The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Who Gives A S? WGAS 1

I'm introducing a new type of dump post today, and most of you will probably say WGAS. That's right. WGAS. Who. Gives. A. Sh-t.

You know the type of stuff I'm talking about. That stuff that somebody thinks is soooo important but which registers a minus 5 or lower on your personal GAS (give a sh-t) meter.

I know all of my readers are busy people who don't want to waste their time reading a lot of BS; therefore, you can think of what I'm doing as a public service. A quick glace at the WGAS list and you can ignore these little tidbits elswhere on the internet and go on about your bizniz.

So here goes.

A raccoon has shut down part of a state building in downtown Nashville. The writer doesn't identify the building but at the very least I hope it involves some state Democrat legislators.  Maybe the coon is a pissed off descendant of the animal that gave his skin and tail to make the famous hat worn by Tennessee senator Estes Kefauver during his political campaigns in the 40's and 50's. Let's hope the coon will head to Washington, D.C. after he's through here in TN. He might even join a tea party.

The brilliant genius Sheryl Crow has called Tea Party people "uneducated," "angry," and "potentially dangerous." She then retrieved a single sheet of toilet paper and asked interviewer Katy Couric to excuse her while she went to the bathroom. Wait a minute. Katy Couric? Geez, two geniuses on the same stage at the same time. There was probably enough brainpower there to change a lightbulb in the ladies room if necessary. Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Here's a pic of a relaxing, high IQ Crow during the interview. Speaking of IQ, men are sometimes accused of thinking with their p... Wonder what Crow's thinking with here? Wonder what Couric was thinking with? Hey. I lied about that pic. It wasn't made during the interview. But you know what, I don't GAS!

A bunch of "artists" are on record as opposing the Arizona law that cracks down on illegal immigration. They include such high visibility celebs as Gaia, Goldrat, and Oilhead. ??? Maybe I'm culturally illiterate, but who the hell are these people? Why aren't they locked up somewhere? Here's a pic of Oilhead. They look like a politically intelligent looking group don't they? I think that's a female with the pink hair. I think. Would you buy a used cellphone from these people? WGAS!

Twilight Eclipse has opened. It's about teen age vampires. There's a lot of sexual angst. I wish these people would just bite something. Bite me, for example. What a waste of celluloid. Take a look at this pic of the three principals. Do you really care if these people are sucking each other's blood? I say, WGAS!

This is Dapper Dan, your humble WGAS correspondent signing off till next time.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Invasion of the Nation Snatchers

In the cold month of February, I wrote a post about the great 50's "B" movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The film's message still resonates today. In my opinion, that message is that we must remain eternally vigilant against stealthy utopian Marxists because their goal now is subversion from within. These people look like us and talk like us so they're hard to recognize. They will use or subvert our own political, legal, and education systems to establish what they perceive as the ideal: a communist/socialist state.

Stanford scholar Victor Davis Hanson suggests that with the Obama administration we are already on that road to ruin. His excellent article is entitled "The Law, How Quaint." Please read it in its entirety.

Hanson cites numerous recent examples of the Obama administration's pattern of disregarding the law and governing by fiat and decree:
  • demonizing and bringing a lawsuit against the state of Arizona for passing their recent illegal immigration law,
  • guaranteeing illegal workers protection if they report shorted wages,
  • making a mockery of "one man, one vote" to ensure "diversity,"
  • ignoring past legal precedent (which capped liability) and bullying BP without a court order or congressional legislation into agreeing to a $20 billion liability settlement,
  • using an executive order to overturn the legally determined order of creditors in the Chrysler Corporation bailout, 
  • and initiating speculation about another executive decree to implement features of cap and trade legislation that congress won't pass.
Hanson says,
Federal officials determine a supposed good and then find the necessary way to achieve it. The law be damned. “Diversity,” unions, environmentalism — any of these anointed causes trumps the staid idea of simply following the letter of the law.
And Dorothy Rabinowitz says Obama is so much an academic ideologue and so far out of touch with ordinary Americans, he seems like a foreigner or an alien. From her article, "The Alien in the White House,"
A great part of America now understands that this president's sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House, a matter having nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe.
These ideological "aliens" and their leader Obama are "snatching" away the nation that we know and love, the nation of free enterprise, equality of opportunity (not outcomes), limited government, enforced borders, and a strong military for defense of our freedoms.

