Classic cars have always been a pretty big part of my life. Older, extended family members who grew up in the era always talking about them or pointing them out when they’d see one in the wild like it was a magical unicorn to immediate family and family friends owning and working on them. Perhaps none which were in my immediate life had a sparkly new paint job, but they were always there and I suppose in a way they are like a magical unicorn. I’m not certain that I would have a love for them if I hadn’t been inundated with them them in my formative years, but I like to think that I would.
My paternal grandfather’s profession had been an auto mechanic, so he knew all about cars from a certain era, though auto mechanics hadn’t changed much in his life time, so there were no fancy new things and computer programming because I don’t think he would have been able to master that so late in life. Through him I remember an old (40s or 50s) panel truck parked on the side of his and grandma’s house; lacking everything but it’s body and chassis and the primer desperately trying to fend off rust, and in some places no succeeding. I’m not certain the entire story behind it, like if he’d just purchased it to fix up, or if it was like something he used to drive long ago, but I’m certain that he’d had intentions on restoring it.
Even in his retirement he’d fix cars, either their own Crown Vic or their Bronco, or else another immediate family members vehicle. It was always soothing to watch him work on cars or else help him select tools or drive to a parts store. He never let me do much, I know because I was always too young, but I’m also assuming, in part, because I was a girl. But you liked being out there, around him, while he was working on something automotive related.
My own dad, however, the same can not be said. Perhaps his own father wasn’t so zen while working on vehicles, but only appeared to be because he was old and was being slow and steady, but he might have been the opposite when enlisting my father, my uncle, or my cousin to help. I’m not certain. But my dad always forced us to have bonding time with him by working on cars. I know why he worked on cars; because his dad did. However, his dad also knew when to hand it over to someone else or else purchase a new car and not fix it until it falls apart. He also used warranties and had dealerships take care of things. Have dealerships and warranties changed all that much? I don’t know. But my dad is dead-set against them. He’s also dead-set against purchasing new cars and will only settle for cheap, used, and sometimes barely running. He also doesn’t know when to let go.
So, it was never zen and calm concerning my dad and cars. Jobs that should take a few minutes, to a few hours, to one day would last months. He’d curse and lose his temper, on the car and on you, and for the most part it was pretty much a living hell working on cars with him. There were a few incidents that were memorable and nice and I am extremely grateful to know how to check and fill liquids under the bonnet and check the air pressure in my tires or to change my own tires and fuses and wieldshield wipers. However, working on cars, or trying to restore them is not my thing at all. I detest it, and sadly to say, this is really why.
He even had two classic cars, in our garage, with intentions to restore them. A 30s Model A and a 1947 Ford. They’ve always been in my memory, supplying space in our double garage, much to my mothers chagrin. Well, it was really just the chassis of the Model A in the right bay, all painted black with beautiful acid green wheel wells, while the body sat rusting in our backyard. A few years ago he gave the entire Model A away to his maternal uncle, who incidentally had it completely restored in six months.
The ’47 is because it ‘s my dad’s birth year and his dad liked Ford’s. Dad did have it painted maroon (he does love reds) and had the headliner, in grey, put in, and the seats recovered in the same shade of grey. I know he’d drive it around the block on occasion, testing engine things, and he and grandpa would work on it together when he and grandma were down for visits. No one else was ever allowed to touch it but the two of them.
However, my dad has issues with cars, which I did hit on. In my twenties, I offered to help dad with the ’47 because I thought it meant so much to him. But he only spat in my face of how I couldn’t possibly know what I was doing and that he wouldn’t let me near it because I’d just steal it and wreck it. It wasn’t so much his words that stung me because they were quite illogical and ridiculous, but because of the venom and hate behind them. I found out after that incident, that when his father had died, some 12 years earlier, that he had taken his grief out on the car and tore out everything the two of them had worked on together. Had I know n that I would have never mentioned the ’47. I mean no wonder he’s so angsty about that car. It was something he hoped father and son could finish together and then his dad went and died. But no one had ever told me those details.
Moving on though, there was also a red ’71 International truck that had belonged to my mothers father, and when I was young my grandmother gave it to my dad, which was cool because he went around with my mom’s dad in it to the woods on occasion. We used it to go to the woods, but it was a pretty terrible truck. Always getting the back end stuck in the mud, things going wrong with it and apparently it was difficult to find International parts. It was, however, my first vehicle. I liked driving it to high school, loaded with all sorts of chainsaws, pick axes, and other implements for camping, fishing, hunting, and tree cutting that would have also taken out my entire school; back before country po-dunk schools cared about such things.
But, going to classic car shows is a joy for me, which is because of my dad. If there were more than three classic cars parked somewhere, we’d stop to look at them, otherwise you’d hear, “That’s a 19– insert make and model proceeded by, blahblahblah fins, blahblahblah they only made so many, or blahblahblah we had one like that.” I only say ‘blahblahblah’ not because it was boring to me, but because I can’t actually remember half of what he said. There’s so many cars between 1950 and 1974 (which is his time-line specialty) that I couldn’t ever keep up, but it was still comforting to hear, none-the-less.
