I remember Thanksgiving 1979 very well. My family had the Western Auto Store in Iva, South Carolina, and we had learned that we either had to keep the store open on Thanksgiving or leave town for the day. There simply was no alternative.
Our first Thanksgiving after we opened the store was very aggravating. People wanted to take the day to work on their cars, so they needed car parts. They would come to the house and, rather than lose a good customer, my father would go open the store. From that point forward we were either open for Thanksgiving or we went out of town.
For Thanksgiving 1979, we had the store open. We had worked that day and closed the store early. We came home and ate Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma McClendon’s house. We kept Grandma in a little house in our backyard.
After we ate there was nothing to do, so I called up my friend Roger and we went to see the movie Animal House. While we were watching the movie, Roger started talking to a friend of his and, as the movie was ending, he went outside. I waited to watch the credits because they had extras built into the credits.
When I came out of the theater, I found Roger sitting on a pole drinking something out of a jar. He said, “Where is your car?” I thought he was joking with me because he had been with me when I parked it. He had a set of keys to the car since I gave a set to each of my friends when they were with me in case they needed to get in it without me.
I figured he was joking with me and I went to find an empty space where I had left my 1975 Monte Carlo. I still figured Roger had somehow moved the car. He kept saying, “You need to call the police.” Finally, a police car drove through the parking lot and Roger flagged them down. I knew he wasn’t playing anymore.
As it turns out, the car had been stolen. Two friends of mine, Dennis and his brother David, were at the movie and they drove me and Roger home.
I remember telling my father about the car being stolen. He told me he was not going to buy me another car.
The car was discovered on a dirt road near the double bridges in Anderson County. The thieves had taken the wheels and tires, but left the spare even though the thieves had opened the trunk. The spare was loose in the trunk. They took my new rescue squad jacket and my first aid kit.
I took delivery of my new 1979 Mercury Capri on December 1, 1979.
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