Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 30, 2003


My old truck makes me the envy of every Bubba in Elmore County


            A few years back I had to sell my ugly green truck. That was a sad day because I was attached to that old truck. I hated to let it go, but 18 years of service was all it could give. Folks said I was lucky to sell it for 800 dollars, and I reckon I was.

            Then, in a weak moment, I let my friend Gary Snell talk me into buying a snazzy S-10 Chevrolet.  That was a pretty truck, black and silver, with less than 30,000 miles on it. However, I was not happy. I did not feel comfortable in a pretty truck. So I got rid of it.

            Once again, I started looking for an ugly truck. My inspiration was Barry Whatley’s old truck. It is the ugliest truck in Lee County, bar none. But I knew Barry would never sell it, so I began looking for one like it.

            I was tempted even to look for one on the Internet, but I am not that much of a gambler. I knew I would have to examine it firsthand, kick the tires, and look under the hood.

            As luck would have it, my son Tim heard about my misery and came to my rescue. He had bought an old truck from his neighbor, but he was not satisfied with it. He wanted a later model, something a little fancier.

            Sure enough, it was an ugly truck all right. It was a Ford F-150, a 1984 model, with a long body, in bad shape. I liked it. Tim said his neighbor had overhauled both the transmission and the engine, and Tim had put a new kit in the carburetor.

            The speedometer still worked and indicated it had only 19,000 miles on it. Tim and I figured that meant the true mileage was 119,000 miles. To my great surprise, the cruise control still worked.

            I drove that baby out on I-85, revved it up to 65 mph, and set the cruise. There was not the slightest vibration, which told me the front end was in good shape. Tim and I settled on $1300 as the price, and once again, I had myself an ugly old truck.

            I drove it around Opelika during my final years there, but my wife refused to ride in it – in the daytime. That bothered me some, but not enough to make me sell the truck.  As far as I know, no one ever complained to the bishop that the pastor was driving an ugly truck. People do have their pride, and I understand that.

            A couple of months ago my wife began hinting that maybe I should trade my old truck in on a later model. “You are not going to live much longer,” she said convincingly, so why don’t you get you a nice looking truck?”

            She can be persuasive when she wants to, so I began looking around. What would I have to pay for a nicer, later model? I guessed perhaps from five to ten thousand dollars.

            That seemed like a lot of money. So I began thinking about fixing up my old truck. First, I wanted to know if a genuine, honest mechanic would think the truck worth sprucing up.

            Gray’s Auto Service Center in Wetumpka has a good reputation. David and the fellows who run that center are fine people. David checked it out and gave me a price on fixing the power steering, the brakes, and a few other items. We cut a deal, and in a day or so, David said, “Preacher, all that truck needs is some driving. It is in good shape.”

            I decided it needed one or two more things: a new paint job, a bed liner, and a toolbox in the back. The Maaco people in Montgomery offered me a two-year guarantee on a paint job, for a price I could hardly believe -- $255. I paid them a little more to get the rust off the roof, and a few more bucks to paint me a fancy line down each side.       “Sharp, man, sharp!” That is what my 22-year-old grandson, Garrett, remarked when he saw it. He thought I had bought a new truck.

            Now my old truck is ugly no more. My son Matt suggested that I buy a black toolbox rather than a silver one. I did, and he was right. The black color blends beautifully with the bright red finish on the truck.

            I stuck with bright red because the interior is red. One of my first improvements was replacing the headliner with a red one that matched the inside color scheme.

            At first, I had wanted to paint the truck orange and blue, to celebrate my Auburn connection. However, the price was too hefty and it would have clashed with the red interior.

            As you might expect, the air conditioner no longer works. I did not get it replaced for a good reason. Nobody will want to ride with me. Except my grandsons, and they are welcome anytime.

            Now whenever I go into town, I am the envy of every Bubba in Elmore County.

As soon as I save a little more money, I am going to put a gun rack in the cab and start showing off my shotgun. I may even buy me a bird dog to ride in the back on that new bed liner.

            If I do that, though, I figure some green-eyed Bubba may try to take my old truck away from me. That’s why I am going to see Sheriff Franklin – to see if he will give an old codger like me a permit to carry my 38 in my truck. After all, a man has to be prepared to protect his stuff, and my old red truck is about the prettiest thing I have ever owned.

            Best of all, it’s paid for. So all you guys with $850 a month payments for a fancy truck, eat your heart out. I will stick with Old Red until the cows come home. + + +