A True Love Affair
Deb & Bob Powell's
1964 Galaxie 500 XL Convertible

It was the early part of September 1972. I was cruising the campus at Chadron State College which is located in northwestern Nebraska. My 1970 red Camaro was polished and shined, looking like I had just driven it off the show room floor. All of a sudden, backing out of a parking place, a blue Galaxie convertible with Wyoming plates darted out. A gorgeous brunette was sitting behind the wheel. I locked up the Camaro and skidded to a stop. It was love at first sight. I asked her details “what year” and “what was in it.” Without hesitation, and with a smile that could melt an iceberg, she replied “1964 XL, 390, automatic.” Needless to say, I was impressed. After a two year romance, we got married and parked our cars side by side.

One day, reality set in. I graduated from college and got my very first teaching job. Like most newlyweds, we were broke and needed money. In order to have money to move to our new jobs, we decided to sell one of the cars. Deb knew how much I loved my Camaro so she agreed to sell her Galaxie.

Twenty years had almost past since we had been married and sold the ‘64. We had visited family in Nebraska and was headed back to our home in Montana. It was April of 1994, we were somewhere in the middle of Wyoming with the kids asleep in the back of the van. Deb and I were reminiscing about our almost twenty years together, the three great kids we had and how lucky we were. Then came the question. The kind of question that comes out of your mouth before you even think. The one that you say and then hope no one heard it. I asked my wife, “Is there anything you regret about our almost twenty years together?” Without hesitation, like she had been waiting for me to ask it for the past two decades, she said, “Getting married in that ugly blue dress (It was the 70’s; I wore a plaid suit.) and selling my 1964 Galaxie 500XL convertible.” Nothing more was said. She dozed off and I started to think about the first time I met her and how much she loved that car. By the time I pulled into my driveway in Billings, Montana, I had made up my mind. I was going to find her ‘64 and give it to her on our twentieth wedding anniversary; considering it was in July, I had about three months.

My search started the next day. I phoned the guy we sold it to who owned a car lot in Chadron, Nebraska. He told me he had kept it about seven years and then sold it to a man from Rapid City, South Dakota. He still had the guy’s name; so, I gave him a call. He said he kept the car about three years and then sold it to a guy in Omaha, Nebraska. I finally got ahold of the guy in Omaha and he told me he had kept the car for a couple of years and sold it to a couple from Mission, Kansas. Here I had hit a dead end. After a month of searching and not being able to find the couple from Kansas, I knew all was lost. I kept reading the classifieds and buying the car magazines. But, before I knew it, our anniversary had come and gone. I forgot about ever finding my wife’s ‘64 .

Spring of 1995. The local Thrifty Nickel want ads, the Auto Section said “1964 Ford Galaxie 500XL Convertible, 390 V8, Automatic, P/S, P/B, Excellent Original, call after 6pm.” The day seemed so long. Finally at 6 o’clock sharp, I made the call. The gentleman said “Come on over.” He gave me directions to a place about ten minutes from my home. As I pulled in his driveway, he was standing, waiting for me. After introductions, we walked back to a little single-detached garage. When he opened the door, there sat a car that looked just like the one that almost backed into me 21 years earlier.

On May 20, 1995, I bought that car to give to my wife on our next wedding anniversary. I hid the Galaxie for two months. On July 20th, our 21st anniversary, we had some friends over for a barbecue. As we sat down to eat, in drives a shiny 1964 Ford Galaxie 500XL Convertible. Deb stood up and pointed, “Look, Bob, there is my old car. It’s beautiful. Whose is it?” As she walked by me to check it out, I said, “Happy Anniversary.” Her mouth dropped open and her eyes started to fill with tears. She opened the door, sat down, fired up the 390 and flashed me a smile. “I’ll be back in a little while.”

In the past two years I have had it repainted, carpeted and all of the stainless trim and chrome re-done. On a clear day, she will back it out of the garage and head to school where she is a kindergarten teacher. As she pulls in the parking lot at school, the older kids will gather around and say, “Nice car, Mrs. Powell. What year?” Without hesitation, she will reply, “’64 Galaxie 500XL with a 390.” All of the time, she smiles the smile that melted the iceberg 21 years earlier. I never found her original car, but you would never know it by watching her cruise down Main Street on her way to school.

Bob & Deb Powell
Billings, MT

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