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65 VW Van

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In 1975, I read Kentuckian Gurney Norman's novel, "Divine Right's Trip," about the fictional David Ray Davenport, a Kentucky mountain boy turned 'Frisco kid. The novel was printed (in its entirety) in the bottom corners of "The Whole Earth Catalog." D.R.'s trip was made possible by his old VW van, which he called "Urge." The book "urged" me to quit my job (at the Sevier County Times) and travel (by train, bus and thumb) to the West Coast. When I returned to Nashville, in early '66, I decided to buy my own VW van. I found a 1965 bus that had been gutted on the inside (the owners had planned to turn it into a camper). The seats were not bolted down and the heater didn't work and the van had to be pushed off (it wouldn't start when the temperature dropped below 40 degrees). One afternoon when I was visiting my dad in Lebanon, I was backing out of his long, tree-lined driveway, and I knocked off the passenger side rear view mirror. Being a former art major, I named my microbus "Van Go"...although it spent more time not going than going. The winter of late '76 and early '77 was brutal, and since it was well below freezing, I tried push-starting the van, but when I popped the clutch, it just slid on the icy road. Plus, the heater didn't work. It was miserable. Then, in the late Spring, I bought another VW van. It was beautiful. Not only did it have an amazing interior (and heat), it had an 8-track tape deck in the glove box. That lasted until I moved to New York City...the van was broken into within a half hour of my arrival in Brooklyn Heights. Consequently, I drove it back to Tennessee that Thanksgiving (1977) and sold it. This song is the only thing that remains from those awful and wonderful van days.

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