As I go about my business, making calls on various automotive oriented shops and attending select swap meets, I have noticed a trend. I am observing an increasing number of enthusiasts that have begun to create original objects of art. And they are now presenting them right alongside their other wares for viewing and possible purchase.
I’m not talking about shellacked river rocks with googly eyes or cute sayings but legitimate artwork created by real craftsmen. The objects themselves are as varied as conceivable- limited only by the imagination of their creator. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about…
I stumbled across Donnie Talbert’s art in a combination tire salon/service garage located in Stayton, Oregon. After I commented on his coffee and end tables, a friend of Donnie’s suggested that I meet with him personally and made the arrangements. Talbert is an unassuming young guy that is employed as a union glass worker. After spending a few minutes with him my gut feeling was, “This guy is the real deal—he possesses a true artist’s sole. He is sincere and totally committed to what he’s doing.”
I think some people would describe Talbert’s work as “steampunk” but it is so much more. He describes it as “motorcycle art” or “rat rod art” but I don’t think that is accurate either. Everything I saw required a high degree of engineering to execute. And everything I saw (unlike steampunk), looked clean and was brightly finished. The amount of time Talbert devotes to each table or lamp is clearly evident and reflected in his asking price. “I make unique art,” he proclaims. “No cookie cutter.” His artwork is lowbrow and high-end… simultaneously! I strongly urge everyone to check out his stuff on Instagram at: broken_gear_art.
By contrast, there is enigmatic Jim Nichols. I found his artwork in a second hand store in Sweet Home, Oregon. Nichols builds approximately twelfth scale vehicles out of cardboard, found objects and bits of this and that. I purchased his version of a ’32 Ford Roadster for a paltry fifteen dollars a couple years ago. When I returned to the shop a few months later, they had sold out of his creations save a stagecoach-like affair. The owner of the shop had no phone number or forwarding address for Nichols. He described him as “an old man” and that was the extent of the information I received. It is all together possible that Nichols is no longer among us…but man, what a creative guy! The proportions of my Roadster are damn close. It has opening doors, an opening trunk and a removable hood which reveals a detailed engine made of cardboard, duct tape, a plastic bottle cap and god knows what. The low profile roof is upholstered as is the interior. The wheels and tires are made from jar lids and caps. The headlights are bottle caps filled with clear RTV!
Nichols is/was very familiar with hot rod building and I have to wonder if he also built full scale models. If he is out there in reader-land or if anyone knows him, we would certainly like to hear from you. I know your fellow readers would enjoy seeing more of his work.
Finally, I make auto-themed shadowboxes (or memory boxes as some people call them.) I assembled my first one during the summer of 1974. It was high school themed because that’s where I was in my life in ‘74 but it included automobilia as I was already a committed car guy. Since then I have assembled many boxes with specific themes like: Early Hot Rodding, Early Nascar, Short Track (Hardtop) Racing, Bonneville, Midget Racing, Sprint Car Racing, Indianapolis, etc. I thoroughly enjoy the process and experience great satisfaction when I complete one. Generally, I give them away to close friends or family; I have donated them to fund raisers and presented them as trophies. I have actually sold a few.
From the beginning, my intention has never been money motivated. In fact, I’ve lost money on even the boxes I’ve sold. That is because the price of the boxes themselves plus the automobilia therein, cost me more than I can possibly charge for the finished shadowbox…but I’m okay with it.
I am compelled to create like Donnie Talbert whom I suspect will continue to build his amazing tables and lamps even if no one purchases them.
I wonder if Jim Lambert ever collected the fifteen dollars I paid for his Roadster?
