Curbside Journal: The Diary of “Blister” Callahan, Age 16

June 22, 1988

Dear Diary,

My first entry is that I have been advised to start a diary. Someday, it will help me remember what’s going on now; after all, I won’t always be young, or so I’m told.  Whatever.

My 16th birthday is a few weeks away, so soon I’ll be getting my driver’s license! Naturally, I’m looking for a car.  Mom and Dad’s eight-year-old Malibu is okay, but it just won’t attract the ladies.  I’m not sure whether it more closely resembles the bad guy’s car from “The Dukes of Hazzard” or a taxicab in downtown Baghdad.  It could go either way.

First, let me tell you about myself.  My name is “Blister” Callahan.  Mom gave me that nickname because she says that I don’t show up until after the work is over, just like a blister.  I guess she’s talking about my birth.  I don’t like being called Blister, but it’s still better than my real name, Arlo.

I’ve been looking for a car for some time and have saved up money from mowing yards and even baby-sitting.  The guys made fun of me for baby-sitting.  I told them the babysitting money is green and I will be buying myself a bitchin’ set of wheels while they’re still riding their Schwinns.  It’s much easier to romance a lady in a car than on the handlebars of a bicycle.

I told Pop I wanted to buy a car.  I have over $2,700 saved up, and that should be a good down payment on one.  I figure Pop can help with the rest, since he has lots of money and I can pay him back.  He asked me how I planned to pay for the fuel, license and insurance.  I told him if I got a car, I could go get a better job that paid more. He replied that I’m quite the problem solver.

And so, the other day we went looking.

We looked at this most awesome ’67 Mustang.  The older gentleman who owned it has a bunch of Mustangs in his stable.  Heck, he even had a ’65 with a bench seat.

Great color and a stick shift!  When Pop opened the hood, he said it was just right for me.

A six-cylinder.  Ugh.  Why did Ford do this?  A Mustang is a performance car, not a secretary’s car.  Pop told me it was both.  Whatever.

All I know is I don’t want a car that wheezes like a hog with a sinus infection.  It’s just not right; the ladies won’t go for that.

Then again, Pop is 40, so his mind just isn’t what it used to be.  I’m really getting worried about him becoming senile.

On the way back, I told Pop I needed a car worthy of my reputation and something that would make me look good.  He just kept driving and said “okay.”  He didn’t sound very concerned.

July 8, 1988

This black beauty turned up in the newspaper.  The owner had died and now his kids are auctioning his belongings.  This gnarly ’78 Lincoln Mark V is part of the auction.  Pop vetoed it.  He said its 460 cu in (7.5-liter) V8 is too much engine.

I told him Mom would like it, and that I was simply thinking of him and their happiness.  He shook his head and rolled his eyes.

That bites!  I think his advanced age is clouding his judgement.  That Lincoln is everything their Malibu isn’t.  Pity.  It even has leather seats for easy clean-up, and Pop does like to keep his cars clean.

Two days later, Pop, with a really serious look about him, said he had an idea. He asked me again how much money I’d saved, and I told him it was $2,700.  He asked if I was willing to work to pay off a car.  I told him I was, and that we’d talked about that before.  He told me to seriously consider his idea, especially if I wanted to parlay my money into something more.  I was all ears.

But what exactly does “parlay” mean?  I’ve heard of “parlay-voo France-A”, but I don’t think that’s it.

Pop told me that his idea might sound radical, but to please hear him out: What if I invested my money into a small, vehicle-related business that would turn a profit?  Then I could buy an even better car and still have money!  Pop hasn’t lost it after all.  What a great idea!

July 15, 1988

Pop and I have been putting our heads together.  We know of a few business needs locally, but don’t really have an idea of what will fly. Right now, we’re considering several options.

We know of no real taxi or limo service in our area, so we’ve considered buying this ’48 Dodge limo.  Heck, except for its paint it’s in awesome shape, considering it’s 40 years old.  When Pop learned it was one of only 3,698 limos that Dodge built from 1946 to 1949, he thought it might be better to buy and then restore it at a later time. I agree; it would be a shame to ruin it by turning it into a taxi.

After giving it more thought, we didn’t like the taxi / limo idea, since I was still in school and scheduling problems would be inevitable.

I also found this Dodge D-600.  It looks like it has a lot of life left in it, but since we’re in a very rural area, I passed.  Neither Pop nor I think there’s enough work to keep it busy.

August 2, 1988

Ten days ago I turned 16.  Nothing has turned up yet, and I’m getting pretty discouraged.  Nothing even looks promising.

August 7, 1988

Eureka!  I had an idea!

Yesterday we discovered our septic tank was clogged.  Pop and I dug it up, and when we popped off the lid it was pretty bad–so bad that Pop returned to the house and threw away all our corn and peanuts.  Then it hit me!  Why didn’t I think of this earlier?

I had found this old Ford tanker a few days ago, but hadn’t given it much thought since.  After Pop calmed down and we fixed the septic tank, I told him my idea.  He liked it so much, he said he’d pay for half the truck and personally perform any needed  modifications.

I’m going into the honey-dipping business! Pop said I’ve been pumping out shit for 16 years, so it seemed such a natural fit for me. He’s right!

October 2, 1988

Business is great!  I’m driving the old Ford to school and pumping a tank or two every afternoon.  I’m making a LOT of money.  Some of the guys make fun of me and my “Turd Tank,” and I tell them to kiss my ass.  I’m not worried about them.  I make nearly $700 a week working after school while they go home every day to flog big Jim and the twins.

The ladies really like my industriousness.  They say that businessmen really get their attention.  By Valentine’s Day, I plan on buying myself a bitchin’ new Mustang 5.0.  I’ll be paying cash and will still have a kick-ass income for someone my age.  I’ll be taking the ladies out for a fine time while those pud pounders at school are begging to use their parents’ ’85 Dodge Aries.  Not I!

But first I’m expanding my business, having found this old Ford chassis just begging to go to work again.