A Bucket of Bolts

by Jackie Jones

To tell you about a bucket of bolts I need to tell you a little bit about my dad. My dad was an incurable dreamer and he was always looking for a way to make a buck. He spent many Saturdays going from car lot to car lot looking for junkers that he thought he could fix up and sell. One spring Saturday afternoon he visited a dealer and looked all of the cars over carefully. He noticed that the junkers were all in the back row. I think that in the beginning he just planned to buy a couple of them but the dealer made him a sweet deal and he ended up buying the whole back row of cars. Enter my bucket of bolts. If I remember correctly, it was Army green, or was it orange, I can’t remember. It didn’t matter anyway because it was so rusty it was hard to tell the color. It was a Jeepster and he said he’d keep it running if I wanted it to drive it. This Jeepster looked like an ugly duckling and I’ve always had a fondness for little ugly ducklings. I took the keys with gratitude. It was a convertible so that added some style but it didn’t hold up too high in the style points category because of its looks. It had four-wheel drive. That added to the adventure.
Almost every time I say this, someone in the group almost always says, “I had a car like that.” The rust was so complete that much of the floor boards were rusted out. The effect was that you could see the road as you drove along. The heat from the road would also come up in abundance making the next idiosyncrasy almost irrelevant. The heater was stuck on high.
I had a friend who was pregnant at the time. We were all going to the movie. She was setting in the front seat with the summer Oklahoma heat coming up from the road and the heater blasting away. She suddenly said, “You’ve got to stop. I am so hot and miserable that I think I might have this baby right here and now if you don’t stop.” I stopped. We fanned her and got her a drink of water. I then proceeded very slowly to the movie and we didn’t have that baby in the Jeepster that hot summer day.
However, we generally did have an abundance of fun. With little to worry about as far as the car was concerned, I drove with abandon and relished scaring my friends. We took a lot of unchartered byways and laughter was the name of the game. It’s a wonder that we didn’t kill ourselves but, oh my, it was fun.
That was the summer that the neighbors called the authorities and complained that our yard looked pretty raged. My dad cleaned it up really well. He parked the cars in a neat row just like at a used car lot. One by one they got fixed up and sold. He did profit from the deal and I got my first car, a bucket of bolts.
See you next week.