Times have changed. In the 1920’s women were first allowed to vote here in the U.S. In 1976 the first women were admitted into the U.S. Military Academy. The following year Janet Guthrie became the first woman to qualify for the Indy500. She was by no means the first woman to compete alongside men on a racetrack, but that feat is heralded as a groundbreaking moment for women in motorsports. Since, there have been numerous females to make their mark on the racing world, but even in 2018 there are far fewer women wearing a driver’s suit than men—and fewer still at the top tiers of the sport. This is a problem and one that is not easy to solve. Coming in 2019 is an attempted answer: an all women’s Formula1 feeder division called the ‘W Series’.
Here are the facts—or the ones we can discern at this point. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) is the ultimate governing body for Formula1 and all of its affiliating series. This W Series would fall under their jurisdiction. Similar in kind to Formula 3, the W Series will be an open wheel, open cockpit spec series that plans to feed into Formula1. Starting in May, the 2019 schedule will include 6 thirty-minute races all over Europe. All W Series races are scheduled to support the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters or DTM class. Over $1.5 million will be awarded to the field of drivers in prize money and the overall championship winner will take home $500,000 to help further their career.
The biggest challenge for any aspiring professional race driver is funding. This has historically been the largest barrier for women in racing. The W Series has an answer for that. Aside from the season’s-end purse, the W Series is supposedly an all-expense paid racing experience. Cars are owned and run by the sanctioning body and expenses will be paid for as well as travel fees.
Racing is not cheap and it took a wealthy financial backer to get this idea off the ground. British businessman, Sean Wadsworth sold his successful recruiting company for over $200 million a couple of years ago and plans to be the main money source for the first season. Drivers selected to race need only bring a helmet and talent in hand, so to speak.
The W Series says that prospective driver applications have been pouring in from all over the globe. The deadline to submit was October 31st. From those applicants, 55 have been chosen for open skills evaluation test, and then 18 drivers will be selected for the first season of racing. In that initial pool includes 8 from the USA—Courtney Crone representing American short track racing, Natalie Decker of the NASCAR development ranks and Shea Holbrook from the sportscar side of life to name a few. Not only do they come from everywhere—but the pool of candidates drive just about everything. In a couple of months we will have our starting roster.
A women’s-only series in racing is not a new idea. A couple examples include a GT series back in 1999 and Formula Woman in 2004. The former example was moderately successful for a couple of years and included some talented female drivers. Some of those names had success after the GT series, but they also entered the program with momentum. Formula Woman was originally structured to be more like a reality TV show where contestants were eliminated from week to week. Prior to production, however, that caveat was lifted and it was run more like a regular racing series. Both opportunities petered out after a handful of seasons due to lack of interest from fans and sponsors.
It is hard to say what the W Series will really look like, how it will impact the industry and if it will succeed. Do women need a segregated series to climb the ladder of racing? No. Is the added emphasis of women in racing and STEM programs a bad thing? Also no. The W Series was born with a positive motive but its reception is divided.
Critics ask why the sponsorship money attained for the W Series didn’t just go to helping existing drivers further their careers. Others poke holes at the idea of separating female competitors in order to succeed. The reality of all of this is a means to an end. We are talking about more women racing, it is globally being acknowledged as an issue to be addressed in the industry. That alone is a success.
Would the W Series survive better or worse in America? Will it survive at all? How will fans respond? Will there be additional sponsor interest moving forward? It is entirely too early to see the ramifications of such a series. Only time will tell.
By the time y’all read this it will be a New Year. Hope y’all had a good one cuz the next one is sure to be wilder than the last one. Me … I am still in recovery from #SEMA2018 as well as my big move from Portland. Myself and my Flying Dutchman Camaro now reside out in Fairview, OR. by the mighty Columbia.
Y’all know how I like to keep you abreast of the latest news in the electrical car world and the automated driving scene. But I’m not going to say too much this time around as there is simply too much going on out there. Big-time mergers continue to take place as the biggest corporations in the world vie for the almighty dollar.
Mighty GM managed to surprise us all with their big move. They announced the closing of five plants and the firing of 14K workers. Now it is not like this was done out of any dire emergency. GM is simply looking forward. They are eliminating several lines and coming out with several others. And yes they will be electrified. They are bound and determined to not be left behind.