So if we feel a little paranoid these days and very much like those characters in Invasion of the Body Snatchers who have not yet been taken over by the alien pods, maybe it's because the Obama White House is "snatching" away or "changing" everything most Americans believe in. Perhaps that old 1956 film can serve as both a warning to us and a call to action.

My February post on that prescient film follows this introductory one.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

This post was originally published here on Februrary 9, 2010.

Another blogger (Pat Conlon) recently compared Oregon Democrats to the Pod People in the classic SF movie, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."  I don't know any Oregon Democrats but I trust Mr. Conlon's assessment. And this allusion to the famous 1956 film got me thinking about it again. I've viewed "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" over thirty-five times. I can still see the look of horror on Kevin McCarthy's face (in the role of Dr. Miles Bennell) when he kisses his girl friend (played by Dana Wynter). She's fallen asleep and has been taken over by an alien consciousness.

Thirty five times, you say? No, I'm not crazy. I frequently used "Body Snatchers" in a college class I taught on Science Fiction. Even though it's a cheaply and quickly made "B" film, it transcends those "B" limitations because it was based on a solid script and directed by Don Siegel ("Flaming Star," "Dirty Harry," "The Shootist," etc.) with great care and skill.

"Body Snatchers," which took only 23 days to shoot, was successful when it was released and is still highly regarded today. Wikipedia says the film cost only $380,000 to make, but earned over a million dollars in its first month. In 2008, the American Film Institute ranked it the 9th best SF film of all time.

Although many leftists spin the film as critical of McCarthy era fear and paranoia, the film itself  makes much more sense when viewed from an actual anti-communist perspective. Those involved in the production of the movie, however, say they were just interested in making a good thriller. Wikipedia says:

In his autobiography, "I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History," Walter Mirisch writes: "People began to read meanings into pictures that were never intended. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers is an example of that. I remember reading a magazine article arguing that the picture was intended as an allegory about the communist infiltration of America. From personal knowledge, neither Walter Wanger nor Don Siegel, who directed it, nor Dan Mainwaring, who wrote the script nor the original author Jack Finney, nor myself saw it as anything other than a thriller, pure and simple."

That being said, any work of art once it's released into the public is open to interpretation. At that point, the artists who created it join the many who offer insights into the work. Their insights are valuable, but so are other viewers. And the "Body Snatchers" seems to invite interpretation of its subtext, political or otherwise. And that contributes to its effectiveness in generating horror.There are no bug eyed monsters, no tentacles, no blood spattered clothing, and yet, lurking just below the surface of the dialogue and the minimal action, is real socio-political terror. What makes "Body Snatchers" scary?

First, the hero is a man of science, a Doctor, Miles Bennell (played by Kevin McCarthy). He's very skeptical of the initial hysterical reports from people who say their loved ones are imposters, that they have been taken over by an alien consciousness. When he finally realizes the horrible truth, we do too.

Second, those who have been taken over by the alien pods, the ones to fear, look just like us. You can't tell the enemy just by looking at the surface. You have to pay attention to what they say, what they do. Can you trust your colleagues, your patients, your aquaintances, or even your girl friend?

Third, in the film the take over occurs when we literally fall asleep. And who can do without sleep? We can resist it, but it will eventually come. Figuratively, the take over occurs when we let our guard down. When we stop being vigilant.

Trust is the thread that knits a society's disparate parts together, keeps it whole and functioning. When that goes, social dissolution begins. If we are not vigilant, if we don't watch our leaders carefully, if we don't question and challenge the messages being presented in the media and in schools and universities, we are in grave danger. That's why the film struck a chord in the Cold War fifties (people in general were truly opposed to and fearful of an external Marxist/Communist/Socialist attack or the possibility of an interal takeover via secret communist cells).

For example, one of the most popular TV shows of the fifties was "I Led Three Lives," about a man who (1) lived an ordinary working man's life as a family man and good neighbor, (2) who was secretly a member of a communist cell, plotting sabotage, etc., but (3) who also was an undercover agent for the FBI, bent on infiltrating and exposing Communist activity in the US. 

The film's message of eternal vigilance is also why I think the film still speaks powerfully to us today. The threats are still there. And they're even more insidious in that they are made to appear so glamorous and attractive in popular entertainment, and so caring and sensitive to the plight of social victims in the news media, and so urgently and logically necessary in classrooms and curricula in academia.  As the film suggests, the people who spread the pod poison look just like the rest of us. 

