WELCOME HOME

It was November, 1954 and the instructions were simple. The hostage exchange would take place at 32 degrees North by 108 degrees West. In the most south western corner of New Mexico, AFOSI agent Gilbert would travel from his home base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to this desolate corner of New Mexico to meet for a pre-arranged swap.   Being in the military, vehicles were not the utmost of performance caliper. Gilbert’s prize for his trip was a 1954 Plymouth Savoy 4-door sedan, painted in Air Force blue and stripped bare.

The high desert is cold and unforgiving. Across the landscape out crops of sagebrush and yucca struggled against the continuous harsh winds whipping out of the North. Gilbert had driven 600 miles to this spot and then, per the instructions, had taken a right off of where the compass would nail down his exact location and travel a ¼ mile down to an abandoned grange.   He parked the Plymouth, stepped outside and paused. The sun was a dull nickel like disc hidden behind a dense fog.

New Mexico. Land of Enchantment. That is the state’s motto, and as the wind howled past him he took it all in.
Rolling hills, painted deserts. Mountains carved by wind, water and time.

No wonder this was where the exchange was to take place.

Gilbert walked into the old building. Paused, pulled a Pall Mall out of the pack and lit up. He took a hard drag and was looking for a place to sit when a voice from his right snapped his senses.

“Well done. Your penchant for timeliness is what I had hoped for. It makes all of this so much easier.”

Dressed in black suit he stepped from the shadows. “You were here all along I take it?” Gilbert asked. He was tense, Gilbert’s left hand had stolen into his jacket pocket and his pistol was in his hand. Hidden behind sunglasses (who wears sunglasses inside? wondered Gilbert), the contact took a hesitant step back. “Easy now, I am unarmed. Per the agreement, this is a peaceful exchange. Remember?”

Gilbert nodded. He removed his hands from his coat and slowly raised them palms out showing he had no weapons. The contact relaxed and his thin lips spread into a smile revealing a large smile with too many teeth for just an instant, and then gone. Gilbert narrowed his gaze. Outside the sky had gone grey. The windows of the old building had lost the glimmer of sunshine and now were succumbing to the tendrils of condensation brought on by low hanging clouds and a fog-like condition.

“I have been told that you have brought with you today the bodies of those who had perished here in an unexpected tragedy. That by those who have sent me, to retrieve them, that all knowledge and the official knowledge of what had happened on that day 4th July, 1947, shall and will be eradicated from the official record in return for those who had been deemed missing since day 2, July 1937.” The contact in the dark suit spoke fluidly.

Gilbert nodded. “Let’s proceed, then.” The pair approached the door and Gilbert slid it open. Where once a sky that was so blue it hurt his eyes, had been now replaced by a dense fog.  The dark stranger walked past and from out of the fog his mode of transportation was there.  Gilbert paused.  His contact walked to something from out of a dream.

Long. Low.  Blacker than lust. Sleek. It just sat there looking as if it was going 200 m.p.h while at idle. Out front were a quartet of headlights and a hood long low and smooth. The windshield arced back at an impossible angle.  The top was radically thin and flowed back as if sculpted by wind.  The trunk was smooth and large and rising from the quarter panels were two razor sharp fins with an angled red tail light lens in each. Gilbert gathered his thoughts and asked, “What the Hell is that?”

The contact that was walking toward the trunk paused. He turned and spoke, “Wait 6 years. Beyond that this car will rattle imaginations for almost a century.”

Gilbert followed and as the contact approached the trunk Gilbert asked, “How many bodies ya think can fit in there?”
The contact paused. Gilbert would later state he saw a flash of green from behind the dark glasses. The contact replied, “Enough to solve a problem.”

The pair walked to the Savoy. Gilbert opened the trunk and as they as a pair unloaded the cargo, Gilbert noticed the contact wince and shudder. The contact was saddened and horrified.   There five total. Only two were complete bodies. Two had been almost obliterated by the crash and one had been partially examined. The contact snapped his head toward Gilbert. “We do not disassemble bodies. Never have. What kind of species are you?”

“I don’t know at times actually,” was all that Gilbert could reply.

The contact walked back to his vehicle, opened the trunk. Gilbert assisted as the bodies were placed inside. Then, the contact walked to the passenger’s side door and opened it up.

