He came into this world as many do. Bright red and screams. Clenched fists and trembling with anger as the revelation that life begins now. As she slipped from this world, his mother told us his name was to be Tide. Tide?
His mother was a SoCal beach girl, had spent days wandering the shores, and would just disappear as she watched the incoming tides. Tide. I nodded. It was perfect.
But Tide’s dad had only stayed in California because of the girl. His hometown was a Pacific Northwest blue-collar town far from the sun and sand where Tide had been born, and that was where he returned as a widower and new father at only 26. I uprooted and moved myself there, too, to help my son-in-law raise the starry-eyed child.
I noticed it right from the first time we took Tide to the coast. The coast. Funny, on the Eastern seaboard, they call it going to the shore. Anyway, Tide was enthralled. He walked down to the crashing waves and sat down. The waves crept in, washed over his bare feet, and he was in awe. He waded out a bit, bent, and touched the sea. Righting himself, he gazed out across the vast horizon. Slowly, he raised his arms and stood still, bathing in the salt air and endless sky.
Tide’s dad turned to me, “This is something new. He’s so damned quiet. He doesnt say much at home or react to much of anything. This…well…”
I looked at Tide. The surf rushed in, and the boy reveled in it. I nodded knowingly. “Clem, the boy has found his own. The sea rushed through his mother’s veins, and so it does in him.”
Clem turned to me, and we locked eyes. He knew it as plainly as I did. Clem took Tide to their home in Longview and I returned to Big Sir.
And so it was, as the years washed away, that Tide became a student of science and embraced that was all of the oceans. Ya see, I was a surfer bum. Since my return from ‘Nam in ’69, I spent those days on Venice beach surfing and doing what a 22 year old man would do. And, well, that is how I became a father. I stopped the surfing and hot rodding and became a Dad. Hidden away, I had stashed an old ’49 Merc woody. She was a rock solid car and well, too good to sell.
My intentions were to someday upgrade the drive train, keep the wood as is and well, drive her. And then, well, Tide began to show his own in school. His grades were top tier. One day he told me “Grandad, well, I love the sea. I am going to attend the Western Washington University. I want to be a marine biologist.” Clem smirked. “Boy, you need grades.” Tide looked at me and his eye were like razors. Clem had lived a hard life. He had never taken anything from anyone, he had said, yet. Yet. The bastard had shook any tree, begged borrowed, and had stole to keep his sorry head above water. My gaze narrowed. I looked at Clem and said, “Let the kid dream. This may happen.” Clem and I stood across from one another. Eyes locked. I tilted my head and that was when he cast his gaze to the side. Ya see, anyone can speak and spout words. But a man will stand behind what he says. Clem looked downward and walked out of the room. Tide, well, the kid knocked down any wall the system through in front of him.
As a senior, his grades placed him in top tier in the nation. Clem shook his head. Always one who hated himself, he condemned his only son. “Yeah, like that will happen.”
Tide graduated in the top of his class and was awarded a full scholarship to the school of his choice. I missed his graduation, ’cause I had a plan up my sleeve.
Tide was resting in the sun outside his home that he and Clem shared. It was August and soon September would be here. I saw him and from a side street, I fired up the old Merc and trolled slowly toward him. His eyes narrowed. The ol’ girl growled. The new crate 347 ci Roush mill barked. Varnished wood and painted a deep burgundy. Wide whites and chromed reversed. Two long boards strapped atop. Tide stood up and his jaw just dropped. The license plates read NDLSSMR.
I rolled up and parked the Merc. “Ya know, she is even better than when I found her in ’69! Take care of her, she will serve ya well at school.”
Tide stood beside the Merc. His lower jaw hitched and I could see the tears.
“I love ya grandad.”
I paused. “Love ya too son.”
It doesn’t end here. My years fade here, but the years roll on. Tide drives the Merc everyday, still, and is now a doctor.
Big personalities are nothing new to racing. From the very beginning, motorsports has attracted some extremely colorful characters. Since I have been working in racing, everyone pales in comparison to Willy T. Ribbs. His presence is instantly recognized in a room, and it always has been that way throughout his career. From the very beginning, Ribbs idolized Muhammad Ali, and modeled his physique and attitude after the iconic boxer. Pair that with an intense gaze and larger-than-life stories, Ribbs always stood out. That, and he was the only African American driver around.
