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I’m trying to remember. It must have been nineteen sixty-four. Surely not sixty-three. Sixty-three was the year of the assassination. Also the year an on-again, off-again heartbreak was mostly on. Ah, youth! That’s fifty-six, fifty-seven years ago? You can see where the exact date gets cob-webby. Should an old duff tell you, “I remember that like it was yesterday,” he’s smoking you. Things get hazy no matter how convinced you are you have the facts straight. Find someone else who was “there” at “that” time, you’ll get an interestingly different story. No one lying. Just the way it is. You weren’t there, so what do you know? Let the old gaffs have it their way.
Whatever year it was, I was pulling parts from junkers out in the oldest part of the auto salvage yard that kept me in social-affairs funds and taught me most of the little I know of things-automobile. It was far enough out that heading there to pull parts meant you took your lunch with you. I spied a weed-hidden ’39 Ford1. Essentially the body, doors, and hood, no trunk, but clearly recognizable. In its state of neglect, every inch covered in a patina of rust in shades to delight any desert scene artist, it was still a piece of beauty to a lad already appreciating classics. No glass, no engine or transmission, seats, or dash. A restorer’s challenge. Even this rookie knew that.
Lifting a not-so-late model wreck to cut the chassis from what remained of the body for a short-track racing group, the always cantankerous crane cable snarled in the top pulley. It would have been nice had there been a yard bird junior to me standing around or trying to pull an alternator or radiator for a customer. Nope. I was in fact the only one there, king of the yard, so to speak. I was the whole short-list of volunteers to argue the cable back into the wheel flange, at least a once-a-week chore.
After releasing cable tension, I climbed the derrick to lever the cable back into the wheel groove, make what repairs I could to the flange, and re-secure the cable-retaining covers. No need for trips to Six-Flags-Over-Anywhere2 for this kid. As I went higher up the derrick, it seemed the whole of the contraption would collapse, and the odd yellow Eiffel Tower would carry me to the ground. Pure nonsense because that was the very machine that lifted more-or-less whole cars either to expose juicy parts on the bottom side or swing them onto a trailer to be yard-dogged to the crusher.
One-hundred feet in the air3, whanging-away at the top pulley, I spied some thirty yards from the Ford skeleton what I figured to be the ‘39’s frame behind a gnarled old oak. Axles were intact and even some of the bumpers and grill. The ’39 Ford as a project was becoming more interesting all the time. I figured to ask the yard owner if he’d give me a deal on it. I had no place to keep it while chasing-down missing parts, no idea how tough finding everything would be, and no idea how much coin I’d have to come up with to reconstruct that beauty. Things like that never occur to you when a grand idea starts to form in your seventeen- or eighteen- year-old mind.
As I write this, I have less of an idea why I never asked the owner to sell it to me. Maybe I did and he gave me a stupid price. I remember the guy. He’d nice-talk you while charging you fifty bucks for a used part you could get new for thirty-five – make you feel you were taking food from his children; he was doing you a big favor. Junkyard owners do that. Kind of a stereotype like for pawn-shop owners. Not that junkyard owners have plans to restore a specific “gonna be a classic” car themselves. They just get real possessive. Ends up a lot of the time, pieces someone has interest in end-up in the crusher because the yard owner looks to make a killing.
To be fair, I can’t say for sure I asked and if I did, if he became tight-fisted4, or gave me a good deal. Logistics of purchase price (however reasonable) and where to house the project for what surely would have been a long time, may have played a part. I know the yard has been long-since cleared-out, all remaining junkers crushed – glass, rubber, chrome, seats, and missing teamsters’ union presidents and all. I’m betting when they came in to clear it all out, ignoring any further salvage, that old ’39 was still there, still solid, but skeletal. A real shame.
People’s lives are like that somewhat. A real shame, too.
