Now here's a car that really takes me back. My parents bought one of these, albeit the standard Fury with push button transmission. Otherwise, it was identical -- it was even this same color -- 'gold flecked metallic brown.' Sometime in 1964 or 1965 we traded in our 1957 Rambler Custom at Sam Swope Plymouth on Dixie Highway, directly across from Dixie Manor Shopping Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Though used, it was the newest car we ever had at the time. I remember trying to convince my father to buy a slightly older (1963) Cadillac, but he wouldn't go for it, he liked the Fury. While my father was inside the office signing papers, I was given the important duty of transferring everything inside the Rambler to the Plymouth. That included the same whisk hand-broom he'd been using since his 1949 DeSoto, several out-of-date maps, a plastic collapsable drinking cup, a flashlight with dead batteries, stale gum, trading stamps from service stations and a white plastic St. Christopher statue which had been gazing through the Rambler windshield for the past several years. A magnet held him to the steel dashboard, though he was sometimes known to suddenly fling himself towards an open window in sharp turns or sudden stops. I was always disappointed to see him caught mid-air, because some of the kids at my elementary school, evidently trained to recognize iconography from competing religions, would see the statue and recoil in horror. "I didn't know you were Catholic!" emphasizing the word with as much disgust as they could muster. "Why don't you go to your own school? Public schools are for Protestants." Ah, schooldays, I look back on them so fondly. I suspected these little bigots' opinions were worthless; nevertheless I had grown tired of them. Now, suddenly, an opportunity had unexpectedly and miraculously presented itself to rid myself of this holy object of contention. When I look back on it now, the whole thing was like a Leave it to Beaver episode had they ever had dared venture into the subject of religious intolerance. Without a thought to any possible consequences, I quickly buried St. Christopher in a shallow grave in the gravel lot. When my father and I got in the almost-new Fury, I held my breath. It was hard to pull things over on my sharp-eyed father. Much to my surprise, however, he was too taken with his new purchase to notice. Bit by bit, I began to relax and enjoyed the new car right along with him. Then, a few weeks later, it happened. "Where's the St. Christopher statue!" he shouted. You'd think I'd left my little brother strapped in his car seat on the roof. As it turned out, however, I needn't have bothered with my diabolical scheme in sacrilege. He now realized that because the Plymouth's dash was padded, a statue with a magnet at its base would have no metal to cling to and it probably would have ended up forgotten in the junk drawer in our kitchen.
Once while waiting in the driveway for my mother to come out of the house, which I seemed to do a lot of, I discovered that if I pinched the vinyl covered foam rubber dash, it would slowly pop back into shape. It seemed logical at the time to next implement the bite test. That was a threshold apparently not anticipated at Chrysler. To my sudden horror, the impression remained. I could have shown it to a dentist for him to design braces. "Why would you BITE the dashboard!?" my mother screamed as she entered the car. "You must be INSANE!" I had no answer for her. In retrospect, perhaps it was a subconscious desire to always leave my personal mark on our cars' dashboards. There was, after all, a stunning dent on steel dash of our 1957 Rambler that was caused when my mother stopped short and I went flying over the seat. It was like being shot out of a cannon. Life was riskier but definitely more fun before seat belts.
Without the benefit of a garage, the Plymouth deteriorated rather quickly over the next several years. The gold flecked brown paint lost its luster and gradually gave way to a gold flecked rust. My father drove it daily and took it for granted. He maintained it only where absolutely necessary. Bit by bit it was falling apart. Eventually bite marks on the dashboard were the least of its problems. I was at my junior year in college when he bequeathed the old Fury on me, and believe me, I was very glad to have it. Ramming it into an unmarked dead end didn't improve it, nor did my amateurish attempt to fill in a huge rust hole next to the windshield. In 1975, my girlfriend Sue and friend Mary look on with horror at the poor, wrecked Plymouth. I'd completely forgotten until I found this picture that my head hit the windshield. For years no one seemed to want these cars, but in the past decade they've become very collectable, fetching up to $30,000 when fully restored.