by Tim Patterson
PLYMOUTH, MI – As you may know, I tend to be drawn to nostalgia. A hundred new automobiles can pass me on the freeway, but let one old 50-model vehicle slip by and it will turn my head. I have been known to run off the road and come close to causing accidents while craning my neck to get a better look at an old Chevy. It matters not its condition or color, as long as it is in one of those categories I call classic.
A classic automobile is one that was produced before the Beatles were a hit and these rolling works of art were for the most part comprised of steel and rubber. These beauties were made to last. If there were any plastics in these vehicles it was relegated to a few knobs or an ornament here or there. The steel sheeting that was used to form the body parts for these rolling works of art was of more than the beer-can-thin moldings that are used today. These old beauties could take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.
I have always been partial to 50 Model Chevrolet trucks. It is probably because that is the vehicle in which I learned to drive. It is also the vehicle that transported me to a great deal of trouble. It wasn’t the trucks’ fault, she just happened to be in the wrong driveway at the wrong time. I distinctly remember doing the steering.
When Sabrina and I travel, we try to do so at a more leisurely pace, in order to take in the sights, and so that we can stop at every antique store we come along. Since I am willing to go to the antique stores with her, she is more than willing to stop and look at every old car or truck that catches my fancy.
Some of these old vehicles are in open fields or junk lots. It is apparent that they have been abandoned by their owners and left to return to the earth from which they came. Some are in various stages of decay. but that does not deter me from taking a peek into their pasts and rubbing my hand across their faded skins.
Each time I see one, I think of all the places it has been and the people it has transported. Just imagine the fun and laughter that the cab of one of these old trucks once held. I can see a farmer in his overalls and straw hat with his little boy perched in his lap as the little fellow steers this marvelous machine down some dusty country road. All the while his dad is telling him he is doing a great job all by himself. The boy is oblivious to his dad giving the wheel a little help with his left knee as he helps his son keep it between the ruts.
There in my imagination I catch the vision of a young teenage boy and his girlfriend on their first date as they bounce down the farm to market road and into town to watch a movie at the drive-in theater. He is in his best blue-jeans, and she is wearing her favorite dress. The cab is filled with the scent of roses and Old Spice that have mingled together to create an intoxicating brew. She has been praying that she would not get catsup on her face, and he has been praying to exchange a kiss before the evening is done.
I’m sure these old antique vehicles have seen their fair share of sorrows as well. How many of them made mad dashes to a hospital as fast as they could go on some dark foreboding night to get someone to the medical care they so urgently needed. And I wonder if any one of these were used to hurt, maim, or kill an innocent soul because its operator was careless and foolish.
Sadly, there are not many of the old ones around anymore. Back in my hometown of Kermit, Texas there is the remains of an old truck that has been sitting in the same place since I was a little boy, and from all accounts, what is left of it is still there. When I was just a lad, I remember it had been abandoned because the motor and transmission had been taken out and the body was no longer of any use to its owner. At that time, all of the windows were still intact, and the paint was good, despite the horrendous West Texas sun.
But as the years went by, little by little it began to fall apart. A window here and a tire there fell prey to the years. The paint began to fade and eventually peel away under the ravages of time. A few years ago, I was back in my hometown, and I saw what was left of the old truck. Only part of the cab remained, and most of it was buried under waves of sand that had washed over it as they were blown about by those hot winds. It was partially submerged and had almost completely returned to the earth.
There is a time for all things. There is a time for laughter and joy. There is a time for pain and sorrow. There is a time for young life and young loves. There is a time to build up and a time to tear down. There is a time to give birth and a time to die. As in the life of a great old truck so it is in the life of man.
But sadly, in today’s society when a fellow gets “too old and out of date” we no longer give them the attention they once garnered and still deserve. We are too enthralled with the new models and the fastest ones on the street.
It is hard for me to watch the great men and women of our world begin to fade. I have great difficulty seeing their parts and purpose fall away like discarded finders from an outdated model of transportation. Instead of our present society looking away when one of those great old models comes rolling by, we should be admiring them for their true worth. They may have to use a three-wheeled scooter to move about but just think about the stuff of which they were made. Think about the places they have been. Just imagine the roads they have traveled.
These are truly God’s rolling works of art.
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.