A man and a woman from out of a distant memory exited from the dark beauty. Dazed, the pair looked around. A wind had started to rise and the fog was starting to lift. The contact looked at Gilbert and took a step toward him. They shook hands and the contact walked around to the driver’s side, opened the door and with a soft hum, the dark ride began to rise. Slowly upward. When it had risen to about 10 feet, the pods in the rear bumper lit up in a blue and orange flame and with a soft whoosh, the finned dark ride rapidly chased the sky and disappeared.

Gilbert walked to the pair who had stepped out of the mysterious machine.

The sky had once again returned to that incredible blue. Fred Noonan took in his surroundings, then fell to the ground and sobbed. His hands caressed the soft earth. The pilot turned to Gilbert and he said, “Welcome home Miss Earhart.”

2018 SALEM SHOW AND SHINE CAR SHOW

I have been to and entered a lot of car shows over the years. I always ask where does the entry fee and all the proceeds go? Some of the answers I get are we have not determined yet, a charity, or a good cause. This show was for a great cause. Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Oregon chapter. From what I saw the veterans did a lot of the work. Everything from registration to coffee and doughnuts, to help parking the cars.

One thing I really appreciated was the respect shown. When the Color Guard presented the flags and the national anthem began everyone stood at attention, removed their hats and showed their respect. It was really great.

Now on with the show. You name it and it was there. I have not seen a DeLorean in a long time. When I saw it I thought where do you get the fuel for the flux capacitor? Just a reference to the movie “Back to the Future.” When was the last time you saw a ‘67 Rambler American. It looked bone stock on the outside with a beautiful orange/gold paint job. But the killer is it has a 401 V8 engine with 2 Holley 4bbl carbs. There was a beautiful ‘84 Chevy Monte Carlo, custom paint, lots of chrome and hydraulic suspension.

Three other cars that caught my eye were a Porsche, a Cadillac and a Corvette. The 1955 bright red Porsche 356 Speedster was flawless. Looked all original and I think it would be a kick in the rear to drive. Also in the line of vintage vehicles there was a 1951 Cadillac four door, all original, grey in color with a back seat big enough that I could crawl in there and take a nap. Now on the other end of the spectrum was a 2006 Corvette. This car is the best of both worlds. A great looking show car, but the driver Larry Holt races it also. The Silver State Classic Challenge is a timed open road race for 90 miles in Nevada. In 2017 Larry averaged 124.996 mph with the highest speed up to 165 mph. I asked Larry, “What it was like out on the open road?” One of the things he said was, “don’t forget to breath.” I’m breathless just thinking about it. With three WWII airplanes flying overhead in the clear sky and knowing that we are helping our veterans, it was a great day.

ENDLESS SUMMER

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.

A Toy Car Story

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.

The Bob Collison Story

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.

6 Second Hero

Oh, he had walked the walk. A blue collar pencil pusher by day. He knew the in and outs of the corporate shell. Nailed the daily punch card and had a perfect record. He would speak when asked and worked hard to achieve goals set by those in charge. A dedicated company man. A company man dedicates his time and effort to help keep the status quo by doing his part Never causing ripples to upset the boat. Just remain a steady hard edged cog in all that keeps the company moving forward. Monday through Friday. Even at his clean desk he did not have any distractions, unlike his co-workers. No radio or personal desk calendars or family pictures. The higher ups liked that, in their mind it kept him focused. Friday would arrive and the seeds of an approaching weekend would sprout throughout the office. BBQ’s,  soccer /basket ball/football/hockey games.  A gathering of co-workers at Benigan’s and knock a few back to start the weekend. He always turned their offers down, he had other plans. As his co-workers left in their shiny new cars and SUVs, He gladly climbed behind the wheel of his trusty 1989 Dodge truck and headed west, his heart and mind focused on his other office which waited.

Friday nights are all about prep. Tear down and rebuild.  Planning, strategy. Dirty Johnny watches the weather and working with Woody, determines sparkplugs, fuel/air ratio, tire pressure. Knowing. The brothers discuss the barometer and weather for the next day.  Dirty and Woody come to a decision and reassemble the smallblock. Ol’ Skinny, well, wise as he is, just watches. Knowing. And as the moon rises and the digger is prepped and ready for Saturday, revelry in the pits is not too uncommon, and the first of many of Golden’s finest is emptied.

