Automobiles Posts

Advertisements from the Nostalgic Newsstand Sale: Buying a Franklin

Here is another advert from my collection of now-recycled magazines from the Duluth Public Library’s Nostalgic Newsstand Sale.

Against Wise Advice

When I let the brown-leather Wilson basketball fly — when I ended a slow three-or-four-step run-up more elegantly than you might expect from an oafish 6’2”, 210-lb., 21-year-old boy-man by lightly springing off my left foot, driving my right knee up and out, and launching the ball into its arc with two hands — I wasn’t sure it was going to go in.

I’d taken a lot of half-court shots since my teens: before and after 10th-grade practice at Rochester John Marshall High; while skipping class to play noon ball in Romano Gym with my UMD football buddies; alone, ill-equipped for identifying anything better to do, just shooting around on various playground or gym courts. Sometimes you know, from the moment it leaves your hand, what’s going to happen. Muscle and brain memory and senses I don’t know how to name tell you everything from how you planted your foot to how your fingertips were in relationship with the ball’s seams to which snippet of which song was looping through your head add up to a swish, brick, or something else.

But in that moment in November 1993, in the College of St. Scholastica gym at halftime of a Saints’ women’s game against an opponent I can’t remember, when I sprung off my left foot from just behind the royal-blue half-court stripe laid on blonde hardwood, I didn’t know what the ball was going to do. At least I don’t think I knew. Honestly, I never know what I know or knew. I’ve been admonished a few times recently (with both warmth and contempt) for wantonly admitting what and when I don’t know. For expressing uncertainty and self-doubt and regret instead of [long pause] whatever other state of mind it would be more attractive and credible — and more comfortable to other people — for me to claim. For asking annoying questions about obvious and hypocritical contradictions.

Positive Thinking Meets Bad Car-ma

I had one simple objective that fateful day in December 2016. I just wanted to walk my dog before the sun went down. It seemed like a realistic goal.

After a morning spent working, I had a quick lunch, resumed working and before I knew it the clock read 2:30 p.m. So much for my realistic plan.

I had a dental appointment at 3 p.m. and that was a 20-minute drive away, so it was already time to leave. Since the sun sets around 4:30 in Duluth during December, my opportunity to walk in the daylight had pretty much already passed. Still, I clung to hope.

I actually had two dental appointments back to back that day — a scheduled cleaning and a checkup on the progress of a recent implant, which replaced a molar that had collapsed a few months earlier due to the incredible bite-resistance of a simple graham cracker. Stories of dental calamity aside, by the time I got out of the reclining chair and removed my slobber bib the sun was disappearing. I no longer clung to hope, but I had intentions of making the most of the dusk.

My Fancy Foreign Car is a Symbol of My Idiocy

If you read my previous essay, you already know I bought a used-but-fancy foreign car and suddenly thought I was hot stuff. Now it’s time to acknowledge I’m an idiot. But before I relate my idiocy with relevance to the car, here’s a general description of the global conspiracy against me:

In my daily life I make approximately one really stupid mistake per waking hour. It is my sincere belief that half of those mistakes occur because my brain feeds me rational information for problem solving, which hinders my performance because there are maniacs out there designing products to work in ways that are contrary to human logic. The other half of those mistakes are cases in which someone tells me to do something and explains it in a nonsensical way or assumes I know something I don’t.

So, while I acknowledge I’m an idiot, I refuse to take responsibility for my idiocy. It’s society’s problem, not mine.

For example, when my wife asks me to zip up the back of her dress, and I zip it all the way up, and then she asks, “Did you get it all the way?” I say “Yes” and go about the rest of my day. Then, at the end of the day, when she takes off her dress and points out that I didn’t connect the hinge on the inside, well, I’m an idiot for not knowing there is a hidden hinge on someone else’s clothing.

But I digress.

My Fancy Foreign Car is a Symbol of American Freedom

When the transmission went haywire on my rusty 1993 van on the day after Thanksgiving 2015, it marked the end of a beautiful seven-year relationship. The ol’ GMC Vandura cost me $1,400 to buy, and while it needed some work here and there, it was a major-league transportation bargain. My average annual cost of driving during those years was $2,200.

To clarify: From mid-2008 to the near-end of 2015 I drove wherever I wanted at an annual cost of $2,200. That number includes fuel, insurance, purchase price, repair and maintenance costs and all other fees. Six bucks a day to go anywhere – basically the same price as a daily pint of craft beer at the trendiest joint in town.

For many months after the tranny crapped out on the van, I continued to drive it short distances on flat roads, shifting into neutral when it fell out of gear, then shifting back into drive. If I needed to go somewhere involving hills or highways, I took a bus or arranged to use my wife’s vehicle. I just wasn’t eager to go car shopping. I figured I’d wait for a car to come to me.

And then a car came to me.

Good used-car dealerships for unfortunate souls with bad credit?

My husband and I currently own a beat-up 2002 Aztek.  The car is a piece: bad wiring, broken speedometer, and endless dinging from a malfunctioning brake monitor. It wasn’t a problem when my job provided a fleet of cars to me for my travels as a social worker, I just drove the hunk of junk to work and used their car to transport clients. At my new job I’m required to use my own car for this while driving about 30 miles one way to work every day. I really need to get a new car before this one dies on me completely and leaves me high and dry.

I was wondering where one might find a reliable used car dealership in town. Our credit isn’t the greatest from old hospital bills and the like, but we make good payments and have improved our budgeting skills since getting out of college and realizing hey … bills don’t disappear if you ignore them like an idiot.

If the kind people of PDD have any ideas I’d be extremely grateful!


Volkswagen in Duluth

I am really thrilled that they were able to remodel and re-use the Saturn dealership by the mall as a Volkswagen dealership. According to local news reports, Volkswagen hasn’t had a presence around here for 20 years. Does anyone know who the last dealer in the area was? I’ve heard there was once a place on the hillside that sold Volkswagens. Does anyone recall that?

Kia Sucka-Palooza

I suspect there may be a resurgence of the “thumbs down” feature after this post, but I’m in a bind, and any car and/or relationship advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

I need to decide what to do with my currently inoperative car. Should I fix it and hope for a few more good years before driving it to it’s death? Or should I float it out on Lake Superior and set it alight, putting it out of it’s misery with a Viking funeral?*


* This is more of a metaphor really… I wouldn’t actually shove my car into Lake Superior, as it would be horribly toxic for our water source.

Duluth-area Auto Salvage


For the benefit of the general public, I’m sharing the results of today’s research project, entitled Which Junkyard Will Take My Useless Old Car and What Will They Give Me For It?

There are several places that will take your car if you strip the gas tank off, drain all the fluids, etc.

If you want someone to take it as is, the closest place to Duluth is Calvary Auto & Salvage in the Rice Lake Township (4825 Rice Lake Road | 723-1294).

A little farther away is Chesney Auto Salvage in the Fredenberg Township (6250 Beaver River Road | 721-4874).

Both offered $50 for my 1990 Ford Taurus, on the conditions that I deliver it to them and bring the title.

The Fabulous 1990 Ford Taurus LX


After many years of semi-reliable service, this luxurious family sedan is ready for a new owner. That’s right, the car made famous by this PDD post and this PDD post, can now be yours for the unbelievable price of, oh, let’s say $200.