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Monday Night Tales from the Dez - Doofus and Whiny Part 8

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by C9, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. Monday Night Tales from the Dez

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    Part 3:

    Part 4:

    Part 5:

    Part 6:

    Part 7

    Initial Intro:
    Go here for a little more info:

    Doofus and Whiny - Part 8, section A

    Tom’s run of strange luck continued unabated. Some good, some bad and lately, the unkindest cut of all. He got drafted.

    Getting drafted was happening to a lot of young guys around town. Least that’s the way it was for a while. Then we started noticing older guys were getting drafted. Guys like us, our age, in their late twenties, single or married with families. It seemed to make no difference and virtually no family was untouched. The war in Vietnam was affecting everybody.

    Tom wasn’t the only one looking over his shoulder. Although in Tom’s case, he probably should have been looking out for the mailman. We were, and every time something came that looked like it could have been from the government our heart rate shot up and the breathing got a little shallow. For us as well as for the girls.

    Tom got on a bus and headed for L.A. He was tested, got a physical and at the end of a long day, they released him. A few weeks later he was called up again. He got on a bus, headed for L.A. More testing, another long day and he was sent home.

    A couple of months went by and once again, the dreaded letter from the government was in the mailbox. Enough for Tom, he told us if they didn’t take him this time he was going to stay in L.A., join the Navy and get it over with.

    The third time was the charm. He went to L.A. and didn’t come home. We heard later that he was stuck on another bus and taken to Fort Ord, California for basic training. Well . . . at least now his worries were over. Then again, I suppose you could say his worries were just starting. If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.

    Funny part was, with the back and forth sales of the Big Dodge Tom still owned it. It was sitting out back at his folks house under a tarp. Living under a tarp got to be a way of life for the Dodge. It ‘d spent quite a bit of time covered up and sitting out back of the tune-up shop and now it was doing more of the same.

    Tom got to the end of his basic training ok and was scheduled for graduation. DeeDee and I drove up to Fort Ord in the Chrysler wagon. We figured it would be nice to see Tom off to wherever the Army was going to send him and figured too, since DeeDee’s folks couldn’t make it somebody from the family ought to be there.

    The really strange thing was, we had to go into the barracks and sign Tom out with the promise we would return him by a certain time. That was kind of weird. Neither DeeDee or I had ever signed for a person before. Not to mention the Sergeant at the desk, leaned around DeeDee, took a look at me and asked when I would be in the Army. I told him I wasn’t planning on it right now and would cross that bridge when it came to it. The Sarge just smiled.

    So DeeDee, Tom and I spent a nice weekend in Monterey, taking in some of the tourist sights and generally enjoying ourselves. I got to know Tom a little better. We’d never really sat down and talked. I say talked, but for me there was more listening than talking. I think Tom was just lonesome and had a lot of stored up stuff to pass on and most of it he passed on to DeeDee.

    Sunday morning came, we took Tom back to the base as promised and left for home.
    A nice little mini-vacation for us, a chance to get to know Tom a little better for me, but a bit sad for all us knowing he was headed overseas.

    Imagine our surprise when Tom showed up at the shop a couple of months later. We figured with his basic training out of the way, he’d get shipped out right away. The Army had other plans though. They sent him to the Light Equipment Operator school at Fort Ord for training in operating light equipment. Jeeps, Deuce & a half and the like. I guess the Army figured with his mechanical background he’d be perfect for operating jeeps and trucks. Maybe so. In our opinion it was a little like giving the bull the keys to the china shop.

    Tom was scheduled to ship out for Vietnam with the rest of his class, but his paperwork fell through the cracks. To top it off, instead of having him sit around Fort Ord for a couple of weeks, they gave him two weeks leave. The Army way I guess. We didn’t know that much about the Army, but from what we’d heard, a two week leave for a new guy was a rare thing.

    Tom, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, got off the base as soon as he could and headed for the bus station. Preferring to wait all night for a bus to Ventura if he had to. Better he felt, than hanging around and taking a chance on getting snagged up for some duty. Made sense to us, make hay while the sun shines and all that. At least he’d have a chance to square away some stuff at home that he should have taken care of before he went in.

    Living at home, his life had been pretty simple and all he really had to do was make a decision about the Big Dodge. A decision easily made. Whiny still wanted the Dodge, still had the money for it and what better home for it to go to?

    For Tom, he wanted to see his good old Dodge - as he called it - go to a good home. Someplace where it would be well taken care of. I don’t know if Tom ever realized it, but Whiny’s original intent for the Dodge was to mine it of the 413 engine and stick it in his 50 Ford coupe. The Big Dodge must have cast a spell over the both of them. Tom loved it and Whiny was beginning to. To the extent that all thoughts of making any major changes in it were soon cast aside.

