BY ROLLY A. CHABOT

She had once been a ’79 Ford Van, but she sat that day and was dubbed “Rolly’s Royce”. I smile as I think of the events of the day.

We had just finished insulating and replacing all the panelling. It was about 30 Celsius when I started to cover the inside with contact cement to prepare for the “Fun Fur” that I had just bought. Mostly black-grey and the loudest orange-pink that you could imagine.

That day became the day known as the great “stone” as both of us were as high as you wanted to be on the fumes. It was a challenge to get finished as most of the time was spent laughing over nothing.

From there, cupboards and bed were built and, before long, I had the best-looking machine in town that could go anywhere it was called to go. The body work came next and that was a challenge as Ford had a reputation, in those years, of rusting badly.

It stayed primer grey for a few years until one day I decided it was the day to paint the old girl. A gallon of black paint and a few brushes and she was completed. The paint shop was an abandoned gravel pit near Carcross Corner. It even included a few bugs that were trapped in the paint job.

That old van carried me farther and farther into the secluded lakes than most 4x4s would, and all for the price of $442.11 (including the paint and brushes). A few years later, I ended up putting a second motor into it. It carried me from the Yukon and far east in search of a place to call home.

People in the Yukon just smiled when they saw it, but on the Outside I would get odd looks and was often questioned if anyone had been killed in that wreck.

She took me to a landing spot just outside of Grande Prairie, Alberta, where it drove me back and forth 80 miles a day for the next two years until she became unworthy and needed a rest. I had bought an acreage, and that winter the snow was all but impassable.

“The Royce” again came alive as a snowplow with the neat blade that I had made. It mounted directly to the frame with a hinge and a winch that allowed me to lift and lower as needed. A few barrels of gravel, a set of chains and again I was able to push her to the limit.

Finally, in 1996, I sold her the way she was, tired but still running, to a young fellow who was looking for a 302 engine. She sold for $600 in the end, as I watched her leave the acreage under her own steam. The next time I saw her she was in the community dump upside down and just a shell of her past.

Now that’s what I call a “Royce”.

Rolly A. Chabot is a pastor and a freelance writer who lives in Central Alberta, but has travelled throughout the Yukon for many years. The stories from these travels will be told in a series of novels. Contact him at [email protected]