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home : opinion : columnist July 25, 2021

7/18/2021 9:20:00 AM
A Youthful Adventure

Paulette Ballard
Guest Columnist


In 1979 Butch was playing ball in the Carolina league for the Phillies. One night he and his 2 roommates were visiting another teammate. His roommates needed to borrow Butch’s car to run an errand and they didn’t return until about 1:30 in the morning. Butch’s car was a pretty rough 1972 Volkswagen Beetle.

As the guys approached the car Tommy told Butch the accelerator had gone out on them.  It was late and Butch just wanted to get home so he told Tommy he would have to crouch on the back bumper and work the accelerator from there. (Remember the engine is in the back of a Volkswagen Beetle). They were 3 or 4 miles from home, but luckily it was late and there wasn’t much traffic. Tommy had to pull on the spring to accelerate the car and slack off to slow it down while crouching on the bumper the entire ride home.

They finally approached home and had to cross a busy, two lane highway to enter the apartment complex where they lived. Butch looked to the left and saw a big semi truck coming toward them, but he knew he could coast across the two lanes in time so he didn’t slow the car down. Butch said he put the clutch in, looked in the side view mirror, saw Tommy’s incredulous look and listened to the engine scream as Tommy pulled on the accelerator with all his might. Tommy was miffed at him to say the least, but Darryl and Butch couldn’t do anything but laugh.

The guys had another game the next day and after lazing around all day Butch realized he had done nothing to repair the car.  Now they decided to put a matchbox in the accelerator spring so the engine would be wide open all the time. They pulled out of our parking lot, eased onto the highway, which was heavily traveled at this time of day, and started making their way to the game.

The traffic was flying by them at first until Butch started shifting gears. By the time he was in third gear the Volkswagon was matching the speed of the other cars. Once in fourth gear they were passing the other cars. Keep in mind Butch had no control at all over the speed of this car.

The car engine was screaming, they were weaving in and out of traffic being given looks of disgust from other drivers, and the guys were all cracking up laughing.

The next day went by and still they had done nothing about the car repairs. This day Butch tied a shoe string to a belt and tied the belt to a hair dryer’s power cord.  The hair dryer was slipped through the Volkswagen’s rear and pulled out the window.  Tommy would pull on the hair dryer to accelerate and slack off to slow it down. They drove the rest of the summer like this.

Butch finally bit the bullet and took the car to a mechanic to see how much it would cost him to replace the accelerator.  The cable was replaced for $10. Butch said if he had known it was only going to cost $10 he could have had it repaired the first day.  But then again, he wouldn’t have this funny story to tell.



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