The pig’s lipstick

I came across a photo yesterday of a Ford Maverick, that forgettable compact dropped on the US car-buying public from 1970 through 1977. The Maverick wasn’t what America wanted, but it was the kind of thing Detroit thought America needed, and right about the time I got my driver’s license. It marked the beginning of an embarrassing era of castrated cars.

Ford fancied the model a more sensible Nova. It flopped so miserably that thousands of units, the result of overproduction, were warehoused in old limestone mines until they sold (which took several years).

The car I saw was dressed in suitably boring paint that fit right in with “avocado” and “harvest gold” appliances of the day. I remember what that color was called, too: Freudian Gilt.

Clever, eh? Oh, Mopar had its own whimsical chips — Go Mango, Plum Crazy, Sassy Grass, Green Go — but from 1969 to 1971 it was the stoners at FoMoCo who took paint puns to a level of silliness not seen before or since.

Joining Freudian Gilt in the palette was Bring ‘Em Back Olive. Last Stand Custard. Three Putt Green. There She Blue. Dresden Blue. Good Clean Fawn. Original Cinnamon. Thanks Vermillion. Counter Revolutionary Red. Home on the Orange. Hulla Blue. And, lest we forget, Anti-Establish Mint.

The fun lasted only a few years. Apparently corny jokes couldn’t sell awful cars.

It was, however, a sign of those times. America was wrestling with Vietnam, assassinations and race riots. But we had Snoopy, Up With People and the Kilgore Rangerettes. We had Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Our sense of humor was intact and simple, and we snorted at cringe-prompting puns.

Since then, of course, America has lost its sense of humor. I mean, can you imagine how Original Cinnamon would go over with today’s evangelicals? Conservatives would convulse with self-righteousness at Anti-Establish Mint. The mental-health lobby probably would tsk-tsk at Freudian Gilt.

And someone would point out that “people of color” are under-represented in Ford’s playful palette. You know it’s true.

I miss those days, despite all the upheaval and tension and strife at the time. We’re there again now, y’know — minus our ability to laugh.

(By the way, and for the record, neither I nor my family ever owned a Ford Maverick. One of my high-school classmates did, though, and somehow I discovered that the key to my dad’s LTD fit his car. Every couple of weeks I’d sneak out to the parking lot, start the Maverick and move it to a different spot. Thanks to a handful of co-conspirators, the kid thought he was losing his mind.)

The middle of March, at least in the places I’ve lived over the years, is when springtime begins. Back in my motorcycling days, I had March 15th circled on the calendar for the season’s first ride, and barring snow or ice I always managed to make that happen. When planting a garden, generally I’ve observed The Mother’s Day Rule, but in mid-March I still could get a few sturdy crops in the ground.

This time a year ago, Deb and I were in the final hours of readying our rig (sans Mercy) for a three-day run back to Ohio. When we rolled out the following morning I observed that this campground was closer to full than we’d seen it since November. We’re watching the same pattern play out again — by the second week of March, camping-and-RVing season is officially on.

We have neighbors now, a development that scratches a personal itch for me. I enjoy The Campground Life and the human connections that come with it. Encounters usually are brief, often superficial, but there’s a certain bond among those of us who have chosen to travel this way.

It’s a fellowship of nomads, each of us on different roads to different destinations, joined by the journey. And after a winter without the company of fellow travelers, Deb and I feel a little less homeless these days.

Few guests this time of year are long-termers or full-timers. Most are out for a trial weekend, maybe a week-long shakedown of their rig. Some are inexperienced, others brand-new to The Life. All that means that we, as more seasoned RVers, have opportunities to help folks solve problems that aren’t really problems — making sense of winterized plumbing that hadn’t been un-winterized, advising that the black-tank valve oughta stay shut ’til it’s time to dump, suggesting local restaurants, etc.

We remember when people did the same for us. It feels good to pay forward.

The park’s hosts have shifted into a higher gear, too. Sites need grooming. Furnishings stowed away for the winter have to be put out. Repairs must be made. And the campground’s new expansion still needs a lot of work before it can open.

The tree-trimming crew was here again a week ago. This time their work was as much for safety as for aesthetics — getting rid of “widowmakers,” both overhanging limbs and entire trees. Several more mature black walnuts came down, two of which were right behind our campsite.

One tree close to the back of the bus was the largest they felled. Drawn to the fresh cut, I was struck by the exposed grain — dramatic contrast between the dark heartwood and outer rings, just a splendid piece of hardwood. The longer I looked at it, the more I wanted a slice of that tree.

I talked to one of the campground staff and made my request. It’ll be a simple matter of being here when he begins processing the tree for firewood, but he’ll be more than happy to set aside a two- or three-inch sliver for us.

We’ll toss it into the bed of the truck and haul it out to The Mountain, where I believe I’ll turn it into a small table for our front porch. Yes, we have plenty of trees of our own up there, but the walnut will be a piece of this place. That, sentimental as it may be, is important to me.

This is our fourth stay at this campground, the longest and our last. Deb and I look forward to the day we leave for good, and yet we can’t deny our connection to this park and its people. We’ve come a long way together. Without this place, we wouldn’t’ve been able to do everything we’ve done.

We won’t forget that.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB