I was five when I was taken to my first junkyard. My cousin Vance was hunting something down for his 1976 Dodge Charger and I begged and pleaded with him until he caved and let me roll with him. Had my mother known I was going anywhere near that place, she would have killed him on the spot. Broken glass, sharp metal, wrecked cars…no, in hindsight, it wasn’t a smart idea, but as I weaved my way through stacks of Mavericks, Torinos, Vegas and whatever else was coming and going through the yard that day, I was in heaven. As Vance raided some nameless shell for whatever it was he needed, I was sitting in some mid-size 1970s Ford having a ball behind the dead and lifeless steering wheel, the wreathed horn button looking me dead in the eyes.
Thirty-odd years on, and I still love to do a good yard crawl. I’ve had great times in a junkyard. I’ve toured Desert Valley Auto Parts’ north Phoenix location and stood slack-jawed at the sight of two matching 1975 Road Runners stacked on each other like cordwood. I’ve busted my knuckles at the Pick-and-Pull that sits at the end of the runway of McChord AFB in Washington State more times than I dare count. I’ve wandered through massive yards in-between Colorado and the Mississippi River hoping to find that diamond in the rough sitting in the tall grass. I’ve found snakes underneath cars in Texas, bald-faced hornets in southwestern Washington, and as for the yards I hit up during my service time…well, better not to say anything, really.
Junkyards tell the final chapter to a lot of stories. Whether it’s the Firebird that got away from it’s driver and went ass-end first into the trees, the old Chevy truck that worked until it’s frame broke, or the K-car that made the amazing fall from new car to 19th owner and a ton of stickers, each vehicle enters the junkyard showing the scars of the years gone by. Most vehicles are there for a reason, some were just turned in by people who couldn’t be bothered to keep the machine up, and some were dead on arrival and are just waiting for the crusher. But we still hunt through them, looking, hoping that there is something worth saving.
Or maybe that’s just me. What about you?