It was a red 1956 Thunderbird just sitting there, hidden in 5′ tall weeds.
Dad was an avid gardener with a love for growing fresh vegetables. It was his way to relax, and I was generally a part of the labor. Rototilling, forming up the rows, planting, watering, and weeding were things I could always help with. Plus sharing in the bounty at the table. His gardens always produced more than we could eat, so we shared a lot with neighbors.
In the spring of 1965, I accompanied Dad to one of his favorite nurseries. They specialized in tomatoes and offered the biggest variety and the healthiest plants. Dad would spend hours looking at the plants and picking out the ones that met his approval. It was always a lengthy process.
After he shopped for a while, I got tired and wandered off. As a 15-year-old, gardening was not my thing, but wandering and looking at starter plants was boring. I excused myself and went outside.
I saw some old equipment on the other side of one of the big greenhouses and headed that way. The area was full of old farm equipment surrounded by tall weeds growing up to about 5 feet tall. Struggling to get farther into the weeds to see what was hidden from view, I saw something red peeking through off to my left.
Moving that direction, I stepped next to a very oxidized, red 1957 Thunderbird. It looked intact. It had a red hard top and a V8 emblem on the side of the front fender. Getting around to the driver’s door, I could see a white interior with bucket seats. There in the console was a standard transmission. A V8 with a manual transmission.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. As I was running back to get my Dad, he was coming out of the greenhouse with carts full of plants and seeds for garden.
I helped him get the items loaded into the back of his pickup and as calmly as I could, told him about my find. I explained we needed to find out who owned the car so we could buy it because it needed a good home.
After a very short discussion, he explained to me that it would be too much work to get it home and do all the repairs it needed.
A few months later, I had my license and I went back by the nursery to see what I could find out. It was gone. The field was mowed and cleaned of all the old equipment and the T-Bird. Gone.
Heart broken, I got back into my 1960 Ford Station Wagon and drove home. The opportunity of a lifetime was gone.
There are few times I was dumbfounded by my Dad, but this was one of them.