There is a much larger story to this new strategy. It has to do with Auto workers unions and such things as cheaper labor. It remains to be seen what plants will be actually shut down and what plants will receive new assembly lines and what will become of current workers. We will simply have to wait to see how it all shakes out.
There will be more vids coming out on #SEMA2018 – just keep an eye out at #GearHeadsWorld for new releases on through the New Year. Oh and – Happy New Year.
’nuff said, Chuck Fasst #GearHeadsWorld
The 19th annual Northwest Classic Chevy Club show opened this year on August 19th 2018. The NWCCC show debuts every third Sunday in August, at the last standing Triple X Root Beer Drive-In, Issaquah WA. The NWCC Club would like to thank Triple X Drive-In for their hospitality and the great venue. The show would not be what it is without them.
Whether you like stock, modified or custom Tri-5’s, there’s sure to be something that grabs your attention. Bud Worley, club president, and CNA member, arranged for several customs to attend this year. Among the Nomad customs were Ron and Dianna Maier’s 1957 featured car, “Showmad,” which also won the Street Rod Headquarters Custom of the Year. They drove up from Hillsboro, OR. “Showmad” was also featured in Street Rodder magazine this last fall. Another featured Nomad was the “Playbunny Coach” owned by Doug LeMay, a customized ’55 from the ‘60s, with further customization done in the mid ‘80s.
This year’s show attracted around 150 cars and featured Dennis Gage of My Classic Cars television fame. Word is that the show will debut sometime this coming Spring. With drive by concours style awards, the show has appeal for all and draws a good crowd on the outside patio dining area. The NWCCC show is the largest one day show in the country and they are proud to host this event every year.
Sunny and warm weather was on display and made for an excellent show, and reminds us that the Northwest is a great summer location for car shows. About 25 Nomads were in attendance this year and are featured in the photos. Many are current CNA members. Five Nomads won various awards of the 33 awards presented. Door prizes, raffle tickets and Bingo cards made the event fun for everyone. We hope you enjoy the photos and can attend the 20th annual NWCCC show next year on August 18th, 2019 at the Triple X. See you then!
I might have said something about bucket lists somewhere in this paper and this is maybe another item on us car guy’s lists. Pebble Beach Concours! It’s on my list and I haven’t checked it off yet. The photos were given to me by my pal, Jim. He and Bill checked this one off this year and we decided we would share.
Bill is a Tucker enthusiast. He has pics of many of the about 50 Tuckers that exist and this year the Concours featured the “Tucker.” But wait, that’s not all…
During the week there is a Concours on the grounds of the Pebble Beach Golf Course, Vintage Races at Laguna Seca, A car show on the streets of Carmel, A “cruise” of the concours cars, several collector car auctions and perhaps more. Since I didn’t go, I’m not at all sure just how many car related functions might be going on during an entire week of Car Sensory overload. But its safe to say A Lot.
Here are some pics that Jim shared with us… Enjoy. Oh, and I told that if you plan to attend, perhaps next year, make your hotel reservations early, get a printed confirmation using your credit card, after you have requested and received a credit limit increase. Also keep putting that change into your change jar every day. You might have enough accumulated to attend this function in 2020 or 2021. Just a suggestion…!
Balladeer Marty Robbins is probably best remembered for the tremendous catalog of songs he recorded including ”El Paso” and “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation”. He would tell people repeatedly however, that he was as passionate about his auto racing as he was about song writing.
Born in Glendale, Arizona Robbins became enamored with racing at an early age. He followed the exploits of local standout Jimmy Bryan and the Bettenhausen family back at Indianapolis. When his musical career took him east to Nashville, Tennessee he found himself in a hotbed of short track activity. He attended a micro midget race in 1959 and officially launched his driving career shortly thereafter.
