Pa had succumbed to the bottle and had passed four years ago, leaving Ma to care for me and my younger kin. At 11. I knew what I had to do. As the oldest, I would badger for odd jobs and always at 4:30 P.M. would be on the corner peddling the evening news to passers by. As a paper boy, I had nailed down this territory years ago on this prime corner and sold The Picayune to passers by to earn my keep.
As the month drew to a close, me, Emery knew that many in the city would be scrambling to make rent. A busy intersection would attract many types. Grifters, Hobos, and scofflaws. But recently, amongst them was a young man in a Ford Model T. But it was unlike any that I had ever seen. Gone were the fenders and splash guards. The top was real low, like a giant had stood upon it a spell. The wheels were tall and spindly, and by gosh, it was noisy! It had a clattering and banging that sounded like it was ready to explode!
He attracted the attention really. Yassir. He would just roll up to the curb and park right near me. He always bought a paper and would tell me about his T. Why it was so loud and all. But what I loved was why he was there.
We had this depression on, you know? I was not educated about that word, but I knew that living was hard and this stranger in his old car made my end of month routine so much more enjoyable.
Let’s see, right, okay. So Clem was his name and he was a mechanic of sorts. He rented a space and did tune ups and lube jobs as his job. From Thursday night til the early light of Sunday he was a race car driver. Midgets and sprints mostly he told me. But his real money came when he would race the Jack.
As the evening was nigh and my pile of papers was down to a few, here he would come, and boy, I tell you, that flivver would growl! He’d pull up, toss me a coin and smile and say, “What do ya think, kid, V8? Lincoln? Buick tonight?”
And I would watch. High collared men would show up in their cars. Gosh, I tell you! Lincolns, Cadillacs, One time a real Duesie!
I would watch. A handshake. Then the exhaust plumes as they would drive out of sight.
Clem always came back with a grin.
Rent money was his and he would disappear into the city then reappear at the end of the month.
In these times, well, life is hard. But it sure feels great having a busted knuckled hero in a Model T as a hero.
– inspired by Mr. Model T’s Gow Job –
The car that inspired this short story, pictured here has been built and built again in 2006-2008 and 2011-2012. Some cool stuff: 1918 Cadillac type 57 headlights, 1912 Cadillac 30 frame horns. 1922 Nash ignition switch. 1932 Sun-Aero Tach. 1913 Waltham 8-day clock. 1924 Willys-Knight steering gear. 1915 Locomobile Headlight forks. 1927 Hupmobile 19” Split-rim Wire Wheels. It’s been all over the US, mostly under its own power. Been to California twice. Was on the Jay Leno Show. Been to TROG, twice and made the 1,700 mile round trip to Bonneville under its own power across 4 states. The mods/specs required to build the engine and drive train is extensive. Maybe a “Car of the Month Feature” should be in the future?