My high school car was a maroon ’88 Ford Tempo named Scarlett. Scarlett had four doors, electric seatbelts, and fabric seats – also maroon – that had the velvet texture and unidentifiable stains of a 1930s cabaret. As high school vehicles are wont to do, Scarlett was a dichotomy of both the crappiest and best car in the world.
In the winter, her interior temperatures were either 20-below or 90-above. In the summer, her interior temperatures were either 40 or 100 degrees. On a 32-degree day, for example, you had to open all of the windows and the moon roof and turn on the heat in order to achieve a 72-degree interior. Don’t bother to try and replicate it in your own vehicle; it’s what we Ford owners called “Tempo Math.”
I parked her outside, and if you plugged in the engine block heater she would start up and be ready to rock in seconds. If you left her unplugged for more than twenty minutes, however, her starter sounded like she was filled with maple syrup – if she turned over at all. Scarlett had to be boosted so many times in my first year of ownership that one of my friends just committed to leaving his keys on his back tire so I could jump my car whenever needed.
Fortunately, I soon discovered that once you got her started up, you could just pull the key out of the ignition and leave the car running. So, it was like having a free car starter, except the car never shut off. This was not a problem because ol’ Scarlett somehow miraculously got something in the range of 1,000 miles to the gallon.
Her speedometer went to 84 MPH, which was really pretty hopeful of the designers because the Tempo’s engine started to shake at 60. I once got her up to what I *think* was 87 for the briefest of moments; every square inch of the car groaned and wobbled like we were in a Looney Toons cartoon. I took my foot off the gas, and she immediately slowed to 55 and panted all the way home. If they ever bring the car back, Ford is welcome to use, “From 87 to 55…in two seconds flat!” in their advertising.
Speaking of advertising, the Tempo’s actual tagline was “It’s form says a lot about its function.” Considering the vehicle’s completely generic boxy shape, I can only believe that a group of marketers sat around in a room discussing the differentiators of this fine-ish automobile, and someone said, “Well, it looks and drives like a car,” and bam, their work was done.
There were some actual perks to Tempo ownership. Beyond the obvious – Did I mention the electric seatbelts that saved you milliseconds putting on the upper strap so you could focus all of your attention on the manual lap belt? – Scarlett is still the best car I’ve ever driven on ice. There was nothing unnecessary in the car like cup holders, so you had plenty of room to put your bookbag or your boombox or whathaveyou. Also, our owner-car relationship existed in the late 1990’s and her interior was absolutely fantastic for permanently holding in the smells of gallons upon gallons of Bath and Body Works’ Country Apple Spray.
I recently got a new vehicle that is straight-up fancy. It has a zillion cup holders and parking assist and a button on the steering wheel that I thought was for cruise control but turns out is a MYSTERY. My new car’s name is Jane. Sometimes when I drive my new Jane, I’ll open the windows and crank up the heat (which is both digital and accurate) and think a good thought for ol’ Scarlett, wherever she is.
Speaking of good thoughts, this week’s news is about a sensory garden, 1,300 pairs of socks, and a lot of Thanksgiving turkey. Read on.
Trinity Junior High and High School students put on a reverse parade – where they held up signs and decorations and passerbys drove past – for Veterans Day. (Dickinson Press)
A Sensory Garden in Jamestown – which was designed for wheelchairs, walkers, and the visually-impaired and has things like double-wide bridges, planters at varying heights, a walkway to the water, and reader cards on planters – has received a Freedom Resource Center Accessibility Award. (Jamestown Sun)
Thirteen local veterans received Quilts of Valor at a Veteran’s Day celebration at the Stark County Veterans Pavilion. (Dickinson Press)
Two groups of NDSU students are coming together to create traveling printmaking programs for kids across the state. (Fargo Forum)
The North Dakota Highway Patrol is hoping to raise $10,000 for a little boy with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. (KX Net)
Larry Gaddie, a Vietnam vet, married his love, Deb Deziel on Veterans Day at Veterans Memorial Park in Grand Forks. (Grand Forks Herald)
North Dakota Army National Guard Sergeant First Class Darren Linde was honored for his service and sacrifice at a recent Rams/Seahawks game. (KFYR TV)
A Fargo non-profit called Faith4Hope is doubling-down their annual efforts to provide Thanksgiving supper for families in need. (KVRR)
Williston’s McVay Elementary has picked up a pile of socks – 1,295 pairs, to be exact – for the school pantry, the community homeless program, and the Family Crisis Shelter. (Williston Herald)
Dickinson State is handing out 900 Thanksgiving dinners – one every 30 seconds – next Thursday for anyone who signs up. (Dickinson Press)