Whitesburg KY
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Points East

Truck stirs memories of Paul Mason


Around noon on a hot summer day in 1995, I shook hands with the late Paul Mason in the little office behind his car lot on the edge of Whitesburg. I walked outside, stuck the keys in the ignition of the most handsome vehicle on the lot, fired her up and headed back to Paint Lick.

There probably wasn’t a happier guy in eastern Kentucky than me as I tooled back down the Daniel Boone in my bright red Chevy work truck. I wouldn’t have been any prouder behind the wheel of a brand new Coupe’ de Ville.

Paul had called to tell me he’d found a truck in my price range. We’d dickered a bit and he’d agreed to throw in a bed liner and a new Pioneer stereo cassette deck. Brother Andy, who lived near Whitesburg at the time, had gone up to town and taken her for a test drive.

Andy called back to say that it ran like a top and also noted that it was awfully long and awfully red.

“Won’t be nobody asking you what color it is,” he said. “And you won’t be doing any parallel parking unless you find two empty spots in a row.”

I call Paul back we closed the deal on the phone.

This was not the first time I’d traded with him on a vehicle I hadn’t laid eyes on. Paul Mason, who was then a member of the State Legislature, was the best, most honest politician who has ever set foot in Frankfort, and the only car dealer with whom I’ve ever dealt without suspecting that he had an ace up his sleeve or had, at the very least, stacked the deck.

Actually, for more than two decades, it didn’t even occur to me to look anyplace other than Mason’s when the kids or Loretta needed a car or when I had finally worn out a truck.

But that was over 12 years and about 225,000 miles ago. Paul Mason is now chewing the fat with St. Peter and my old truck is sitting in the front yard looking lonesome and needing love.

Son-in-law Kevin Ochs has made me the proud owner of his babied Toyota Sonoma and I’m getting ready to find Old Red a new home because I feel guilty pulling into the driveway and seeing her sitting there all by herself. If she was a dog, she’d be barking at me.

But I swear, it still feels like I’m selling a member of the family. Even Loretta, who has never had an emotional relationship with a vehicle, welled up when I told her, lump-in-throat, that I needed to find a “For Sale” sign to stick on the windshield.

“You are actually taking this a lot better than I thought you would,” she told me.

On the other hand, I haven’t signed any papers yet. And that’s when the going may yet get tough.

But I’m not going to sell her to just anybody. The new owner is going to have to look me in the eye and promise that he’ll change the oil and grease her every 3,000 miles or thereabouts, just like I have, and also promise to keep looking for a new bench seat the way I have ever since I spilled battery acid on the driver’s side.

More importantly, the new owner is going to have to talk to her and love on her a lot as he or she tools along. She really likes me to have my hand on the shifter knob and my foot propped up alongside her clutch. And she does like girls, too.

Old Red and Patty Tarquino became best buddies for a couple of years when Patty was in school at Berea College and living with us during the summer. She taught Patty how to drive a standard shift. Of course, I did have to put a new clutch in her right after Patty moved to Letcher County.

The stories could go on for many pages, but I’m going to have sign off here and write a classified advertisement.

In the meantime, if you know of anybody who has recently lost a beloved truck and needs another one to get over the heartbreak, give me a call or drop me a letter by snail mail at 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, Ky., 40461, or by e-mail at ikeadams@aol.com.


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