Typical of most racers, Robbin’s desire for more power soon led him to the V-8 powered hardtops at Nashville Speedway. 1962 found him piloting a magenta ’34 Ford coupe with a Thunderbird mill built by Preacher Hamilton. He used the vehicle to promote his new record album “Devil Woman” and even featured the car on the album’s jacket. It was in Nashville that Robbins established a huge fan base. He was a regular performer at the Grand Old Opry and on the popular 5/8th mile oval. He was known to pull off the racetrack early at times to traverse town for a live singing engagement. He always put his music first, understanding that one passion financed the other.
He evolved into a Mopar guy and in a corrugated tin garage behind his home, built his own modified using a ’64 Plymouth Belvedere body and a huge displacement Hemi engine. The engine was so large in fact, that once installed, there was no room for the radiator so he mounted it in the trunk. (The “777” car was discovered years later and restored by Ray Evernham for his television show “Americarna”).
The sixties were kind to Robbins and his wealth afforded him the opportunity to move up to NASCAR’s premiere division (what today would be the Monster Energy Drink Series). He purchased a ’71 Plymouth which Cotton Owens had constructed for Petty protégé Pete Hamilton. Robbins had the car reskinned as a Dodge and raced it for the first time in the Alamo 500 at Texas World Speedway. Owens maintained the car for the following nine seasons while Robbins tested his skill at all of NASCAR’s greatest venues: Daytona, Talladega, Michigan and Charlotte. He earned the respect of his contemporaries and all agreed that he had become a very capable racer. AII tolled he amassed thirty five career NASCAR starts. His best finish was a fifth in the Motor City 400 at Michigan in June of 1974. The event had particular significance to Robbins as one of his idols, Gary Bettenhausen finished directly in front of him.
A history of cardiovascular disease was what ultimately brought Marty Robbins down- that and his age by the time he reached the professional ranks. He drove in his last race, the Atlanta Journal 500 on 11/7/82 and died after open heart surgery the following month at the age of fifty seven.
Once during his rookie season, Robbins had stunned officials by turning in race laps that were fifteen miles per hour faster than he had qualified. At the conclusion of the event, NASCAR attempted to present him with honors but he stopped them in their tracks. He admitted to them that he’d cheated by messing with his carburetor.
“I just wanted to see what it was like to run up front for once,” he confessed.
I often write about the future of the motoring world with the electric cars coming onto the scene and all. And there is plenty of news on that front both in the electric car world and the racing world. However, now is the time for news of the Here and Now. The SEMA show has come. There should be no more explanation necessary.
SEMA show of 2018 in Las Vegas lived up to its reputation. How could the biggest car show on Earth be a disappointment? All of the latest baddest builds were there. Racing celebrities were there and Industry Giants along with a growing Cadre of reality TV and social media, up-and-coming Stars.
SEMA Ignited, the giant after show, car party was off the hook as well. Badass cruising along with Hooners belching fire and smoke … and Budweiser. I must certainly put in a special word for the Cackle Fest. those old dudes who have been here since the beginning, can still put on a great show with Nitro.
The battle of the builders was decided and this author was happy to see another Camaro take the big win. You will want to check out #GearHeadsWorld to find the vids covering all of this. I enjoyed bumping into many of the 405 Street Outlaws from Discovery Channel. Several of their rides were there.
Plenty of exciting new parts and pieces were introduced that you GearHeads will start seeing in 2019. There were blinged out wheels everywhere from every corner of the planet, it seemed. It has become expected that one would see the most radical of Rat Rods there but I would have to say that lifted trucks seemed to dominate the scene this year. There were hundreds of them everywhere with all of their wonder and bling.
’nuff said, Chuck Fasst
The other day I had the privilege of having lunch with a true hot rodder, Jim Lindsay. Jim has written two books: The Little Bastards and Swerve, book two of The Little Bastards series. Jim had a vision about writing a novel, backed by real life experiences about the hot rodding.
