Tucumcari, New Mexico was an interesting place to live in the early 1970’s. Interstate 40 ran right through town then. Famous for motels, it had an equal number of bars and drive-ins with car hops and everything. My family lived several miles south of town and I had a riding school on 40 acres; our home sat in the middle of 7 acres.
My father had an obsession with automobiles and I had an old Jaguar and a silver, 1961 Porsche S. We left the keys in our cars and trucks that were in the driveway in front of the house. We lived pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
My bedroom window faced the front yard. One night I was sitting on my bed listening to music when I heard my Porsche start. I looked outside in time to see it bouncing down the driveway to the highway. Crikey, someone was stealing it.
Without thinking, I ran out the front door, jumped into my father’s car (and keys were in it, if you are going to leave keys in cars, it’s good to leave them in every car, I guess), and contrary to its usual nature, it started right away. This was a huge engine in an automatic transmission, power everything Cadillac. I was going to catch my Porsche.
So I zoomed down the road after my little car’s faint, bobbing taillights, crying and cursing and feeling full of adrenalin. Then, the SOB who stole it turned it out into the desert across ruts and mesquite and deep sand; spinning it and finally high centering it just ahead of me as I left a high flying trail of dust of my own. Then I drove up, headlights on my little Porsche’s stuck silver body and realized… the guy was still in it. Hmmm…. I recall the feeling clearly… “Now what?”
I locked the doors on the Cadillac, sat there a few minutes, got scared and backed away slowly. Out on the pavement, I hauled butt back home, ran into the house screaming, “Call the police, someone stole Duddley” (yep, I had named my car) then told my Mum where my sweet car was sitting and drove back out there. In this age of cell phones, the sense of isolation in those days cannot be explained.
My Mother was not thrilled that I just barked out orders and left – she let me know this fact often for awhile after that night. I was so full of rage that I got back to the desert in mere minutes and found Duddley easily because his lights were still on. I left the big car running, its headlights illuminating the Porsche and (what possesses me sometimes!) I walked up to my little car, reached into the open window and turned off the headlamps.
The police and my father arrived after an excruciatingly long period of time. I kept the Cadillac running, headlights on, me sitting in it with doors locked. No one was happy with me, but my father seemed kind of proud of me – his attitude often inspired my less than brilliant actions. He and I pulled the Porsche out of the sand with his truck.
The police did things like question me as if I had done something wrong, refuse to “dust for prints”, act as if I had wrecked the Porsche myself (as I explained that I could not drive 2 cars at the same time)… it was not a pleasant experience. I think the police were overly suspicious because I had chased my stolen car.
I think the guy who stole it was probably the most surprised when I came barreling after him! I hope so. And I hope somehow, he knew or he found out that it was a 19 year old woman who did it. Crikey, I can tell… I would do the same thing again.