Bennie’s Buick…




my new car

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

Before I get started-the automobile in this picture is not a Buick…its a Cadillac. The story will explain itself and you will see why the title has Buick and the picture is a Cadillac.
When I was a kid before my teen years we lived in West Virginia near Charleston-up in the hills for sure. At the end of our street was an old man named Bennie. Bennie was a drunk-even as a small kid it was’nt to hard to figure that out. He lived in this little small frame house with his sister. I only saw her once in my life and until that time thought she only existed in rumors,but she was for real.
Because of Bennies’ drunkeness he ended up with this Buick. Sounds crazy-yeah,you’d think because the guy was a drunk you’d be better off him not having an automobile…but with Bennie the case was reversed-in a suitable way.
How did Bennie end up with the Buick? It goes with his being a drunk. Its best to point out I’m talking about the era of around 1955-1960 here. Folks was more tolerable about certain things and being a drunk was’nt considered much of a problem I suppose because when ever the fire trucks went up the hill past Bennies’ they’d stop and he’d hop on the tail ledge with every one of the other fire guys and off they’d go. Bennie was’nt a fire man. I don’t ever recall knowing of him haveing a job but the point is that haveing a fire truck stop and mount a drunk for his own pleasure in the trip to see a house burn should say something about the times back then.
One night as the fire truck stopped to pick up Bennie – he was drunk enough that he fell off while the truck was raceing through the hills,and he was injured pretty badly.
About that same time there was a man on our road that had this 1955 Buick Special. It was a sharp looking car-baby blue two door hard top convertable. The guy turned up dead in Mrs.Everballs apartments and after the police gave the go ahead the fire department had that car towed over to the fire house and there it stayed parked for months.
Bennie eventually got out of the hospital and went back to the house with his sister leg in a cast and his arm in a cast and he was all banged up and black and blue. His fire truck rides were forever canceled but to make it up to him the fire department brought that Buick over to Bennies’and parked it up by the street in front of Bennies’ and drained the air out of the tires and the deal became that Bennie could keep the car but never drive it-ever. So-the old guy sat in that car day after day after day for the rest of his life-if you needed Bennie he was right there in the front seat of that Buick behind the steering wheel listening to some country music on the radio and smoking Kent’s one right after the other…so many that at the drivers door area the mound of cigeret butts was about three feet around and a few feet tall. Of course-he always had a quart jar of something to keep him toasted.
One day on my younger brothers sixth birthday our mother sent me with a chunk of Joey’s birthday cake for Bennie. Everyone loved Bennie-my mother as well as the rest. I proudly and carefully took the napkin covered plate up to Bennies’ but he was’nt in his Buick. There was a hearse parked behind the Buick and some men were down around Bennies’ house and I went down the path there to see where he was…that was the time I saw Bennies’ sister-and the inside of his house. The morticians were bringing him out on a stretcher and stopped at where I was standing and pulled the blanket back and there was a blue Bennie with his mouth wide open and looking funny because his cigerete stained teeth were missing and instead was a gapeing hole. The only thing I can remember about his sister was how yellow stained her fingers were when she took the small plate from me…her hair and fingers yellow stained from sitting in that house smokeing…probrebly like Bennie -haveing an ash tray mounded with cigeret butts.
In all my life I will never forget that man. On halloween he’d be in that automobile sitting and listening to that radio-every once in a while cranking the motor to keep the battery charged…and on trick or treat you’d go to see Bennie and he’d drop lots of loose change in your bag if he liked you…if he did’nt he’d rasp some foul thing off out of his flem filled voice and kids would flee. We would’nt-he loved us.
This story has only a little to do with the automobile I just bought.
I’ve all of most of my life driven cars that were risk factors on rubber. I’d say tires-but when you were only able to keep used ones running,well…they are’nt really tires anymore. I’ve never had an automobile ever that came from a dealership. I have no knowledge of how a car is bought that way. None. It has always been a fourth owner automobile that was mine because I could scrape up a few hundred dollars for one-that was the family car,sometimes…because when you buy wrecks they stay wrecked and needing most of the time.
Recently things went a little better for me than any time in my life and I have a few more bucks in my pocket than I’ve ever had at one time and wanting to keep a promise to myself I always wanted to own one of those big fancy automobiles like the ones that always whizzed by when I was standing on the shoulder of the road. Problem is-I would never see myself buying a 40,000 some odd dollars of an automobile-ever…because good grief-40k for a car ?? I ain’t even living in a decent house and what I have here has always been picked and salvaged…and who would I be to go out and buy such an expensive off the lot automobile for the same ammount of money that could build me a house ??
Then came…or went ( ?? ) someones grandpa and left his widow with a big road yacht that she’s always riden in the passenger seat and has never driven in her life. And for less than nearly nothing-she sold it to me…looks just like the one in this picture,a Cadillac Concours DeVille with all the things that make you wonder why…A/C and digital climate control and pwer all kinds of gidgets and a trunk large enough to live in-suitably.
I’m going to have to be like Bennie and his Buick. I can never afford to drive a car like this-but in my insanity can not pass up the deal because its so sweet. I will at least have a great and comfortable place to go and get out of the cold….I truely feel kind of strange and Kentucky like-living in a house that is open to all elements and weather and birds and critters make thier freedom in and out of the place because its so open air…and I have a Cadillac fixing to be parked in my yard. But by howdy…it ain’t no clunker this time!

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