The Little Bastards is a story about car kid in a small town in Oregon, growing up from pedaling bikes to racing hot rods, all in the decade of the fifties. As a car guy I know what is was like back then- tee shirts, blue jeans, flat top haircuts with butch wax .
Jim has lived this life style as a true car guy. His dad had a fear for his boy, then in high school, unleashed, would become a hoodlum. So Jim hid his early cars in town behind a friend’s house. The first was a ‘47 Ford coupe and later a 1954 F100. His first car, he could park at home was a 289 powered Mustang, lowered and used hard.
Now this will make all you car guys cry. The price of gas back then (back in the mid ‘60’s) was about 28 cents a gallon. Food was priced similarly. Back then, in Albany, the place to stop for a snack, was Red’s Drive-In where you could get a burger, fries and a drink for about $0.50. Or, if you were a little short on money because you spent it all on gas, you could get hash browns and gravy for $0.25. Red’s Drive-In later became the T&M and then Westy’s.
This description was true in Southern Oregon where I grew up and spent most of my hard earned money on gas. I could cruise all night long. I think that was true no matter where you lived.
Jim’s passion for cars was fueled by witnessing kids of the 50s, with Elvis style hair, driving chopped down Fords with spinners and loud pipes. He was impressionable, being pre-teen, when these creatures wearing bomber jackets owned the streets with their girlfriends wearing lipstick and winks. Now, I have read The Little Bastards and I loved it. I can relate to getting a car, fixing it, cruising with the friends you make and the fun you have.
Talking to Jim, we discussed the trend of cars. In the ‘40’s and ‘50’s if you wanted a hot rod you had to either build one or buy one. Then came the factory cars and the world changed when the Beatles got off the plane. This was about the same time when old time rock and roll faded out and the trend of muscle cars started. Now you could go down to the dealer and get a Chevy, Ford or a Dodge already souped up and with a 4 speed. As Jim said “ the days of having to build a hot rod are over”. Today you can build a hot rod or buy a hot rod of your choice. There are also vintage muscle cars, modern muscle cars, kit cars or just take a car of your liking and fix it up the way you want. The possibilities are endless.
Jim has built and raced multiple types of cars beginning with a deuce roadster in the early ‘70s. He drove all over, even to Bonneville. Speaking of Bonneville, Jim is the proud owner of the “Red Hat.” A baseball cap is the badge worn by life members of the Bonneville 200 mph club- a prestigious group of about 600 men and women who have set a record at a SCTA sanctioned event at over 200 mph.
Jim set a record with the average speed of 218 mph last year. The racecar is a rear engine modified roadster built with the help of Marty Strode, a metal wizard from the Portland area. The roadster is powered by a blown ‘50 Mercury engine equipped with Ardun heads.
A mostly home built race car is his bright yellow ‘23 Ford roadster with an alcohol injected 341 DeSoto Hemi engine. Jim raced the Nostalgic Circuit at dragstrips up and down the west coast. In 2006 he became track champion at the Woodburn dragstrip.
As a young man, Jim saw Bob Duedall’s competition coupe dragster around town in Albany. Fifty years later he became owner of the car that he had worshipped as a young man. Once restored the Bob Duedall T-bodied comp coupe was on the prowl again. It was taken to the 2013 Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California, where it won best dragster. The car was then displayed for a year at the World of Speed Museum in Wilsonville.
So lately after reading The Little Bastards, it reminded me of a cross between the movies American Graffiti and Stand By Me. Jim hit it right on the nose with his hot rodding knowledge and racing experience. I just started reading Swerve and it is just as great as The Little Bastards. I highly recommend both novels for any car guy.
Both books are available on Amazon or for signed copies send $20.00 for Swerve and $15.00 for Little Bastards or $35.00 for both to Stamper Press, 34339 Colorado Lake Dr., Corvallis, OR 97333. You’re going to love these stories.
