More Capable of Picking Up Fast Women

Finally, I got to see some really old cars, some of them older than me. What really surprised me Saturday were two Buick’s one year apart which were identical models. Both were immaculately restored to perfection. Sadly, the show was so well attended that getting great pictures was nearly impossible, but I tried nonetheless.

The seventy-five year old Buick convertible with twin side mount spare tires has a rumble seat and straight eight engine producing 140 HP. Owner Gordy bragged about how his car would get to 110 mph in eleven seconds. That is impressive for a heavy pile of metal. Gordy’s Century is the same age as me, but in better physical condition, and more capable of picking up fast women.

1938 Buick Century Convertible Coupe, one of 500 produced.

1938 Buick Century Convertible Coupe, one of 500 produced.

 

1939 Buick Century Convertible Coupe

1939 Buick Century Convertible Coupe

Oh yes, there were a few other cars at the show too. The cutest was the Pepto Bismol pink Studebaker with it companion pink golf cart.

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The Best Looking Golf Cart I’ve Seen

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The car that really got my juices flowing is a highly modified 1937 Ford convertible coupé done in gold. This car looks better than most 2014 models of today. I would take it in a second.

I am in love with this one

I am in love with this one

 

The rest of the show worth looking at.

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DSCN5162 DSCN5163 DSCN5164 DSCN5165 DSCN5167 DSCN5168 DSCN5169 DSCN5170 DSCN5171 DSCN5172 DSCN5173 DSCN5174

CARS I HAVE KNOWN

The automobile is still a big part of my life.  My dad raised us with a car in the family just as I raised children with cars, and now my grandchildren are growing up cars.  Even though I used streetcars and buses to go everywhere, we always had a car in the family.

The earliest car I can remember was Dad’s 1929 Buick Century.  He also had an earlier Chrysler, and a Huppmobile before that.  He might have had others, too, but it is too late to ask him.

The 1929 Buick served him well for many years. I remember standing on the front seat as a toddler. I could barely see over the seat back. I was a teenager when he got rid of it.  He eventually sold the Buick to the welder who lived at the end of Avalon.  It seemed strange to watch the Buick drive past with someone else driving. Two years later, the welder cut it up for junk metal.

Dad’s  replacement was a 1937 Dodge.  He bought that car used too.  In fact, he didn’t buy a new car until 1959.  The Dodge only lasted a year when Dad sold it to buy a 1939 Buick Century.  I called it the Green Hornet after my favorite radio program.  This is the car I got my driver’s license in.  I was driving it by eighth grade.  The Buick lasted until my junior year in high school.  Two years after Dad bought it the Buick started making some horrible knocking noises. The rear universal joint needed new bearings.  Rather than spend money to fix the car, Dad traded it in on a two-year old 1954 Plymouth.  The Plymouth was beautiful. It had two toned paint with a white top and turquoise blue bottom, and lots of chrome.  The leatherette and cloth seat colors matched the exterior colors.  I moved back and forth to college with the Plymouth.

Finally, in 1959, dad bought a new Ford Fairlane. The Fairlane was also blue and white, with giant round tail lights; the front fenders hung over the top of the headlights. It had an automatic transmission and a radio that worked.  I was at the University of Illinois by this time and used it during the summers to go to work.  Dad walked to the Illinois Central yard on 95th and Cottage Grove so I could drive to International Harvester on 26th and Western.  Even though Dad hated the Ford because of it’s poor reliability, he kept it until another car hit him broadside while driving in a funeral cortege..  In l969 he traded it in for another Ford.

The ‘69 Ford lasted through most of his retirement.  He and Mom used it a lot to go back and forth to the farm in Michigan.  Dad’s final car was a 1983 Chevy Celebrity.  He began to slow down with this car, and eventually gave up driving when he reached his late eighties.  He sold the Celebrity to one of the grandchildren.

In a later episode I’ll tell about my first car, and every other car I have owned after that.  Each one played a role in my life as a transportation appliance.