A second-generation racer, Willy can thank his father, Bunny, for putting motorsports on his radar. Growing up in San Jose, CA famous motorcycle and IndyCar driver, Joe Leonard lived next door to the Ribbs family and was an influence as well. “I wasn’t a problem child, but my thing was driving fast” explains Ribbs, “By the time I got out of high school- I knew where I wanted to go… you look at all the drivers that came from around the world and they were racing the British championship.”
Ribbs made a name for himself in Europe through Formula Ford before coming back to America and competing in the Formula Atlantic series. He fell through IndyCar, Champ car and NASCAR, tried his hand at Trans-Am thanks to Paul Newman, and raced in IMSA for the late Dan Gurney.
Ribbs credits a handful of highly-recognized friends that have helped him through his career. “If I were to have been a grin’n shugglin’ idiot- it wouldn’t have changed anything… I also knew that for me to continue to go up the ladder of the sport, I had to have a name. I could not be like the other guys. It was that personality that got Bill Cosby’s attention.”
Though recent issues have been brought to light about Cosby’s life off-camera, Ribbs admits that his career would not have been the same without the help of the famous comedian. “I didn’t call him, he called me!” Ribbs says that Cosby was not the slightest bit interested in racing. In fact, though Cosby helped funnel a significant amount of money into Ribbs’ career, he did not come to the track. It was purely a business transaction. Cosby had the funds and the name recognition in a time when there were few African American men in the spotlight. This was an investment in Ribbs as a promising athlete and man of color.
Another influential figure in Ribbs’ Rolodex was famous boxing promoter, Don King. “Don knew me through my relationship with Ali. He said that he wanted to represent me,” says Ribbs, “Bernie (Eccelstone) knew that Don was representing me and wanted to meet.” Ribbs recounts how the eccentric boxing promoter came face-to-face with his motorsports counterpart “If you ask Bernie Ecclestone about this, he will still remember Don walking into the hotel room eating an ice cream cone. It was fascinating to watch the two engage.” It was King that helped orchestrate Ribbs’ first entry in the Indy500, but the relationship was fleeting. “I just think that Don thought that there was going to be more money in racing, at that time boxing was all cash.”
Willy T. Ribbs is a recognizable name in racing, but not necessarily for the results that he earned. Controversy has followed Ribbs through his career. Strangely enough, Ribbs was an extremely proficient driver. He has, to this day,a fire in his eyes. For whatever reason- and there are a few theories- Ribbs never reached his full racing potential. Some attribute Ribbs’ attitude and sometimes prickly, outspoken nature and to that he says “BULLSH*T. I didn’t talk myself out of anything.” His response points directly to the obvious. “Be honest with what the truth is. Be man enough to admit that ‘we didn’t want him because he was black.’” Realistically, it is a combination of many factors. Sadly, the result is a driver who had the gumption, bravery and talent to get the job done, but will be remembered more for superficial reasons than capability.
In fact, Ribbs has talked frequently about how he was treated in different series, and he found that the European mindset was more welcoming to him. “It was a night and day difference. When I went over there to race, it was like going to another planet in terms of acceptability. Those guys saw me as a race driver- and that is what it was all about. You know? When I got back here, I was a black race driver.”
Like being the ‘first’ of anything on an emerging front, Ribbs was faced with unfair added pressure to set a precedent. It was Dan Gurney who pointed out to Ribbs that his responsibilities as a racing driver ended with himself, his family and team- just like any other racer.
Bottom line is, Willy T. Ribbs pushed the envelope. His uniqueness steps outside his race- Willy truly is a vivacious, bold and an unapologetically fierce person. If there is an opportunity to hear him speak at an engagement, it is not to be missed. Look past the controversies, look past influences, and you will find one of the most colorful voices in racing with stories that will make your jaw drop. He is, at his core, personality with a side of Ribbs.
My mom got me started with the Matchbox cars. She always loved miniatures and getting her to pony up for a new addition to my collection was easy. I can still remember the yellow, stair-stepped, countertop displays (later “spinner” racks) showing all the models available. How cool were those?! I still dream about them occasionally.
