Thanks for the kind comments, all. Shame on you for reading this at work anyway! This is a (true) story not to be tossed down like a shot of rotgut whiskey, but rather, rolled around on the palate like a fine wine and savored to get the full effect (although I am honored to have all of you read it in any context!) I'm truly sorry about the lack of pix, but as I explained earlier, there are none. Now for the good news.....when we "cross over" to part 2, there will be more pix than Carter's has little pills.....I promise!
Again thanks all for reading and being patient; writing quickly is like reading quickly, you don't get the same effect and I don't want to rush the stroll down Memory Lane lest I omit some of the "good stuff", so please bear with me.
I had carefully crafted the next installment early this morning (about 1:00 am), and was reading back through and editing, about 2 minutes from "submit reply" when....
Power failure! Lights out, Goodnight Irene!
Power was off for about an hour, no Save To Hard Drive here!
I'll have to try to reconstruct tonight, if time allows.
It was going so well.......
The summer had gone quickly; much too quickly for me, and it was time to leave for tech school, an 18-month AMT school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This was around the middle of August, I believe. I loaded up as many tools and spare Mopar parts as I could fit in the trunk; nuts, bolts, gaskets, etc; stuff I'd never use but I took it anyway. I was following my dad, who was driving his big Jimmy half-ton pickup with the big stuff.The Duster actually got fairly decent highway mileage (for that era), although that was not a huge concern; gas had not hit a dollar a gallon yet. You could still buy leaded premium!
I was a little concerned, as this was my first real road trip in the car; not to worry! It ran and drove beautifully. I'd put on a new Walker dual 2 1/4 exhaust through Turbo Hush Thrush cans and reinstalled the original bullet tips; the motor still growled plenty but it was a bit more civilized finally ;no more eye-popper pounding headaches and ringing ears! We made St. Louis uneventfully the first day and stayed overnight at my uncle's house.
The next day we finished the trip, also without a hitch. When we left Chicago I was nervously scanning the gauges all the time, ear cocked for the slightest sound out-of-sorts. The second day I relaxed, finally, and enjoyed the ride. When we hit the Will Rogers turnpike Dad kicked it into high gear and smoked along about eighty, (this was in the Carter-era when 55 meant 55!) with me "drafting" right on his tail. The Red Rocket fell into a kind of groove; the motor thrumming out it's muscle melody, wind in my face, groovin' to Robin Trower and Jeff Beck...that was a ride that coulda gone on forever, but all good things must come to an end, and so it did.....
Tulsa, Oklahoma. Hot, dry, dusty and flat. We stayed in a motel that first night, then the next day went down to the school and got me all registered. Placement hooked me up with some student housing (a mobile home, for cryin' out loud; I was feeling more like a redneck every day!) and a "phantom" roommate, who had not yet shown up. With that all taken care of, we drove out to the fancy new digs and unloaded. We went and got a bite for lunch, then Dad drove off into the sunset.
I spent an hour or so getting unpacked, then walked outside to view the surroundings. Nothing had changed; it was still hot, dry, dusty and flat. The sun was hanging up in the sky like this blazing blowtorch; I could hear half a hundred air conditioners humming; having a battle of the bands with the locusts (who won; they were louder when they put their insipid little minds to it) and cars moving past on the road; other than that was like the Twilight Zone; no wind and no people! I suppose they were all inside in the AC doing what trailer people do best (?)
This was not a student-only MHP; in fact most of the people living there were just ordinary....well, hillbillies. "Trailer trash", if you will, for lack of a better word. Now don't get me wrong; lots of the people in that MHP would probably give you the shirt off their back if you needed it; that's just the way they were. But I really didn't associate much with the ones who weren't students; there just wasn't time.
Being a student (cheap) on a fixed budget (cheap) with no job yet (cheap) I chose to forego the AC and opened all the windows, hoping for a wisp of a breeze; no such luck! You hear stories about illegal immigrants dying in a boxcar, well baby, I had my very own boxcar! It was like the hothouse in "CoolHand Luke"! Three hours and I was already lonesome and homesick and bored; I had no phone yet, and didn't know where any pay phones were anyway. It was hotter than the bore of an M-16 in a fire-fight and I decided to go find a hamburger and later, a pay phone (to call my girl back home.)
Now this trailer park....er....MHP, was about two miles from the middle of nowhere. I had to drive several miles to get to anything resembling civilization. The funny thing was, there was a four-lane paved road leading there! With nobody on it! It seemed like a good place to romp on it.
