Thursday, November 19, 2009

injaynesworld we are "Cruisin' With The Top Down..."

My first car was a 1967 powder blue Triumph Spitfire with a white convertible top.  It cost all of $2500 new.  I bought it when I graduated from high school.   I put $500 down and paid about $72 each month.   Gas was about a quarter a gallon and the thing ran on air.   It was fun, fast, sexy, definitely cool and I felt like major hot stuff zooming around town at the wheel.   

Especially after I’d spent my high school years driving this, a reasonable portrayal of my mom’s 1958 Rambler Ambassador station wagon.  

It was humiliating.  You could polish that puppy till it blinded you.   It was still the definition of “uncool.” 

So cruising the A & W drive-in in my spiffy, new, dude-magnet with the music blasting was definitely sah-weeeeet.   It was my first experience with a stick-shift and I took to it like a seasoned NASCAR superstar.  Oh, yeah.  Pop that clutch and I was gone.  Eat my dust  people… Fortunately, this was before the days when cops had radar. 

I’d just turned 18, the luggage birthday, and my life as an adult (legally anyway, I’ve never truly copped to it) was just beginning.  No longer could anyone not carrying a badge tell me what to do.  Not that my mom had ever done much of that.  Or that I ever listened when she tried.   In fact, if my mother taught me anything about respecting authority it was… yeah… can’t think of a damn thing.  

The time was the late 60’s-early 70s.  The place, San Francisco.  The birth control pill had just been invented and “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” were the order of the day.   I named my Spitfire “Spit.”  I was stoned a lot of the time back in those days and needed a name that was easy to remember, especially since I often misplaced the actual car. 

I lived in what was then the Starbucks-free village of Mill Valley in Marin County.  Saturdays, Spit would often take me and a friend up to the top of Mount Tamalpais where we’d park, then drop acid and hike all the way down the Dixie Canyon Trail to Bolinas beach.  Depending on how ripped we were, it would take between one and three hours.  Once there, we’d make our way to the one and only bar where we’d drink beer all afternoon, then hitchhike back up to the top of Mount Tam, pick up Spit and cruise on home to an evening of Sara Lee chocolate cake and the Moody Blues.   This was still an innocent time when you could do such things without fear of your body being found half-cannibalized years later in the basement of some loon.. 

Monday through Friday, Spit would speed me across the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, a hub of junkies and hookers, where I worked in a non-descript building that housed a recording studio and mingled daily with musicians from the Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater, CSN&Y, and my personal favorite, Santana.   Nights were spent at hidden away little blues clubs in North Beach where Spit never once failed to find me a parking spot despite the heavy odds against us.   Weekends would find us at the Fillmore rockin’ to the likes of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, admission $3 plus you got a really cool poster.   Somehow, Spit always managed to get me safely home, although many times I had no personal recall of the journey.  I look back on those days now and marvel that I’m still alive. 

Spit carried me for the last time in 1972.  Her final months were a series of breakdowns and malfunctions that caused Triple A to banish us for all time.  I ended up selling her to my mechanic for $50.  He promised she would go live on a nice farm in the country and spend her remaining days roaming and playing with all the family dogs whose children had been assured of the same thing. 

To this day I still have dreams of Spit -- that magically there she is, all polished and new -- and together once again, we cruise the drive-ins of our youth, sucking back on a joint and listening to the tunes of The Grateful Dead.   Good times…

If you leave a comment chocolate will fall like rain.


Jan said...

Ahhh, those were the days! in 1967 I was dancing with the Radio City Ballet Company on Chocolate "brownies". (try executing a triple pirouette in that condition)

Lee said...

That is a sexy car. And I love Mill Valley...what a fabulous place to live.

Micsteel said...

I wish my late teens/early 20's had been this romantic.

Linda Medrano said...

Oh my God, Jayne! What memories of that time and place! (And of being 18 to 25). I was pregnant with my son in the Summer of Love! You had your Spit and your spirit! Good times.

The mad woman behind the blog said...

If there is ever a time-machine, I'm going back and taking a ride w/ you in your Spit. I love Santana. Though I might just stick to pot.

Oh wait, would that be weird? Some random blogger just showing up in your passenger seat? Well with what you've been smokin, maybe not!

Stephanie said...

What a fabulous car. And a fabulous story. I envy you actually living in California during that era! Gees, the music alone... Wish I'd been there - instead of boring old Oregon.

A.Fanny said...

Nice memories! I too was there for one of those Janis Joplin concerts. I remember a girl absent-mindedly walking around with an infant hanging off her breast. I wondered what the loud music was doing to the kid's ears. He's probably deaf by now.

Anyway, I am currently sitting on the OTHER side of Mt. Tam in San Anselmo; we will be having an organic turkey dinner in Mill Valley next week. It is still very lovely here!

Jayne Martin said...

Thanks everyone. Glad you enjoyed that little cruise down memory lane.

Mike: It's only romantic because I lived to tell about it.