I had cars, trucks, tractors, trailers, all of ‘em but my favorites were the sports and racing cars. I loved the LeMans winning D-type Jaguar, the Maserati grand prix car and the Ford GT in particular. And the E-type Jaguar (XKE) with its tiny spoked wheels and metallic red paint has to rate as one of the coolest die casts ever.
All of my collection saw action outdoors in the dirt and sand but mostly I enjoyed racing them on smooth surfaces. A cement patio or low pile carpet was ideal. I’d get down on my belly, eye level, line them up in a long column of two and turn them loose! I tried to be fair, giving them shoves of equal strength and letting them roll. Generally my favorites made it to the front. The latest acquisition was always a pretty safe bet but sometimes an old standby (like the XKE) would pull off an upset. Hey, auto racing is a dangerous an unpredictable game! Eventually almost every vehicle in my fleet was assigned a number and raced. Even the Snow Trac traded his treads for a set of rubber tires borrowed from a Tyco slot car. “Gregory” next door very likely introduced me to 3 in 1 oil and once applied, all entries performed remarkably better. Then in 1968 Mattel introduced Hot Wheels…Holy crap! This was a toy that answered my prepubescent dreams!
My gripe with Matchbox was that they weren’t releasing any hip new cars. They’d produced a bunch of weird English models like the Ford Zodiac and Ford Zephyr — cars I’d never seen in person. When Chevrolet introduced the Camaro in 1967 it rocked my world and I wanted a toy version. I had to “pretend’ my Matchbox Opel Diplomat was a Camaro. It was vaguely the right shape (a four door with a trailer hitch!) and at least had a snappy gold paint job. An Opel Diplomat? WTF! I STILL haven’t seen one in real life!
So when Hot Wheels hit the street (their first model being a ’68 Camaro) it was all over for Matchbox. I acquired one as soon as possible and with its revolutionary piano wire suspension; it promptly outclassed my starting field. I ended up trading that car for a classmate’s purple Barracuda and a red Mustang Fastback and lime gold second Camaro joined my roster soon after. The Hot Wheels lacked some of the detail of the early Matchbox series but the overall performance of the toys coupled with their eye popping candy paint jobs, more than compensated for that. From the first series on wild customs like the Beatnik Bandit, the Python and Silhouette were part of the offering but the models based on actual street cars and racers, were my preference. In 1969 when Hot Wheels released replicas of the two most popular cars in the Can Am series – the McLaren M6A and the Chaparral 2G, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I’d been fortunate enough to see the real cars compete at Laguna Seca and the fact that I could now add them to my collection was mind boggling.
Again, my races took place on large flat road courses that I laid out myself. I never owned one of the plastic orange tracks so that was never part of my Hot Wheels experience. Did I miss out? I’m not sure.
I did however get to race on one of the plastic drag sets once. A fellow collector and classmate of mine invited me over one afternoon for some friendly competition. As his parents worked graveyard and were day sleepers, we were forced to set up in their front yard. We borrowed a ladder from the garage and mounted our starting gates about six feet off the ground! The orange strip extended down his sloping yard and emptied out on the sidewalk.
It was all fun and games until a girl I had a crush on came strolling up the block! We were miles from where she lived- Turns out she and her girl friend were having a “play date” as well. What were the odds? Anyhow I was caught “playing cars” and I remember feeling embarrassed. What was she giggling about? She wore a pair of floral bell-bottoms that had actual bells sewn on them! I guess we forgave each other… many years later I took her to the Senior Ball. By then I was playing with real cars.
It was a dark and stormy night… Somewhere. But not in sleepy little town of Gresham Oregon located just on the outskirts of bustling Portland. As the sun peeked over the Eastern Horizon on Saturday August 11th, it gave way to a cool crisp morning as the town began to enjoy a brief respite from a record-setting heat wave.
Off in the distance, finely-tuned ears could tell that something was amiss. A kind of cackling sound gradually approaching downtown Main Street. Those who were there will atttest to the rising cacophony of sounds that all of a sudden seemed to surround the town. The sounds seemed to approach from all directions… Ack ack ack, pocketa pocketa, whompa. For the 20th year the annual Rockin Around the Block Cruise was underway in Gresham.