I walked out onto the porch of the trai...er, Mobile Home, and the sun was just hanging there, this huge pumpkin-orange orb in a cloudless, windless sky. Hot as the inside of the MH was, the heat outside was like a wall you ran into; it took effort just to move into it. The seats of Red Ryder were so hot I had to throw a blanket on them; even at six in the evening. I rolled down all the windows and popped the rears open (one of the cool features about a Duster; rear windows that work like vents), and headed out for a burger.
Naturally, I romped on it. Even in the sizzling heat she ran like a fresh quarterhorse. This was more like it! At seventy, the wind moving through the car felt like a cold shower. I pulled into this drive-in restaurant and ordered up dinner, enjoying the AC indoors. These two guys in a nice Z-28 pulled up and were admiring the Rocket outside before coming in. They asked me if that was my car (duh, I'm the only one in here.......) and we started talking cars. I told 'em I was new to town, and they're like; "Duuude! You've gotta go down on XXXXXX street! Every weekend there's like this unofficial car show; some really cool stuff!" Now I'll be hog-tied if I can remember the name of that street; maybe some Tulsans out there can jog my memory. Anyway, I made a mental note of it, thanked them and finished my burger.
Right outside, as luck would have it, was a pay phone. Let me tell ya, a quarter didn't get you very far even then, despite what all the old-timers blowing smoke tell you! I called my sweetie but ran out of quarters much too soon, and found myself alone again, feeling all the worse. Well, the best thing when you're feeling blue is to...
Romp on it.
The sun was down below the horizon now, the light rapidly dying and the sweet smell of freshly-mown grass came skating in on the cooler night air. Robin Trower was goin' on and on about some funky Bridge of Sighs and the little motor was talkin' to me, daring me to put my foot in it and snarling at me when I did, and life was just a little bit OK again.
Cap, I'll have to say that you have me officially hooked. I have NEVER read prose such as this on a motorhead site. One of these days when you're through I might relate some of my misspent youth, but quite frankly my writing style can't compare to yours and I don't want to embarass myself.. KEEP IT COMING!!!
Thanks, all of you. Especially for enduring my tongue-in-cheek remarks about fine wine and reading posts at work! (I was kidding......sometimes my sense of humor catches folks off-guard)
A few times early on I thought about just chuckin' the whole thing, then you guys go and post something nice and I feel obligated to continue. Now I couldn't stop if I tried....at least until the story is all out! I don't mean to ramble like I do, but the words just come a-rollin' out and won't stop!
I do appreciate the comments...they fuel the passion. Thanx again :salut:
The boredom and loneliness was rapidly replaced with a whirlwind of frantic activity come Monday. Classes began, and we started off swimming in the deep end right from the get-go. I met my roommate; I'll call him "Al". Al was a rather out-of-shape, dumpy individual with more pimples than a prom dance. He rather resembled a pizza perched on top of a giant ground sloth. He was not the sharpest tool in the shed; in fact, you'd be hard-pressed to draw blood with this guy! His level of intelligence was fitting with the ground sloth image as well; more on this later. He was a nice guy and all, but.....
I gave him half the MH; I took the other half (with the "master bedroom"....if there IS such a thing in a MH!) First come, first served, right? I was there first so I got dibs. $200.00 a month rent; we split it down the middle. Of course, neither of us had a job, so it didn't mean diddly squat anyway. I'd payed my 1st month's rent and the security deposit, so he owed me a hundred bucks. That gave me about 30 days to find a job.
School was tough. Eight hours a day, half classroom and the other half shop. Homework every night. Every Friday was "quiz day"....where everything you had learned that week was put to the test. Each section was either 2 or 4 weeks long, with a final exam at the end of each section. You needed a 70% or better on both the quizzes and test to move on to the next section, or you were doomed to repeat it. This put an enormous amount of pressure on all of us; Fridays became the do-or-die day for all of us, especially on the Big Test Friday.
Naturally, this made me want to run out and find a job to fill my nano-seconds of not having something to do, but my little 340 was a thirsty little bugger and my bank account was dwindling fast, so reluctantly I started looking.