The morning sun blasts the pits with warmth.  The temperature creeps as the asphalt gets softer. Skinny is resting on a stack of racing slicks. Late night combined with an early morning. Through the fog of a night’s good time the team works. A mild throb in the skull, but the boys have work as one. A unified  machine of a hidden teamwork. Dirty Johnny casts a glance to the horizon.  Then looks at his watch and studies the track thermometer. “Hmm.” He knows that their time for their first run is not for an hour, but if the conditions are just right.

The pits are strong with the smell of racing fuel. Alcohol. Nitro. Skinny suits up and Woody tends to the tow straps. Dirty climbs into the Dodge and eases the pick up forward. The soft breeze calms and the weather balances. Still. No wind. Dirty Johnny raises an eyebrow.

The launching of a dragster is all about a check list. Woody had lived it since he was only as tall as a racing slick. Everyone tending to the launch has a job to do and most important is the communication with the driver. Fire up, tow straps disengaged, chute straps pulled. Every detail ran through like clockwork and then it was all up to Skinny.
A quick burn out, heating the tires up. Not too much. Guided back into place and then he rolls forward slowly and the Christmas tree lights up that he has pre-staged.

Now he is staged and it begins. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow.

As the yellow light fades he stabs the throttle. A weeks worth of sweat and prep comes down to a millisecond as his reaction time is .499.

Green flashes by and he feathers the throttle. No tire spin, and the small block screams.

And it’s done. He pulls the shoot and coasts..drag chute slowly pulling the dragster safely to a stop.
Numbers flash across the display board. 6.1  201.54.

The crowd howls. Skinny Jim pumps his fist and whoops.
Just another day in his office.

Written for my friend Skinny Jim O’Connell. Happy Birthday, man.

Racing on the Rouge

Getting up a ‘0’ dark hundred on a Saturday morning, I am heading to my old stomping grounds, Grants Pass. I am going to the Boatnik. The Boatnik is a four-day festival over Memorial Day Weekend. The festival has a big parade, golf shootout, brewfest, carnival, 5K run, concert, white water hydroplane races, drag boat exhibition, and sprint boat exhibition on the Rogue River. I have been involved with sprint boats since the start in the Willamette Valley and here I am heading south on I-5. The sprint boats are part of the big Boatnik parade. I asked if I could ride in the back of one of the tow rigs in the parade. Hundreds of people line the main street, I waved and took photos.

After the parade all the sprint boats were towed to a boat ramp just down river from the main festival at Riverside Park. Here we unladed the boats and got ready to go for the day. For all you gearheads who don’t know what a sprint boat is, let me explain. Sprint boats, or as they are sometimes called, jet sprints, started in New Zealand and Australia. These boats are “unbelievable”! 14 feet long, custom aluminum hulls with V-8 Engines. The hulls are fitted with full roll cages. The engines vary from small block Chevys with carburation, to big blocks with fuel injection, to aluminum big blocks with twin turbos. The hulls differ depending upon the manufacturer or if they are custom built. There are different classes depending upon engine size. The horsepower ranges from 600 hp to 1500 hp with speeds well over 100 mph and 0-60 speeds in as little as 3.5 seconds. These boats were built to turn sharp and fast with up to 7 Gs through a 90 degree turn.

A sprint boat would normally race on a track made of ditches 15 feet wide and 2 feet deep. The track is made of islands and predetermined course through the islands. This is where the boats need to go. It’s a timed event with only one boat at a time on the track. The driver goes through the course with directions form the navigator and hand signals as fast as he or she can.

This race is a little different, there are not ditches, just a river with a current. The course the boats go through is determined by buoys set up in the river.

We had to share the river wit drag boats and the small wood outboard powered hydroplanes. So, when they were done we set up the buoys and were ready to go. The boat ramp was down river a ways from where the course was. You could see the spray of the boats as they went around some of the buoys. There was about a dozen sprint boats there so everyone went out at least four times. There was only one boat that had to be towed back.
This was an international event. There were boat teams and drivers from Canada, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, and Australia.

We were done on the river; all the teams will be on the river tomorrow. I had a great time but now I’m heading home for a family get together. If you get a chance on Memorial Day weekend head to Grants Pass for the Boatnik. Also, if you want to see sprint boats in action you can go to Youtube under “sprint boats.”