In a memorable scene near the end of the film, a frightened Dr. Bennell (McCarthy) is on the highway screaming at passengers in passing cars and in a close up that breaks the so called "fourth wall" shouts his warning directly to the audience with the words, "You're next!" It's true I think. We could be next.

Some other reasons to watch the movie: the performances of McCarthy, and Dana Wynter (who plays Becky Driscoll), King Donovan (Jack Belicec), and Carolyn Jones (who plays Becky's friend), plus some wonderful noir camera work. 

This post was originally published February 9, 2010.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Don't Worry 'Bout Me

1961. A good year. We were one year married, living in a cramped 1 BR apartment in Vet Village at MTSU. In September of that year, our son was born. The Fiat Bianciana was gone by then and we were bumming rides. Our student neighbor across the way took us to the Hospital for the birth. Joyce was calm, I was in a state of total panic.

We had a limited income. Joyce had worked through the previous fall and winter, but stopped in August because of the pregnancy. I was taking 21 credit hours at old MTSU so I could finish all my requirements and graduate in January of 1962. That fall, I somehow managed to work 40 hours a week at a local drugstore, from 2 till 10 PM. I was either in a sleep deprived haze or a no-doz frenzy most of the time. I do remember listening to this song on our radio (we didn't have a TV). Joyce and I loved it. It reached #3 on the Hot 100 that year. Marty wrote it and sang it. The fuzz guitar got most of the publicity though. Great song...

They Keep Veering Off To the Far Left

Well. What did you expect?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Although I subscribe to the American Cowboy magazine, I'm about as far from being a real cowboy as you can be. I only rode a horse once, on a vacation at a dude ranch, and that experience was enough to make me a comic legend in my family. To elict guffaws at any gathering, you only have to mention my name and the word "horse" in the same sentence and immediately the laughter starts as we remember the rhythmically repeating and humongous space between my butt and the saddle on that ill fated ride. I couldn't walk straight for a week after that and my wife had to drive us all home.

But I think I have a little cowboy in my soul. It probably comes from the late forties when I went to Saturday Cowboy movie matinees and later galloped all over the neighborhood with my friends on our stick horses, chasing down bad guys, righting wrongs, and rescuing damsels in distress. Some of it may have come in my teens and twenties when I saw reruns of the classic westerns (to be distinguished from the matinee or "B" westerns) on TV, epic westerns like John Ford's "Stagecoach." Those movies seemed to embody the American spirit.

Most Americans used to have a little Cowboy in their soul. But it's slipped so far away over the years that when we had an actual President from Texas who could ride a horse, the Cowboy label was applied to him with laughter and derision.

If memory serves me right, Buck at Exile in Portales recently had a post on the Amazing Rhythm Aces. (I searched your site for it Buck, but couldn't find it; tell me I'm not misremembering here!) That post reminded me of a couple of their Cowboy songs that my wife and I used to listen to on long automobile trips: "The End Is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Song)" and "The King of the Cowboys."

The End Is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Song)

The video on this one is static, just one pic, but listen to the lyrics.
(King of the Cowboys)

Andy's Place Is a Den of Iniquity

Andy recently found a site that will give your blog a rating based on its verbal content. He was surpised to learn that his blog has an R rating. Now I wasn't surprised at all by Andy's rating. I've always known that his blog is cesspool of degradation, a foul pit of whoremongering depravity, a veritable den of iniquity. Which is why I go over there so often!

Just kidding. Andy's Place is a down home respite from all the bad stuff out there today. You can always get a laugh or a chuckle at Andy's. I recommend it highly.

Andy, I figure that if I had more than 4 readers, the title of my post today would would send your sitemeter visit log into the stratosphere.

Here's my own stellar PG 13 rating. I received a less than G rating because of these words: gun (4x)dead (3x)hell (2x)bitch (1x)

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Fatherhood is confusing now. Fathers used to bring home the bacon by themselves. Now it could very well be tofu, and most of them have help with the bringing part. They used to build the home fire and keep it stoked. Now their role is uncertain. Fatherhood used to be envied and respected. Every one wanted the job. Now, many young men shun it like the plague.

Fathers have lives too. That means work. And their work can sanctify them. Or it can devour them. As children, we don't know that at first, but we learn. That learning may be hard but it's ultimately a good thing.

