The month of September sweeps in as August walks away, slowly, leaving Summer’s promises in ashes. Pat was winding down a long day and had strolled out to his shop to again try and make gains on his roadster pick up project. All of the pieces seemed to be falling into place; yet, he was missing a solid K member and a gennie Deuce grille shell. Many of his pals had chided him on this detail. “Dude, just buy a repo piece!” “So-Cal has a decent piece.” “Call Bob Drake, they have them.” And so on, so on and… well Pat heard every detail but on his RPU he wanted the real deal. Pat smiled and agreed, yet. With all of the efforts he had put place on his hot rod, reproduction would not suffice.
He’s kind of like that. The frame was an original set of ’32 rails he had found in a abandoned mining camp in Montana. The cab and bed he had scored from a long abandoned tug boat station in the ‘Couve. The mill was from a ’44 Ford, a 59L block that had been found in a crate in St Johns. It seemed that for the most part, every piece of his hot rod had come together by chance or word of mouth. Yet, his connections either had a grille they were not parting with or, they knew a guy who had a friend who… well, you know. Pat leaned back on his work bench and looked at his pickup. So. Damned. Close.
He shook his head. In his mind he did a mental recap of the parts he had gathered to create what his heart and mind had created. It’s not every day one is rescuing a less than 500 ever produced vehicle, or that shakes up things and dares to make it a hot rod. He shook his head and hit the lights. His ‘70 Dodge Demon 340 seemed like a cake walk compared to this pile of metal.
As he had done for all his 58 years he rose, greeted the day with questions and a spark somewhere in his psyche’ made him rethink his daily routine. It was Sunday, September 1st. Summer’s last 20 days were here and on this bright crisp day Pat knew this was the day and where to find that last part. He placed his cell phone into the glove box of his ’64 El Camino and just drove. He left his home in the outskirts of Vancouver, Washington, got onto I-5 and headed North.
The Elky’s 327 sang through the twice pipes and Pat felt like a passenger as his body drove and he observed. He crossed the Lewis and Clark Bridge out of Longview and headed across the Columbia River and into Oregon, and then he was driving West toward the coast. Highway 30 has this incredible climb outside or Rainier and as Pat had done so in all his years, marveled at the view as he drove on. At the crest of the hill, he down shifted and got into the left lane and took a side road and headed South.
He had never been down this road.
And he had spent nearly 40 years as a tow truck driver in the Northwest. The road split into a Y and he banked to the left. Around him the trees has started to turn colour as Autumn kept teasing her arrival. Pat reveled in the landscape and soon he slowed and on his right was a very old wrecking yard. He had never seen or had known this placed existed, yet, it felt like he knew where it was all along.
He killed the ignition and the 327 became silent. Around him were the occasionally chatting birds and the wind as it swept through the trees and evergreens. The El Camino’s engine ticked as she cooled down. There was an iron archway with Gallagher’s in faded letters. No signs forbid his entrance. With caution, he walked into the yard and saw a very old Spartan trailer parked next to the gate.
Outside on a stump an old man sat with a pipe between his lips and was whittling a piece of Fir into a sharpened point. “Eh youngster, can I help ya?” Pat paused. Why had he driven here? What was he after? Then he spoke and he heard what he said, more than knew what he was going to say. “I am here after that old ’32 Ford grille shell, the purple one.” Pat cocked his head to the side and the old man nodded, “Yassir, right over near that shed.“ He did not have to point; Pat nodded and walked right to it. “$80, right?” and the old man nodded. Pat peeled off the bills, they shook hands and he was back into his El Camino and headed home. The ride home was a blur. It was not til he was a few miles away from home that he lost that foggy mental state and felt himself driving again. But he knew where he had gone to, knew how to get there and what the reward was once he had arrived. Yet had never had set foot in that yard before.
Later that night as he bolted the grille shell into place and he tried to explain it to his friend who had dropped by, it still did not make sense. Lonnie asked, “Well could ya drive there again?” Pat shook his head. “I do not think I could.” Lonnie nodded. They fell silent and marveled at how great the roadster pick up looked with that purple grille shell on it.
Sometimes parts just find their way home.
—Written by Mark Karol-Chik August 10, 2019