Woulda! Coulda! Shoulda!

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Let’s start this little story by offering you the same deal that I was offered back in 1963.

Now this deal woulda, in hindsight, made me a lot of extra bucks. If only I coulda taken that big chance and had faith in the individuals that offered me something for almost nothing. I shoulda jumped at the chance, but; I was reminded by more than one individual, that more times than not, you end up getting nothing in return for the same amount of almost nothing invested.

As I stated above the year was about 1963 and I had just returned to Spokane, Washington from some time in the US Coast Guard. I retrieved my ’26 Ford Model “T” Coupe from storage. She looked pretty good. I had the rusted out rear trunk lid and lower panel replaced by a fellow with the name Mr. Tiny Larson. I’m not sure why they called him “Tiny” as he probably hit the scales at over 400 pounds, but he did a great job on the repair work and touch up paint. All she needed now was to be cleaned up and a little detail work, the battery charged, and some fresh petrol in the gas tank.

I started a new job at Fiber-Form Boat manufacturing and they put me in the model making department. These were all-fiberglass boats that looked pretty sporty and came in several models and sizes. The guy in charge was a fella by the name of Bill Bongers and we had some things in common—he loved custom cars and street rods with the same flair as I, with one exception, and that was that he could afford them.

He had a world class 1955 Chevy Convertible that Sam and George Barris down in Southern California did a custom trick on. She sported Packard tail lights in the extended rear fenders, custom grille, frenched head lights, and a sporty California Kit spare tire out back. She was painted a powder blue color and carried the name of “my blue heaven.” She was picked by Bill Peterson, the owner of Hot-Rod Magazine, as one of his top 100 custom cars of all time.

Did I mention that Mr. Bongers also had a 1932 Ford Victoria? Another world class tricked out street rod painted the same powder blue. At car shows he displayed them side by side. They won trophies in custom car shows all over the west coast wherever they appeared.

Well, this story gets some added attention as Bill Bongers mentioned to the Barris brothers that he had an employee that was driving a cherry little all-steel ’26 Tall “T” Coupe. They in turn just happen to know a guy in the Portland area that was making fiberglass replacement parts for Ford model “T”s, “A”s and “B”s and they knew he was looking for a ’26 or ’27 “T” to make plugs for producing fiberglass fenders and other body parts. Could they give him my name and number?

The Fiberglass parts guy from Portland was none other than Mr. Dee Westcott. As it turned out Mr. Dee Westcott made a trip to eastern Washington in the fall of “63 and visited Fiber-Form Boat factory and sure enough Mr. Bongers turns Dee on to my “T” Coupe. I think Mr. Wescott liked the look of my “T” and had probably already envisioned in his mind, pulling my car apart to start making front and rear, right and left fiberglass fenders as fast as they could get a plug mold made off from my “T”s cherry all steel fenders. Next would be the hood and the rear deck lids as they too were pretty cherry and probably in demand in the parts department down there in the Portland area.

Mr. Wescott, as I remember, treated me with a lot of respect and was a quality understanding guy. At that time in my life the Model “T” was my only means of transportation and was truly my bread and butter existence ride to work every day. Letting it go off to Oregon for Mr. Wescott to take her all apart and make mold plugs from her parts just wasn’t something that I could realistically think of doing. The idea of getting a fresh new paint job on her was an inviting offer but it just wasn’t the right time in my life to let the “T” go to Oregon on the back of a semi flatbed truck not knowing if I would ever see her again and if I did, would she be in 50 pieces and undriveable. Woulda, Coulda Shoulda, but didn’t!

In hindsight after getting to know the Wescott family and the roll that the Wescott fiberglass car parts has played in the history of the street rod community I would give Dee Wescott not only my Model”T,” but I would give my right arm just to have an opportunity to let him know how much we all loved him and everything he stood for. From his strong ethical business history to his charitable giving to the local community, the involvement with the local fire department, the Damascus city government and to his love and contribution to the forming of the Multnomah Hot Rod Council and the Portland Roadster Show. Dee is also the gentleman businessman that made the down payment on an old used airstrip down in Woodburn, Oregon that became the Woodburn Dragstrip. This helped get our young people from racing on the local highways around Portland, which in turn, saved lives and a lot of broken dreams.

Dee will always be one of those shining lights that only come along a few times in a person’s life. We thank the whole Wescott Family for sharing your wonderful Dee with all of us that had the honor of knowing him in his precious life. His memory truly lives on every time you see or hear that another Wescott creative work of automobile artistic wonder has won another trophy in the world of Custom Classic Cars and Street Rods. This is my Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda picture of events, in the life of my 90 year old Model”T” that actually happened back in the month of September in 1963. From Colliedog BC.

What Do You Get When H2O Hits a 32° Day?

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This whole story began back in the month of December of 1958, in the small hamlet of Veradale, Washington.

Eastern Washington has a history of producing some pretty cold weather as the wind blows down with fury from the northern plains of Canada. From December to February or March, with the old outside thermometer hitting down into the teens and below, makes for a lot of snow and ice in Veradale. It was also an excellent time for a couple of buddies to pick up some easy money shoveling snow. No, I’m not talking about shoveling the old fashioned way, I’m talking about sitting in a nice warm ¾ ton Chevy pick-up with chains on all four corners, bags of sand in the back for a little extra traction and a fresh new fancy snow plow up front. This was a state-of-the-art snow plow complete with power hydraulics to lift the plow up at the end of the run. We talked Larry Schmedding’s dad into letting us operate this fine piece of engineering to help our fellow merchants in the area get rid of some of that snow that was piling up outside like there was not going to be any tomorrow, if we didn’t get out there and help out.

