The ample acreage of Tidelands Park was once home to an array of Navy-housing buildings. After the structures were razed to make way for the proposed park, the abandoned sandy streets were ideal surfaces upon which wayward juvenile-delinquent drivers would do dozens upon dozens of donuts, laying down screechin’, smokin’, fishtailing scratches, allegedly.
The access point to the supposedly closed-off network of leftover thoroughfares was less than adequately chained-off, hardly a deterrent to determined, donut-hungry, ne’er-do-well yoots with the need for noise, ready for Freddie, a-ridin’ their folks’ family “horses” at a gallop, perhaps powered by a faithful 440 Interceptor, Rocket 455, Chevy 454, or maybe even a 409 of “she’s real fine, my 409” fame, not that yours truly would ever deign to do any such mischief, allegedly.
Nothing to hear here. Let’s move on.
The day I got my first driver’s license as an eager-beaver 17-year-old, I invited my friend Susie out for a celebratory spin in my folks’ big-and-beautiful 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 Fastback, outfitted to the brim with its beast of a 425 cubic-inch V8. What a bomb!
The family steed had plenty of get-up-and-go, so with a vroom-vroom-vroom, we got up and went, winding up down at the Cays where Susie spotted a couple of her girlfriends over by the clubhouse on Catspaw Cape. I deftly pulled halfway-in and halfway-out of the entrance to the clubhouse parking lot so Susie could chat up her buds, and to show off just how very very cool we were.
Way cool, Junior!
I’d maneuvered the great white whale into an awkward position, but no biggie, Slick. The big-block 425 of the big white Olds was idling smartly, purring perfectly, its sweet sound drowned out by the substantial din of Foghat’s “Slow Ride” blasting from the car stereo.
Unbeknownst to me (I was a tad distracted), my friend Harry had pulled up directly behind and perpendicular to us in his parents’ Porsche 911, a low-profile ride only in stature, not status. Harry’s
little green, low-to-the-ground Porsche was invisible in my rear-view mirror as he’d slipped in so closely, the big rear end of the Olds blocking my view. As I slowly began backing out of the lot, Harry was screaming for me to stop, but I couldn’t hear his cries amid the cranked-up Foghat.
A split-second later, cold hard American steel met thin brittle German aluminum, crumpling Harry’s dad’s prized Porsche’s right rear quarter panel to the tune of $475 in 1974 money, about two grand today.
Cha-CHING! Were I to borrow a line from the late great Peter Sellers’s “The Pink Panther Strikes Again,” I’d exclaim, “But that’s a priceless Porsche,” to which bungling Inspector Clousseau would deadpan, “Not anymore.” Ouch. Sorry, Harry.
The only scant damage to the mighty Olds consisted of a few flecks of green paint on the tip of its chrome fin, which I flicked off with my fingernail. We’d traded paint at perhaps five miles per hour, tops, leaving the Olds as good as new, unlike my bruised ego. My spotless driving record had lasted mere hours, and the lovely Susie was most impressed.