We all know that things change, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. This is very good. When was the last time you were able to go to three events all within walking distance? The Mild to Wild Swap Meet has always been held in Albany at the Linn Co. Fairgrounds. This is what has changed. In February 2019, the swap meet will be at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem. Now it will be held with two other events on the same day, the Salem Roadster Show and indoor dirt track racing. That makes it a 3 in 1 day.
The new kid on the block, or rather, in the fairgrounds, is the swap meet. The Mild to Wild Swap Meet is in Columbia Hall and will be held on Saturday, February 16th from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Now if you want to get a booth to sell something contact Steve Moore at 541-990-8087. If you do get a booth set up is the day before, on Friday afternoon.
The Salem Roadster Show is in the Jackson Long Building on Saturday, February 16th from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and Sunday, Feb 17th from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. I have been to this show before and it is great. With a variety of cars and trucks, it has something for everyone.
Last, but not least, is the indoor circle dirt track races. It will be at the Forster Livestock Pavilion the races go for two shows . The first one is from 9:00 am to approximately 3:00 pm. The second one is from 5:00 pm until they are finished. The classes are open comp cage karts, pee wee karts, micro-sprints, Pro 4 cars and dwarf cars. The racing is exciting, but the temperature usually is cold so bundle up.
With 3 different events there is also three different admission fees. So, in the middle of winter on probably a rainy day you can get your car fix all indoors all day long. Don’t forget! Saturday, February 16 there is three automotive events in one day at the State Fairgrounds.
There was a time before hand held devices, instant gratification and social networks.
A time when Christmas started after the Big Man himself, me, made his appearance at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and not at the end of September in the Dollar Store.
A time when stop lights would pause for the night and blink yellow or red. When the news programs of the day started at 10 p.m. and were followed by Johnny Carson. When televisions only had four stations and they would sign off shortly after midnight. Well, with the sprawl of Suburbia and the growth of the country during the 1960s the world had become bigger and the toys so much more than just wood and cloth. Well it has been said the world waits for no one, and here was proof.
Choo-choo trains and rag dolls had been taken over by Lionel and Barbie. Mattel, Hasbro Marx, Tonka and many more companies flooded the market and every child wanted at least three of each.
I had decided to take a break—to streamline my operations. So I scaled back operations and decided to focus on one major gift a year. Regardless of age or gender, just one. Immortal as we are here at Santa, Inc., we have been dealt some laws which even we can not over rule. It was decided that the gift could not be monetary. It could not be a cure for an illness. We have no ability to change that man or ladies mind so they fall in love with you. My long time friend Cupid laughs hard at this one. The gift that was to be personal and the person who received it had done something extraordinary and deserved to have their wish come true. And here is the caviat emptor—a gift could be forwarded to a loved one.
And, that rarely happened. But think about it, if you were granted a choice for a really great gift without knowing what may be, what would you do? So back to our tale. When you see a Santa in the mall. Department store, big box store, well, sometimes an a rare occasion one of them is one of us.
Surprise! Oh, we know. We have heard it all and well at times are hard pressed where to throw our hard earned talents to.
Europe, Antarctica, Asia, Australia and yes, America. North America this time around.
It was in a mall in the Denver metro area and low and behold this time it was me who was in the chair. Not Melvin, or Cornelius, my personal assistants for generations mind you. Me. Kris Kringle. St. Nick. Santa Claus. CEO if you will.