We filled our new ride up to the brim with petrol, checked the hydraulic fluid and were off to make some extra bucks. Our first stop was at the K-Mart next to the gas station where Larry and I worked part time. “Yes,” was the answer from the assistant manager—he’d pay us $25 to get that snow out of the parking lot and he was thankful we came along when we did, as he was out there freezing his you-know-what off, trying to just get the snow away from the big doors up front. Next we hit the Albertson’s grocery store with another big yes, then on to the post office with another positive yes, and on to the drugstore “for sure yes do it.” We had made a $100 and we hadn’t even started to shovel any snow yet. This was going to be a fantastic pay day!

With my share of the bucks I could already see a brand new set of white wall tires on the old model ”T” and maybe a new starter that would help me get her running. I had been pushing it to get her started for the last six months and this was getting a little old, not to mention a little awkward when I had to ask one of my dates if she could help out with the push start exercise.

We continued to sell our new snow removal business for the next hour and picked up an additional four parking lots. Wow! We were now at a cool $100  each and we hadn’t even applied for a business license yet. We were so busy selling that we hadn’t checked the amount of snow that was piling up. She was probably around 12” when we started our new venture and was hitting 30” now. Maybe it’s time we got to using that super, duper, power hydraulic snow plow.

One foot of snow plowing removal was a sure thing, but two and a half feet was a different story. We had to remove the snow in layers, and that meant it was going to take twice as long at each location than we had planned. This might be an all-night snow removal party we are attending. As the night moved on and we continued to move from lot to lot removing the amounts of snow that had fallen up to that time.

We were making some headway but I swear it was coming down faster than we could shovel it. We used up a full tank and 1/2 of gas and 10 hours later we finally finished the final parking lot at the US Post Office. We got them all done and even went back and shoveled a little more at the K-Mart to make it look like a fresh job had just been done.

We made it home with Mr. Schmedding’s truck just in time for him to hop in and head to work. Larry and I grabbed a bowl of Wheaties and were off on our way to school. Not sure about Larry, but I got a quick nap in during P.E. hiding in the john. That afternoon we made it by four of the snow removal jobs and  collected our bucks due. The K-Mart manager fizzled out on us as he hadn’t approved any snow removal activity, but he sure thanked us for our civic contribution. The remaining three was a nightmare to behold. Around twelve o’clock that night a Chinook wind coming up from down south brought some high warm wind into the whole area. The temperature shot up and all the fresh fallen snow melted like it had never been there at all, except the piles that we had so nicely placed at the ends of each row and by the light poles. You guessed it, two of the three would pay us our $25, but they wanted those big piles removed as they were taking up parking spaces they needed for their Christmas shoppers. Well the only way that was going to happen was by hand with snow shovels and we really earned our money on those two. The United States Post Office paid us by check. I think we received it by mail about six months later.

All in all our snow removal business turned out to be a moderately profitable little venture. I of course listed the income I made from this experience as unearned income on my next year’s tax return. I’m not sure how Larry handled his side of the profit, but it might be interesting to note that he is just one of the successful millionaires I’ve known to come out of that Spokane Valley from that time period. Who knows, maybe there is money to be made in snow removal, however, it still sounds like a snow job to me.

Quiz Time Again in the Land of Hot Rods in Opportunity

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This Hot Rod story begins back in 1958 in the little Hamlet of Opportunity, Washington.

From the center of downtown Spokane, Washington you drive ten point one and 1/2 miles due East on Hwy #10, half way between Dishman, Washington and Veradale, Washington and you arrive in the land of Opportunity. Now if your answer to the Quiz above was, 4010 and you didn’t require the assistance of a three bar calculator to arrive at this correct answer, you probably didn’t attend our Central Valley High back in the fifties.

Onward and upward the story continues, as our star athlete at CV High at this time in our school’s history was a fella by the name of  L. Sloan, we called him the “Bone Man.” It seems somehow through a dare he was able to bribe the star cheerleader, who was the sweetest, most gorgeous girl to attend CV High in the last fifty years, to accompany him as his date to the Mid-Winter Dance.

Now there was several things out of sync with this whole story. First of all the Bone Man couldn’t dance that well, off of the football field, or a basketball court, so who was going to dance with A. Janosky? We labeled her “The Queen of Broken-Hearts.” Second, he had no transportation to escort this delicious young lady to the Mid-Winter Dance. Third, His bank account was so low he was down to borrowing coins out of his dad’s antique coin collection!

In response to his outstanding effort at our last victorious football outing, beating our rival school W. Valley almost single handedly by forty points, four of us guys who always referred to “The Bone Man” as our buddy for life, came to his rescue.
The Bone Man’s brother had a slightly wrecked 1952 Chevy 4 dr sedan parked out back. It needed a paint job, but it did run, and was powered with a stock 6 cyl and had the sweetest sounding pipes off a set of Smitty glass-packs. A stock three-on-the-tree tranny got her down the highway. The rest was pretty much a worn out old stock Chevy sedan.

Now with a little help we could make that one crunched-in fender and the rear deck lid somewhat usable. The four of us pulled it out of the field and started by giving it a good wash job and even vacuumed the interior. We must have used a full can of chrome polish on just the front bumper and grill but she cleaned up moderately well.

G. Moretz was our leader and the oldest of the followers. He was one cool dude. The girls loved him as he took on the appearance of a cross between James Dean and Clint Eastwood. “The Dude” was sure he could pound that fender out to at least keep it from rubbing the tire so bad. This might keep it from screeching and smelling like burnt rubber also.

