Hop in the truck. Let’s go for a ride! Those were the words that lifted my heart and put a skip in my step. Often on a Sunday afternoon, Dad would dress in his best white shirt, put on his straw hat, and jump up on the running board of his Chevy pick-up truck. Happy memories were made on a Sunday drive sitting in the front seat between Dad grasping the steering wheel, and Mom clutching the door on the other side.
My job was trying to lose him on the back roads of Guernsey County. At each intersection of the road, it was my choice as to which way we should turn – right or left? But no matter how hard I tried, accomplishing that task was not a possibility.
With a snap of his fingers, he’d insist, “I know the back roads of Guernsey County like the back of my hand.” And he did!
Sometimes he would shut off the engine – to save gasoline, which was 25 cents a gallon at that time. Then we would fly down the hills and see how far we could coast before he needed to start the engine running again. A special enjoyment for him was the ability to drive over the roller-coaster like hills in such a manner that your stomach did little flips. The main goal was to have fun while enjoying a ride with his family.
Some of the hills were very steep and our black Chevy truck was very, very old. Sometimes we would make it part way up the hill, stop, then back down to the bottom again for a second try. That old truck didn’t have much get up and go, so it was quite a struggle to climb those steep Ohio hills! Next time he would get a better run for the hill. His laughter still rings in my ears as he would say, “I think I can, I think I can.”
When our truck finally rattled and sputtered to the top of the hill, he would clap his hands and with a voice filled with laughter say, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”
What a great lesson in life: If we truly think we can do something, it can be accomplished. Lessons like that from Dad have stuck with me all these years. Mom always went along for the rides even though she didn’t enjoy them nearly as much as Dad and his daughter. Shaking her head, Mom would declare, “You two are my favorite gypsies.”