And just as had been done for so many years before, Main Street quickly filled up with arriving hot rods, gassers, muscle cars and whatever else ones imagination could conjure up. Soon all of the surrounding streets and parking lots throughout downtown were filled.
This time there would be no need for the town fathers to call in the gendarmes, as this event is a result of the finely-tuned effort between the promoters, Northwest Motorsports Association, Mount Hood Community College automotive program, Chamber of Commerce and all of the other partners, sponsors and volunteers who take part in this successful event.
Again this year there was dancing in the streets as the Ron Ruedi Band laid down his signature rock and roll Tunes. In addition, Spenellis brought in the band, Saturated Phats to entertain fans from their front porch. As always, there was plenty for the whole family along with the clowns, face painting and competitions for the kids. And as always, there were plenty of trophies for the big boys (and girls) and their toys.
In addition to the well over 300 cars, the vendors, sponsors and all of the other attractions make for quite a draw, resulting in far morer spectators than one would see at the average Cruise In.
Show promoter Jerry Lyons, heads up the Mount Hood Community College automotive program. he said they have set up two distinct accounts to directly benefit outstanding Automotive students with what has now resulted in well over $350, 000 in scholarships.
Vern Farris is sergeant-at-arms of the Northwest Motorsports Association and has promoted this event many years. His answer as to what makes this event so successful is short and sweet. He says – it is just the coolest. This Association is a conglomeration of a number of car clubs. Other car clubs out there who would like to become involved should inquire. ’nuff said.
Graffiti Alley has been serving Eugene and beyond since July 1991 with parts for classic cars, trucks and hot rods. This is the source for “the hands-on gearhead” and it’s located In Eugene, Oregon. Bob has been involved in the automotive world his whole life in drag racing as well as parts supplying.
You’ll find what you need for that special project in your garage, often in stock and ready for you to pick up or Bob can ship it to you. Sheetmetal, window felts, weather-stripping, dynamat, collectable memorabilia and the like. Bob can also appraise your Hot Rod, Resto-mod, Antique car or truck.
Graffiti Alley has the largest Ford Mustang parts inventory in Lane County, on the shelf and ready for you. Give them a call @ 541-689-7334 and please tell them you heard about Graffiti Alley in Roddin’ & Racin’ NorthWest. Or, stop by at 675 River Rd., Eugene, OR.
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Route 66. The Mother Road. My wife Sue and I have traveled short stretches of Route 66 incidental to other vacation trips. But this trip is different. Following an invitation from Sue’s cousin, Avery Cantwell, we are on our way to Arizona for the Route 66 Fun Run. It is on day one, while on our way to Arizona, that Sue makes the observation that there is a certain symmetry to the fact that I am 66 years old, driving a ’66 Mustang on Route 66.
The Route 66 Fun Run is now in its 31st year. The event is sponsored by the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona headquartered in Kingman, Arizona. It is held the first weekend of May each year. Things get started in Seligman on Friday afternoon when you pick up your registration material. In the evening there is a parade (cruise) on the main street of Seligman open to all registered vehicles. There is also live music and dancing.
Saturday morning the Fun Run officially departs Seligman for Kingman, passing through the Hualapai Reservation and the Grand Canyon Caverns, Peach Springs, Hackberry and Valle Vista. Each of these stops has some type of attraction making a quick stop worthwhile. Upon arrival in Kingman, those who wish to participate are parked along Andy Devine Boulevard/Route 66 in the downtown section for a huge car show that lasts throughout the afternoon. There are many attractions to see and visit in the area, including the Route 66 Museum. It is also a great time to see all the other cars and talk to other participants.
Sunday morning the cars start lining up for a ten o’clock departure on the second leg of the cruise. The departure is led by the 1954 Chevrolet Kingman police car “Pickles.” The ultimate destination is Topock/Golden Shores by noon for lunch and the awards ceremony from the previous day’s car show. This section of the highway is a bit more challenging as it traverses some mountainous terrain. Much of the driving for our Mustang was done in second gear and it was on this section that we saw more vehicles suffering breakdowns or overheating issues.