Within the first week of class I hooked up with a bunch of car guys. One of them was rooming in the spare bedroom of a little old lady with lots of house rules that he didn't think a hell of a lot of, and bunking on our sofa sounded better to him than abiding by the rules (such as; light out by 10:00pm, no music, etc). Splitting the rent three ways sounded OK to us as well. I'll call this guy "Dave". Dave was nuts; no two ways about it. He drove a nice old aqua-green '68 Impala that had no rust or anything, 327 2bbl. Al bought himself a car as well; it was a big old 4-door boat; a Chevy Caprice, I think. Sometimes we'd all leave for school at the same time; we'd be jinking and feinting on that 4-lane ribbon of concrete; then I'd get bored with it and wail on the little motor and it was like, "See ya!"
I found a job first; some dinky little grocery store. My impression of the manager was immediately that he was a bitter little toad that hated life and the fact that he was managing a grocery store staffed by youthful kids that had no intentions of making the same mistake. He barked out orders like Hitler's little love child and I took an immediate dislike to him. But a job was a job, and I kept my mouth shut and my opinions to myself.
If memory served me correctly, I started work on a Wednesday evening; after school. The store closed at nine, by the time we cleaned up and closed it was ten; do the math! That left about 2 hours to drive home, shove something in the ol' pie-hole, and hit the books with a vengeance. I worked Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; I'd done well on the quiz Friday, and after work that evening, Dave, Al and I decided to have a few beers and relax......I had to work Saturday as well.
Except Dave had been busy drinking most of the beers while I was working (which sorta pissed me off, since I'd bought it) but hey, what're roomies for, if not to take your stuff? So after a couple beers, I realized we were on "empty" and I volunteered to light off the rocket and orbit myself down to the U-Totem and pick up another 12. Now, the U-Totem was on Pine, down the street from the school, which was several miles away. This left me no option but to romp on it, as the traffic at 10:00 was non-existant. What a cruise! It was late September, the damp, cool night air felt good for the soul, the car was running like a raped ape; what more could one want? I made the U-Totem in record time, picked up a twelve of the nasty 3.2 swill that Okies passed off as beer in convenience stores (you could only buy "real" beer (5%) in "drinking establishments" or liquor stores) and headed home, Jeff Beck doin' the Freeway Jam from the back seat. The little minx was teasing me again, taunting me to drop the hammer. I didn't need to be coaxed. I turned left onto Mingo and let the horses run free!
And run they did, probably leaving a good 6 feet of rubber hoofprints in their wake. I throttled 'er back about 65 and leaned back in the seat, my left hand loosely gripping the wheel, and my right palm draped over the trembling Hurst, my fingers feeling where the suede had worn through to the cool metal underneath. This was not a car, this was a living, breathing thing I had created and it was talking to me, singing Songs Of Thunder and responding to the slightest pressure of my right toes the way a champion racehorse responds to it's jockey; we were in tune, baby, carrying on a conversation in Metalspeak and she was hanging on my every word. There was not a better car in the world; ever. I was sure of it!
What a great story....That last entry really caught the essence of a young man(or old in my case) and his mopar. I have increased my visits to this page just to see if you have posted another piece of the pie. I know it's going to taste good when it's finished. Thanks for sharing too!
Journey's End In the days we sweat it out on the streets of runaway American dreams//At night we drive through mansions of of glory in suicide machines Bruce Springsteen; Born To Run
Here was the turnoff into the MHP. I down shifted to third, and then the minx whispered in my ear;
"You don't have to go back just yet..."
Well, I was thinking; the guys are waiting....
The two beers spoke up; " They drank up your beers. Let 'em wait!"
Two Beers had a point. Still....
"It's a cool September night. You worked hard today. What's your hurry?" taunted the li'l red minx.
Two Beers chimed in; "Romp on it!"
Uhh...if you insist.....
I blew by the MHP at 60 and found fourth again. Or shall I say, it found me.
A short distance ahead, Mingo narrowed from 4 lanes to two. I eased over into the left lane. A little further on down was in intersection with another 2 lane highway. I thought about hanging a Leroy (left) at the intersection, and then the minx spoke up again;
"Why don't you check out what's straight ahead?"
That was a kind of stupid question for a li'l red minx, or anybody else to be asking; what lay ahead was a two-lane gravel road that went to..... who knows where?
"No sense of adventure?" taunted Two Beers.
Shut your pie-hole. I'll go where I damn well please.
I went straight.
This tendancy was to rear it's ugly head again recently when I resumed riding street bikes. It's like mind-control; bending spoons and whatnot. You see the intersection, your conscious mind says "We turn left here, to go home" and the bike says "The hell you say!" and blows right on through and you wind up in lower North Fork, Idaho when all you were doing was going for a quick ride.