Jack’s Specialty Parts

Last month we put a picture of Jack Corley on the cover of the paper… I neglected to put a caption on that picture saying “Next Month” a story about Jack Corley. I got a few calls asking why did you put a picture and on the cover? “I looked all through the paper for the story and there isn’t one.” I laughed it off and made a couple lame excuses about it being a nice picture of Jack and that Jack is a good guy and long-time supporter of R & R NW. Well Jack is a nice guy and the picture in lasts month issue was a good picture and representative of what you’ll find at swap meets all over the Northwest throughout the year. He is a hard-working vendor helping old car enthusiasts from all over, to restore, rebuild, refurbish their old cars, me included!

Jack has been in the parts business longer than some of you reading this have been… He started in parts/sales in Portland at George Lawrence Co. Warehouse back in 1955. He moved to a manufacturers rep. with Niehoff in 1956 where he worked for just a few days/weeks short of 20 years. He’s been in the automotive/race car world before that. Starting in 1953 working for Ed Tonkin’s Motors, a Kaiser dealership, on then named, Union Avenue in Portland.

He simultaneously operated a “race car performance parts, side hustle” business, called Jack’s Specialty Speed starting in 1956 featuring race car stuff. He even built and rented complete race cars to racers and he bought and sold race cars too. Through his travels as he came across “excess inventory” at dealerships he would buy that inventory. Car manufacturers limited what and how much a dealership could return in terms of parts. Speaking from experience, I once was the “parts manager” at a dealership, the OE manufacturer seemed to make it as difficult as possible to return parts, I think in an effort to discourage returns. That’s just my opinion. This practice created an opportunity to acquire OE parts and Jack took advantage of it. He also bought out aftermarket parts stores excess inventories. Jack would load these buys in the trunk of his car which was often overloaded and take them home where he eventually built a 15,000 square foot building to store and inventory the stuff.

Essentially, he ended up with what I’ll call a “Parts House,” specializing in old, maybe obsolete, primarily “hard parts.” And he called it Jack’s Specialty Parts. For about 10 years Jack would hold a “Swap Meet” in the backyard parts paradise. They had a Friday night, movie night, camp out, the night before the swap meet. Unfortunately, I never attended, mostly because I was simply unaware, too bad. It sounds like that was a lot of fun.

In about 1999, Jack “retired”… well, he started selling parts from this parts house full time. About 10 years ago he moved to his currently location at 909 NE Cleveland Ave., in Gresham. If you never been there you should go visit him. Over the years he has collected way more than a few auto-related, what I’ll call memorabilia pieces and they decorate many square feet of the walls of his “store.” Jack tells me that he had to down size considerably, that part of his business when he moved.

If you’re looking for hard parts for your latest rebuild of your treasured old car, you have an old car parts house as close as your phone. Jack has many years of experience in parts to help you make that treasure as good as it can be. Give him call at 503-667-1725, or visit him at 909 NE Cleveland Ave. in Gresham, OR.

Ms. Understood

One thing is for sure; Danica Patrick is a household name in America. Those outside of racing have a very basic understanding of her, but even some of the most dedicated fans I have met have only a superficial view of the GoDaddy Girl. This year, Danica announced that she will be retiring from her role as racecar driver, and decided to end her career with one last shot at Victory Lane. They dubbed it the ‘Danica Double.’ Two races: NASCAR’s Daytona 500, and the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Here, she wanted to redeem her reputation, end the doubts of her talent and (maybe) make history. Neither of those races shook out the way she wanted them- 35th at Daytona and a 30th at Indy. As we end the chapter on her racing career, there are still countless misconceptions, false stories and heated arguments involving Danica. At the end of the day, her image is her legacy and things have spiraled out of control, Danica Patrick is gravely misunderstood.

The first thing that Danica haters bring up is the stats. In calling attention to the scoreboard, no, her record is not overwhelmingly impressive. She started her professional racing career in the Formula Atlantic series before moving up in open wheel to IndyCar. She was not the first woman to race in IndyCar, the Indy500, or even be the first female Indy500 Rookie of the Year. Patrick was, however, the first woman to win an IndyCar race at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan back in 2008. To those who say that she won off fuel strategy and thus does not count as a real win…Shut up! That argument is invalid. Every win in modern motorsports has something to do with strategy.

