Eagle has landed"
My new owner drove me south to my new home located on Florida's
booming Atlantic coast. Steve was an engineer who worked for NASA
at the Kennedy Space Center. When not working Steve's one enduring
passion was surfing. However he was always reluctant to take me to
the beach because of the salt air. We would see old rusted-out
cruisers parked along the shoreline and just shake our heads.
"You never want to look like that," he would say. Those
infrequent times Steve did take me to the beach, he always would
scrub me down thoroughly afterwards to remove any trace of salt. I
loved the beach scene but my main concern was my immaculate
intense decade-long national effort to conquer space, the defining
moment was at hand. It was an exciting time as the anticipation of
Man actually landing on the Moon engrossed the nation. Parked at
the Cape while Steve was at work, my daily waits were punctuated
by admirers who would continually stop to check me out. I took it
all in stride and paid little attention. However one afternoon
just a few days before the moon-launch two men approached. I
sensed immediately that they "didn't fit". I then
overheard one say to the other, "This car is a good example
of capitalism's decadence, Comrade." Comrade! As I quickly
contemplated what to do, I glimpsed a police patrol car
approaching. Without a moment's hesitation I blew my horn. As the
startled comrades fled from the blaring din I was creating, the
patrol car quickly pursued and stopped them. Soon the entire area
was swarming with FBI and CIA agents.
It was a
beautiful Florida morning when at 9:32 a.m. Steve and I watched
Apollo 11 blast off. As I watched the gigantic Saturn rocket
ascend I felt an extra burst of pride. Had my actions a few days
earlier played a pivotal role in this, Man's greatest scientific
achievement? I will probably never know the answer to this
question. But one thing I do know. Those immortal words were
spoken on July 20, 1969, as scheduled -- and maybe, just maybe, my
quick action made the difference. "The Eagle has
One Last Spin
It was early 1973 when Steve decided to trade me in. While I would
miss Steve and the excitement of Cape Kennedy, I was thrilled to
learn my new owner would be taking me cross-country to Southern
California. He was in fact an assistant to President Nixon and was
on the staff of the Summer White House at San Clemente. As I
basked in the warm California sun and drank in the endless expanse
of the blue Pacific, I reveled in the good fortune that was once
more mine. My new owner was also a surfer, so I soon found myself
spending long hours parked along the shoreline. I now accepted the
reality that the salt air was beginning to take its toll on my
skin. However it was only cosmetic. Under my hood a still strong
heart powered my body with youthful ease.
a nice car; you have there." The voice was unmistakable -- it
was the President! "Would you mind if I took it for a drive
sometime?" Over the next year and a half "sometime"
turned out to be every time the President visited San Clemente.
Mired in the Watergate scandal, I think slipping behind my wheel
and heading up and down the Coast Highway was a true catharsis for
the beleaguered President. Dutifully followed by a string of
Secret Service cars, more than once Mr. Nixon stomped on the gas
and watched in my rearview mirror as the followers faded from
view. It was a side of the President no one would have ever
imagined. But soon the President's disciplined personality would
take over as he slowed down to allow the Secret Service caravan
In August of
1974 President Nixon resigned. Returning to San Clemente Mr. Nixon
asked to take me for one last spin. Driving along the Coast
Highway, only one Secret Service car followed. As he put the pedal
to the metal for the last time, Citizen Nixon did not slow down.
Several hours later we quietly slipped back into his San Clemente
compound. "It was great to escape for a while. I feel so much
better." My famous friend then quietly whispered as we parted
for the final time, "Thank you." It was all very sad. I
was glad I had been able to help maybe just a little.
Mustang Sally, Man on the Moon, a momentary respite for a
President. What an exciting life my first decade had been. Now
however, the quality of my existence began a rapid decline. My
next owner lived in Nevada and, quite frankly was abusive. His
only interest seemed to be "peeling out". I was still
very muscular and able, but maximum exertion at every green light
was a bit much. A slightly gentler owner who lived in Illinois
followed. However this fellow was an avid fisherman who would
carelessly throw his wet slimy catch in my back seat. Soon I took
on a distinct aroma that did not make me popular with many people
-- but I was a favorite among the neighborhood cats!
ensuing owners have now mercifully faded into a blur. Each seemed
to treat me with progressively lessening respect. The only one
worthy of mention bought me in the mid-eighties. It wasn't that he
treated me especially well, but at least he did have an
interesting occupation. He was a movie stunt-car driver. And while
he used a wide variety of cars to perform his stunts, he often
planned and practiced his stunts with me. I personally made it to
the silver screen several times, although my appearances were
limited to very forgettable Grade-B movies. I have always envied
the '68 Mustang Fastback driven by Steve McQueen during the
lengthy chase-scene in "Bullitt", but I guess my lasting
claim to fame will be a hit record rather than a blockbuster
As the years
passed painfully by the people who drove me seemed interested
almost entirely in my physical strength, ignoring my deeply flawed
cosmetic appearance. I crisscrossed the length and breadth of our
great nation numerous times, much of it at breakneck speed.
"Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow,
Sarasota" -- I was Mustang Sally, but I could have the
inspiration for another popular song: "I've been everywhere,
man. Crossed the deserts bare, man. I've breathed the mountain
air, man. Travel -- I've had my share, man. I've been
The end came suddenly. As the quality of my life continued to sink
lower and lower, I found myself being raced more frequently --
most of the time in impromptu road challenges. I even had one
owner who went so far as to enter me in local stock car races.
