It was the mid 1970’s. We were in the midst of the Arab oil embargo, or was it the second embargo, I can not quite remember. However I do remember the first time I met her. Little did I know at the time that she would be the answer to life’s unknown questions. At the time we were driving a little red Austin Healey Sprite. It had a fresh paint job and a a fabric top that would blow off at sixty miles per hour. Most importantly at the time, it would get thirty miles per gallon.
But back to my newfound object of affection, she was sitting at one of those mom and pop two bay gas stations. Like the station, she was conceived in an era of glorious optimism and Texas tea. Those days were over though, the station was now a bit run down, shabby and closed. It was a bit hard for a mom and pop station to compete with the new gas chains, especially when fuel was in short supply. Like the station the early sixties Cadillac convertible that caught my eye was a bit shabby too. She wore a faded oxidized black paint that was peppered with splotchy patches of rust. The convertible roof was also faded and held together with tattered duct tape. The interior nevertheless was a glorious cherry red leather, absolutely perfect and luxurious in my eyes. The best part of the whole was the number written in shoe polish on the windshield. That number absolutely got my attention.
The number was only a few hundred dollars, conceivably affordable to a struggling teenager. The only problem, besides the lack of money on my part, was there was nobody around. No phone number or hours of operation to be found. A bit frustrating as I wanted motivation to see if I could possibly round up the money. Of course in the back of my mind was the realization that I would have to put fuel in the thing. In those days fuel was hard to find.
There she sat, glorious, dark and inscrutable. The red leather was inviting and fabulously tempting. Almost unbelievably the Cadillac was unlocked with a key in the ignition. Attached to the ignition key was one of those little yellow tags like the car dealerships have. You know, like the kind they write the information on. Maybe there would be a phone number on the wrinkled little tag. In the sea of red leather and chrome was that little yellow tag. So I feel like a hummingbird ready to go for the nectar, I reached in and pulled out the key. Surprisingly on the tag was written “Mecca’s Caddy”. Slightly stunned I put the key back in the ignition and close the door.
I drove by a few more times before I had places to go. The Caddy was still there, black as oil. Yeah, money for oil. It keeps Mecca going.