At the top of the mountain is the old gold-mining town of Oatman. Oatman’s main street is lined with real vintage old west buildings. The town stages gun fights throughout the day for travelers’ entainment. It is also home to wild burros that are free to roam the streets. The burros are federally protected and are tame enough to be approached and petted. Be careful though—as on member of our traveling group lost his bag of popcorn to one of the burros. The animal gave him a little head-butt in the ribs and then snatched the popcorn from his hands.
The Fun Run is open to all cars. This year there were cars from the 1910s all the way through the 2010s. The vast majority of the cars are classics, hot rods or special interest. Just observing the cars while we were driving, it appears that Corvettes outnumbered most other makes.
Registration for the event is limited to 800 vehicles. This year they had 788 rides signed up. Cars come from all over the southwest and farther to attend. During the awards ceremony it was noted that the domestic car club attendance award went to a group from Australia who brought eight Mustangs and a 1932 Ford Coupe all the way to Arizona. But they did not win the long distance award. That plaque went to a young coupe from Argentina who had driven a 1980 Volkswagen Van to the to the event. For them this was a planned stop on their way to Alaska.
Attending the Run was a great time. Although it may not have as many of the classic roadside attractions as other sections of the highway, it is one of the longest remaining sections of the road. It gives you a real sense of what early travelers must have encountered. If you go, be prepared for the possibility of very warm weather. At the end of the run in Topock the temperature was 104 degrees at noon. A little warm for a native Oregonian. It is also highly recommended that you reserve a place to stay early. At his mother’s insistence, since it would hold the entire family, Avery was driving a 1957 Rambler. As Avery put it, “Nothing says fun like driving your momma’s Rambler.” Turns out he was right. The car got a lot of attention and it did comfortably transport the whole family from start to finish.
In July, some friends of mine made a second trip to La Grande, Oregon to participate in the Grande Ronde-A-View Car Show. This time one couple, Jim & Sylvia took their ’39 Ford Sedan and the other couple, Wes & Becki, took their ’40 Chevy Sedan. The Cruise is put on by the Timber Cruisers Car Club. (www.timbercruiserscarclub.com) As I mentioned, this was their second time to go to this cruise. This must speak to the fun this show offers, it’s around 200 miles from Beavercreek.
They stayed in the renovated, “The Landing Hotel” a mixture of rustic and modern decor in downtown La Grande. They all liked sitting on the second-floor veranda right above their cars displayed below on the main drag. Jim told me that there were a couple hundred cars with some from far reaching places, Lake Havasu, Arizona for instance, some from Canada, of course Oregon, Washington, Idaho and other places I can’t remember.
This is a three-day show, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Sponsored by local businesses and it’s held right on the main drag through town and at Riverside Park. In addition, there is a Poker Run and a Country side cruise up into the local mountains. The local businesses/sponsors include Les Schwab Tires, Baxter Auto Parts, Market Place, M. J. Goss Motors Co. and La Grande Gold & Silver.
Next years show is scheduled for July 19th thru the 21st. Maybe it should be on your list.
Sadly, this was Wes Warner’s last car show. He passed away after a stroke on August 4th. He will be missed.
It has been quite a few years since I have been to the historic races at PIR. So this year my friend Terry and I decided to go. We got there early in time to get a great parking spot, in the shade because it was going to get hot.
I, myself, like to tour through the pits or paddock before the cars get on the track. The showcases of the day were vintage Formula 1 and Trans Am cars. Of the Formula 1 cars there were Brabham, Tyrrell, Shadow, Lotus, McLaren and several others. Also Trans Am cars such as Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes. These were more modern bodied cars not like the old ‘67, ‘68, ‘69 and ‘70 Mustangs and Camaros that I remember of the original Trans Am cars.
Also racing were your typical selection of ‘60s and ‘70s sports cars. In different race groups there were Alfa Romeo, Porsche, BMW, Lotus, Jaguar, Volvo, Corvette, Camaro, Mustang, and a ‘65 VW Bug. Also formula cars such as Titan, Winkelmann, March, Swift, Lola and a gaggle of others were making great music on the track.
I always go for the underdogs so it was great to see a ‘65 Bug on the track mixing it up with the sporty type car. By the way, if you did not know I am a proud owner of a 1965 VW Bug named Vincent Wendall.