Mad Mom: I didn't know half the people who ended up in that passenger seat. So come on aboard.

Thanks Steph: It was a very special time and place.

A. Fanny: I still have family in that area and yes, it's still amazing. Organic turkey in Mill Valley... What coudl be more perfect?


Kristi said...

I'm fairly certain you left the sex out of this sex, drugs and rock n roll post. Of course, it might have been difficult to have sex in that car... but the hood... c'mon, don't try to tell me that hood didn't see some action.


Ann Imig said...

That's it. I'm sending Idiot Boy over. Have you met IB yet?

He is going to fall in love with this post.

gayle said...

It's interesting how much life is different on the other side. I lived in NC during that time and it was totally different. I enjoyed reading about your adventures, I am sure you could have told us more.

IB said...

When I was in high school (~1978) my best friend had a yellow '67 spitfire. We spent many hours driving around high in that thing. When we weren't doin that, we were under the hood or on our backs under the tranny keeping it running. It was awesome. He was a British sports car guy, I was into VWs.

wanna know something goofy? I just bought the book, "how to keep your VW alive (for the complete idiot)". I have thought many a time about gettin rid of my bus...but I'm not ready for that part of my life to be over just yet. Maybe I never will be. Silly? probably. But why not go with being a bit silly now and again? There are plenty of people who will tell you it's time to grow up, or laugh as you pull up to the office in a 35 year old car. But they don't get it.

This post reminded me of why I hold onto my VW and why it matters. These simple vehicles are our rolling history and reminders that our freedom is in the tool-box we carry and no farther away than a decision to make it so.

BTW- found you through Ann's Rants

Jack Steiner said...

That is a lot cooler than my first car. It was a '69 Dodge Dart Swinger. The brown bomber didn't have power anything, or a radio. It was just an engine surrounded by metal.

Sometimes I miss it.

Best Wishes, Marie said...

one of my uncles came into the marriage with one of those, green. as time went by, the last scene that i can remember was him driving himself with two kids in the car to the emergency room in it, because one of my cousins (the one who as a teen went to jail for grand theft auto and attempted murder) shot him in the temple with a pencil, via a dart gun (that was suppose to have a little suction cup on it). good times.

eventually, uncle jerry was fully castrated by the women in my family and last i remember was driving a mazda sadan, ugly color.

eventually, he was sent to jail, because it turns out that he was molesting the little tot who shot him with the dart gun. (my aunt already had him from another "relationship")

he started molesting neighbor kids. this all came out in the early 90's. and he is still is jail. scary part is that he was a career supervisor for the los angles department of protected services.

true story.

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

I know I shouldn't wish I was a little older - that would be crazy, but I'm totally jealous of your memories. They sound so full of culture, whereas mine sound so boring and vanilla. I went to school in the 70s and 80s....BOOO!!!!!

tattytiara said...

"Luggage birthday" - that's funny.

What a beautiful relationship you two had. Glad she was loved by someone who could appreciate just how cool she was.

Lisa Wines said...

I can't believe what we have in common. :-) I had a Triumph spitfire when I lived in the UK 27 years ago. British racing green and left-hand stick. I kept slamming my right hand into the door looking for the stick and kept looking at the non-existent rear-view mirror to my right instead of where it actually was, on my left. Since I was terrified to drive there, I managed to get to the grocery store, the veterinarian and a tiny little nearby town called Cobham to sit in the park, shop or wander among the grave stones in the ancient church. Good times!

The ex got the car. :-( I also had a chocolate brown jaguar XKE convertible that my drug smuggler boyfriend gave to me around 1976. I was so hot driving around Scottsdale Arizona in that thing. (Hot meaning sexy. Not hot meaning 120 degrees). When he dumped me for some girl in high school (to whom he gifted a brand new Cadillac for her graduation), he gave me a Chevy Luv truck as a consolation prize. Good times. He did a million years in prison shortly after that. :-) But, we're still friends, now that he's free and a millionaire again somewhere in Fresno.

Kim Ayres said...

I was there in the late 60s... getting my daipers changed.

Sounds like you had the kind of life the baby boomers were always making movies about and making us X-gens feel like we'd missed the boat.

By the time I was wanting to get involved in lots of free sex, herpes was splashed over all the sexual health literature, and then AIDS came along.

Always thought the Triumph Spitfire was a really cool car though :)

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

This was FABULOUS! My favorite line: In fact, if my mother taught me anything about respecting authority it was… yeah… can’t think of a damn thing.

You make me laugh and reminisce about my own, way less colorful, misguided youth.

I lived near Timothy Leary's Millbrook, NY estate....does that give me street cred?

Jayne Martin said...

Kristi and Gayle: So "mingled" was too subtle, huh?

IB: See, in high school I wanted to take auto mechanics, but the sexist bastards made me take home ec. I also had a '62 VW bug that I bought in '73 and drove till '87. Damn fine vehicle.

Marie: You just crack me up.