The roof area was turned over to the center of our CV High basketball team 6’ 10 ½ “ Jimmy “The Slink “ Johnson. Now here was one super quiet but deadly guy around the basket. His elbows were so boney that when you got smacked by one of them going for a rebound you never bothered doing that again. We all loved having him on our team, and boy he painted the top of The Bone Man’s car like a pro. Even the off colored polka dots added a lot of humor, and they were on the top, so unless you were six feet tall you couldn’t hardly see them.

When it came to the body and fenders Mr. D. Larsen “The Lars” and myself Colliedog B.C. took the chore on with style, going for perfection on a budget. 22 rattle cans of “Broma” Quick Ten Minute dry Chinese Red paint direct from Peters Hardware in downtown Opportunity. As it turned out 22 cans wasn’t quite enough, and of course we ran short of finishing the job by five or six cans. Now Peters Hardware was out of the Chinese Red  color and as I recall that’s why we elected to go with a fresh new look.

I myself wouldn’t have chosen that shade of pink, but Lars was the art major, and he was going for that Art Deco finished look and I think he achieved his goal. In hindsight we all agreed that had the paint dried in the ten minutes like it stated on the can, we would have had a one of a kind artistic creative automobile wonder to behold. But due to the cooler temperature in december in the land of Opportunity, our creative automobile wonder’s new paint was not dry for two to three days later.

Now the Bone Man had to use the vehicle for its intended purpose that evening so his delicious one of a kind of date had to ride to the dance in a vehicle that became a Chinese Red and Deco Pink creation in motion. The exciting thing was that The Bone Man’s 1952 Chevy was ready for use as the Queen’s carriage for the evening.

Thanks be to “The Dude” Gary for coming to Bone Man’s rescue, at the Mid-Winter Dance, as he cut into every dance just so “The Queen of the Broken Hearts” wouldn’t know that Larry didn’t  dance that well. She found out 10 years later on the night the two of them were married.

Now as for the short lived history of the 1952 Chevy: one week to the night of the Mid-Winter Dance the Bone Man in his 4dr Chevy rolled up behind my 26’ “T” Coupe, lights out and quiet as can be at Ron’s Drive In. I was sitting in the low in the front, high in the back Model “T” just getting ready to hit the road. Started her up, revved up that sweet little Flathead, put her in reverse and pop the clutch. You guessed it—the “T” smacked right into Bone Man’s freshly painted Deco laugh mobile. Totally wiped out the front end of that little Chevy. Fortunately no damage to the model “T” but both his head lights, grill and front fenders needed a lot of attention.

So in the world of quiz recapping. In the year 1958 The Lars at (16), Slink at (16), The Dude at (18),  Bone Man at (17), The Queen of Broken Hearts at (16), myself at (17) and a 1952 Deco finished Chevy 4 dr sedan had a wonderful time creating this true story from the history  of yesteryear in the land of Opportunity. Quiz Time Total = 4010.
Sadly we lost “The Dude” Gary Moretz in 1959 to a tragic death in his 1954 Mercury H/T. In 1963 “Slink” Jimmy Johnson was fatally injured coming home from college in his show class 1954 Olds 88 coupe and in 1995 our good buddy Dennis Larsen “The Lars” drove his beautiful 1994 BMW 730 I for the last time, due to a massive coronary. Their memory lives on forever in our hearts and minds.

On a more positive note: The old 1926 Ford Model “T” coupe will be celebrating her 90th birthday at the 60th Anniversary of the Portland Roadster Show on March 18-20, 2016 at the Portland Expo Center. You’re all invited to come and enjoy the festivities and say hello to the two remaining Hot Rod buddies, The Bone Man and Colliedog BC, who will be on hand cutting the Model “T’s” birthday cake.

When It Comes to Street Rods & Custom Cars, When Does the World of Reality Really Begin?

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I remember back in the late fifties and on into the early sixties, when you attended your first new car show that came to town, and the promoters would brighten up the show by featuring some old classic custom cars and a hand full of unbelievable street-rods. In a lot of communities this was the beginning of the now famous annual street rod and custom car shows that attract tens of thousands of car enthusiasts in most cities throughout the United States and Canada every year.

Thus the story begins. I am fortunate enough to have owed my little 1926 model “T” coupe for the past fifty some years and she has treated me well since back in the mid-fifties when we tore her all apart. And thanks to a very special high school auto shop teacher, Mr. Emery, we recreated a little safer car than old Henry Ford could build back in the twenties. She has been in quite a few street rod and custom car shows over the years from Spokane to Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Boise and even down to Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada—some 25 plus years ago.

That’s where and when I first met Roy Collier. Roy was driving his dad’s 1950 Ford 2Dr Coupe that was showing off a pretty nice candy apple red paint job.  He was still running the little flathead in it for power and the rest of the ride was pretty much stock. In fact, it still had the hood ornament in place that looked a little out of place over that candy paint job, but Roy and his dad liked the all Ford stock look. Mr. Collier made his home in Salem, Oregon and this was just one of several cars, street rods, trucks and bikes that Roy and his dad apparently owned together.

I was making my home in Portland at the time and frequented several custom car and street rod cruise-ins as well as the world class Portland Roadster Show always held in late winter. I ran into Roy again at the Portland Show that year, but he wasn’t showing his Dad’s Ford off—he was just checking out all the rides. I spent a little time enjoying the show with him and it seemed that  every time I would pick out a car that really caught my eye, I’ll be darn if Roy and his dad would have one just like it, but just a little bit different color. I’d see a ’39 Willy’s coupe all tricked out running a big blower and sure enough Roy had one in his collection, same color and everything.

