Westward Motion

Westward Motion

I usually write sitting in a chair. Now that chair is gone. In about a half hour, the same guy is coming back to take the desk too. The closets are empty, the pantry is bare and even the junk drawers have been completely cleared out. A stack of plastic tubs, cardboard boxes and milk crates peer over my shoulder as I write. Things are getting pretty hectic here at The Jalopy Journal’s Midwestern outpost. This time it’s not without explanation.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be walking across the stage as a graduate of the University of Missouri. For the past four years, the fine folks in the Journalism School have taught me how to write, research, edit, check facts, take photos, shoot videos and assemble information in an unbiased fashion for public consumption. When I first came to Missouri from Michigan in the fall of 2011, I didn’t know much about any of that. But I did know one thing — I wanted to write about hot rods. What was there to worry about? The editor-in-chief of The Jalopy Journal recommended the place, so it had to be good.

After two years of coursework, I had learned a pretty substantial amount. My writing was deemed publishable by the school newspaper, and they even liked some of my photography. There I wrote about campus charities, student personalities and a line or two about historic buildings. College stuff.

When I joined the staff here at The Jalopy Journal, all that changed. I now had the opportunity to write about what I loved. Week in and week out, I was able to sift through my mind (and ever-growing magazine collection) for things that interested both you and me. Much like the early hot rodders out on the dry lakes, I used these articles as test beds for my writing. If I learned something new in class about structure, description, pacing or voice, I couldn’t help but to put it to work on the pages of the Journal. Sometimes I broke rods and burned pistons, but other times the tuning was just right and the article turned out better than expected.

Having the opportunity to write a story each week gave me a stronger sense of purpose. I wasn’t just a student — I was a student and a journalist. When the schoolwork wore me down, as it often did, I’d take a breather and check out what was happening on the H.A.M.B. It wasn’t procrastination, I’d tell myself. I was just conducting research for the next article.

I surrounded myself with as much hot rodding as I could. The walls of my dorm and apartments were covered with images of rods and customs. My favorite is pictured above. It’s a great shot of a young Gary Hendrickson and his ‘T’ on a beach somewhere. Every time I walk by, he tips his hat in greeting. “Hello! Good morning!? By the time you read this, Mr. Hendrickson and his ‘T’ will be packed away.

Back while I was in high school, an editor gave me some excellent advice, “Above all else, put up with the bullshit and play the game…Don’t ever get out of the car unless you know where you are.?

I’m excited to say that I’ll be getting out of the car in South San Francisco as a member of the staff at The Rodder’s Journal. Starting at the end of the month, I’ll be the Social Media Coordinator and Editorial Assistant. As an added bonus, I still get to write my weekly story on TJJ. Look for me both here and there.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for helping me along the way. Your input makes writing all the more meaningful. You guys are the absolute best. Really.

That’s all for now. Look for some fresh Jalopy Journal coverage from the Bay Area. I’m excited for the start of the next chapter.

-Joey Ukrop

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