This is the Edsel

th-5When I was a young boy I owned a 1958 Edsel. I bought it at the local five and dime because it didn’t sell there either. I had been hoping for a ’58 Chevrolet but I got tired of waiting. The two dollars I had saved to buy my next car was burning a hole in my pocket, and besides, the iconoclastic car was growing on me. I loved the odd “O” grill that someone once described as “an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon.” I loved the crisp definition of the protruding headlights, split front bumper and eyebrow taillights. And I was starting to love the fact that Edsel turned out to be Ford Motor company’s $250 million mistake.

Years later I reclaimed its importance by introducing the Edsel in my first novel and then found the very same car I had as a kid in my parent’s attic in a box of old toys my mom packed without my knowledge. I think the thing I loved about this car was that it dared to be different. It’s uniqueness was never accepted by the general public, but that only made it more important in my eyes. Whether anybody else saw it or not didn’t matter … I saw it, and that’s what was important.

In early September, 1957, the first cars arrived in new Edsel showrooms across the country wrapped in canvas coverings. On September 4, 1957 (“E-day” in all the advertising), at precisely the same hour, the covers came off the new Edsels and everything went downhill from there. Apparently it was too much of a departure for most people’s taste.

In its inaugural year, the projected sales figure was at 200,000 cars, but after three model years and just 110,847 Edsels sold, Ford Motor Company threw in the towel, and went about trying to forget about the whole ordeal. Today less than 6000 Edsels survive, but each one is a cherished classic. The 1958 Edsel advertising said it best, “Once you’ve seen it, you’ll never forget it. Once you’ve owned it, you’ll never want to change.”

Well, the unforgettable part is probably true. Maybe not for everybody, but surely for me.

Do you have any Edsels in your life — people that stand out, maybe for something not acceptable to the general public, but something you have come to accept and love?

Or is there something that makes you an Edsel? Actually I think everyone has something that makes them unique — something quirky that makes them stand out. Instead of putting down that thing that makes you different, make something of it. God formed you in your mother’s womb to be just like you are. There are reasons for everything; God doesn’t make mistakes.

Today, an Edsel in mint condition can fetch up to $50,000. Think of what you are worth to your Father in heaven who died for you and rose again that you might be His. There is no price high enough for that value.

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4 Responses to This is the Edsel

  1. Carole in Midland says:

    Oooh, boy! John, I am excited about your new blog radio endeavor and you KNOW I will be online with you from the git-go!

  2. I’ll name one of the “Edsels” in my life, because he had such an impact on me. His name was Peter Hegan, and everybody — and I mean that in the context that EVERY SINGLE PERSON I KNEW — rejected him.

    Pardon me: his adoptive mother didn’t reject him. His adoptive father was totally ashamed of him. Peter was hyperactive, deliberately disobedient to everyone, smoked and drank at an early age (8) and said outrageously crude things. He also became one of my best friends. My mother had encouraged me to “be different”, and in some ways, befriending Peter was a way of doing that. But it was also one of the most powerful friendships I’ve had. Around 7th grade, Peter disappeared from school, and then around 10th grade, he re-surfaced. He had spent a few years in some kind of reformatory, where he kept up his schoolwork and battled a drug problem. Then, “I woke up one morning and said, ‘Pete, you are one f**ked up kid!'” He found his salvation in two basic areas: music and the Bible.

    Eventually, he went to California and studied guitar under Vicente Gomez, and Biblical references crept into his songwriting. He constantly encouraged (or badgered) me to read the Bible, particularly the Books of the Kings (and it was a good 25 years before I realized why — the account of the floating axe-head likely spoke into his life, and it’s been a recurring theme for me over the years, too). We jammed together, and some of the greatest moments of joy were in listening to what Pete brought to my songs and I did for his.

    Little by little, other people around Pete started recognizing his strange genius and his value, but he never quite shook the drug habit or the rebelliousness. One day in 1990, he went into a motel room in Grant’s Pass, OR, and stuck a shotgun under his chin ….

    Unlike the 6,000 prized Edsels today, Pete was one who sent himself to the wrecking yard. Your “Catch” should be a reminder to us all to let people know, as often and as loudly and as clearly as possible, that sometimes, they’re the only ones who see an Edsel in the mirror.

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