Memories made in the Chevys of bygone days

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

By Steve Stricker

Can you think of a better place to celebrate the American Holiday than here in Oxford? We not only live in a wonderful country, but a town that could easily be the symbol for small town America USA. We have freedom, and a beautiful, quality environment for all persons to live a safe, quaint, slow way of life. A place where children can peacefully grow to be young adults, adults to old age, and oldster’s to retire. Where one can quietly think, hear birds sing, enjoy Ole Miss SEC sports and reflect on the quality of life
allowed by God…a place to heal.

Growing up in equally quaint Charleston, Missouri, my family would drive to the golf course on July 4th where there would be a fireworks display just after dark. Cars with people sitting on them lined the road; children ran around while all awaited the colorful and exciting explosions.

Email newsletter signup

People gathered, not thinking about being independent from England, but simply enjoying the fireworks and a federal holiday declared by Congress in 1941.

And in July, I think of family, friends, hot, steamy, sunny, rainy, humid days with American flags waving from houses along beautiful, quiet, tree-lined streets, banners strewn through railings, straw hats, political speeches, parades, bands, lemonade, ice cream socials, church, swimming, boating, firecrackers with my cousins, boys, hotdogs, dogs, cats, baseball, my mom snapping peas, beans,
making ice cream from scratch and favorite pie, and applesauce from grandma’s June apples.

Don McLean’s American Pie song came out in 1971 and made me think of my 1957 Chevrolet Belair. It was canyon coral (pink) on the bottom, white top, with silver and black interior, automatic transmission with dog-slow six-cylinder engine, and wide whitewalls.

This beautiful ’57 Chevy was passed down to me summer of my junior year in high school from my three older sisters. It was my first car – I loved it, as did all my friends. I drove the ‘57 through my freshman year in college then traded it for a swell white 1964 Chevy Super Sport with a blue interior and hot 327 engine.

Whenever I hear McLean’s song, it takes me back to great memories. You know, “Bye, bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry, Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye, Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die…”

I think of my Chevys, the winding levee road by the Mississippi River outside of Charleston, rich fertile soil planted with cotton, wheat, soybeans and corn, SEMO college, Francie (my love at the time), coming home on weekends to be with my mom, St. Henry’s, the little Catholic school across the street from our house where I graduated, nuns. priests, and the beautiful church on the corner.

And I always take time to drive that road each time I’m home to stay in touch with my roots, the Mississippi River, levees, old Chevy’s, (Saab, Porsche, BMW, MGB, KIA) hot summer days in July, and great memories.

Then I drive back to wonderful Oxford where great memories are still being made.

Steve is an Oxford resident, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, and can be reached at