Thank you to everyone who submitted an essay. Here are the 2015 winners featured in The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Topic: My Best Car Story
First Prize ($250)
When I was 9, I bought a packet of Batman stickers that came with pink bubble gum. Without thinking, and much to my father’s chagrin, I pasted the stickers all over the glove compartment of our white Chevy Impala. The next year, my father traded in that car, Batman stickers and all.
Twenty years later, I was having a discussion with my husband about cars. He went on to regale me with the tale of his first car, a white Chevy Impala. He told me that it was a great car except that some kid had plastered Batman stickers all over the glove compartment! We have been together for over 30 years, and I don’t believe in coincidence. It was fate.
–Lisa Behr, Castle Creek, New York
Second Prize ($150)
In 1964, my brother, Paul, convinced his young, immensely popular high school English teacher, a Miss Maguire, to accept a ride to school with him after she informed the class that she would be absent because her car needed repairs. Paul asked our older brother if he could borrow his new car, a red-and-white 1957 Chevy Bel Air in mint condition. The car was backed into the carport and the keys were in the glove compartment when Paul arrived at our brother’s house early that morning. Paul pulled the car out and headed up the hill to get Miss Maguire.
When they arrived at the school, he let Miss Maguire off at the curb. The sidewalk was full of students and teachers walking into the building. Paul drove to the parking lot, parked the car, and went into homeroom. By second period, the story was spreading throughout school. On the trunk of my brother’s car was the spray-painted message “Just Married.” This decoration had reduced the cost of the car, and my older brother had failed to mention this when he had told Paul about his new vehicle!
–Elle Dietemann, North Chatham, New York
Third Prize ($100)
From the time I was 6 until I was 10, I had one of the grandest playthings a boy could have. Out by the barn was the frame of a Model T Ford. The wheels were gone, the motor had been removed, and the seats were missing their covers, exposing their coil springs. But the fenders and running boards were still there, and the steering wheel was intact with the gas and magneto control still in place. Hour after hour, I would sit on the seat and drive it. I would fill it with gas, check the tires that weren’t there, turn the crank, jump in, and chug along. In my mind, I was a chauffeur, a racecar driver, or a bus driver. When cousins came to visit, I would take them for a ride and I might even let them drive. However, the only time the car ever moved an inch was when my older brothers carted it off to the scrap-metal pile that was collected for the WWII defense effort.
–Johnie Marion, Eastwood, Kentucky
Too Good to Leave Out
In June 1954, I worked at the local airport, the base for local crop dusters. I lived in a small town in Montana’s wheat country and the airport was out of town, so my dad bought me a 1951 Studebaker to drive back and forth. The weather that summer was hot, sometimes reaching 100°F at the airport. My boss told me to park in the airplane hangar while the planes were out spraying, in order to keep the car cooler.
One hot day, a cocky young pilot known for his hotdogging landed and taxied his biplane duster while reclining in the second seat with his legs drooped over the front seat, steering the plane with his feet. In this way, he was blind to his front and directed the plane by memory. Unfortunately for me, his memory steered him straight for the hangar where my “Studie” was parked. I will never forget the “chop, chop, chop” sound as his propeller struck the trunk of my car or the difficulty of telling my father that my car had been hit by an airplane!
–Patti Bolstad, South Great Falls, Montana
At 88 years of age, I have owned many cars, but I will never forget my 1964 Lincoln. My wife and I traded this old gas and oil guzzler for a new, small Mercury. The salesman insisted that he keep the Lincoln to drive and loaned us a car for 2 days, until the Mercury was “detailed.”
The next afternoon, that salesman was charged with murdering his wife, placing her body in the car trunk, and dumping her in a remote area. We were sure he premeditated the murder and wanted the Lincoln with the large trunk!
–P. H. Greene Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee
I went to the car wash one sunny, warm day in February. Unbeknownst to me, my son had glued the driver’s side window, which had fallen down, to keep it from slipping down again. On the second wash round, the window slipped down inside the door. For the remainder of the wash, not only was the car cleaned but I was full of car wash soap and then rinsed. When I left, I pulled over into the parking lot and laughed my head off.
–Carolyn Dunlop, Riverview, New Brunswick
In 1969, my brother found me my first car—a dark blue ’56 Hillman wagon, the smallest car we had ever seen. It had bucket seats that sat on bricks, tiny pedals, and a big steering wheel. He paid $5 for it, and I paid him $10. It needed paint, so I painted clouds and red flowers on the hood and doors. For $1.15 in gas, we went 143 miles. I put used oil in it because new oil ran out. One time we stopped on a hill to take pictures, the car went by us, and my friends had a good run to get it. The police took it off the road because of the clouds of blue smoke coming from it. I sold it back to my brother for $15, and he turned it into an off-road dune buggy.
–Patti B. Beals, Wilmot Station, Nova Scotia
Decades ago, my then-husband and I owned a standard-transmission Chevrolet Chevette Scooter. Regularly, the car would not start. One day, it occurred to us that I seemed to be the one jumping out and going to the rear to push-start it. The engine always turned over for me. We eventually realized that my husband had not been depressing the clutch when turning the key in the ignition. I was less than impressed when reflecting on how many times I pushed it.