12 September 2018

[Bess Tuggle] - Memoirs of Surviving Children: The Malibu


This column has turned into a delightful obsession for me. It’s the perfect excuse to turn my little mind loose to wander down memory lane. The real fun is when it gets totally lost. The good, the bad and the ugly!

In the late nineties I owned my absolutely, no hands down, favorite car. She was a 1978 Chevy Malibu. I bought her from a lil’ old lady that had bought it new off the lot, then kept her garaged. Low mileage, four doors, six seat belts, automatic transmission (thankfully – put me with a manual transmission and I –will- get in trouble), V-8 (I can’t remember if she had a 305 or a 350), absolutely pristine! Oh, I babied that car, and it was perfect for me and my boys.

My boys’ usually went to work with me, but one day their father decided it was too nice a day for work and school. Yep – the guys played hooky. Sometimes the best “sick days” are the ones you simply lay back and enjoy, and I could work without trying to keep up with my brood.


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On my way home from work I stopped, blinker on, waiting to turn onto the road we lived on. I got rear ended by a car that the Deputy estimated was doing about 60 miles an hour.

Trunk, decimated; back seat broken in half; the bolts that held the drivers seat down broke too, and I was thrown half way into the back seat in spite of my seat belt. At least the other driver was kind enough to spin me onto the road I was trying to turn into. And, thankfully, my boys’ weren’t with me.

I hurt for months after the accident, but I only had one black-and-blue mark. My mother happened to drive by shortly after. I was out of the car and searching for my glasses and cigarettes. It was too soon for the pain to set in. With my head in the passenger side of the car, digging under the seat, my mom grabbed my arm, drug me out and spun me around. She left her hand-print on my arm. A perfect, five finger, full palm hand print. Try to explain that one to the doctors.

Well, the car lived on. She was totaled. No question about that one, but the motor and transmission were just fine. The insurance adjuster (after I got done haggling and arguing with him) said I could keep my car for $50. At first I just looked at him like he was stupid. I’ll admit it. Then I informed him the crusher would give him (at that time) $50 for the car, it would cost him $45 to tow it, so I offered him five bucks. He laughed, shook his head, and told me to keep my car.

That’s when the –real- fun began!

I gave each of the boys a screwdriver and told them if you see a screw, take it out. They had a BLAST! Doors, radio, seats, a few things I really didn’t want them to take out, but, oh well. It turned into the car they learned to drive in. They got to sit on Mama’s lap (some couldn’t reach the gas and brake pedals back then) and drive. Up the driveway, down the driveway, up the driveway, down the driveway… By the time they could get their learner’s license, they all knew how to drive. Can’t say they were all –good- drivers, but they could drive.

A couple of good friends helped me fix ‘er up. Beverly Hillbilly’s of the South kinda car. The bench seat over the trunk and steer horns on the front were an added bonus.


The Malibu


- Bess




jack of all trades, Ms. Tuggle has been a Covington resident since the late 70’s. She's been a K-Mart cashier, cabinet builder, vet tech, office manager for a beef cattle ranch and water well company (where she was able to hold benefits for D.A.R.E. and Scouts), a court reporter, business manager, assistant at a private investigation firm, legal assistant, convenience store clerk, landscaper and elementary school substitute teacher.  Her greatest pleasure is being a wife, mother and grandmother.  Her stories are all real, and all names will be withheld to protect the innocent, and also maybe the guilty, depending on the crime & the Statute of Limitations.  



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