My very first car as a teenager was a 1948 Chevy tan coupe. I bought it from my neighbor for $65. I loved that car! I painted a Mickey Mouse face on the front of the hood, on each moon-style hubcap, and even on the face of the non-working clock that graced the dash board. I kept a stash of Mickey Mouse hats inside for my passengers to wear. Needless to say, the old Mickey-Mobile was very popular among my high school friends.
After much pleading and begging in my senior year, my father agreed to me let me get a completely new interior for the mouse car. Being on a limited budget, I did what a lot of Southern California kids did the 1950s:
I drove it down to Tijuana, Mexico for a super cheap upholstery job. I decided to go all out and went with tuck-and-roll seat covers and headliner.
To say the upholstery shop was primitive was an understatement. I held my breath as a crew of young Mexicans swarmed the car, ripping and tearing then sewing and installing. I watched horrified as they lit rolled-up newspapers on fire to heat the faux leather material before stretching it. But when they were finished, I yelled a loud, “Bravo!” The interior looked fabulous. I drove the car home and parked it proudly in the garage overnight.
The next morning, I noticed that Max, our Brittany Spaniel dog, was walking around the back yard with bird feathers clustered around his muzzle. The only birds of the fowl family in our neighborhood were the neighbor’s carrier pigeons. The feathers in Max’s mouth were definitely of the chicken variety. Then I heard my mother yelling in the garage.
I realized I’d left the door leading from the back yard into the garage open overnight when I raced to see what had prompted her blood-curdling screams.
The inside of the garage looked like a snowstorm had struck overnight. But it wasn’t white snow I was looking at. The inside of the car and garage floor were covered with chicken feathers. After a quick inspection, the puzzle was solved . My Tijuana upholsters had cut costs by using chicken feathers to form the rolls in the upholstery rather than more expensive foam rubber. Good old Max had torn the seat covers and headliner apart looking for those birds as any good bird-dog would do. The car went. The dog stayed. The way I was able to get rid of this car is a complete story in itself, but I’ll just say that I am really thankful that Tom from Milano’s in San Diego as his company was able to purchase the vehicle from me.