Redneck Mother’s Day and Beyond

Some of you may have read last month’s Redneck Mother’s Day story about how my husband and son spent Mother’s Day converting our old Ford Explorer into a pickup/4-wheeler hauler with a cutting torch one year.

The custom pickup served its purpose for a couple of years before the tranny started going out and got hauled down to the junkyard, where it’s been for the last year and a half. My husband hated to see a good outfit go to waste, and hatched a new plan recently to resurrect it from becoming salvage. He wanted to replace the automatic transmission with a manual one—something he and our son could work on together.

When he explained his “plan,” I gave him a furrowed brow look, upon which he said with a chuckle, “That vehicle’s gotten me into more trouble…” and shook his head. From the day we bought it, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the two-tone brown Explorer. I specifically said to him that high on my priority list, was finding something that I could rely on. I didn’t care how old of a vehicle it was. The description in the dealership’s ad sounded like what we were looking for and was priced right, but my husband’s mind was made up before we even test drove it, that we were going to buy the Explorer. I was under the impression we were going up to check it out and then compare it with others for sale.

It wasn’t until he was giving me his own sales pitch during our brief test drive that I realized in his mind, we had already bought it and traded-in our old Chevy pickup for it. We had driven separate vehicles the 60 miles to go look at it, and he didn’t intend on bringing our trade-in back home because there weren’t many shopping days left before haying season started. After we bought it, the A/C and four-wheel drive quit working and my old habit of giving him the “I told you so,” lecture and shaking my index finger at him kicked in.

More recently, he and our son followed through on the master plan to put a manual transmission from a neighbor’s old Bronco II, into the Explorer-turned-pickup. Completing their project didn’t go smoothly or quickly, but by the end of the day, they had it ready to test drive. It was like déjà vu when they came to get me, only this time they didn’t just want me to come look, they needed my help. I was lined out to pull them with another pickup until it fired up, since they had to pop the clutch to get it started. That same day was our wedding anniversary, but the only celebrating this year was some high-fivin’, and whoopin’ and hollerin’ when the Explorer pickup started and they could shift gears successfully with the different transmission in it.


I didn’t mind so much this time that we didn’t celebrate in a traditional way, but I wish I would’ve been more specific back when we bought that SUV. I should’ve said I wanted something to drive that I could rely on. So far, all I’ve been able to rely on regarding the Explorer has been my husband and son doing experimental shop projects on it whenever it’s a special day at our house.

column originally published June 15-21, 2008

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