Curbside Classic: 1967 Dodge A-100 – What Are You Doing Here, Eugene

(first posted 4/21/2012)    I have never been to Eugene, Oregon.  You see, I am a corn-fed midwestern boy, born in Michigan and raised in the Hoosier state.  We eat breaded tenderloins, watch basketball and buy Thomas Kinkade paintings for the living rooms of our mobile homes.  What little I know about the Pacific northwest in general and Eugene, Oregon in particular comes from right here at Curbside Classic.

What I am about to tell you may or may not have happened.  I am not sure what to believe, myself, and am quite confused about the whole thing.  I somehow either breached the time/space continuum and landed in a little piece of Eugene for a few minutes, or Eugene did the breaching and plopped a little piece of itself down in an Indianapolis parking lot.  Could this be any more confusing?  The longer I think about it, I start to get a little unsettled, but here we are, so I may as well tell my tale and let all of you be the judge.

Late one Saturday morning awhile back, I was driving along, minding my own business.  I am not sure where I was going, exactly.  I do recall that I was driving through a large parking lot.  I am sure that I was thinking about something, but don’t ask me what.  This is one thing that I AM sure of – that I was actually thinking of something.  I know this because have you ever tried thinking about nothing?  It is incredibly hard, and I don’t do anything that hard on a Saturday morning.  But I digress.

Suddenly, the radio announcer says that it will be 45 degrees and rainy in Eugene today.  Huh?  While I am trying to figure out why I am getting a Eugene radio station, I look up and there it is.  A mossy green Dodge A-100 van.  With some camper windows in it.  It is not rusty.  It has a wooden kayak mounted on top.   This is just so wrong.  Nobody in Indianapolis would drive this.  I look around, and I see familiar sights, but here I am with this Dodge.  This, I think, must be what it is like living in Eugene. It is almost like I am really there.  Then I start to wonder.  How is this Indianapolis?  It is cloudy and the pavement is wet.  It was dry and sunny when I started out this morning.  Now its a damp day, there is nobody around, and I am staring at this van.  I don’t understand this at all, but something is weirdly wrong.

I try to rationalize what I am seeing.  An Indiana license plate, and a dealer sticker from an area small-town Dodge dealer that is still in business.  But then I get hold of myself:  In Eugene, everyone is high all the time, so maybe this is just a hallucination.  We all know that the subconscious can play tricks on us, make us see things that are not really there, but are useful in helping us to make sense of things that don’t make sense.

Get yourself together, JP.  You have to snap out of this.  Great.  Now I am talking to myself.  Worse, I am talking to myself about talking to myself.  This is bad.  But then I look up.  The Dodge is still there.  I think.

Maybe it will help if I try to identify it.  If I am dreaming, it may start morphing into something else.  Maybe like The Brave Little Toaster.  Inviting me to sit down for some waffles.  This would prove that I am dreaming, and would also prove that I am back at home, because nobody in Eugene Oregon could ever possibly experience eating waffles with The Brave Little Toaster.  Unless they are high.  So this dream thing may not work.

I slap myself, because I can tell that my mind is running away with itself.  How is that even possible?  OK, what year is this thing.  Jeez, they all look alike.  Pick a year between 1964 and 1970.  Maybe the hubcaps.  I’ll take 1967 for $100, Alex.  (OK, smart guy, go ahead and make fun.  Let’s see you do better if YOU suddenly wake up with a piece of Eugene, Oregon hanging over you!  Dammit, this is MY story, anyhow.  Save your comments for later.  There is a special box for you down below.)

I went to take a look inside, but was pretty freaked out about it.  Doesn’t everyone in Eugene who has a van live in it?  The last thing I need to see is some nut job with frizzy hair and long sideburns looking back at me through a smoky haze when I look in the window.   What – there are no homicidal maniacs in Eugene?  I have every right to feel anxious.  That “Coexist” decal on the window could be a trap, you know.  What’s with the rope on the steering wheel?  Maybe each of those knots is a victim.  I had better just back away quietly.

Maybe if I just start thinking about the A-100, everything will go back to normal.  If it really exists.  Actually, what is there to think about.  It is an Econoline with electrical and carburation problems.  But maybe it has a V8.  No, it can’t be, because the back wheels are on the ground and not hovering in the air because of the extra front weight.  Is there really anything else interesting about this van?  Of course not.  Chrysler during the Lynn Townsend era never did anything really interesting.  Well actually, every car they sold in those days was like a 4 wheeled lottery ticket (did you win or did you lose?), so I guess that would be kind of interesting.

And would someone please tell me what is with the kayak?  Just who has a wooden kayak?  Isn’t this why they invented fiberglass?  If you want a wooden boat, get a Chris Craft.  And tow it with a Country Squire.  But I keep forgetting the Eugene thing.  Maybe everyone there paddles a wooden kayak while eating granola on Saturday mornings.  So where is the granola dude with the paddle?  And why on an A-100?  Shouldn’t this be on a Subaru or a Volvo wagon?  Maybe the old Dodge is just more ironic.  Doesn’t everyone in Eugene do irony?  I mean the kind that does not involve spray starch.

I am starting to wonder again – I know I experienced this, because I have the pictures.  But are these even mine?  Maybe I got onto the Curbside Cohort page in my sleep.  Maybe Bryce from New Zealand took these pictures.  They probably have wooden kayaks there.  But they would probably be on some kind of Holden or some other car I’ve never heard of, so that can’t be it.  And besides, I am still looking at the stupid van.  I think.  And there is nobody here who sounds like Crocodile Dundee calling me Mate.  So it is not New Zealand.

Something occurs to me just now.  As I looked at the A-100, I am not fifty yards from where I was standing last summer when I shot the Corvair Rampside (CC here).  Maybe Eugene and I ran into each other that day too.  Nothing seemed wrong then, because the sun was out.  But I understand that the sun comes out a couple of times a year in Eugene, so maybe cosmic forces were just messing with me.  Trying to lure me in.  Maybe this whole stupid shopping center has violated some law of the universe.  Oh great – one single damned wormhole in the time/space continuum and I have to step right into it.  And why no Econoline so I could at least get the complete set?

Right then is when I decided that I had better try to make a break for it.  We have all seen movies where the energy portal closes on the poor slob who can’t figure out that he needs to jump RIGHT NOW.   So no more delays, A-100 with a wooden kayak or not.

The next thing I remember, I was driving somewhere on familiar streets on a sunny day, and feeling very strange.  The radio announcer says that it will be sunny and 60 in the Indianapolis vicinity.  I checked my cellphone for the time and date, and see that there are some fresh pictures there – of a moss green A-100 with a wooden kayak on top.  What just happened?  An alien abduction?  Nah – that would just be weird.



Auto-Biography: 1968 Dodge A100 – The Dream-Mobile  Paul N.