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The story of my 1977 Ford wagon

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Ford Country Squire

The story of my 1977 Ford wagon

Jonny Valadez
February 13, 2012


It was Christmas 1984. My grandparents home was filled with the smell of freshly prepared food, the Christmas track of Bing Cosby and I was planted in front of the woodconsule TV set from Zenith. I was just... a mear five years old at the time, new to the world with bright eyes and a bushy tail. I would have never thought the movie set in front of me would affect the choices and tastes later in my life. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a movie people either hated or loved. I loved it for reasons for things most people wouldn't, the time it was filmed in, the soundtrack and it's cars. Something about the station wagons used in the movie pulled me in. I guess as a child, I was amazed how such a car could take punishment like that out on a open field. Watching Richard Dreyfus and Melinda Dillon take that boat of a 1976 Ford LTD station wagon soak up all the bumps and chuck holes on that Wyoming prairie amazed me. Also the vast amount of room Teri Garrs Ford LTD Country Squire had a few seens before. It was then the bug bit, simply hooked on the big boulevard cruisers with miles of fake wood panels and sparkling chrome work from that point on.

Ever since I was on the hunt for a '70s Ford full size wagon and I was determined to find one of these behemoths by the time I could drive. I never did find one even when I was looking for one even at the age of 10. I never gave up but I had the privlage of owning such fine road cars as a '78 Thunderbird, '76 LTD 4-door Brougham, and a handful of Lincolns from the same era. Still my heart wanted a '70s Ford wagon.

I remember that night like it was yesterday. I was at Western Illinois University in west central Illinois, damn on top of the Iowa boarder. This place was out in the middle of nowhere, farm country. You know the type, the kind of place that scary films with a budget of ten bucks are shoot. Yup, that kinda place! I was out with a group of my friends that night, just driving around out in the middle of nowhere on a weekend night. I did not want to go since I had a fever of about 102. But I dumped a bunch of Advil in me, off I went with them. I was so hopped up I could swear I was seeing things move in the dark. We found a gate had broke open and let a pasture of cows out. They were all over a cemetery and roadway. It was sure a site to see in itself, something a suburban boy like me would never experience.

It was when we where coming back to Macomb when a friend of mine asked me and poked my ribs, “hey, isn't that one of the big ugly cars you like”?, as she pointed to a group of cars parked next to a barn. I couldn't believe my eyes, it was a mid '70s Ford LTD Country Squire in red just sitting there. I damn near wanted to jump out that window, just could not get there fast enough. My friends entertained my request and stopped. I'm pretty sure they looked at me like I was from Mars and thought I lost my mind going crazy over this relic. I didn't care, I knew exactly what I was looking at and why I loved it already. I did what I have done in the past when I found a car I liked, left my name and number on it. My fever and head cold seemed to not be as much as a pain, the excitement had taken over. At 25 years old, I finally found one. Well it found me. If I would have not gone from being sick or if my friend would have not looked in that direction, she would have never seen it.

A few months had past, a new semester had started and the beginning of a warm fall was well on its way. I got a call at random coming home from class, some older man that seemed confused. It was pissing me off enough, I almost hung up on him till he made a mention of a '77 Ford wagon he wanted to sell me. When he told me more about it, everything came together in my memory. I hopped in my Mustang thirty minutes later and was there looking at something I have been looking for since I was a child. It was rough but not dead, along with the love and determination I have, I knew I could bring it back from the verge of it coming back as a Chinese made toaster. I pawed over it for an hour, assessing what would need to be done, what I can and can't do. I pulled open the door handle and it was like a wave of finally being home, the feeling of completion, happiness, and thinking to myself “I finally got you”. Sliding into the red vinyl interior bench seat, seeing the row of “idiot” lamps, the miles of fake painted wood, I felt like I was finally at peace. I'm still convinced I died in the 1970s and my soul wants to finish it out. But this was just the very start of journey of bring back up the dead. She had been sitting there for about six to seven years, sinking into a field and sat outside among the Midwest winters and summers. I sure as hell had my work cut out for me that would test my own abilities as a mechanic and as well as learning how to restore a car on a college budget.

But looking at it all now, I would do it again in a heart beat. From the looks my friends gave when I first brought it home, the restoration process, hitting a deer at 55 MPH, being vandalized by drunk college boys and all the way to being totaled out the same day I graduated Western Illinois University. This is how I meet Aunt Edna, my 1977 Ford LTD Country Squire wagon.



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