Old Rods, Hot Rods, Street Rods, and Rat Rods

     I had the pleasure of viewing a magnificent array of hot rods this evening. I will not tell you where this event was because I want you to guess. Today, there were a large number of 1932-39 vintage hot rods. The best sleeper in the event was a 1961 VW. Having owned a 1959 VW with 39 horsepower, I struck up a conversation with the owner. I was curious as to how much power VW added between the years 1959 to 1961. I never found out. This car owner told me his bug had 220 HP. What?  He built the engine from standard catalog parts, and it develops 220 HP. I asked him what his time was in the quarter mile. His reply was 12.6 seconds, not bad for a Bug. I did not ask any more questions.

     Here are my photographs of what I think are the best looking cars at the event. Remember, you have to tell me where they are.

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A Great Piece of Advice for Life

    One of my best friends and work associate sent me this piece is by  Pulitzer Prize winning editorial author Michael Gartner.  I want to meet him and thank him for this eloquently written story about his parents.

This is a piece by Michael Gartner, president of NBC News; in 1997, he won a Pulitzer Prize. It is well worth reading, even if it looks too long for you to read right now, and a few good chuckles are guaranteed. Please take a few minutes to absorb the meaning of this
 story, and then go hug someone…..Here goes…

      My father never drove a car. Well, that’s not quite right. I should  say I never saw him drive a car.
 He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

     “In those days,” he told me when he was in his 90’s, “to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life  and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.” At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in:
      “Oh, bullshit!” she said. “He hit a horse.”
      “Well,” my father said, “there was that, too.”
        So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars — the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford — but we had none. My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the  streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three  blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

     My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we’d ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. “No one in the family drives,” my mother would explain, and that was that. But, sometimes, my father would say, “But as soon as one of you boys
 turns 16, we’ll get one.” It was as if he wasn’t sure which one of uswould turn 16 first.
 But, sure enough , my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts  department at a Chevy dealership downtown.
It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded  with everything, and, since my parents didn’t drive, it more or less  became my brother’s car.

      Having a car but not being able to drive didn’t bother my father, but  it didn’t make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her  to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my  two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father’s  idea.

     “Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?” I remember him  saying more than once.
     For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps — though they seldom left the city limits — and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.
      Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn’t seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of
 marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)  He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin’s Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the  back until he saw which of the parish’s two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a  2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home.
 If it was the assistant pastor, he’d take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests “Father Fast” and “Father Slow.”
     After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he’d sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I’d stop by, he’d explain:

      “The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.”
      If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the  bags out — and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, “Do you want to know the secret of a long life?”
      “I guess so,” I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre

     “No left turns,” he said.

     “What?” I asked.

      “No left turns,” he repeated. “Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic.
As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.”

      “What?” I said again.

      “No left turns,” he said. “Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that’s a lot safer. So we always make three rights.”

      “You’re kidding!” I said, and I turned to my mother for support.

     “No,” she said, “your father is right. We make three rights. It
works.” But then she added: “Except when your father loses count…” I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

      “Loses count?” I asked.

      “Yes,” my father admitted, “that sometimes happens. But it’s not a  problem. You just make seven rights, and you’re okay again.”

      I couldn’t resist. “Do you ever go for 11?” I asked.

     “No,” he said ” If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it  a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can’t be put  off another day or another week.”

      My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her  car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90. She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102. They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought  a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom — the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

      He continued to walk daily — he had me get him a treadmill when he  was 101 because he was afraid he’d fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising — and he was of sound mind and sound body
 until the moment he died.

      One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging  conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news. A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, “You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred.” At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, “You know, I’m probably not going  to live much longer.”
      “You’re probably right,” I said.

      “Why would you say that?” He countered, somewhat irritated.

     “Because you’re 102 years old,” I said…

      “Yes,” he said, “you’re right.” He stayed in bed all the next day. That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.  He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us  look gloomy, he said: “I would like to make an announcement: No one in this room is dead yet”

     An hour or so later, he spoke his last words: “I want you to know,” he said, clearly and lucidly, “that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have.”
     A short time later, he died. I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I’ve wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long. I can’t figure out if it was because he walked through life, or because he quit taking left turns. ”

 Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So — love the people who treat you right. Forget about the ones who don’t. Believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it and if it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy; they just promised it would most likely be worth it.”