The Mile High City has always had a special place in my heart. The Queen City of the Plains has been a melting pot of cultures since it came to be. Maybe it is the high altitude or the melding of the Yankee meets Southwest culture, Denver has always been one of my favorites. On this snowy November day, right after Thanksgiving I was in downtown Denver. Right off of the 16th street mall. I had just attended a Breakfast with Santa event and had decided to walk down the mall and mingle with the people. The smoky grey clouds hung low and the snow was falling steadily. The ground was snow packed and not treacherous, but that in between stage where as you step it is a soft crunch. The air smelled of kettle corn, hot coffee and pastries. The wind would gust on occasion and sting your cheeks, redden your nose. So many smiles and chattering. A man stood on a corner and was reading The Night Before Christmas to a crowd o rosy cheeked children. A young lad with dreadlocks was juggling tambourines and accepting tips. As I walked by I dropped a $20 into his hat. I kept walking toward the west end of the mall. The singing grew fainter. The smells in the air were replaced by diesel and grit. I paused to see a man try and create a better shelter with his cardboard box. A woman wide eyed and lonely walked by pushing a cart. And it was then I saw a tall man and two kids. The boy was a dead ringer for his Daddy and the little girl had the brightest eyes I had ever seen in a child’s face. I paused and noticed that each of them was pulling a red wagon behind them. Within each wagon were sacks of groceries, bottled water and socks. Their Dad was wearing a black pork pie hat. He was a broad fellow with bright eyes and a beaming grin. He was saying something to his kids when he saw me. Our eyes met and I knew this man. As a child I could see him from decades back and I remembered him. He knew who I was. Right there. It is rare that it happens and a select few adults have recognized me. “Uh, kids, I think you need to talk to this man,” is all he said. The little girl ran up to me and just hugged my legs. She was so shy and lovely. I tried to talk to her, but she buried her face into my shins and would not look at me. So I spoke, “Jo, you are so lovely! My dear girl come to Santa and tell me what is on your mind.” Her Dad lifted her up and the young boy walked up to me. His eyes were so full of wonder. I got down on my knees and brought him in as I always do when I meet kids on the street. “Jackie, say young man, what do you want for Christmas?” I asked. His Dad stepped back and tilted his head back and laughed. The boy looked up at me wide eyed. “Please, son, just tell ol’ Santa.” And he did. But beyond that he spoke of the wagons. Of hot summers and walking next to the Platte river. Of a hopped up go-kart and helping his Dad rebuild an engine. Of watching at night as his Dad put them to bed, then would work in the shop welding of working on Tiki statues just to earn money to keep their home a home. Of the love he had for his sister and how much his Daddy meant to him. “I have them,” the young boy said, “and that is enough for me.” Again I asked, “Son, what do you want for Christmas?”
And he leaned in away from his family and whispered into my ear. I listened. Carefully. I smiled. “Done young man. I can do that.”
His Dad looked at me smiled that huge grin, shook my hand and they walked off. I looked at the man and said, “Edward, you have done wonderful with your kids. Merry Christmas.” His eyes widened. He laughed heartily and shook his head. We locked eyes and he said to me, “I knew you were real.” I nodded and winked.
Young Jackie was walking with a bit more of a bounce in his step. He looked at me and gave me an okay sign with his hand and a wink. Jo, as lovely as she is turned and smiled.
And there I was. A wish thrown my way and less than 30 days to make it reality.
I paused and leaned back against the building. Over the years, decades, centuries as I have tried to deliver wishes to young folks, occasionally a child knocks me back off of my feet. On this cheery day in downtown Denver little Jackie did just that. The snow picked up just a bit. The wind picked up and my eyes watered cold? Nah, just the beauty of one kids wish made me tear up.
However, a wish was made, and well, I had a job to do. I pulled out my phone and dialed my home base. Yes, I have a phone, its the 21st century. Don’t judge.
At Santa, Inc. we do have a budget, but I’ll be damned how the donations are endless. Our contacts would floor you. A few clicks and the project was ours. In fact, the one that Jackie had known about. We scooped it up for a song and before you can say Christmas Story that ol’ boy was on a flatbed and headed for a new life. I will not say where our work shop is. But I can tell you that FedEx, UPS, and the amazing USPS know us by heart.
One goal. One wish. 24 days.
