My Father’s Mid-Life Crisis
My father was a quiet man. With a wife and seven children, four of whom were girls, there was plenty of noise in the household, that is when Dad was not sleeping. You see, he worked midnights. That meant he slept during the day. For most of the year he came home after we left for school and was still sleeping when we came home. We had our dinner and after the kitchen was cleaned, Dad woke up and had his breakfast about the time the youngest were going to bed.
Because we had such a large family, the station wagon was the mode of transportation. I recall a pink and white mid-fifties Ford wagon. That vehicle was replaced with a 1964 brown Ford Galaxie Country Squire. This was the car I learned to drive on and the one I took when I borrowed the family car to go on dates.
When I graduated from high school, Dad thought it was time to get a second vehicle. Besides myself, two of my sisters and Mom were driving and the car was always in demand.
Now Dad was not an extravagant man. All the family cars we had up to then and even after that were “practical”, inexpensive, or both. That’s why were all surprised one day when Dad brought his new car home from the dealer. I don’t know if he talked it over with Mom but he certainly didn’t consult me ahead of time.
Dad bought himself a luxurious 1968 Grecian Gold Mercury Cougar XR7, with a black vinyl top. The XR-7 model featured a simulated wood-grained dashboard with a full set of black-faced competition instruments and toggle switches, an overhead console, a T-type center automatic transmission shifter and leather-vinyl upholstery. Besides Dad, I was the only one allowed to drive this car.
This was by far my vehicle of choice for dates. The only drawback was that I had to have the car home before Dad left for work at 11:30. It was worth the sacrifice as I loved this car.
The early Cougar was considered a ‘pony’ car with a 111” wheelbase and a small block 302 cubic inch engine. While I would have preferred Dad select the four-barrel carburetor, or even the 427 cubic inch engine, I still loved the acceleration of this small car.
The car had bucket seats with a center console, so necking in the front seat was out of the question.