Now, I had not been to the Collier estate in South Salem before, but it sounded like from the number of cars, trucks and bikes that Roy’s family had acquired over the years that they would have to have a pretty large piece of real estate to accommodate a fantastic collection of this size. We’re talking 60 to 80 vehicles at least. “Wow! Just how private is your families car collection,” I questioned with a little more than some excitement in my voice to old Roy? “Any chance I could drive the old model ”T” down to South Salem some time and take a quick look at your world class car collection?”
“Well, of course you can,” was his reply, with or without the Model ”T”, I was always welcome.
“OK if I bring my camera?“
“Of course bring it!”

Now I have been to a few personal one-owner car collections over the years, including the Lemay in Tacoma, Harrah’s in Sparks, and the Davis family’s Pa Pa’s Toys in Cornelius, but I have got to see this very private collection at the Collier Estate in South Salem, Oregon.  We established a date that would be comfortable for all parties in question to make the trip down to Salem and it was OK to bring along my son Mike, who was visiting from California. Wow! This was going to be a fantastic day.
It was late March and there was still a cool nip in the air as Mike and I headed for South Salem. The address he directed us to was out in the area of the South Salem Golf course and I expected to find a large gated entry to this very private estate! However, as we approached we found ourselves not in a gated community but in an average little middle class housing development with medium size two car garage homes and no gated entry at this address! We were at the correct estate as there sat the candy apple red 2DR Ford a little dirtier and not quite as shiny as she looked in Reno. Well they must have the big car collection at a more secure location.

Roy saw us pull in and was at the door in no time at all, welcoming us into his dad’s home. Now where is the world class 60-80 car collection I pondered in my mind?  Roy was so busy introducing us around the table, then he asked me where the model “T” was and why hadn’t I brought it, as he had all his buddies there wanting to see it! We satisfied his request with the excuse it looked like snow in Portland and not a good drive for the “T” in questionable weather.  
My big question is “where is that big car collection of yours, Mr. Collier?”
“Oh, there all in the basement on display, awaiting your camera.”

Wow! All 92 stock cars, custom cars, street rods, trucks and bikes were downstairs awaiting my camera, with the average size of 1.18% in scale size. I truly had been snookered by my own digestive thoughts of automobile collective wonderment, and never questioned the dimensional size of the vehicles that this family had been collecting for the past 25 plus years. To this Collier family, this was a fantastic collection of American custom cars of vehicles on display that included every popular Ford, Chevy and Mopar, as well as Packards, Willy’s and Studabakers etc. in both cars and trucks. Some fantastic custom show cars, street rods, trucks and quite a few good old classic stockers.

In addition, Ron had identified each ride with a spec tab of year, engine size, mfg. number and estimated MSRP value displayed on each ride.

My son Mike and I had quite a laugh over a couple of beers when we got back to Portland that afternoon. Boy did I learn a lesson in size and dimension that day. I also learned that I wasn’t the only guy that still had his car from high school. Roy’s father Ron had his little ’50 Ford 2DR back in school also. I sure hope she’s still in their family today.
All in all it was a fantastic collection of memorable vehicles (despite the size) as well as a super fun day with my son.

Will the Real Winning Model T Ford Please Come Forward?

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The year is 1974 and I had recently decided to change directions in the employment payroll line and move across the state to another employment window of opportunity. From retail store manager, too advertising account marketing manager. From employment with auto and expenses included, to your now covering your own expenses to get across town. My little Chevy Wagon was pretty much dedicated to family use back then so all I had for getting around town was the Tall “T” Coupe. Not a lot of extra space for hauling more than one other person on board but I would make it work for now.

This new employment opportunity was just that, a new start up, get off the ground company with not a lot of extra bucks for fancy autos and expenses. One of my areas to cover as account marketing manager’s responsibility was to help local social and community outreach groups do a little fund raising for local charities. As it turned out my first assignment was to cover the Portland Rose Festival and a host of activity’s including a local parade of custom cars and street rods. My activity’s included the judging of parade floats and special entries. I had my son enter my daily driver and drive it in the parade as a fund raising donation participant. He had the “T” all shined up and looking good as he always gave 150% to everything he got involved in back then. Now I was placed at the beginning of the Parade conducting on air interviews for KVDO TV-3 with the people on the floats and in the beautiful street rods and custom cars. They were from local schools and churches and several street rod clubs were on hand. When my son approached I gave him a quick high-five but didn’t bother with an interview. I want you all to know right up front here I had nothing to do with the judging of the cars in the parade. I did participate in the judging of the Community Floats and there were several winners. As the day progressed and the parade wound down to the end, the awards were finally handed out at a small ceremony over in the Fred Meyer parking lot. Just about every community group received recognition and a nice big trophy. Next was the cars, trucks and motorcycle participants. There were several classes with the winners selected from the stock class or customs and street rods. They had a parade of the vehicles drive by and the judges awarded the trophies to the participants as they past. Well, I guess that must have been where the mix up happened as my son in the shiny blue tall “T” coupe approached, one judge said ‘’here’s the best of show car that blue Ford Coupe”, as he pointed to it on the clip board. Well I almost fell off the stage as I think that is my daily driver the old ‘26 “T” coupe their pointing at and believe me it’s not the best of parade show car.?!?!  My son pulled over to the reviewing stand as they waved him up to receive his nice big trophy. WOW!  Best of Parade Street Rod Show Car!  He was so proud, you see that was the first time he had driven the model “T” all by himself as he wasn’t quite sixteen yet, but he was almost six feet tall and he looked at least seventeen. He was a careful driver and he followed in his POP’s footsteps, never had a moving violation ticket in that model “T” in over fifty years. WOW he won best street rod show car at the parade in 1974.