On the 1st of December the project arrived. Complete, yes, but well, this old boy needs some loving. At Santa, Inc, we launch into a project full on. The old truck was disassembled. Stripped. Painted. Detailed. And we leaned on our contacts, trust me. Speed shops, Restoration shops, wrecking yards and old friends—Svigel’s. You know who you are. Little Jackie had one definitive request that we strived to accomplish. Make the ol’ pick up a daily driver. He wanted his Dad to drive the wheels off of it as he had years ago when he set off on a soul searching tour that took his father to the Northwest, to Canada then back down route 101 and along the back roads of the Southwest headed back to Denver. A new Ford F-100 with all of the bells and whistles will bring a 25 MPG, well, a mild flatty in a 64 year old pick was going to do that very well thank you. And in my eyes a ’53 Ford F-100 looks so much better too. The paint on the old pick up was faded in spots, but in over all good condition. Fenders and body panels straight and rust free. A few dents, but patina is cool. So it was left in a faded light blue. Painted black bumpers and a white painted grille. We polished the stainless made sure the floors were solid and contacted the folks at Mar-K in Oklahoma for a new oak bed and stainless runners. From a secret stash we through an NOS seat cover into that ol’ boy and added rubberized floor covers. A set of twice pipes singing through some smitty mufflers. Black painted rims, poverty caps and wide white wall tires courtesy of Coker tires. It was December 20th when Cecil and I took that old truck for a lap around Santa, Inc.
Driving a vintage vehicle is unlike anything you can imagine. If you have ever done so you know it. You DRIVE it. One feels the road through the steering wheel. You have to work the accelerator. And the sound. The youth today may be enthralled with the thump and pop of those WSR’s, but the sound of a healthy flathead V8 through glasspacks. Well, it is timeless.
Cecil and I glanced at each other and just grinned. Our job was almost done. Time to make a delivery. 12:01 a.m. Mountain Standard Time, December 25th.
Edward had just wrapped up his duties at the little house of wonders on Pierce street. Stockings filled, gifts laid out in the living room. He was pausing to take it all in when he heard a sound in his driveway. A sound all to familiar to him.
A flathead V8 firing up in his driveway. Who was in his driveway this time of morning he wondered? Edward walked to back of his home, opened the door and walked out toward his driveway. His pace slowed. It was starting to snow and the delicate flakes danced lightly in the soft glow of the headlights of the old pick up. The exhaust burbled softly. Snow that had landed on the roof and hood had already melted up and was beaded up and running in rivulats down the old skin of the truck. On the roof was a huge red bow. Edward walked in a daze to the driver’s side door. Hanging from the handle was a tag that flittered about as the wind blew. He reached out and turned it over in his hand and upon it was written in script,
To: Mr. Edward
Edward opened the door and was awash in heat as the heater filled the cab with warmth.
He reached over and turned the key off. The engine cut off and Edward killed the lights. He pulled the keys out of the ignition and noticed the key chain had a key fob with his name engraved upon it.
Edward stepped back and took it in. 1953 Ford F-100. A short box pick up. His eyes filled with tears. He ran a hand along the fender and paused. The night was still. He could hear the dull hum of traffic and the soft tick as the engine and exhaust cooled.
How could this be?
Then he remembered the meeting with the bearded man on the 16th street mall and how his son had whispered to the old man.
He paused outside his son’s bedroom. Jackie was fast asleep and he hated to wake him, but he had to know. He entered and gently touched his son’s shoulder. Jackie stirred and then realizing it was Christmas, his eyes were then wide. “Dad, did Santa come?” he asked. He glanced at his son and nodded. “Did he bring the gift for you?” The father nodded holding back more tears. Jackie hugged his Dad fiercely. “I knew he was real! Let’s go out and look at it!”
“Son, I have to ask. Why didn’t you ask for a gift for yourself? Why did you give up the chance for something for yourself?” Edward asked Jackie looked up at him and then said,”Dad, you have taught me something that I treasure. And it is that giving is the greatest thing a person can do. That’s my favorite gift.”
—Dedicated to my friend Mr. Dale Sawin