Should Danica Patrick be inducted into the motorsports-based Halls of Fame? If the criterion is based on statistical wins and poles… No. After the 2011 season with Andretti Autosport, Danica took her rising star and sponsorship money and went over to NASCAR. Here, she raced 6 seasons. In that time she scored 7 top 10’s, and 0 top 5 finishes. She is however, the first woman to win a pole in NASCAR and did so for the 2013 Daytona 500. Add that to her 3 poles, 20 top 5’s and 7 podiums in IndyCar she had a somewhat modest career. The numbers are a small blip in the Danica superstardom. As she grew bigger, so did her reputation.

As someone who has personally worked with and in proximity to Danica Patrick, I testify from my own experience that she is perfectly respectful to those around her. The stories I have heard from others say different. I take those with a grain of salt. She is blunt, honest and answers questions thoughtfully. I will say that her patience is very short, but so is her time. Think about what you are going to say to her beforehand, and furthermore, really think about if your question is worth asking. If you have to answer the same question 1,000 times in a season- you would get a little annoyed too.

Danica is also a very public sore loser. When things fall apart on the racetrack, the disappointment radiates off of her. She cares. This should not be a deciding factor in her image. There is something to say about taking defeat with grace and poise, but many great moments in racing have sprung from the heartbreak of losing. A.J. Foyt jumping out of his car on pit lane at the 1982 Indianapolis 500 and beating his Coyote with a hammer. How about later on as a team owner, backhanding Arie Luyendyk on camera after a dispute in Texas in ‘97? Tony Stewart still is not ‘graceful’ when his day goes south nor is Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch or was Mario Andretti in his hayday.

As a young fan, I will never forget the 2008 Indy500 when Ryan Briscoe took Danica out in a pit incident. Danica literally marched down the pit lane to confront her fellow driver. She had to be held back by security. Through racing’s long and heated history, one thing is for sure. Like Foyt, Stewart and countless others: hell hath no fury like an angry racecar driver. She proved to me her true grit that day.

A separation is in order. As frustrating as an on track incident is, drivers still have a role to play with the fans. There have been many a negative stories about Danica in this category as well. I have to chalk some of it up to fans not choosing their time appropriately. There is absolutely no excuse, however, for a driver to be rude to fans. I personally have seen Danica be respectful with her hoards of followers.

Something that Patrick is adamant about is her reputation as a role model. She did not ask for that spotlight. The on track novelty of being a woman in a man’s world has long since worn off. She is first and foremost a driver- that means she is an inspiration to little girls and little boys alike. If she has proved anything in her career, gender does not play a factor.

In the spirit of full-frontal feminism, Danica has harnessed the power of what she brings to the table. A mantra of hers is ‘rock what you got’ – and she has used her differences to market herself. The provocative GoDaddy commercials and racy pictures at the beginning of her career were all a means to an end. It worked. In her book Danica: Crossing the Line she notes that she was in control of her comfort level the whole time. Instead of questioning her path to household fame, maybe ask yourself why there is a demand for cheesecake pictures of her in the first place.

At the end of the day Danica Patrick is only human. She has been faced with an unfair amount of scrutiny and judgment over the years. Be reasonable your expectations. She gets tired of being asked the same regurgitated questions, being forced into a role as the token female, and fighting off the army of liquored up race fans asking for her phone number. As much as we would like to believe that the motorsports community has evolved, racing is still very much a boy’s club. Danica has helped fight that battle, even though she was unfairly drafted into that war. For that, I have the upmost respect for her. She has made her money, and she had the opportunity to do what she loved. Maybe she changed perceptions just a little. She doesn’t care what we think of her. In her last press conference after crashing out on the 68th lap of the Indianapolis 500 with a smile she leaned into the microphone and said to the media: “I will miss you- most of the time. Maybe you’ll miss me a little bit.”

All American Classics Wrecking Yard

In 1989 an idea was hatched.  Why not a wrecking yard dedicated to vintage cars?

In 1989, think about it, a ’69 Chevrolet/Ford/Mopar was 20 years old.  Who was looking for these cars?  Todd Toedtli was.

What IF he gathered cast off projects and created a salvage yard where one could find window cranks for a ’62 Impala?  What if, when dealerships sent piles of NOS mouldings to a salvage yard that were left for scrap, he could document the pieces and then resell them?  What if he plowed the unused portion of the defunct dairy farm, lay down some rows of gravel, and then organize row by row of vintage tin?  What if, with every car that was purchased or donated to the yard,  a spreadsheet was created and then every part  inventoried?