A father also has duties, responsibilities, obligations. It comes with the territory. Some fathers don't like that territory so they leave. Most stay and tough it out. Sometimes they do what they do without any recognition. But they do it anyway.

Some fathers will notice you and some will ignore you. Some are as dependable as the sunrise. Some are there when you need them, and others are a thousand miles away. Some laugh, a few even cry. Some will knock you around, others will protect you with their lives. A few will smile and tell you what they used to do when they were young. A few sit quietly with pursed lips reading with the newspaper.

At first, they're huge, stomping around like the giant in that fairytale. But as we age, they get smaller. They may look at your potential with pride. Or with envy. Some give you things. Some take. A few give you themselves. A few have nothing to give.

Let's face it, they're human. Many are good, many are not so good. Most, like us, are a mixed bag. When they're gone for good, they leave behind a few scars and a truckload of sweet memories. After awhile, the scars, if there were any, are forgotten.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Little Man

Barry the Barbarian at Born Again Redneck has a great new post on the "Small People," those people that both Obama and BP's Svanberg say they embrace. The condescension in their remarks smells like a rotting two day old dead cat.

Barry says,
I'm a capitalist pig but big businesses often do not have a free-market agenda. After all it was European aristocrats who invented socialism to keep the "small people" from rioting. Big businesses and socialists also prefer that the middle-class (especially small businessmen) not be too uppity. That's why their servants, the MSM, disparage the Tea Party movement. To them, we're all just "small people."
Do you remember the scene from O Brother, Where Art Thou where candidate for governor Homer Stokes makes his great speech about the "little man?"

Lying Politicians and dissembling Corporate Types have been claiming for centuries that they're for the "little man." And elitist Academics have even been known to dress down (in jeans, flannel shirts, and patched corduroy sport coats) to make themselves look like they're on the side of the little guy too.

But their vicious, spiteful response to the Tea Party movement shows their true colors. Because what is that movement but a group of loosely organized, ordinary people? In political parlance, Tea Partiers are truly the "small people."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

France Raises Retirement Age: Socialists Angry

France has announced that it will raise the retirement age to receive a national pension from 38 to 40.
Well, actually it's not quite that bad. Here's the real AP story.
PARIS (AP) -- France will raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 in 2018 in an effort to get the country's spiraling public finances under control, the labor minister said Wednesday....Even before Wednesday's announcement, the measure had sparked angry reactions from Socialist lawmakers and unions. On Tuesday, tens of thousands of people marched through Paris to protest the plans. Larger protests and strikes are likely starting in September, once much of the country returns from summer vacation. For many on the left, chipping away at France's cherished social benefits seems unthinkable. "The end of retirement at age 60 ... is the end of an era," leftist politician Jean-Luc Melenchon told France-Info. "It's the end of a way of life, and the end of happy days."
The "end of happy days?" I don't think so. Could be the beginning. From another era, Maurice Chevalier has the right idea...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"All the Damage I Have Done"

Blogger Buck at Exile in Portales recently posted a couple of songs by Emmylou Harris and provided his usual excellent commentary along with them.

Second only to my wife Joyce, Ms. Harris is my favorite female singer of all time. She's also written some great material as well and the song I'm posting today, "Prayer in Open D," is one of those pieces she wrote.

"Prayer in Open D" is a reflective song and is included on her not so successful 1993 album, Cowgirl's Prayer. Ms. Harris was 46 in that year and her eight year marriage to English songwriter/producer Paul Kennerley had just ended.

I'm speculating but I imagine this was probably a time of serious reflection for her. I think all of us (at least the non psychopaths!) have those times, those long nights when we tally up all the damage we've done. They seem to occur after a particularly trying experience and, in my opinion, with more frequency as we age. We look back with deep regret and guilt on all the wreckage we've left in our wake.

I don't think of myself as an evil person, or especially bad; as a matter of fact, I think I'm a fairly "nice guy," whatever that means. I've always tried to treat other people fairly and with respect, even those few students or colleagues I encountered over the years that I didn't especially like being around. If they were students, they probably got even more consideration than some of the others. And I'm also not depressive or constantly thinking negative thoughts. But I've had those times of reflection, those long nights when I seem to dwell on the hurts I've caused, the pain to others that's resulted from my bad, and (since I'm being honest), sometimes deliberate choices.

Most of the time, I don't start out the day or night with a plan to indulge in this painful exercise. It just happens. Occasionally, I have an early nightmare that awakens me and triggers the reflection. Other times a random thought will just zip through my brain and the guilt follows the same trajectory right behind the thought.