Also mixing it up with the V8 cars was a 1964 Studebaker Daytona. It was great to see it run with the Corvettes, Mustangs, a Porsche and a Ford Falcon.
Actually, my most favorite car there was a 1970 McLaren Can Am car. Beautiful red, big block, staggered velocity stacks, big tires and the deepest rumble sound.
The modern Trans Ams were smooth and fast until Greg Pickett looped his Mustang in turn 9. Now I know your going to say turn 9? I am old school in the old configuration of pir and it was turn 9 then. Now it’s turn 12. You know, the big sweeping right hand turn coming on to the front straight.
Geoff Brabham was the grand marshal of the festival driving a ‘72 Titan FF MK6B. I thought the most unique named car is the “Pooper” a 1953 Porsche powered Cooper. This was like one that Roger Penske drove back in the day. The weather was clear, the sun was hot and the racing was great. A great day overall even if it did take me three and a half hours to get home when it should have taken an hour and a quarter. Portland traffic!
Many of our readers enjoyed stories published here and written by BC Collie Dog aka. Bob Collison, I know I enjoyed and appreciated his work. Bob is an amazing man and has devoted his life to helping others without any expectations of reciprocal kindness or compensation. As some of you may know, Bob’s health has been giving him trouble for some time and he has not been able to attend the many car functions he loves to be a part of. To pay medical expenses he sold his beloved Model T Ford that he had owned since 1957.
At this writing he is still battling some of these same health issues and is unable to be involved with R & R NW. Some time back I asked him to write a short autobiography that I could publish here just to let you all know about Bob and what a great man he really is. Below, in his own words, is a brief history of this wonderful guy. Hang in there Bob.
A biography on Robert Max Collison, aka Bobby, Maxwell, Robin Old Boy, and Colliedog BC.
Born into this world in the year 1941, just before the United States entered into the 2nd World War. It was a sad time in most families as many fathers, older brothers, uncles, older cousins, and grandfathers prepared to go off to foreign countries to fight a war we didn’t want.
Unlike his two older brother who were healthy and of average size for their age, Bobby came into the world with a serious breathing ailment, described as a bad case of childhood asthma. There was no usable medication available back in 1941 for newborns with this ailment. In addition to asthma, he also had developed, with his breathing problems, a ruptured upper stomach area. Due to these health problems he weighed just 5lb 5oz. at birth.
He was born in a hospital in Mt. Vernon, Washington which is located near the Coast of the Pacific Ocean. Not a healthy place for a child with asthma. It was decided by the family that it would be best if he could be moved to the Western part of the State to a drier climate. Thus, for the first couple of years of his young life, he moved in with his mother’s family. Grandpa and Grandma Hanon’s home in the little hamlet of Toppenish, Washington. He then was moved to the Spokane area where his parents relocated to in 1943. His Grandparents, the Hanson’s moved to the Portland area to help build ships for the U.S. Navy. Bobby’s father was assigned to the U.S. Naval Supply Depot in Spokane as a security police officer for most of the war. In April of 1943, the Collison family welcomed a new baby sister to their home and Bobby finally had someone his size to play with. At two years and four months old he only weighed about 30lbs. At Five his little sister out-weighed him and was several inches taller. She was riding a bike and Bobby was still having trouble on a stand-up scooter.
There was no pre-school or kindergarten back then and Bob started school at 5 years old. He was born left handed but the teachers back then, unless you already had readable penmanship, you were only taught using you right hand. This he never was comfortable with his hand writing abilities. His brain would only let him hit a baseball left handed, but his teachers would only let him write right handed. This at his teacher’s insistence, he was kept after class practicing is right-handed penmanship instead of being out on the playing field hitting left handed home runs??? Robert had, at times in his young life, a history of being a bit bull-headed, his Grandma would say he was strong minded.
