Around the Island

Richard’s Almanac: Trading in the old stick shift

Here’s a photo of freshly caught bluefish right before the cooking (photo by Myla, the author’s granddaughter).
Here’s a photo of freshly caught bluefish right before the cooking (photo by Myla, the author’s granddaughter).

I made a decision last week to get rid of my Jeep Wrangler. I had just returned from a trip to New Jersey (where my second child has bought a house) and was completely beat.

The upper level to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was closed. Everyone was being funneled from the Belt Parkway onto the lower level. About one hour of stop and go, and doing a tap dance with the clutch and accelerator.

I said to myself, “Self, you’re too old for this. Get an automatic transmission.”

So on Saturday, I looked on the internet to see what Mullen Motors in Southold had available. I want a  four-door Wrangler with an automatic and a removable plastic top.

No more canvas tops or stick shifts, even though a stick shift is one of the best theft deterrents. Most car thieves these days can’t shift.

I saw a great looking red Wrangler on Mullen’s website. I made arrangements over the phone with the salesman who had sold me mine some three years ago. I was getting very excited — I liked the red color and it had an automatic and was a four door with a removable plastic top. I was telling all this to my grandson Leonardo who decided to come with me to seal the deal.

Leonardo is 11 and like many of his friends, likes all different kinds of cars and will spend time on his computer building different supercars. A new Jeep was right up his alley.

We arrived at the dealership to find the red Wrangler sitting out front on its four knobby tires, looking like it was ready to pounce.

Leonardo was excited.

“Pop pop, it’s a Willys,” he said with enthusiasm, adding that “It’s very cool.”

I knew that Jeeps were originally created by Willys, and at some point were taken over by American Motors and then by Chrysler. I learned that this was an attempt at a retro vehicle that had more off-road muscle.

I also learned that this retro muscle machine did not have power windows or power door locks. It also lacked running boards — they were replaced by rock protectors for climbing on rough terrain. The over-sized knobby tired wheels also added to this off-road mystique.

The clincher for me was the absence of running boards — an extra six inches or so to stretch these old bones to enter.

Leonardo was disappointed but he understood. So we looked at a white one — I don’t want a white car there are too many of them. And then a gray one. Same reservations. I had my heart set on red.

Then the salesman said, “I have a four-door Wrangler that just came in yesterday but I’m not sure you’d like it.”

Leonardo and I went out to the lot to look at it and there it sat in all its purple splendor — a metallic, medium purple  Wrangler Unlimited. Leonardo thought that the color was super cool  and the salesman noted to me that “You’ve got a red belt on so you must like bright colors.”

I took the car for a drive and compared to my two-door stick-shift, it rode “like a Cadillac.”

I decided to get it. Take a chance. What the heck!

I also remembered that the colors of the school at which I was headmaster for many years were purple and red — the new Jeep parked next to my red house!

Meanwhile, Island surfcasters have had a very successful weekend. Reports are that bluefish were biting “everywhere.” A neighbor showed me two — one 24-inch and another 26 inches. The two are pictured here getting ready to be prepared for eating.