PS: Why do all super Trophy winning events in life half to have a PS:

Well as the story progressed into the next day I received a phone call from the Parade Director and he proceeded to inform me that an error had been made on the part of one of the judges and the real winner of the 1974 Best of Parade Show Car was a blue Ford coupe but it wasn’t a Model “T” it  was a 1930 Model “A” Metallic Shiny Blue Ford Coupe that had taken a first place trophy out at the Forest Grove World Class Concourse Show the year before and he actually  won this year’s “Best of Parade Show Car Award.”
I contacted the owner of the Model “A” and had made plans with him to get the big Best of Parade Trophy delivered to the appropriate winner with my congratulations. Then another phone call came in and the people in charge of the event had decided to have two best of parade show car awards that year and my son was to keep his. To this day I never told my son Mike he hadn’t won that big trophy back when he was a mere fifteen years old. Those fantastic years when your kids were growing up back in the seventy’s they were some of the best ever.

Bob-C-trophy

When a 1938 Dodge Meets Up with a 1953 Hawthorne

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The Fall of 1953,the second week of September, a time and date I will never soon forget as it was the week of my older brothers “B” Day. Now I was under the weather and kinda out of commission for a while and both my little sister and my big brother were a good foot to a foot and a half taller than me at this time in my life. Now I’m not complaining but having to eat lunch with the third graders and not with my buddy’s in the fifth grade was a bit hard to explain  but I guess size was everything back then. Because of the fall weather my Mom and Dad had planned a very special birthday outing for my brother and as it turned out it included me also. My birthday is just 86 days later than brothers and it’s already winter by then and it was not uncommon for snow to be falling in eastern Washington by December. So as a giant super big surprise for our “B” days  my parents rewarded both my brother and myself with brand spanking new Hawthorne Deluxe Bicycles complete with chrome suspension shocks, a big sealbeam light upfront, a deluxe horn and a set of hand brakes that really brought this new ride together in style. Now I was only twelve years old at the time and my dad in his wisdom suggested that maybe I should just ride my new wheels in the immediate neighborhood for a while until I got used to those new brakes plus see if we could make that seat go a little lower so as to accommodate my somewhat shorter than normal one foot long legs. This was a full size fancy super-duper “Schwinn” wanta be, a Hawthorne Deluxe big guys bike direct from the shelf at Montgomery Wards.

The Fall of 1953, The fourth week of September and hadn’t I cruzed the immediate neighborhood enough?  The seat was as low as it could go, I was getting somewhat comfortable with the braking system on this thing and the light and the horn worked fantastic. Now two of my buddies suggested we go and sell some of those fundraising cookies for our schools tumbling program and why didn’t we see how that new Hawthorne deluxe handled on the open highway. As luck would have it I knew my aunt would love to support our school program as she loved cookies and would probably buy several boxes or maybe even a whole case. Now the only problem was she lived on the other side of the tracks in a little town called Millwood. It was a bit of a push out of the neighborhood  but a dare is a dare and never being one to use much common sense when it came to a good old fashion dare we each hoped on our rides and we were off. Wow! This new Hawthorne Deluxe was a sweetheart of a bike. Of course I had to let each of my buddies get a free ride on it to try it out, plus ride it over that one big up-hill climb to the top of the Pines Road, then it was time for me to take it back and on to Millwood and Aunties house. Well this bike really was a racing kids dream, I was so far ahead of those guys they said later they could hardly see me I was so far ahead. We passed the Drive-In Movie theatre on Trent Ave. and  were just a few short blocks away and  as I looked back those guys were a good three blocks behind  so I thought why don’t I slow down and give those guys a chance to catch up . I proceeded to turn some circles in the middle of the road, even stood up on the peddles and was giving a good show as I was being applauded by my buddies as they were yelling and waving their arms with delight. Just then as I was turning around to see my aunt’s house coming up on the right, the man who lived across the street was pulling out of his driveway. I guess he didn’t bother looking for kids on brand new racing bikes as he smacked right into me and my beautiful Hawthorne Deluxe.  I caught  that 1938 Dodge  4 door sedan just about the middle of the running board and I went flying right on over that worn out old pile of sheet metal and landed about twenty feet away face down right on my Aunties front lawn. No broken bones, but had a little trouble getting up and walking.  My brand new two week old birthday bike was a wipe out. The total front end was smashed, my beautiful chrome suspension springs were of no use anymore, the handlebars were now in a circle, the headlight was gone, the horn didn’t work and forget those crazy hand-brakes. As it turned out my buddies weren’t applauding my theatrical performance on my new bike they were trying to warn me of the guy pulling out. My aunt and uncle came to my rescue as we picked up the remains of my bike and they gave me a ride home. As it turned out the operator of the 1938 Dodge didn’t have a driver’s license and shouldn’t have been driving that old beater anyway. He reimbursed me for the loss of the bike a cool $39.95.

My brother Richard being a super guy didn’t tell dad about my mishap and took it upon himself to come to my rescue and got his friend Mr. Larsen to customize my Hawthorne Deluxe Bike. They installed a smaller wheel on the front creating a super dago rake, added conventional brakes, a fantastic new Schwinn seat complete with name and gave it a new paint job to match the seat. Best of all they replaced the handlebars with a Steering wheel out of an old 1926 Ford Model “T”. I almost forgot my Aunt Haddy, God Bless Her Soul, she did buy a whole case of cookies.  All and All that birthday in 1953 was one of the best ever.