“What if” became “He did”, and All American Classics was born.

The yard started as a five acre lot, expanded, and eventually grew to as large as 20 acres at one point in time.  Name the car; it’s crossed the gates, but Todd has a penchant for GM and, especially, Camaros and Impalas.

“You know, some of these Camaros were actually driven into the yard,” Todd says.

One can see what are the remains of the many ’67-’69 Camaros and Firebirds, and they’re stunning.

“When those cars were purchased, they were just cast off projects.  Unwanted.”  Todd shakes his head.  “Today, they would bring good money as a runner/driver.  Who knew?”

From muscle cars to luxury cars.  Hardtops to station wagons and convertibles.  Pick up trucks, too.
“At one point, we had so many 1955-1959 Chevrolet and GMC trucks;  stylesides, step sides.”  Todd shrugs his shoulders.  “They were picked to the bones!  At one point, you just have to pull the plug and knock ’em in the head.”

Currently at the yard,  there are no longer any mid to late ’50’s Chevrolet or GMC trucks.  Heck, even the early Ford trucks are hard to find.  But, they’re always looking!  In the yard’s ever changing landscape, there are still a handful of 1947-1954 Chevrolet/GMC trucks as well as two Suburbans, a few 1960-1966 Chevy trucks, one 1959 Ford F-100, and a 1966 Ford F-250.   A few 1967-1972 Chevy and GMC trucks round out the offerings. But, of course, trucks aren’t all you’ll find at AAC.

“We tried to stock newer cars and trucks; even some imports, but as of January this past year, I have decided to go back to where it all began.” says Todd.   “We will have some stock of new vehicles.  Camaros and Corvettes of course.  Some Mustangs.  But, I really love being a yard where time has stood still.  Come on down and wander.  It  doesn’t cost anything, and who knows, you may find that missing part.”  Todd adds.

Speaking of missing parts, take a look at your own current project. Impala. Galaxie. Newport. Camaro. Mustang, Cutlass, Skylark, Chevelle, Nova, Falcon.  We’re sure you’ve realized that the pickings are slim, my friends. The aftermarket fenders and such are VERY affordable, but from what we have seen, lack in quality and applicatiion.  Most of the parts are made offshore from dies that were purchased from the manfacturer but, even then, have been used beyond their time.  Chrome plating on that $100 ’67 Camaro bumper from a supplier simply doesn’t have the same as an OEM piece, and the fit is not as good as an original OEM core.  We’ve seen it.

And, be it a frame for a ’65 Cadillac or a set of lower control arms for a Nova, each used part is inspected before the customer even touches it.  In fact, when the folks at AAC quote you a price, you can be assured it’s a part that Todd has personally inspected. You don’t have to be a local to shop, either. At All American Classics they aim to please. Parts can be picked up locally, or they’ll ship them to you. They even ship internationally.

At the present time, the yard is down to five acres. We know, we know, we can hear all of the yelling and such, but let’s take that into perspective. Some of the cars at AAC had been there since 1989.  That’s almost 30 years. 30 years of parts pulled, rain, frost, and freezing.   Years of customers forgetting to close a door. Vandals breaking rear windows.  Inner door panels, dash pads, and bucket seats pulled from cars. 30 years of many different hands pulling parts like taffy.  We’re all human; mistakes happen.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time!” Todd laughs and looks over his shoulder as Pat, the yard supervisor, brings up a fully stripped ’72 Cutlass sedan for inspection. Todd pauses then says, “I’ll probably be crucified for that one, too.”  A fully stripped 4-door sedan is now headed to the crusher.

But the cars are still out there.  In the last two weeks alone, AAC has purchased two vintage cars. One a 1939 Buick 4-door sedan that had been garaged since 1961.  It will be sold as a project. The other car is a 1962 Impala SS convertible.  It’s in need of a full restoration, but what a find!

“I am always looking for old cars.” says Todd. “I take all calls, and sometimes I’m lucky.”

So, if you heard rumors that All American was closing their doors for good, never fear. They’re still here. They continue to maintain a footprint, have 800 cars ready to be parted out, and still have project cars ready to be purchased and taken home.