassettes and 8-tracks, and "park" wasn’t just a gear for going to the grocery store. But he worked as a diesel mechanic at the International Dealership and I was working at the hospital.
Now you ask him, and he’ll tell you that he walked into the Tasty Freeze in Luverne, Minn., for lunch and I was sitting in a booth eating tator tots in a sundress, yes a sundress – amazing. He told the guy he was with that he was going to marry that gal.
To this proclamation, his friend said, “Do you know who she is? She’s that wild Nordstrom chick from Garretson, S.D. Her dad owns Nordstrom's Auto Recyclers – that salvage yard. He’s at the race track and heads up the street stock class. She’ll kill you. She’s wild.” Well, my husband said, “A salvage yard – awesome. Bonus!”
Well, we were friends before anything. He’d come over to my place after he was done with work, all greasy, and bring Budweiser and smoked oysters. We would sit for hours and talk about old cars, racing and growing up on the farm. It was awesome. Finally we went out. I remember, and he will, that I had a 1985 Chevrolet Iroc Camaro – Black with Gold Package. Ask him sometime, how fast we got from Trosky, Minn., to Jasper, Minn. It was well, partially where the wild thing came in. There were many dates just driving around talking about old times, cars, and even looking at cars.
We got engaged. When our folks were meeting, here it turns out that his mom and mine were in the same hospital, both in labor, and mine went home. He was born and I was born 8 days later. Otherwise, we would have been in the nursery together.
We bought an acreage, and we were moving our stuff there. All of a sudden he comes driving in with a 1955 Chevrolet Stepside short box pickup, Corvette motor. What?! I called my dad and so cool, just another connection. It was the pickup he bought at 14 and we still have today.
There have been many more cars, additions, subtractions, and cars and kids. He helps me with auctions and is the best mechanic that I have ever seen. We have and had a lot of old tractors. My husband bought a 1931 D John Deere in like 50 different pieces and boxes, and put it all together and was driving it the next year.
My life with this man still revolves around cars, trucks, and tractors, and talking for hours about the old stuff. I took him to the Iola Car Show this year and he was in heaven. We have raised our kids with this same love of the old stuff and history, telling the stories, making the memories, great memories.
When I smell diesel fuel, grease and cigars, it’s the best perfume there is, because it reminds me of my husband, Steve VanDerBrink. I'd buy it if they bottled it.
My salvage yard soul mate.
We still talk about cars, tractors and memories for hours. One of my favorite things is to jump in our 1941 Ford and just drive around, talk and look at stuff hidden in the trees. The best times I’ve ever had have been in old cars.
Happy Valentines Day! I love you, Steve!
The Lil’ Nordstrom’s Gal