Wild Ponies

I had this car. Well, not exactly that particular car, but a powder-blue 1965 Mustang nonetheless. Just like Judy Smongesky’s, mine came from LA — or Hermosa Beach, anyway; just like hers, mine was a high school graduation present. And just like Judy’s Mustang — which is actually Eugene Brakke’s Mustang — mine was stolen on a balmy SoCal day. My Mustang disappeared from Planet Earth, as if the Hand of God had lifted it from the curb, but Eugene’s Mustang has returned to him, 38 years late:

He parked at work that day in May 1970, at the Lockheed plant in Burbank, and when he came out later it was gone.

The police asked him how much gas was in the tank, suggesting the thieves may have just taken it out for a joy ride. But with gas at about 36 cents a gallon then, he thought they could probably afford to buy some more.

Brakke held hopes that it would turn up somewhere. He loved that car like a member of his family. But eventually, he figured it was gone — meaning somewhere in Tijuana.

Then this week — Monday or Tuesday, he can’t remember — he got a call from a detective at the San Diego Police Department.

“We found your car,” the detective said.

Brakke, now 80 and living in Costa Mesa, was impressed.

Me too. Come home, Mustang. In 2046 I’ll still have a few years up on Eugene. It’ll be just like old times.