Alas, the day came when I could compete no longer and my tired
heart suffered what all thought was a fatal attack. Not wishing to
repair the thrown rod in my engine, and not finding any ready
buyers due to the condition of my body, my owner simply towed me
to a small-town junkyard in rural New Hampshire. "I can be
saved," I wanted to cry out. "I can be revived!"
With the passage of time however, I slowly lost hope. Few people
visited the junkyard, although in a way that was a blessing. It
meant I didn't have too many parts stripped off me. I considered
myself lucky that there were no car compactors in the area!
seasons came and went. I felt as though I was welded to the ground
I sat on. Summers were pleasant enough, but the harsh winters were
simply unbearable. Snowflakes trickled in through the tears in my
canvas top and formed mini-snowdrifts on my torn and tattered
upholstery. I existed in a hibernation-like state. In the
summertime I was overrun with nearly every species of insect and
small varmint known to Man, but in the dead of winter even they
abandoned me. Years passed, yet miraculously I was still pretty
much whole. But who would want a car that didn't run, whose engine
was in need of major repair, and whose body was scarred and rusted
to the max? I often thought of my early years. I was after all
"Sally's Mustang". Of all my owners Sally was still the
one most often in my thoughts.
will make a cool surfmobile for the Outer Banks." What?! What
was this kid talking about? Surfmobile? Outer Banks? An hour later
air had been pumped in my long-flat tires, and for the first time
in years I moved. With a pickup truck in the lead I was
"Under Tow" and on my way to North Carolina. From snow
to surf -- from oblivion to renewed life. I had been reborn!
"Repairing your motor won't be that difficult. But fixing
your body is for sure not worth it. In fact it's almost hopeless.
Besides you'd just rust out all over again anyway." Fine with
me. I knew my appearance was a disaster, but I could have cared
less. Fate had given me a second chance at life. I just chuckled
to myself as I recalled how vain I had been about my looks in my
youth. It turned out my saviors were two brothers named Darrel and
RJ, and in no time they had my mighty V-8 running with the
precision of a fine timepiece.
managed an Outer Bank tourist shop, while RJ was still in school.
However both lived for the hours they could spend surfing. Waiting
at shore's edge, I would remember fondly the surfing scene in
Florida and Southern California all those years before. I had been
given a second chance at life. I now eagerly drank in the
corrosive but exhilarating salt air I had once sought so hard to
avoid. Yet despite my catastrophic cosmetic appearance I still
turned heads. People were constantly photographing me. I knew they
perceived me as the embodiment of what a genuine surfing cruiser
is. I've seen many restored Mustangs -- as shiny and sharp as the
day they were born. Some even have surfboards strapped on --
although often it's merely for show. When they get home I know
that their owners thoroughly scrub away all traces of salt -- just
as Steve used to scrub me three decades earlier. However I wear my
scars and wrinkles proudly. To me they are hard-earned character
lines that reflect the wisdom that comes only with living a long
and sometimes hard life.
Better start practicing your Hawaiian," Darrel announced.
"We're on our way to Maui!" I couldn't believe my ears.
It seems that Darrel's aunt, whose nickname was "Sis",
was a retired Army Colonel who now lived in Lahaina. She had
encouraged Darrel to make the move and, what’s more, she
insisted Darrell bring me along! It turns out she had once owned a
Mustang just like me – the same color even. She understood how
attached Darrel and I had become.
She Was Right
Maui is everything I ever dreamed of. Gorgeous weather, beautiful
people -- and most of all, fantastic beaches with the most awesome
waves on the planet. From Makena to Puamana, from Kanaha to Hookipa
and beyond -- Maui and its surfing beaches are truly Paradise. I
especially love the pounding surf that the winter storms generate
along the North Shore. Waves of fifteen to twenty feet and higher
crash along the shoreline and my adrenaline flows. But whatever the
season and whatever sets may be breaking, zipping all around the
island top-down is truly Heaven on Earth. Actually it’s always
top-down for me, as the mechanism to raise and lower my torn and
tattered canvas top has been broken for years. But who cares? An
occasional tropical shower is delightfully refreshing!
As I conclude
my life's story, at least up till now, I do so with a smile. However
I am not referring to the smile I wear. Rather I'm talking about
someone else's very special smile. For you see, when I met Darrel's
Aunt Sis for the first time, the coquettish smile that came across
her face was unmistakable. It was the same smile I had seen each
night in that Memphis dealer's showroom nearly forty years earlier.
Yes, Aunt Sis' real name is Sally -- and we knew each other
instantly. What were the chances we would ever find each other
again? I never believed it could happen, but Sally’s faith simply
would not be denied.
started calling myself Sis shortly after we parted", Sally told
me. "When people learned my name was Sally most of them would
immediately nickname me Mustang Sally. It was just too
painful." Sally paused. A reflective expression came over her
face. "I have regretted losing you all my life, but I always
knew someday I would find you and we would be together again."
Sally and I have never told anyone our precious secret, not even
Darrel. It makes everything even more special – more intimate.
Sally has made Darrel promise that when he decides to sell me
someday, as inevitably he will, he will sell me only to Sally. We
will be together forever -- and for all time it will be her, me and
"Ride, Sally, Ride!"
-- The End
Cruiser Art 1999-2013
(Note: This Auto Biography is included with each
Ford Mustang print)