PS: It was several months later and well into the Spring of 1954 before my Dad made the connection that there wasn’t two fancy new Hawthorne bikes in the shed at his last check and where was the other ride? #@&?? I had him somewhat fooled as I would borrow brother Richards spotless, always clean and shiny new Hawthorne  whenever Dad was in the yard and ride it like a pro, just like it was my own pride and joy “B” Day gift. The game was over when brother came riding in one day when Dad was home on that Dago-Raked, Steering Wheeled, no seal-beam headlight, no-horn, no fancy hand-brakes.  What and where was the other bike my Dad inquired with some extra spirit in his voice? As I recall I let brother Richard try and talk his way out of this one as wasn’t it his buddy Mr. Larson who did the custom work on the other bike and wasn’t it Richard who was in proud possession of the other said bike in question as he rode it into the yard steering wheel in hand with his fancy paint job to match the fancy Schwinn seat and wasn’t he the purchaser of said Schwinn seat? Case closed! Dad always loved me best, I was always his go to, “Yes Sir PoP Your Right” kind of kid but Richard was still my favorite buddy brother of all time and still is today… End of story.

The Vanishing ’26 Ford Model “T” Coupe

Bobs-model-T
The year is 1959. Oh Yes! The summer of ’59. It was hot like a waffle iron, no matter where or what you touched it was hotttt!

I finally got the model “T” running pretty good, at least you didn’t have to push it to get it started now. A flywheel with some teeth in it helped a lot and a rebuilt starter didn’t hurt either. Thanks to Mr. Schmedding at the gas station for all his help on the “T” plus he gave me a part time job pumping gas. Wow! Pumping gas back in 1959 was like being a “Rebel with a Cause” . . . ’cause those super hot days and nights in the Spokane Valley were about the time those male designers of female fashions introduced the infamous mini skirts and mini shorts.

I’m telling you up front there was not a car that left our gas station that didn’t get the oil checked, the radiator checked, even the water in the battery was topped off under that hood.  Plus all windows were washed at least once inside and out for all female customers. Oh baby the view from that windshield area in those days was almost too much for any red-blooded American boy to handle. But getting back to the vanishing Model “T” update, in those days it was not uncommon to be working two or even three part time jobs. So on the nights I wasn’t pumping gas and falling in love, I was parking cars at the country club out at old Liberty Lake and my third job was helping out at Mom’s CV Diner.

On this given night I was parking cars and as the midnight hour approached my old buddy Donn M. who also worked part time at the country club,  suggested we should take a little break from all this work and stop and have an A&W root beer at the new stand on Sprague Avenue as it was somewhat on our way home. Now Mr. M drove the sweetest little 1930 Chrysler Coupe with a smooth running 4 cyl. for power with three on the floor, that to my surprise got up and turned some numbers. So you guessed it the bet was on.
The loser buys the A & W root beer…

I’m not sure just how fast that stock MoPar and that not so stock Model “T” were moving in a MPH gauge but the competition was getting a little heated. At first I thought my little Flathead V-8 was kinda playing with that straight 4 banger but as things progressed that little MoPar was holding its own and maybe Mr. M was kinda playin’ with us. We had reached Sprague Avenue in Greenacres and we were still bumper to bumper with only about two miles to go to the A&W root beer stand, but for all intensive purposes nobody would be buying root beer on this night as we just flew by a Spokane County Sheriff’s vehicle. We both saw him and were sure he saw us as he turned the red lights on and was in the process of turning around when Donn yelled at me to head to the Albertson’s parking lot and pick him up.

Now Donn turned his lights off and was driving pretty much by feel, and it looked like he might have done this before so I followed his lead and went dark also, getting as close as I could to that old Chrysler. He pulled in and parked just like he owned the place and jumped out of his ride and into mine and we headed right back the same direction with the lights on this time, and it came to pass that driving a 33 year old car might come in handy on this given night as we were just about three blocks from old Mackeys Used Cars and Auto Repair shop. Now using the description used cars might have been abusing the english language a bit as one would have thought to imply used cars, that at least one of them on the lot would have to actually start, but not once in all the years I tried to buy a car in there, not once did they ever actually run.

He had cars and trucks that were from twenty five to forty years old and priced accordingly. $25 to $500 each, you pick it and then they fix it. Just about this time that same Spokane County Sheriff’s car goes by heading towards Albertsons. Well he spotted me about the time I spotted him, but before he could get those red lights on and turned around I was at Mackeys’ and boy the old Model “T” fit right in amongst those oldies. I, of course turned off the lights and headed around back where he had twenty or thirty old beater cars and trucks of all makes. It looked like these may have been the parts cars for all those repairs needed to be done on the cars in the front row.

Well I pulled right back there between a couple of trucks and an old John Deere tractor and ran right over those two to three foot long weeds that were growing up and it appeared the old Model “T” Ford had been there forever.  Donn and I crouched way down in those Model ”T” seats and didn’t move a muscle. Now that excellent Spokane County Sheriff Deputy should have gotten a medal for endurance as he sat out there in his patrol car spotlighting every car on that lot as I’m sure he knew we were in there he just couldn’t find us. He gave us the better part of an hour and then drove off. We left the car there and headed on foot to the A&W for one of the best Root-Beer Floats of all time.  It was the summer of 1959 and we truly made the ‘26 Ford Model “T” Coupe Vanish amongst some of the best of them for a little while in the Cops mind anyway. Oh Ya!  As I recall we went Dutch on the Root-Beer Floats that Night.