      ENJOY IT, BECAUSE LIFE HAS AN EXPIRATION DATE!

Louie,

 Thanks for sending this story. It brought tears to my eyes.

LUV,

Grumpa Joe

I Prefer Hot Rods with Fenders

1932 Ford DueceThe yellow thirty-two duece hot rod in American Graffiti is the icon of hot rodders across the states. It is mine too. I love hotrods, especially street rods.  The car that drives me wild is a thirty-four Ford three window coupe that has been channeled, chopped and modernized with a hot fuel injected engine, power disk brakes, and air.  I prefer my hot rods with fenders. 

Every summer the Frankfort Car Club sponsors “Cruise Night,” in the historic area. Cars come from all around the south suburubs and fill the streets. Owners sit by their vehicle and answer questions. The evening brings out the locals to gawk. Most of the hotrods elicit  memories of our father’s car, or the first car we owned.

 I grew up watching a kid who was just a few years older than me build a hot rod. It was my habit, to ride my bike to the alley where he rented a garage. Dick lived in the house next to the alley. He could see the garage from the kitchen window of the second floor apartment where he and his mother rented. I watched the garage door, if  it was open,  Dick was working.  The thirty-four coupe he built was his second hot rod, and it is the one I fell in love with. Someday, if I win the lotto, I’ll buy a thirty-four Ford.

Each time I visit cruise night, I find another car to love. I can’t make up my mind as to what I really want anymore. Is it the thirty-four, or should it be a thirty-nine roadster, or a fifty Mercury? Confusion, confusion, confusion. I”ll have to win a big lotto, so I can buy one of each, and afford a place to keep them.

The beauty of a street rod lies in the builder’s vision to take an antique car, and re-style it into a sleek modern vehicle. They have all the features of a two thousand nine Chevy.  Each is a unique work of art designed by the builder who  is  usually the owner too. They are craftsmen with a pocket book, often spending over fifty thousand dollars to complete a project. Many owners limit the use of the car by driving them only to cruise nights or to other shows.

There is nothing quiet about a street rod. Not the rumble coming from the powerful engine, or it’s squeeling tires, or from it’s paint. Some of the most eye appealing colors are applied on hot rods. Some have very ornate flames and pinstripping. Other’s have multi-colors with silver and gold sprinkled in.

1934 Ford Sedan Street Rod1959 Mercury Sedan1950 Mercury Coupe with Sculpted Hood and Fenders1934 Chevy Three Window Coupe1937 Ford Coupe1934 Ford Tudor Sedan

Turn Off the Bubble Machine

Just how many bubbles can the U.S.A. take before it too blows up?

Turn Off the Bubble Machine

Give ’em the Loan!

2009-buick-lucerneAs angry as I am at GM,  Ford, Chrysler, and the UAW, I have decided to speak up for the bridge loan. It is so simple, yet I almost blew it. If these companies suddenly go out of business, we will be forced to buy foreign. Think about that for a minute. Where will all those cars and trucks come from? The US car companies make about  four million cars in the USA each year. If their plants are no longer producing, who will build these cars? Easy you say, Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, Sweden, etc. Well folks, these companies all have their own markets. They would never be able to ramp up to build an extra four million cars overnight.

So your beater finally died, and you have no other choice than to buy another car. You go to the local Toyota showroom and discover that a Camry costs one hundred thousand dollars, and you are placed on a waiting list. Not to worry, you amble over to the used car dealer to discover that a used Chevy with one hundred thousand miles is commanding twenty five thousand dollars. What the hell is going on?

It takes several years to build new car plants. The extra sales placed on the foreign car companies would strain their resources. There would be a severe shortage of cars for several years after the “big three” have been buried. The shortage plays into the hands of the economists old rule that the price is dictated by suppy and demand. Fewer cars, more sales equals higher prices.

Do we really want to see car prices triple, or do we want to see the “big three”  live on?

As much as I hate the UAW, and the even dumber GM management for their stupid tactics over the last forty years,  I would sooner see the big three survive.  Let’s give them the loan!

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