And now a word from our sponsor5
Our sponsor reports shelves in local area retailers are now well stocked with “ZipFast.” Going to sell out fast at $19.95 for each one-liter bottle. Get yours today at Smitty’s Super, at the Brewster Co-Op, and at Elmo’s Auto Repair, Realty, and Bait Shop.
In local sports today
Five walk-ons walked-off.
Late harvest and typecasting
Temperature is supposed to drop to twenty-seven overnight. Our kale is in a late season spurt. There’s a handsome side dish almost ready for picking now. If temperatures turn milder for a week yet, another after that. Since I’ve already caged the plants, it’s a matter of taking out the covers and tossing them over the wireframe. Unless it goes sub twenties, the plants should make it.
Grabbed a battered old work jacket, pulled a watchman’s stocking cap over my head, and went out to tend business. Coming back inside, I passed the back bathroom. Looked in the mirror still with the cap and jacket on. Who was the dewd staring back at me?
Weekend. Shave? Why? With the scruff, old jacket that’s seen better days, and a navy stocking cap pulled homeless-style over my ears, I looked a right regular bum. My scruff is one of those tatty-looking affairs – mostly gray, white actually, with enough brown mixed-in, it’s not at all handsome. Maybe that’s what I’m cut out for. Bumhood. Wonder how much training is involved?
Barely time for this
Selling late husband’s boat. Repairable leak.
Responding to an inquiry into the previous micro-story effort: Six-word (or thereabouts) stories are meant to be cleverly abstract yet give enough “story line” readers are left to imagine the whole of the story themselves. For the (we’re not certain) lady selling the revolver yesterday, a number of possibilities present. The woman shot her husband, got away with it and now is going to make a few bucks ingeniously disposing of the “smoking gun”? The poor woman’s husband did himself in? The lady’s hubby did someone else in, in the process found his expiration date before he could get off another shot? Perhaps as innocuous as firearm collector hubby naturally expired after only testing his newest purchase? The beauty of minimum-word tales is the author doesn’t have to explain and in any event, the readers’ versions will most times be better than what inspired the write.
Notice: your GPS does not have the latest updates
Walking back from checking the mail yesterday evening I noticed three Canada geese flying low overhead. Low enough I was reminded how big those birds are. Yet, they manage to fly effortlessly through the air6. Admittedly they flapped like crazy, but they still made it look effortless.
A fourth goose followed shortly behind the first three, squawking like a choking English horn. One goose always seems to get the “time to boogie” email a little after the others. Oddly, these geese were flying northeast. Late fall in the northern hemisphere. Hmm. That doesn’t seem to be correct. But then I’m not a Canada goose so there’s a lot to goosing I just don’t know.
Figured if I were I to express my confusion to those four geese, they’d probably laugh at me.
Mail in hand, I walked up the drive and looked overhead to see one lone goose flying ninety degrees out, southeast. Bookin’ it.7 Closer to the right direction I thought, but I’m on record about my goosing skills.
All I can figure is there was an update to Canada goose GPS data. The first four hadn’t received the update and the fifth did, or vice versa. Or maybe the “fifth” was one of the “four” going back to temporary Canada goose HQ to double-check.
Yup. Convinced a lot to Canada goosing I could probably never master.
1 Could have been a ’39 Merc. In the shape I describe, a Ford and Merc are pretty much indistinguishable. Which was okay because parts for the two badges were virtually interchangeable.
2 Six Flags Over …Atlanta, …Dallas, …Toledo, …Possum Gulch. Themed amusement parks. Rollercoasters, thrill rides for idiots of all ages.
3 More likely twenty, maybe less, but it makes for a better story to report it as one hundred.
4 “tight-fisted” describes a stingy attitude, an unwillingness to turn loose of something for love or money. Most applicable when the item dickered over is really of no value, and pumping money into it results in an item not worth anywhere near the money invested.
6 Purely stupid. Like geese flying through the water is a thing?
7 Bookin’ it, or more correctly simply “bookin!” Means haulin’ hiney. Smokin. Tearin’ it up. Wasting no time.