P S: The year is now 2015 and the old 1926 Ford Model “T” Coupe just had another Birthday recently and is not looking too bad for a cool 89 years old.  We have created quite a friendship these past 58 years and as you can see she wears a Fresh Moderately New Candy Midnight Blue Paint Job with some High Dollar Class.  The question is why didn’t you hold on to that first car you bought way back then??? I guess it must have vanished with all the rest of those neat boy toys you use to have. Woulda!  Coulda!  Shoulda!

Bobs-model-T-2

It’s Quiz Time Again

51_Ford

OK What do you get when you Add 56 + 15 + 51 + 55 ???

If you totaled up to 177 you’re in the money . Now the story goes you never and I underline the word never want to get yourself indebted to a little brother who can call-in that high interest debt payment due at any time. The year is 1956 and I was in my 15th year operating a 51 Ford two door sedan dark mint green in color, Cruzing the Gut on old Sprauge Ave. (Hwy #10) in the beautiful Spokane Valley. We used to call it the land of Opportunity. Well the second thing you never want to do is pay that high interest due debt with the keys to your 51 Ford and your Washington State Driver’s License to your little 15 year old brother. (no operators picture required back in 1956) Now I was a cool kid and could pass for sixteen or even seventeen if needed and because I immolated most everything my two older brothers did , I naturally started shaving at around ten. Needless to say by fifteen I already had a pretty good beard coming in and with my five a clock shadow I convinced Richard to pay up his due debt by letting me use his car just one more time and of course I would be more than careful with his 51 baby!!! His baby was running a fantastic flathead with a three pot intake holding three Stromberg 97’s with progressive linkage and dual-point Mallory ignition. That flathead had the coolest most fantastic sounding pipes of any car at the High School and could really get up and burned some rubber. I of course always brought his Baby home with a full tank of petro and even topped off the oil stick when needed. Well back to Cruzing the Gut some how that crazy green 51 Ford 2 dr coupe must have got that new linkage on the gas peddle stuck as before I knew it she was doing 55mph in a 35mph speed trap zone and there sat one of Washington’s finest on a fancy new Motorcycle and of course he had to turn on the red lights and make a big production out of pulling me over. Well remember when I cautioned you not to pay that debt due with that Drivers License etc. etc. etc. now you know why little brother Bob didn’t get a ticket but big brother Richard got burned big time. The year is 1956 at 15 years of age , operating a delicious 51 Ford, doing a moderate 55mph ….OUCH ! I guess the moral of this story is you just don’t let a ten year old kid start shaving that young !!!

Quiz Time! What does 17+57+58+77 ad up to?

1957 Pontiac Hardtop

1957 Pontiac Hardtop

If you answered 209 you’re right on the money. I must admit up front, that the older I get, the memory does seem to get a bit cloudier. But as I recall the year was 1958 and I was 17 years old trying to operate a 1957 Pontiac Hardtop when the Washington State Patrol decided I had made a few infractions on the local driving laws.
   

It was December and the eastern Washington snow and ice was starting to pile up. My mother (God Love Her) ran a little restaurant and after school I would offer my assistance as a handy boy helper, kind of a jack of all trades. Like any eating establishment there was always a pile or two of refuse to haul to the local dump. Well I convinced my mother that we could save that $15 per month in garbage collector expenses and I would be in charge of hauling the refuse, alias garbage, to the dump at no expense. Now all I needed was a vehicle to transport it in. We had a nice ¾  ton Dodge truck, but dad certainly had to use that in his daily work and my 1926 Model “T” Tall Coupe didn’t have any room.

So the only thing left was my brother Richard’s 1957 Pontiac Hardtop. Now it was a hard decision for Mom and me to make but as the refuge started piling up we finally decided as long as I was real careful not to spill any of that garbage in the trunk or occasionally in the back seat when room was needed. I promised Mom we would be real careful with brother’s fancy new car and it sure was nice of him to leave it in our trust as he was out wandering the world working a job in Nevada.

As I recall everything was going along fine and about three times a week I would load up the Pontiac and head towards the local dump that  just happened to be located about a mile from our favorite winter ice skating pond. Well it was a little more than a pond it was a place named Liberty Lake. She really froze over big time for several months every winter and probably froze down up to ten feet deep in certain areas, or so I was told. Well as fate would have it I got word that a bunch of the gang, boys and girls, were planning a big ice skating get together complete with bonfire and roast wienies out at the lake on just the same time and day I was planning another garbage run. If I hurried I could haul the refuse then stop by say a quick hello to the ice-skaters and get a free hot dog at the bonfire and still get back to the restaurant in good time. Everything was going as planned until I got to Liberty Lake and the ice pond.  I think more than one of my friends was impressed that I was operating a brand new Pontiac Hardtop in the dead of winter on that snow and ice with some authority. That’s about the time my head got way too big for that little brain of mine, and someone, I think it was my good buddy Larry, suggested why don’t we spin a few doughnuts out on the ice in that fancy high new Pontiac.

Well never being one to back down from a stupid dare, I hopped in that fancy hardtop and headed for the ice pond. Wow ! It was fun out there on the ice spinning those cookies and doughnuts and it even got more exciting when two of the older cheerleaders from Central Valley High jumped in alongside Larry and me and away we went. In my haste to get to the ice I neglected to witness, in plain sight for everyone to see, the sign stating it is against the law to operate a moving vehicle on Liberty Lake when or if ice skaters are performing. Well that’s when old Johnny Law came into the picture, got me for illegally being on the ice doing those cookies / doughnuts and  got me for doing an estimated 77 MPH in 1958 in a 1957 Pontiac Hardtop at 17 years of age. It was a blast and that hot dog was one of the best I ever had.

