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A Little Spin: A Hot Rod (Short) Story

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by RustyRedRam, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. RustyRedRam
    Joined: Jan 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,127


    You'll have to wade through a little background to get to the heart of the story. And the pictures. I apologize for not knowing how to insert them into the body of the post. So as you read along just look down and the photos should be in chronological order.

    I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to have two old cars as daily drivers. I usually alternate weekly between my '39 Dodge tudor sedan. It's powered by an old '55 Super Red Ram hemi backed up to a Torqueflite transmission. The seats are covered in Army blankets, my shift knob is an old glass doorknob from my best friend's home in New Orleans that I took off the front door before we left 3 days before Katrina washed the house away. The cowl vent knob is a cold water faucet handle from the same house. If you have been anywhere around California, there's a good chance you have seen it. I mean, I drive the piss out of it. Or I'll drive my '56 Ford wagon. It's a one owner car that I got from a lady who taught with my dad. Powered by a mildly rebuilt 312, it scoots along just fine. Granted a fun little scoot that rides like a Cadillac, but I get a bit more enjoyment out of the '39. Both cars have proven to be extremely reliable. They both served as transportation throughout my commute to university and have provided me buy in and "street cred" with my students. But I'm digressing.

    I was having an incredibly shitty week at work. As a mandated reporter I'm required by law to report to the Dept. of Family and Child Services if I suspect abuse, molestation, rape, or that a student may cause self harm. It's the downside to being a teacher. Unfortunately, I had to make two reports that week, and it's never fun. In addition, I was reprimanded because during an audit a red flag was signaled when multiple students were found to have missed all of their classes for the day. Well, except mine. Apparently my students will come to my class to learn about the joys of the English language, read literature, and suffer many hand cramps through the torturous act of essay writing.

    Usually when I have a bad day at work I hop on my bike, an 80 Harley Shovelhead sitting on a rigid frame that was built by Mendy Fry's dad and ridden in the Fremont area. I got home from work on Friday, rolled the bike out of the garage and kicked. Full of compression, it kicked back. I put all 145 pounds of my drained body into it and kicked again. Like a tiger, the bike roared to life. I grab my jacket and take off. Luckily we had a minimum day so I would be able to milk about 5 hours of sunlit riding. Just as my mind wandered, the bike wandered all around Southern California. Up and down PCH I rode; inhaling the sweet, salty ocean breeze in hopes of clearing my mind. Through parts of downtown LA looking at the "high rises", around Pasadena and South Pasadena gazing at the Craftsmen, Victorian, and Spanish homes and recalling what it was like to live in a time where people took pride in what they built.

    I pull the bike into the driveway that evening and walk into my house feeling a little unfulfilled. Something is wrong. Usually, a ride like this has my mind set back to normal. Not today. I go to bed and find my eyes wandering back and forth across the ceiling. I listen to life go on outside. Cars pass by. Intoxicated neighbors play pool, discussing the finer points of god knows what. I glance at my clock. 1am. I can't sleep. My mind is still recalling the events from the past week. I know what must be done.

    The pictures tell part of the story. My words fill in the rest. I have two options. My '39 with steering that is looser than Tiger Wood's morals. But fun as hell to drive. My '56 with tight steering, but a chopped steering wheel with a brody knob. Still fun to drive. My mind is made up. I'll take the good steering. Especially since it is supposed to rain over the weekend. I know that I'm going for a drive. Where, how far, how long remains as mysterious as why a dog chases his own tail.

    I fire up the wagon, positive that I will have startled my neighbors from their peaceful slumber. And raised the eyebrows of my neighbors still lurking in the shadows of the night. I look at the gas gauge. The tank is full. Good, at 15 miles to a gallon, I can go some distance before needed to refill. I find myself on the 60 freeway blasting through downtown LA and connecting to the 101. Maybe I'll go watch the sunrise in Santa Barbara.

    Sure enough I'm in Santa Barbara as the sun rises. My mind still isn't clear. I keep going. I gas up and keep heading North. I soon realize that I'm in San Luis Obispo and I'm a bit hungry. I grab a quick bite to eat and some more gas for the wagon. Call it OCD, but I like to keep the car closer to full as opposed to empty. Either OCD or I just don't want to be stranded on the side of the road, out of gas. Before I know it, I have pulled over to look at the elephant seals sunning themselves on the beach in Cambria. I know where this trip is heading. I know that deep down my foot will stay glued to the floor until I end up in Big Sur. There's something about the area that brings me peace. Maybe it's the redwoods. Maybe the ocean crashing on the shore. Maybe it's a bit of both.

    I begin my climb up PCH into Big Sur. Maybe subliminally I knew I was coming this far and so I brought the car with the better steering box. Maybe I just wanted to take the wagon. Either way, I find that every time I stop to watch the waves crash, smell the crisp air, or just stretch I find the previous week's problems melt into oblivion.

    Sure enough, I spent time in the back of the wagon listening to the rain fall. The drops hitting the metal roof serenade and carry me to a world where I have nothing to worry about. I'm surrounded by nature. If lightening were to strike and fell a tree on my car, there would be nothing I could do. Maybe it's that realization that puts me at ease. Or maybe it's the fact that I just drove over 300 miles in an old car and through the music that a flat tappet cam and dual exhaust creates I was able to find clarity to get me though another stretch of life.