I don't wallow in this predicament; it's usually gone by the next day and I'm back on track. But in the throes of such remorse, I sometimes pray, as does the singer in this song, for "that highway risin' from my dreams."

What about it? Do you sometimes wander through that "valley of sorrow" where the guilty shadows are the ones you built with your own hands?

Prayer in Open D, Emmylou Harris

There's a valley of sorrow in my soul
Where every night I hear the thunder roll
Like the sound of a distant gun
Over all the damage I have done
And the shadows filling up this land
Are the ones I built with my own hand
There is no comfort from the cold
Of this valley of sorrow in my soul

There's a river of darkness in my blood
And through every vein I feel the flood
I can find no bridge for me to cross
No way to bring back what is lost
Into the night it soon will sweep
Down where all my grievances I keep
But it won't wash away the years
Or one single hard and bitter tear

And the rock of ages I have known
Is a weariness down in the bone
I use to ride it like a rolling stone
Now just carry it alone
There's a highway risin' from my dreams
Deep in the heart I know it gleams
For I have seen it stretching wide
Clear across to the other side

Beyond the river and the flood
And the valley where for so long I've stood
With the rock of ages in my bones
Someday I know it will lead me home.

P.S. If this song depresses you, just scroll up and look at the pic of Emmylou at the top. Since I like that album pic much better than the one on Cowgirl's Prayer, and since looking at it is bound to cheer any guy up, it's the one I chose to use.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ruminations from the Road

*It's a long way to there from here. There being Delaware. Here being Tennessee. We drove about 650 miles on the first day, all the way from Nashville to Manassas, VA. On the way we had an enjoyable dinner at Mrs. Rowe's restaurant in Staunton, VA. BTW, Manassas is where the first major land battle of the civil war (the Battle of Bull Run) was fought. The Confederates won the battle but you know the rest of that story. It's a beautiful area but we didn't tour the battlefield. (The first two pics and the map are not my images.)

*Just over the TN/VA line we were following a slow moving SUV as it was passing an 18 wheeler. The SUV began slowly weaving toward the rear tandem wheels of the big trailer. At one point the SUV actually made contact with the trailer wheels. The SUV driver swerved away from the trailer, slowed and pulled in behind the trailer. Her head was turned as we passed and she seemed to be looking at something in the seat of her car, not the road ahead. Perhaps she was working on her laptop. With both hands. None of that simple texting stuff. Probably an MSM "journalist" working on a story about Obama's quick and efficient response to the BP Gulf Oil Spill.

*It's a fact, not an opinion--the Shenandoah Valley and Southwestern Virginia are unparalleled in beauty. I like the red rocks and clear blue sky of AZ and NM. I like the rolling expanse and emptiness of Montana. I love the green rolling hills of Middle Tennessee. But nothing, I mean nothing compares to that drive up and down 81. I've driven it many times and it never fails to get me. It's the landscape, gentle green mountains on both sides, and the clean, orderly signs of human occupation and toil on the farms that nestle in the hollows and valleys. It's America as Jefferson imagined it.

*Delaware. Their license plate reads "First State" (so named because they were the first to ratify the Constitution). Except for the coast, Delaware's a lot more rural and agricultural than you might imagine. I saw lots of corn. No stills though. And the state is flat. Even flatter than Louisiana. Delaware's only 30 miles wide and 96 miles long--its 2,490 square miles makes it the second smallest state after Rhode Island. Our Delaware destination was Ocean View, which is in the lower part of the state. It's essentially part of Bethany Beach which you can see as the bottommost listing on the map.

*We stayed 3 days and 4 nights and it was an excellent visit. Here's a few selected photos from the trip. The first one shows the lovely home of Joyce's sister Helen and her husband Joel. They've lived here for about ten years.

Our trip to the beach. Joel, Joyce, Helen.

Yours Truly, taking the ocean breeze.

A visit to Lavender Farm.

Lunch at Seacrets, an unusual outdoor restaurant/bar. Great crabcake sandwiches. Most of the restaurant is under a canopy of palms. There are several bars, one of which is shown in the second pic. Yep, it's in the water. That's Joyce on the left in both pics in her usual black and white.

Carefully crossing the Bay Bridge on the return trip. Those side rails look pretty flimsy to me...

