The Midnight Blue FordMature

In 1967, Roosevelt Walker enlisted into the Army and served in Heong Nu, Vietnam with the 11th Calvary. He worked as a mechanic in the motor pool. In 1974 after honorably discharging from the military after two tours in Vietnam, he returned to Selma to marry Janie Carter. In 1976, the couple opened Walker Automotive. The first location was a small lot on Dallas Avenue. The company quickly grew from a mechanic shop into a tiny used car dealership. After three profitable years of exceptional car sales, Roosevelt purchased some property on Highway 80 near Marion Junction. On October 1, 1980, he opened the Walker Ford dealership. The couple’s last child was born less than a month later. Jamal turned seventeen on October 31, 1997 and enlisted into the United States Army a month later.

 

In July of 1997, a few months before enlisting, Jamal and his father located an old truck body at Ben Peeve's Truck savage yard on Marion Junction Highway. The moment Jamal saw the rusty windowless step side truck, he knew he wanted it. However, his father was reluctant to purchase the old truck body. After some pleading with his father and a little bargaining with Mr. Peeve, the old truck was purchased for one hundred dollars. Later, the Walker Ford dealership's black and blue wrecker truck towed the rusty wreck to the dealership’s paint and body shop. Since Roosevelt owned the local Ford dealership in the small rural town, the truck was restored to factory specification. Everything was rebuilt or replace with Ford parts. The large rusty bumpers and the original grill were re-chromed and glistened brightly. The old torn bench seat was removed and reupholstered in the original blue tweed fabric. The windows, the inside floor and the rocker panels were replaced because of damage and rust. The useless six-cylinder motor and transmission were replaced with a completely chromed high performance 351 Cleveland engine with a Holley four-barrel carburetor and a new racing transmission. The suspension was upgraded and the old radio was replaced with a new Pioneer sound system. Hank Sanders custom-made the treated dark brown oak boards for the bed of the truck. Other than that, the rust brown 1964 Ford step side truck was original.


Right before Jamal graduated from the U. S. Army ranger school his mother asked Henry Reed, the supervisor of the paint shop at the dealership, to paint the restored Ford midnight blue with a purple pearl clear coat. His oldest brother, Randall, purchased some special low profile racing tires and custom twenty-inch rims for the restored Ford truck. They were shipped in from the Burning Rubber speed shop in Long Beach, California. Private First Class Jamal Antonio Walker’s graduation from the ranger school was scheduled for Friday, March 30, 2001 at the Army Ranger School in Fort Benning, Georgia. Fifteen members of the Walker family took the drive to the graduation ceremony. His father and mother drove the freshly painted truck from Marion to Fort Benning for his graduation ceremony. Sandra's husband, Darnel Williams, and Reginald, Sandra's son drove Roosevelt's silver gray 1999 Lincoln Continental. Randall, his sister Sandra, and the rest of the family arrived in Darnel's eggshell white Expedition and Randall's royal blue Excursion.

 

After the long traditional military graduation ceremony, Jamal decided to take a thirty-day leave and traveled home to rural Selma, Alabama. For three enjoyable weeks, his days consisted of meeting old high school friends and chatting with Henry at the dealership's paint shop. His nights were occupied with loud wild parties, flirtatious ex-girlfriends, and a lot of club hopping. Because Janie had converted his old bedroom into her home office, Jamal decided to stay at Darnel and Sandra's split level white and brown frame house. Four days before the end of his leave, Jamal hesitantly hugged and kissed his entire family goodbye. Right before the graduation ceremony, the army assigned Jamal to Fort Hope in Hackberry, Louisiana. He was about to start his long hard drive to Fort Hope and begin his spine tingling journey as an U.S. Army Ranger.

The End

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