    I wish as I drove home in the fog and mist that my camera could have captured to splendor of a full moon smiling down on the car. But it didn't. That'll be for another adventure.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 21, 2010
  2. Royalshifter
    Joined: May 29, 2005
    Posts: 15,552

    from California

    With all the frustrations.....the world is a very cool thing.
  3. RustyRedRam
    Joined: Jan 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,127


    Mark-- it is a very cool thing. Even cooler through the window and behind the wheel of an old car.
  4. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 19,649

    from Austin, TX
    Staff Member

    Beautifully written Matt... I'm envious of the talent... and the cars. Your Dodge sedan has been a pretty big inspiration to me.

  5. I wish I could write like that. It's almost as if I was riding shotgun.:)
  6. harrington
    Joined: Jul 22, 2009
    Posts: 421

    from Indiana

    Right you are Skip, but sometimes I do have to remind myself.

    Great story!
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
  7. NoSurf
    Joined: Jul 26, 2002
    Posts: 4,151


    Very cool read.

    Thanks for taking the time to write it and post it here.
  8. 100% Matt
    Joined: Aug 7, 2006
    Posts: 2,598

    100% Matt

    As I am sitting here at work confined to the dispatch/alarm room I am thankful to have read your story today. There is nothing more theraputic to me than a drive in an old car
  9. Hodad
    Joined: Dec 26, 2001
    Posts: 250


    great story and pictures. I can relate. Getting out and looking at the sky.. a good sunset.. for me fishing pre dawn on my favorite beach.. blasting around the neigborhood in my Model A Tudor.. are all forms of personal thereapy that help with the parts of life you can't control. Instead of Harley Davidson though.. I ride Puch Maxi ..LOL
  10. wetatt4u
    Joined: Nov 4, 2006
    Posts: 2,146


    Their is so much to be thankful for,

    and your story just helped me get through the rest of my work day,

    so thank you...

    Living on the east coast ,

    I'ved always wanted to see the red woods,

    Maybe one of theses days........

    I know that I just have to DO IT .....Some day soon!

    Thanks again for the story and I love the cars, But the shovel is super nice...
  11. RustyRedRam
    Joined: Jan 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,127


    That's exactly what I was going for . . .
  12. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?

    Man, I gotta say that you couldn't have picked a more beautiful stretch of road to get your head together on. I've done that trip three times in the Plymouth, (my long traveled '48) and had the same feelings. The best was in 2006, when my then new girlfriend decided to ride along. Talk about a good time! To see highway 1 through the eyes of someone has just recently come from a country so different than ours, (HONG KONG), and with the double whammy of seeing it through sixty year old windows,it was an experience I can't begin to describe. We went from San Deigo to Port Angeles on that trip and saw it all. I might ad that two months later, she flew back up to WA and road all the way back with me as well....
    Joined: Nov 29, 2007
    Posts: 497


    amazing story and pictures

    there is nothing like taking a drive in a old car to clear the mind
  14. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,447


    Nothing better than an endless cruise to who knows where...with the stereo belting out some tuneage and listening to the engine old car can make the world right again...

    Nice job, RRR...

  15. RustyRedRam
    Joined: Jan 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,127


    Thanks for the kinds words everyone, they have put a much needed smile on my face. I have been very reluctant to share my writing; I guess it's the curse of being a self-conscious writer. I'm glad that my use of imagery has been successful and that people can relate to the story, or just enjoy living vicariously through it. Maybe I'll start sharing some more . . . .

    Joined: Nov 29, 2007
    Posts: 497


    please do
  17. During Monterey week, we drove that coast highway and it is truly beautiful. Great story and your talent is in the sharing.
  18. McFly
    Joined: Oct 10, 2001
    Posts: 1,166


    That was a great read. Thanks for sharing. I'm a stones throw from Whittier and I have never seen your cars. I will keep an eye out for ya!
  19. cool story. nothing like road time for clearing the mind.
  20. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,848

    from Zoar, Ohio

    What a refreshing story. We all needed that! thanks!
  21. el Scotto
    Joined: Mar 3, 2004
    Posts: 4,357

    el Scotto
    from Tracy, CA

    I agree!! Thanks for story!

    I've been needing a roadster ride lately, maybe I can sneak it out sometime this weekend.

    I love Big Sur, too.
  22. Sir Woosh
    Joined: Dec 1, 2008
    Posts: 2,273

    Sir Woosh

    Thanks for sharing something so special.

    Just search the word "cruising" on here, and you'll find a bunch of threads. But I'll never need a therapist as long as I can cruise just like you described.

    The flat tappet music you mentioned falls right in place as well. When I'm out in the country on a two lane, the window goes down even if it's chilly. There's nothing monotone about the exhaust as it plays back to me off the hills and trees. The rise and fall of the rpm on the grades and the roar when speeding down a straight will always play on my top 10.

    I truly admire you being able to stick with your classic rides for every mile. I have to maintain and use newer wheels as a requirement to my career. But I'll never be spoiled by modern conveniences. I'd much rather be looking over the nose of my 55 Olds and know we are two old soles enjoying the beautiful part of this world still left intact.

    That shift knob and cowl handle rescue keeps a small part of that wonderful world of the past with you always. Great stuff to have.....
  23. RustyRedRam
    Joined: Jan 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,127


    Wow, glad this got revived! Thanks for all the compliments. I've got a few others in the works; I just need to finish 'em. This is the motivation that I needed.


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