Somewhere in the Shenandoah Valley. The sun is setting and we have about 500 miles to go. We got in around 3:00 AM and put our heads on the pillow around 4:00. Note to self: Never drive 800 miles in a day again!

If you have time, check out my two previous posts from today as well. Now, having just returned from one of the states known for its Bluegrass (Virginia), I'll stop with this. I've posted it before, but I do like it. So here it is again...

We Boogied, Now We're Back

We've finally recuperated from our 16 hour drive back home from Delaware. In retrospect, we're certainly old enough to know better. A leisurely two day trip would have been a lot less taxing. But the pull of "home" and our own bed was too great to resist.

We boogied and now we're back. So let's boogie some more. As in Guitar Wars Boogie. Do you know this guy: Tommy Emmanuel? I confess I never heard of him until recently. He's an Australian guitarist. Unbelievable.

Spending Like a Drunken Sailor

From Big Ed, somewhere on the road...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1959 Fiat Bianchina Transformabile: My Third Car

NOTE: We're preparing for a trip to visit Joyce's sister and her husband in Delaware tomorrow. We won't return for about a week so I won't be posting much, if any at all, during that time since our laptop is not the fastest thing going.

1959 Fiat Bianchina Transformabile: My Third Car

Joyce and I were married in August of 1960 soon after we graduated from Martin Jr. College. During that summer, I worked at two jobs in order to save enough money to buy the essentials to start our marriage. I worked 8 hours on a construction crew at Nashville Electric  Service and about 5 more hours at a local grocery (that one only paid 50 cents and hour). Joyce was working as a receptionist as well and contributing to the nest egg. High on our list of necessities was a dependable, fuel efficient car.

Let me say first, that I could have bought a new Volkswagen for $1600. I wasn't making enough to buy it outright but for about $200 down and a reasonable monthly payment, I could have had a dependable Volkswagen. But I didn't buy a VW. I thought they were ugly. I think I've mentioned before that I have a tendency to prefer style over substance. It was a tendency that served me well in voting for liberal politicians over the years, but I learned that tendency should be avoided when selecting an automobile.

What I bought with our hard earned money, was an almost new 1959 Fiat Bianchina Transformabile. It cost as much as the VW, $200 down and a small monthly payment. I've got some pictures of the car but they are hidden away somewhere with some other embarrassing photos of things and events that Joyce and I don't especially like to be reminded of. As a matter of fact, if you look up embarrassing purchases on the Net, you'll probably find a picture of this car. I didn't take that approach to my search, but I did find several photos the Net. Here's the "car" we purchased in 1960.

Cool huh? Stylish. Even a little sexy looking in that Italian way, don't your think? If raindrops fell, you could just reach back from the driver's seat and pull that nifty little top up on its tracks and lock it in place at the top of the windshield. Our Bitchin Binanchina wasn't blue though. It was an attractive light green with the cream trim color.

The little Fiat had an air cooled two cylinder engine rated at 17.5 horsepower. It averaged over 50 miles per gallon and could cruise at around 65 miles per hour. At least that's what the salesman said. Ours probably got closer to 100 miles per gallon. What's that you say? Impossible? Not if you're pushing or towing the car most everywhere it goes.

Our Fiat ran sporadically. If it ran at all. We kept it about 6 months. By then I was in the second semester of my junior year at Middle Tennessee State and Joyce was putting the bread on the table. She drove the car to work and was constantly running into trouble with the little demon. It just wouldn't start. You could crank it till the cows came home and it just wouldn't start. We took it back for service several times. The Fiat "mechanics" scratched their heads and didn't seem to know what the problem was. Since it was obviously terminally ill, we thought about assisting it with suicide to collect the insurance. Finally, considering our cash strapped condition (we had used the rest of the nest egg for tuition, books, etc.), my Dad stepped in and paid the salesman $150 to take it back.

In 1996 we got another two cylinder, 17 hp vehicle, this one a V Twin with water cooling. Yeah, that's a John Deere K series, LX188 in the pic below. The Deere is smaller than the Fiat and it's 14 years old now but it has a sturdy Kawasaki engine. It may not look all that great because it's a work tractor, but I keep it well maintained and it starts every time. 

We're using the Avalon for our 860 mile trip to Delaware, but I would have begun the journey in the John Deere before I would have started out in that Bianchina. Mainly because I think the Deere would have (A) cranked up on the first turn of the key and (B) actually got us there.