Now that it’s September, I can give out Christmas gift advice. And I have a really good idea for children. It is an object that seems to fascinate my grandchildren.
It is an old pickup truck. Yes, every child would like to find an old pickup truck under the Christmas tree this year. I’m not talking about a toy pickup truck, but a real one. Not a fancy, big red one like the ones my sons in Arkansas have — I think every man in Arkansas is required to have a red pickup truck — but a smaller, cute old one like my husband David’s Tacoma.
Maybe this desire to put a pickup truck under every tree comes from fond childhood memories I have of my neighbor’s pickup in Kansas. He was “Uncle” Virgil. Not a real uncle, but when you’re an Army brat and live all over the place but never near your extended family, you tend to adopt people into your family.
Uncle Virgil walked with a limp, was leathered by the Kansas sun and owned a blue pickup. When my sister and I found ourselves blessed beyond belief on a hot summer day, Virgil let us climb in the back of his truck and ride downtown to the five-and-dime store. We bounced along unrestrained by such annoyances as child restraint laws or seatbelts.
Sweltering through a steamy dime store — only the Sears was air-conditioned — we coveted Barbie mansions and colorful balls to play four square. If we’d saved our dollar allowance for the month, we might buy a paddleball or an all-day sucker. Then back into the bed of the truck and home again. It was a 1960s child’s dream come true.
Fast forward more than 50 years, and I enjoy a Facebook Timehop of my then-2-year-old granddaughter Ali climbing in and out of the back of David’s “hiccup” truck, as she called it.
She jumped around in the back, singing a song David and I can’t remember, until her little legs were tired. We circled around the bed of the truck, expecting her to bounce out at any moment. Then she’d climb down with help, dig in the flower garden for a bit and then climb back up to jump some more.
Now she is the sister of four siblings and cousins to many, but just as fascinated with the same pickup truck, now boasting 275,000 miles. Gotta love a Toyota.
David bought it after my youngest son wrecked David’s car way back in high school. The last thing David said to him as he handed over the keys was “just so you don’t wreck it.” He did, just one of three out of four sons who totaled a vehicles as teenagers.
When David replaced the car with the truck, he got the little one with no frills. Since he barely drives the speed limit ever and a month of Sundays, it has lasted a long time.
This summer one of the daughters of that car-wrecking son was in the front of the pickup truck with her cousin, Ali, riding home from someplace.
“What is this?” one of them said, jiggling a mysterious object on the door.
“It’s the window roller down thing,” I said.
“Whoa,” she said. They were both fascinated and wouldn’t leave it alone, rejoicing in the cool handle that actually would make a window go up and down.
Later one of the highlights of their visit was to get ice cream and climb into the back of the truck and eat their cones. I have a feeling it will be one of their favorite memories of visiting us.
There was ice cream everywhere in the truck since it was a hot, drippy day, but the hose took care of that when we got home. They begged to ride in the truck home, but these aren’t the days of Uncle Virgil anymore, so the answer was no.
They always can jump in the truck at home when there is too much energy and too little to do.
Therefore, every child or family needs to have a cute little pickup truck under the tree this year. And for heaven’s sakes, don’t get electric windows or half the charm will be lost.
Elzey is a freelance writer for the Register & Bee. She can be reached at email@example.com or (434) 791-7991.