Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Old Pepsi Car

My grandfather had this blue Pontiac from the sixties, a truly fabulous specimen that I would love to have now--if it was still running. It looked like this:

I remember him coming over on Sundays to visit, mostly after the monster battle where Mom finally told Dad to get out. He'd come rumbling down Franklin Street, parking on the gravel road, standing there in his dark blue suit and tie with business hat perched on top of his bald head.

We were always at the window, ready to run out and greet him. With one signal, our bare feet ran out past the lawn and through a grassy ditch to meet him on the road above.

"Hey you kids. Want to see something? The car battery's been acting up and I have a trick to show you. Marshall, come over here. Stand back though!" Shaking hands lifted the front hood, revealing all the innards of his Pontiac. Grandpa reached into his suit and pulled out a bottle of Pepsi, using a pocket bottle opener to flip off the cap. Soda fizzled, then swam out of the glass opening to his weathered hands.

He pointed to the battery, and the gray crust which had begun to form. "Watch."

He lifted the bottle and let its dark liquid pour out onto the battery connectors. Within seconds, the crust began to foam up and break apart.

"Get me a stick!" Marshall ran to grab one from the apple tree in the front yard. Then we all watched Grandpa scrape away the muck, smiling at us through his black glasses. "Isn't that something?"

We all nodded in silence.

"Well . . . go get yourselves some soda out of the back seat. I'll go see your mom."

The three of us dove into the backseat to claim one bottle each, Marshall grabbing the first one as usual. Then we ran after the swinging screen door, happy and breathless under a wide Kansas sky.

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