Curbside Capsule: 1965 Ford Econoline Heavy Duty – Longevity

In Chicago’s north side neighborhood of Edgewater, west of Broadway.


It has been such a pleasure to both leave for, and arrive home from, work in this month of February bookended by there being light outside.  I believe that Seasonal Affective Disorder is an actual thing, and I’m not saying that I have it as much as some, but I love sunshine.  My spirits have been lifted immensely by the prospects of longer days, open windows, warmer temperatures, and time outdoors when I gaze westward at my neighborhood out of my living room windows.  During the warmer months of last year, I had made it a point to take walks in the evening in and around Edgewater, where I live, and doing so was so enjoyable that I wondered why it had taken me over a decade to enjoy the picturesque beauty of this lovely, little corner of Chicago.

It was on one such walkabout when I came across this ’65 Ford Econoline parked across the street from local Senn High School.  (Last summer, I had actually composed a couple of essays in the evening on the grounds of Senn, so I thought the proximity of this discovery of this classic van was perfect.)  The first thing that I noticed from afar was that its two-tone green-and-silver paint scheme didn’t look like something that would have been offered in the mid-1960s.  I think of this color combination as being kind of “’90s”, though this Ford wore it well.

Upon closer inspection, it became apparent that a few of its doors were open, and there was lumber inside.  In a very Niedermeyerian twist, this vintage Ford from the ’60s was still being used for work purposes.  I’m usually a little wary of lingering too long to take pictures of one of my automotive subjects if there’s a possibility of being caught in the act while doing so but I figured in this case that it was worth the risk.

Some very nice gentlemen who appeared to be in maybe their late-20s / early-30s returned to the van from inside the beautiful, old, multi-unit brick building the van was parked directly in front of.  They were covered in sawdust, but looked genuinely pleased that I had taken an apparent interest in their van.  It was from our all-too-brief verbal exchange that I learned this Econoline was a ’65 model.

This van came to the forefront of my mind as an essay topic probably because I recently celebrated a birthday.  It wasn’t a “significant”, decade-marker birthday, but for whatever reason, it had me thinking about my time on Earth thus far and life expectancy statistics which point to the fact that I’m very likely past the halfway point.  Even though there’s little (if any) correlation between what keeps a vintage vehicle on the road and a “vintage” human being active, trucks like this Econoline and Paul’s F-100 (both of which are still working hard, last I knew) give hope to a dude like me that my “date of manufacture” doesn’t necessarily dictate the degree of my usefulness.

There’s a Hershey commercial that has been airing lately that show a nonagenarian gentleman from Iowa who has been giving out chocolate bars to people in his community for over a decade, just out of the basic goodness of his heart.  Is love for others the secret to longevity?  Likewise, this Econoline, clearly a beloved vehicle, must not have spited its various owners over the years and thus earned its place in their hearts.  Would a vehicle prone to breakdowns and catastrophes still be kicking around over a half-century since rolling off the assembly line?  I think of such heinous vehicles that hit the scrapyards first in their relatively short lives, due to some inherent design flaw and/or poor overall quality.  Who says an inanimate object can’t show “love”, or something like it, to its trusting owner?

As for me, I had kicked off my birthday weekend with close friends, some of whom were born when I was in high school.  We all still had many common threads and plenty to talk about, and we all had a ball.  It may be cliche, but it’s true – age is a state of mind, and the high utility quotient of this ’65 Econoline is proof of that.

Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Monday, July 15, 2019.

Click here for related reading on a different, same-year Econoline I spotted a few years back.