Try explaining THAT to your wife.
Anyway, it was obvious the minx was driving now, not me. Now, class, does anyone know what happens when tarmac meets gravel at 65 mph?
Two Beers spoke up from the back of the class; "Loss of traction?"
Teacher; "EXCESSIVE loss of traction"
Ever been on a Tilt-A-Whirl? Well, that's kinda like what I was feeling......frantically I countersteered the fishtailing rearend; first one way, then the other. The minx was nowhere to be found; She'd punched the "EJECT" button and I was driving again. Two Beers was uncharacteristically quiet. Bumps, jars, a large crunching sound like a pile of books dropped on concrete, and then....
.....You were too fast to live; too young to die, Bye Bye. Eagles, On The Border
Gradually, like waking up on a Saturday morning after sleeping in, I became aware of my surroundings. I don't really think I was out, perhaps just in shock? Anyway, the first thing I noticed was that I was alive and not in a lot of pain. That was a Good Thing. The second thing I noticed was that I couldn't see; my glasses were gone. It was unearthly quiet; like when you're sitting in the woods, and suddenly you become aware of a cacauphony of noises in the background that were really there all along. I became aware of the hissing of a ruptured radiator; mortally skewered like a jousting knight who has just received his comeuppance. I could smell the sweet smell of glycol and taste it in the steam that drifted in through the driver's window, which had disappeared as if by magic. Hell, I could see the steam in the glare from the one remaining headlight, which glared out at the treetops in a fantastic absurd angle; a mortally wounded cyclops on it's deathbed. I reached over and switched off the light switch.
The door didn't open at first. Once, twice, three times with my shoulder, and it grudgingly popped open. Gingerly, I unbuckled the lap belt and stepped out of the car.
The engine was pinging and ticking, shedding the heat from it's death-gauntlet like a mortally wounded animal, green blood pooling beneath it. In the full moon's light I could see the huge buckle in the hood, the scoop I'd labored so hard on cracked and peeled back. It was then I noticed the telephone pole leaning crazily to one side, wires drooping low like the clothesline of a fat man, loaded with wet laundry. Things were not looking so hot at the moment.
I reached back inside and rummaged around in the glovebox for my flashlight. Finding it, I switched it on and searched for my glasses. I finally found them, twisted and bent, between the passenger door and the seat, on the floor. They'd hit the windshield and cracked it on the way to their new burrow. I twisted and bent them enough to make them somewhat fit. Then I surveyed the damage.
It was a mortal wound; you could just tell. Like in the movies when the medic tells the sarge; "Aw, it's just a scratch...you'll be up and around in no time!"
You can't bullshit the old Sarge. "Tell my wife....(whatever) and hug little Timmy for me......." Then he sighs, closes his eyes and rolls his head. You couldn't bullshit me either. If this was a quarterhorse, I'd be tenderly pressing the muzzle of my .44 against her head. They shoot horses, don't they?
I spied the unopened Refreshments in the back seat. Well, they were unopened. I sat down in the ditch on the wet, dewy grass and popped one open.
Two Beers appeared out of nowhere. "Hell of a thing, eh?"
Shove off, mate.
Alone again, I polished off the beer, chucked the can in the ditch and opened another. And then I did what any other full-grown, testosterone-stoked, musclecar-building Sonofabiscuitmaker would do.....I broke down and sobbed like a freakin' baby.
I can't wait for the next installment of "As the Wheel Spins". That's a heartbreaking story you just told. I've been lucky enough to never wreck one of my cars (although the ex wife was another story, she would total one about every three years. Thank God that they were all just "cars" ). Keep it coming Cap!!
CaptainKirk, If I were you, I would type them up in word or wordpad, and cut and paste them so you have a saved copy on your PC. That way if something happens like this, it is not much effort to cut and paste it again. Just a suggestion.
I'm open to suggestions. I'm going to try a test tonight where I'll write something up in Word and attach it. My only reservation is that some people might not have Word, therefore might not be able to open it. I'll try it and we can see what happens.
Just type it in any text editor, save it. then while it is open, right click, and pick "select all". It should highlight everything you typed, and then right click again, and choose copy. Then come here, and start a new reply, click on where you would normally type your story, and right click again... then choose paste, and it will transfer everything you typed in the text editor. Hope this helps.