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From Dreams to Memories!
By Harold Burkhardt
It was in 1980 when I was bitten by the Mustang Bug! I’d been dreamin’ of getting one - and I found a black 1968 Mustang Convertible for sale by an individual – here in San Antonio. It was running, and the top went up and down..so it moved to my home! But then it sat out back of our house on the concrete patio with car cover over it. Re-furbishing it was on the back burner because of our aging mother who came to live with us – and of course - I had a job too!
But gradually things happened – we moved – to where we had a three car garage –so work started. I was inspired to take an Adult Education evening course in “Body Restoration”… at Roosevelt High School. After 3 months I told my friend about the Body Restoration course – and he looked at me and said ”It didn’t help you much!” Well – I had to explain it was for the body of my Mustang!
I even took the engine out and took it down to a friend I had by the coast, to put new rings and rod bearings in it. After a few months of taking the fenders off, wire brushing the rust off of the inside of them – it finally went to a professional body shop. It was down about 35 miles to the South, in Natalia, and was run by Jesse Zapata. (0n old US 81 Highway!- he’s still there!!) There it was to be painted, new metal floor panels welded in and more.
As a retired United Methodist Clergy – sometimes you get asked to help out– and in the Fall of 1996 my Bishop called.. and my wife, Myriam (whom I lost in 2000) and I were off to Corpus Christi to be interim pastor at First United Methodist Church there for a few months.
So I told Mr. Zapata – no hurry on the Mustang - so after about six months - in 1997 - I picked up my “new” Candy Apple Red Mustang! What’s next? The new Deluxe Parchment upholstery which I put in –and a new top which Alamo Pony put on. I added a Tachometer, which ended up as a “How To “ article which I wrote for the November 1999 issue of Mustang Monthly. I even qualified to be MCA Judge for 1967-68 Mustangs and somehow graduated to “permanent” !
Well of course as most of you know with older Mustangs, there is always something more to fix – or add. I added the Pertronix Ignition –but I found it can fail too! Driving back from the Austin Mustang Club show – there we were – road side at Buda! I learned to carry a set of old fashioned breaker points and the tools to put them on!
Over these later years my wife Patricia and I have enjoyed driving it in many parades – the Elf Louise ones that Chuy’s Restaurant used to sponsor here just before Christmas , and still do in Austin. We carried Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck; and then one time the Rug Rats – AND -another year -it was the original Spurs Coyote Mascot, Tim Derk!
My young grandsons enjoyed riding in some of those the parades too! There was also a couple of Helotes CornyVal parades which were in there along the way, carrying folks of their Historical Society.
Then there were the Leon Valley Fourth of July Parades - lots of them! Carrying US Rep Charles Gonzales; Texas State Senator (to be) Julian Castro - Sometimes our other younger grandchildren and friends along with the Leo the Leon Valley Library Lion! .
The last one was on July 4, 2016 – Carrying the Parade Marshalls - Fiona Gorostiza and Jeff Roper of the KSAT-TV afternoon show – SA LIVE. I especially liked the Leon Valley parades because they were short- and my radiator only boiled over once!!
Private parades were special too – driving the grandchildren (in their younger days) in the Mustang through our Elm Creek sub-division – looking at the deer!
We’ve had the SAMC car show for at least for the 30 years or so, and my ’68 was in them all since I’ve had it, even before it became Candy-Apple Red! We used to hold our car shows at the Catholic Life Building on 410 – including the year when I was president of SAMC in 2003. Since then, we’ve certainly increased the numbers of cars at the show …and we’ve had to move a couple of times to have more space! Thanks to our leadership for all this – and for more of course!
It’s been a wonderful ride, sometimes perplexing, sometimes expensive - for it had every factory accessory available for 1968 – including Speed (Cruise) Control, tilt-a-way steering wheel, power steering and brakes and I added sequential turn signal lights! But - the time comes – when you can hardly get in and out of that Mustang –let alone get under it!
And so – on June 1, 2017 – it was sold - there it went – but not all of it – though those many bruises are healed and forgotten….there are lots of wonderful memories which still remain!
Even though that car is now gone – something wonderful is still there - and that’s the SAMC friends we’ve made over the years and miles! Those trial rides to Gonzales, or up in the Hill Country –gave time for, not only enjoying the sites – but- making new friends visiting with members of SAMC!
It’s been a wonderful ride for me and those in my family– and so – you all keep making those Ponies look good and running better! Keep on roaring down the road – both the paved road and the friendship road - like it was for me – may it be a wonderful ride for each of you too!