In the summer of his ninth year, he loved to go swimming at the Dishman swimming pool. Unfortunately for about fourteen of us kids out of several thousand, that summer that used this outdoor heated and filtered swimming pool, it became an introduction to a horrible experience. The filtration system at the pool indicated that it was working properly, but it failed and no one caught it for several weeks and the Polio Virus had come alive in that pool. Within thirty days fourteen of us had symptoms of Polio growing in our bodies. By the middle of August, I was admitted into the Deaconess Hospital Polio ward and kept there in an isolation room for several weeks. I was then sent over to the St. Lukes Crippled Childrens Hospital. I was infected with a muted strain of the virus that crippled me and took away my ability to speak and all I did for months was lay crippled in bed. This was three years before they came up with the Salk Vaccine to fight the dreaded virus. We had specialist coming to Spokane from around the world giving us all kinds of new break through research, untested shots of treatments trying to find a cure. After every injection there would be a three to five day waiting period to give the new medicine a chance to work, if it was going to. Then came the worst of the treatment, as they would tap our spines, removing spinal fluid, so they could see if the new meds were working. It’s been sixty-five years and I can still feel them sticking, what felt like a dull phillips screw driver into my spine and telling me if I moved a muscle, I would never walk again. This procedure, treatment, was repeated on my body six times during my stay in the hospital in the next 18 months. I was just nine when all this started and finally they came up with a treatment that stabilized me and I was able to recover. Thanks to the excellent physical therapy treatment I received, I was able to rebuild my body’s strength and leg muscles up so I could walk again and finally I got my speaking voice back. As it turned out, I was one very lucky young man. The only down side to my sickness was people that had the Polio Virus have a 75% greater chance of developing Kidney Stones and I have been stricken with them 19 times in my 75 year.
On a more positive side, after 18 months in and out of the hospital with all the excellent care I received, my parents received a final bill from the hospital in the amount of $284,000 that was due, and all but $2,000 of that final bill was donated and paid by the Masonic Order, which we found out later, my uncle, Grandpa Hanson’s brother, was a volunteer active Mason in Montana and he entered our name for consideration. They donated the $282,000 on my behalf.
I was in excellent condition after leaving the hospital and in the next two years, when I entered Junior High School, I turned out for track and field. Since I was in such excellent shape I went undefeated in the 100-yard dash right up and through high school. I earned a slot to compete in the Olympic Trails in 1959 at Washington State College, (now Washington State University) for my age group covering Eastern Washington. I took a fifth-place ribbon covering the whole Pacific Northwest Region, including, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Eastern Oregon, at the U. S. Track and Field trials for the 1960 Olympic Team. I didn’t quite make the team but from where I had come in my life, from 1949 to 1959, I covered a lot of experiences.
In response when I was 16 years old, I joined the Demolay. The Masonic organizations program for young people. The Mason’s are the financial support foundation to the Shriners Childrens Hospitals, nationwide. In recap, I have been paying back as well as paying forward, that generous donation made to me and my family for the 59 years. I have served on the Doernbecher Board for the past twenty six years and our programs have raised several million dollars for our local Doernbecher Childrens Hospital Cancer Research with the KDCCP affiliation with Kiwanis International. In addition, I had the opportunity to head up a Save Old Spectacles. (SOS) program covering the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada collecting used/reusable eye-glasses. After collecting over 500,000 thousand pairs, we helped start an Eye Clinic with Dr. Jim Wyrick in the Philippines.. Our program was chosen to receive, thru a bankruptcy disbursement, a complete eye clinic’s office, including all usable and needed equipmemt. The finished clinic, “I Care, We Care,” valued at over a million dollars was all donated and shipped to the Philippines over 20 years ago, helping thousands of people with eye care and eye glasses at no expense to them. That was truly a gift of sight to the less fortunate.
The millions we have raised for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Cancer Research, OHSU, with the raffling of new Ford Mustangs and the generous donated gift of new and used cars from wonderful giving people over the past 26 years, has really added up. In addition, our association with the Multnomah Hot Rod Council and the Portland Roadster Show, The Salem Roadster Show and the Eugene Roadster Show over these past years with 100% of all net proceeds going directly to the Cancer Research Program with no charge from any of these wonderful Car Show Promoters. A Special Thanks goes out to all the hundreds of volunteers that have donated tens of thousands of hours to help make all of our charitable gift giving programs, 100% for the children of the world.
