When was the last time you rode the bus? Is that something that hot rodders do anymore? Yes. Maybe? Maybe your hot rod is in a million pieces in your garage, or maybe it’s hard to find parking at the place you are heading towards. When you’re in the building stage—or the dreaming stage—the bus isn’t a bad way to fly.
On a brisk spring night, I slipped out of the house and headed towards the corner of Fulton and Clayton. Before I left, I did exactly what our hot rodding forefathers would have done—I grabbed a magazine from the stack and slid it into my jacket pocket.
And, when the bus doors opened, I climbed aboard.
Sitting in a blue plastic seat near the rear of the bus, I felt the mechanical beast lurch forward. The streets, now painted hues of blue and gray in the early evening light, blurred through the partially opened windows. Music from a portable speaker filled the bus as we passed Civic Center. Voices from all sides chattered, some fast, some slow. There’s no doubt about it—the weekend is right around the corner.
I’m watching. I’m listening. I’m thinking—and then I miss my stop. And then I miss the next one. I don’t panic (too much). I assess my options. Next thing I know, I’m on the train deep beneath the streets. I get a text from my friend. “Where u?” he asks.
I answer, and it’s too late. Or is it? I’m too far into my research and I don’t know if I can find a way out. The Golden Rod. But what about the next stop? A hot rod radio for $25.00. The savings are through the roof, but I need to get to the right place. How to Form a Club. I have always wondered, but not right now.
The struggle continues. The magazine keeps getting better. I keep running out of time. And, by the time I arrive at my destination, my friends only have one question. “Where were you?” they ask.
I don’t have a good answer for them. Instead, I unbutton my jacket and show them in inside pocket. Rodding and Re-Styling, February 1956. They nod. They smile. And then the night begins.