Jackin Up The “A”

One of Grampa Jim’s closest friends was Mr Toth, a Hungarian farmer from down the road. His friend worked in the pickle canning factory in Coloma, and he farmed too. Mr. Toth was a character who excited easily, and cursed incessantly in Hungarian. I never understood what he was saying, but I knew he was swearing. He ranted and raved and called people names.  The crowd at Fish Corners knew him well. They often played tricks on him just to see him get excited.

I remember watching a prank played on him.  Grampa Jim and his buddy arrived at Fish Corners in Mr. Toth’s Model A: a daily ritual for the two of them.  He pulled up next to the gas pump, ran a gallon of gas into the tank, and went in the store to pay. Of course they had to have a beer too.

Fish Corners was a 1950’s version of today’s Gas City.  This family run business consisted of a small grocery store, an auto service station, and a tavern. Grampa walked through the store into the tavern, and sat at his favorite table on the edge of the dance floor. They nursed a beer, and cajoled with friends.

While they talked, the pranksters went to work. Two older boys put a jack under the rear axle of the Model-A. They lifted it  just enough so the wheels would spin without grabbing. Everyone, at the store, saw what was happening, and many of them waited around to see the outcome.

They came out and got into car; started it up, put it in gear, and let out the clutch.  The car didn’t move. Mr. Toth got out swearing to himself. He looked around. Everything seemed okay so he tried again. The swearing got stronger. The motor was running, but the car didn’t move.  Mr. Toth sent Grampa Jim  to watch the wheels. He put the car in gear again. Gramps bent over to watch. He saw the wheels turning. The swearing got really loud. A very red-faced, Mr. Toth jumped out of the car ranting, and kicking the gravel.  I picked out Hungarian words like Jesus, God, mother, saint, and heaven. All were mixed with words I heard often, but didn’t understand. This time, he found the jack. He raised his arm and shook his fist as he ran toward the store. All the while he ranted in Hungarian. His face was purple, and the veins in his jugular stuck out; boy was he mad. Everyone at Fish Corners laughed hysterically. Grampa Jim stood back and laughed too.

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