Barbara Sparhawk

Carmel Valley, United States

Professional Expressionist, portrait painter, writer, children’s book illustrator, entrepreneur, and adventuress.

Goodbye to an Old Best Friend

The Blue Thunder, my old best friend, is leaving me today. I tried to sell it, then give it away, and no takers, none at all. For 12 years, this car has been a home, a life-saver, a ferocious friend and protector, carried me and my animals across country and up and down the California coast.. And it still and always carries my heart in that great huge space, that massive steel Chevy.
At noon it’s being towed to the local fire department, and they’ll use it to practice rescues. I don’t want to think about it. I’m glad it won’t be cannibalized by strangers, and that it will serve as good training to people I like.
When I finally decided to do it, I cleaned out the interior. It’s been parked and not driven for a year now, next to my house. I cried first, and laughed hysterically at the find of acorns and torn up towels for some critter nest, packed into the dash and under the seats. Used well, after all, even while still. My old baby.
Final Odometer Reading: 253,899 miles. Hoorah!
Au revoir.
(There’s a pen and ink drawing on my artwork page, first item.)
The Blue Thunder saga follows:

I spent from March to August talking a Virginia Farmer/Preacher out of this fantastic car. “I never part with my Suburbans. That’s all steel.” When he finally said yes and settled on a price,he and his son towed it out of the south forty witha tractor where it had been 10 years hubcap deep in mud. They did a tuneup, threw in a new battery, and allowed one new tire. “I don’t know, the other three look pretty good.” It was an 8 cylinder 1974 GMC, and almost everything worked. I headed west with my last six Brooklyn cats, the chocolate Labrador I’d fallen in love with in the Blue Ridge, and not much else. An Alabama garage mechanic had it up on the lift. “Lady, I never once seen tires with soil inside the rim!” We got three new ones. Texas: the radio, both wiper blades, and the muffler went in a downpour. We escaped a hurricane in Galveston. Some serious window leakage had started. The rear window crank bounced off in Arizona. We made it to San Francisco and headed south down the coast. By Davenport the master cyliner was shot and the brakes were gone by Monterey. The battery blew up in Pebble Beach. The radiator exploded in Carmel Valley. Since then, it’s had almost everything replaced. But Lord how I love it still. It’s been a home, a friend, a reliable force on the highways of America and in our national parks. It’s covered with travel stickers now, shiny in parts, safe, and resting. Right outside the door. The inspiration for “The Gandy Dancer.”

Pen & Ink Drawing, from”The Gandy Dancer & Other Short Stories" Trafford Publishing Co., 2004

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