Our KDCCP program has been part of the big picture of charitable giving in the Portland, Oregon area of late. Thanks to the gift from Mr. Phil Knight, the founder and CEO of NIKE Corp, an unbelievable personal gift in the form of a pledge of 500 million dollars was dedicated to OHSU Doernbecher Childrens Hospital and the Knight Cancer Institute. The pledge gave the rest of the Foundation Fund Raising groups a chance to match his donation with in five years. We were please to announce the match was accomplished in two and one-half years. Thanks to the wonderful generosity of local people like Mrs. Gert Boyle’s, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, 100-million-dollar donation, we were able to match Mr. Knights gift. The OHSU, Knight Cancer Institute, Doernbecher Childrens Hospital Cancer Research Program, now have one billion dollars of charitable contributions in the bank and dedicated to future programs at OHSU.
Since 1969 I have had the honor and pleasure to have been involved with the Kiwanis International Service Clubs as the President of clubs in Montana, Oregon and Idaho. I have served as the President of the Pacific Northwest District of Kiwanis and served a chairman of four district wide programs. Plus, I have chaired the KDCCP Car Raffle Fundraising Program for the past fifteen years. I have also served on the board at Doernbecher. I have also had the honor to serve on the car raffle committee for over 26 years and helped raise well over 3.5 million dollars. In all the programs totaled. It’s called paying it back and forward, from the heart.
I am a member of the Multnomah Hot Rod Council and have donated my time and funds to the Portland Roadster Show for over 25 years.
In the past few years I have enjoyed developing my writing skills with several monthly articles in Roddin’ & Racin’ NorthWest, which featured Street Rod and Custom car stories and pictures from Bob Collison and under my penname Colliedog BC.
Robert Collison Autobiography continues:
In 1960 I enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. I spent eight years on active duty and in the reserve program during the Vietnam Conflict. While on active duty I was selected to be a part of the USCG Honor Guard Precision M-1 Marching Drill Team. We performed all over the West Coast, marching in Parades and Regattas from Seattle to Spokane, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego and of course the Portland Rose Festival. I served on the USCG Cutter Taney, USCG Buoy Tender, the Sweetbrier and the USCG, 95 ft. S&R Craft out of Juneau, Alaska. It was an honor to serve our country, helping others in their hour of need.
Most recently I have served the Veterans program assisting with the “MIAP’ Missing in America Project, locating deceased Veterans that have passed away and nobody has claimed their cremated remains. This project gives the opportunity for us to help loved ones find a lasting and final resting place for their veterans. The local Pharaohs Street Rodders, custom car club are a big financial supporter of this program and the Lines for Life Veterans Project donating thousands of dollars every year to these fine programs.
While serving on the Pacific Northwest District of Kiwanis managing board for over 16 years, I had the pleasure of helping raise funds and support the Northwest Medical Teams as they helped build a school and living quarters for children that were living on and out of the giant refuge dump site that serviced Mexico City. We raised several million dollars and the program is still going strong today. Thanks to our help and the Northwest Medical Teams fantastic efforts of Ron Post and his dedicated team of volunteers. Northwest Medical Teams has updated their program and are now, “Medical Teams International.”
Also, while on the district team we had the opportunity to help raise over seventy five million dollars world-wide to assist in eradicating the problem of “IDD.’ Iodine Deficiency Disorder, (the lack of iodine in one’s diet.) With our ongoing support and assistance to the UNICEF program, this terrible problem has been eradicated in 90% of the world.
We are now assisting the United Nations in the challenge of expectant mothers in the third world countries that are exposed to the Tetanus Bacterium. There is a high percentage chance of infecting their unborn children. One single Tetanus shot to the new mother can eradicate the problem. We have helped raise over one hundred million dollars, to date, world-wide for this ongoing program and it’s world-wide scope.
It’s been an honor and a living experience to have served on some fantastic world-wide fund raising programs over these past fifty nine years. The real treat has been to appreciate and understand that I was truly blessed back when I was just a kid and I have never forgotten the gifts of support that were extended to me and my family in our hour of need. In addition, I owe all of the members of my family and my extended family a gift of appreciation to all of those special times when I was out fund raising for a worldly cause and was not able to attend all of your special birthday gatherings and the missed family outings. Thanks every one of you for helping me help kids in far away lands, have a little better time in their lives, because we reached out and helped them in their hour of need.