Nanny: I'm grateful to be born exactly when I was born and, with any luck, will get off the planet before it all turns to shit.

Lisa: I always dreamed of having an XKE. My best friend got one around the same time I got Spit and man, that thing could make some noise!

Kim: It's true. We baby-boomers sucked up all that was good in the world.

PJ: Only if you lived down-wind.

Thank so much everyone.

Jen said...

Ah I remember those days back in '67 like they were yesterday. My days consisted of hanging out in the play pen, waiting for someone to feed me, change me and sing to me.

I am so jealous of those memories and so surprised you lived to tell about it. What I find not so surprising is that your car only lasted 5 years! My first car was a '71 Torino, powder blue, with a hole in the gas tank so I could only put in a gallons worth (1.29). I could drive it about three blocks before I had to fill it up again. That was in '81 and I drove it until '86 when I crashed it and then roommates decided to play crash it more for shits and giggles. It is on some farm as well. My son is driving my 96 tahoe so I guess some of us know how not to drive the hell out of a car on acid.

What fun, glad you made it to 2009 in one piece.

Flat Broke Diva said...

I am on my seventh and eighth vehicles right now, but I could tell you a wonderful story or 10 about all of them. There's road trips with friends, "loves of my life" that rode in them with me. I've even named all of my vehicles. They're as special as a person to me.

My mom is driving what is left of my sixth car, and I drove it for one trip with my cat in tow. He's almost seven, and I remember bringing him home from the animal shelter in that car when he was a baby.

There's all sorts of times when I had a blast in my vehicles -- especially my sports cars and 4x4s. But I'd rather not incriminate myself ;)

Aunt Becky said...

I think I want to live your life. Wow. Just wow.

HeartsMakeFamilies said...

That is an absolutely beautiful car. LOL my first car was a 1982 chevette. Man that so is not fair. I want yours.

laughykate said...

What an impossibly cool car.

Lucy said...

You are truly the coolest person I know! LOVE this walk down memory lane!!!

Adam said...

Hi Jayne!!! I just loved your car, it's really sexy!

I am in love with my new baby honda, it's just so beautiful, attracts so many looks! I know how you must have felt!!!

I am very sorry for Spit's sad demise.

Adam ( said...

Ah, if only I'd known you back then, Jayne... some of your cool might have rubbed off on me! You are my new idol!

Wishing you happy dreams of Spit!

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Wow, you had the life; I was the wannabe. I lived in Milwaukee, drove a sensible black Chevy Nova sedan to my sensible office job, and went to concerts (wearing all-too-sensible clothes) so I could breathe second-hand silly smoke. Still love the music, or most of it!

Phillipia said...

I'm with are my new idol:)

betty-NZ said...

Great post! I remember getting rid of a 'big' car in 1972 because American gas was going up to 35 cents a gallon!!!

MsTypo said...

Stopping by from BPOTW! :D

That is a sweet ride! The first car i drove was a station wagon my parents called the GrizMobile. No one - not even my best friends - would be seen with me in that car. You were so much cooler than i have ever been. :)

Coffee Messiah said...

I had a TR6 at the time, with overdrive and remember going to the Sierras for the day with a friend, with about $10.00 and we got up and back on a tank. Yes, gas lines and .25-.26 a gallon and $100. a week actually went further than 5-6X as much today.

Grew up in Daly City, moved to SF after HS then to Sausalito. Used to always go to the Depot for books, then across the street for coffee.


Smart Mouth Broad said...

Wow, Jayne. You were one of the cool kids. I have just one thing to say. Tell us more, more, more. How exciting.

Unknown said...

Jayne, I had the unmitigated joy of owning a '74 Pinto. I traded in my dad's '64 Ford Galaxie 500. 2 days before my 18th birthday. Ahhhh, what fun we had! I drove her, my brothers drove her, strangers drove her. She went to Alaska and back, with me. The last I saw of her, she was being driven away by "someone" who was going to pay me some odd amount of cash. Never saw her again, but.......and I say this with all sincerity: she's out there somewhere.

Juli said...

How could I have never hiked the Dixie Canyon trail? When I lived in SF, Bolinas was still magical. I love your look back.

Karen and Gerard said...

That was a sharp looking car you had--I like it. My first car was a green rambler but I got it as a high school graduation present from my aunt. Glad you made it through those wild times! Okay, now give the chocolate for my comment.

Visiting from SITS. Merry Christmas!

Miss Footloose said...

Thank you for that story! We do have relationships with our cars, don't we. Loved my Russian one at the time, but now enjoy something with better suspension!

Miss Footloose

Elizabeth said...

You definitely took me back...born raised in the Napa Valley. Spent many a weekends in Larkspur and the City. We went to a few free, yes FREE concerts in Golden Gate Park in my hubby's 57 MGA. Oh how we loved that car, only to have to sell because we had TWINS! It was it or the truck and you don't seperate a man and his truck. At least not my man. So sacrifice we did. Thanks for taking me down memory lane.

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