Oh by the way the fine from Johnny Law was $210. In my haste to tell this story I neglected to mention that before my brother Rich left town he had a little custom work done on the Pontiac. His goal was to do about a $500 lowering job on a $10 budget, so he and his buddies got out the cutting torch and did a number on the coil springs to lower that car down about 3–4”.  

Now everything was looking good until he decided to take it out for a spin and pulled into Ron’s Drive Inn. In doing so he had to pass over a little 2” speed bump. You guessed it, they lowered it so much, that little bump tore both mufflers loose from that Hi-Horse Power V-8 and now he had not only the lowest but also the loudest 57 Pontiac in the Spokane Valley.

He stuck to his budget and did another $10 repair. Instead of replacing the mufflers he added two three foot pieces of tail pipe where the mufflers used to be and created a set of straight pipes that could wake the dead. Now you know why I got that bigger than expected ticket from Washington’s Finest – he got me for that crazy hotrod exhaust. He said when I was out on the ice spinning doughnuts that the noise was so loud it sounded like one of the new F16 fighter jets taking off from Fairchild Air Force Base. It was so loud he thought it might break the glass on his 57 Patty Wagon. That car and myself left some memories, as ten years later at our High School reunion guys were still wondering what ever happened to that garbage hauling 57 Pontiac that left a mark in the ice and got me a big fat ticket at Liberty Lake. All and all it was a great winter to remember back in 1958.

The Super-Sonic Pedal Car Racer and the Seattle City Transit Bus

Super-Sonic Pedal Cars

The year is 1947 and as I remember the some-what cloudy details, my older brother Richard and I were just pulling into Seattle Washington’s Train Depot arriving on a one day ride from Spokane on the Northern Pacific Train. We were all dressed out in our next years back to school clothes with a promise to Mom that those clothes would return in the spotless new condition as they were in, when she put us on that train.

We were on our way to visit her sister and our three cousins, who had the neatest toy pedal cars in the world. They had fire trucks, airplanes, cars, pickups, and my favorite, a Super Sonic Race Car. Wow! This was the fastest and neatest pedal car in the neighborhood where my cousins lived. What was so neat about where they lived, it was on Fremont Hill. You could look straight across the water and see the most fantastic premier hill in Seattle for pedal car downhill racing. Its name of course is Queen Ann, and for those of you that didn’t remember that the city of Seattle was built on seven hills and the Queen Ann is the steepest and curviest and longest from top to bottom, of all seven. The Fremont and the Queen Ann hills had one thing in common: at the bottom they both ended up in Lake Washington, just above the Fremont Boat Lockes.

Well as I remember I could hardly sleep the first night there, as all I could think about was that fantastic Super-Sonic Race Car and Fremont Hill. The next morning my brother Rich and I were anxiously but, in a friendly way debating on who and what pedal cars should be teamed up to whom. Well, he got the Super-Sonic and I got the Airplane. Much to our surprise the cousins went along with our decision.

There is one thing that stands out in my memory of that days’ events and that was when my cousin Butchy appeared at the top of those steep stairs leading up to my Aunt and Uncles home. He was all decked out in knee-pads, elbow pads, padded gloves and a crash helmet. Now we all knew that Butchy was the first born and Aunty really liked him best but wasn’t that a little over dressing for our first day in Seattle or did he know something that Rich and I had over looked?

We all jumped in our assigned rides and we were off, down Fremont Hill. Me on the Airplane, Jimmy on one little car, Fred on the pickup, Butchy on the fire truck and Rich on the Super Sonic Racer. We all started out with some competitive racing, with the lead switching on several occasions. But, as time went on, the age of the contestants came alive with Fred and Jimmy slowing and bowing out. Butchy hung in there on his Fire truck but finally the weight of his fancy, color matching, elbow pads and knee-pads and that crash helmet that kept twisting around on his head and blinding him, the poor kid almost crashed several times.

Well down Fremont Hill my brother and I raced, him on the Super Sonic Racer and me on my airplane, that I swear, felt like it wanted to take off and fly. I’ll tell you one thing, there was not a better dressed couple of brothers from Spokane racing in Seattle on that day in late August 1947. Everything was looking pretty good as I could still see the Super Sonic Racer ahead maybe just two blocks. Then a Seattle City Transit Bus went flying by me and my airplane. The last thing I truly remember is the bright red tail lights on that bus and down the hill I raced right past Rich on the Super Sonic who was legally stopped at a red light at the intersection of 118th and Fremont. Down I raced with nothing but me and that same Seattle City Transit Bus ahead. Well, I swear that Airplane Pedal Car and I had become one and I flew past that city bus on the left and to my amazement I was looking eye to eye with that Seattle City Transit Bus Driver. Unfortunately, trying to stop that Airplane with my new Converse All-star shoe brakes didn’t work all that well and off came the soles. In trying to get my legs in a more aeronautical position while I was in flight, I kinda did a number on my new Levi’s but, my new shirt was still wearable and, I won the race. What’s remarkable is that I ended up 57 feet short of being IN Lake Washington! Watch out Queen Ann Hill, here I come!

For you penny watchers, a dozen eggs was just 32 cents. A Coke was a nickel and a pair of Converse All stars were $4.49. All in All the summer of 1947 was the best ever!