So, a local antique store downtown was hosting a classic car show competition this past Saturday. I told my dad and sister about it, but dad is the only one who wanted to go with me. As far as the cars go, I’ve seen better, more interesting cars at other shows. I’m not even counting the best and largest car show that we’ve been to, on multiple occasions, which is held every summer in Petit Jean, Arkansas (which they pronounce ‘petty jeen ‘ as opposed to the original French of ‘peh-tee-ht jhAn’); that show has just about every car ever made for show, from the beginnings to the early 80s, including concept and rare cars.
It’s not that these cars weren’t lovely in their own rights, it’s just that they were all the same. Fairly similar trucks with only a few different makes, the same muscle cars just in different years, and numerous Bel-Airs. Apparently my town is very limited in their vision, as in they all like the same exact things over and over again. Just a wee bit boring, to be honest. But some of the paint jobs were pretty, and that blue station wagon in the first photo must have been nothing more than a busted out shell that needed a full restoration, because the owners build the interior from plywood, which was kind of interesting as its not something you see.
I suppose the day held other things for me at that car show. For one these two guys were there showing off and selling antique and retro bicycles. While I do know how to ride a bike, I’m not big into cycling or even bicycles, but they were far and wide the most interesting items at that show and I just found the details so interesting. So, we’ll look at those now before moving on, right?
The other, apparently was my old school crush, Eric Jamison. I generally don’t put people’s full names in my blog, but I think that everyone from here to China knew that I thought he was pretty. It’s nothing against him personally, but I never wanted to date him. I just liked the look of him and doing the whole middle and high school fan girling thing was fun for me. He was never mean, to my face at least, which was nice. I do find it weird though that he’s friends with everyone on Facebook, including my own older sister, except me!
Or that one Christmas season, a few years ago, that he parked his wood cutting business in an empty lot down from my house. It’s not my fault that my bedroom window had a perfect view of the spot (I didn’t watch him or anything, it’s just really? You have to park yourself right outside of the window that’s next to my bed!? Not that he knew that particularly.) It’s just that after that, he acted like I was stalking him or something weird. No more friendly nods if he saw me out and about, but rather a frightened face and a step or two back. Perhaps it’s that I kept driving by him for those two weeks while he was in that lot, and he figured I was just crazy? Not sure why since he knew full well that it was my house at the top of the hill. He even spent many nights in the basement, when we had a coffee house down there. I’m sure a friend or family member offered the the use of the lot for free or something, but you can’t get all weird when you suddenly end up on my turf, dude. This is my street and I need to drive by your business, like I did before you were here, to run errands and see friends.
He’s married now. The Sister knows all about it since they’re FB friends and all. I suppose he feels safe now? Which makes me laugh because he was never unsafe! But he showed up at our yard sale that we had back in April. Perhaps seeing that I still live here, and not assuming I’d left home like everyone else our age could have played a starring role in, “Hey, I guess she wasn’t stalking me that one time…” But he was friendly, as if those weird years of him having odd fancies, never happened.
Fast forward to the car show and he’s there. I’m trying to take a photo of the blue station wagon and I hear, “Hey, Sarah.”, I turn and he’s smiling warmly at me. It was a nice, friendly smile. I’m not saying he suddenly loves me or anything, I simply mean it’s different than when we were teenagers or in our twenties, because of course we are not those people anymore. We’re pushing 40. It was a smile of a man who doesn’t have any teen boy hang-ups regarding girls of his past or what people might think. It was nice, like he saw me as a real person. That sounds weird. In high school he saw me as a person too, but things like that are different. He didn’t see me as a girl, because I wasn’t a girl he’d want to date, but he saw me as a fellow classmate, probably akin to a boy, someone he could randomly talk to in a friendly manner though we were in separate groups of friends. Now, I’m just a girl he knows and there are no problems, is what I mean.
When dad and I left, we walked through the same line of cars where we’d entered to make it to the railroad tracks, and beyond to our car. We were going to have to pass Eric and his wife. You can’t just not do a friendly nod and acknowledgement, at least not here in the south, it would be beyond rude. So, I turned my head towards him to nod goodbye and he smiled that same smile again, so I smiled back this time (again, because how rude would that be to not reciprocate a friendly smile? The first time, I was just taken aback, so I didn’t). The first meeting, I didn’t realize that the girl standing beside him wanting to take a photo of the same station wagon was his wife (I’m assuming it was, because The Sister told me she had wild colored hair and tattoos) , but I did a friendly nod towards her then, and again when I was leaving. Both times it looked like she was sucking lemons. Yikes! Seriously it’s OK, I don’t want your man. Honestly.