    So the plan was, Tom would drive the Dodge for the weekend, deliver it to Whiny on Monday afternoon, spend the rest of the week with his folks and grab a bus for Fort Ord Saturday morning. He was due back Sunday afternoon. A good plan, one amenable to everyone. Course, like many plans, it had a small flaw. Nothing critical and nothing even thought about. Just one of those little things that happen while you’re wandering down the highway of life. In Tom’s case, a small bit of stupidity. Well . . . maybe a big chunk of stupidity, but that’s the way things go sometimes.

    Tom brought the Dodge by the shop a little in front of five o’clock which was our normal closing time and not too far from full on dark. The plan was, he’d pick up Whiny, Whiny would ride out to Tom’s folks house with him, get the paperwork squared away and take the Dodge home with him. Trouble with the plan was, even though it was a good plan, Tom wasn’t really in shape to be driving. Seems he’d run into some of his friends at the Poorboy, a small beer bar, pool hall type place on Main Street. After drinking beer and having a grand time all day, he wasn’t really ready to quit. We didn’t know any of this, least of all Whiny. We saw Tom drive in, waved at him, Whiny walked out to the car, got in and they drove off.

    It all went downhill from there. Tom’s folks lived across town near the Junior College and Tom was determined to get there in the shortest time possible. When they left the shop, things seemed calm enough. At least it did to us. Tom cooled it until they got to the freeway on-ramp. Once on the on-ramp and headed east on the freeway it got really crazy really fast. It didn’t take long until Tom had the Big Dodge wound up way over a hundred and Whiny was just hanging on and doing some serious whining. Can’t blame him there, I’d have been doing some serious whining too.

    Whiny told me later that he’d looked over at the speedometer and the needle was buried on the right side. I’m not surprised, the Dodge was a big fast car. I guess it was Tom’s last fling at being a wild man. Kinda stupid for sure. Even though the freeway didn’t have much traffic, there was no excuse for endangering Whiny or the other drivers.

    Tom slowed down to a mere 80 and took the curving interchange for the Santa Paula freeway. Once he saw the road was clear he rolled the throttle back on and the Dodge was pulling hard for the top end. Whiny didn’t know where the top end was on the Big Dodge and he sure didn’t want to find out. Up to now he’d been a scared and unwilling passenger figuring Tom was just going to run the Dodge up a bit and then drive normally.

    It didn’t make any difference when Whiny asked Tom to slow down. Tom was on a tear for sure and was living in the moment. What did make a difference was when they swept by the Main Street on-ramp to the freeway. Rolling sedately up the short hill was a Ventura City cop car. Whiny looked out the window and locked eyes with the ex-rookie who’d been keeping an eye out for Tom for the past year.

    The Dodge was making a tremendous amount of noise with both four barrels wide open and the tail pipes singing out their song of raw and unbridled horsepower. With the tire and wind noise adding their bit to the mix, it looked to Whiny like it scared hell out of the ex-rookie when they flew by.

    Not for long though. The ex-rookie wasn’t going too fast when he felt more than heard the Dodge coming and when the noise and wind hit, the cop car shuddered and seemed to slow down for the short second it took the Dodge to sail past and go blasting down the freeway. The ex-rookie was wide awake now and making up for lost time. He stuck his foot in the big engined Ford cop car, lit up the red lights and took up the chase.

    Nailing the throttle in the cop car didn’t help much. The Dodge had so much speed on that he had a good mile on the cop car before the strong running Ford got up to it’s best speed. When they passed the Victoria Street off and on-ramps they picked up a CHP car to boot. Whiny was thinking that they were going to die in a wreck, get shot or definitely spend some time in jail when they got caught. Tom’s Dodge was probably quite a bit faster than the two cop cars behind him, but there was no outrunning the radio.

    It seemed like they got to the Wells Road off-ramp in no time, Tom let off the throttle, threw on the brakes and went flying down the off-ramp. Whiny thought for a while the Big Dodge was going to run out of brakes before it got slowed enough to make the sharp turn at the end of the off-ramp. It slowed down ok, they made the turn and hit Wells Road going north. Tom blew through the four way stop at Wells & Telegraph and kept on going up the hill.

    This wasn’t going to be like the last time Tom got away from the cops. None of this clever psychological thinking in taking the turn that any thinking person would avoid and relying on the cop to figure only an idiot would turn that way and the cop turning the sensible way and never finding anybody.

    At the top of Wells road, there was a T intersection. Head west or head east on Foothill Rd. That was it. To boot, the cop cars had both gotten off the freeway ok and could see the Dodge at the top of the hill, but still about a mile ahead. When Tom hung a right they figured they had him boxed in. Aside from a few roads that cut through the citrus orchards, there was, for the most part, only one way out. And that was to head into Santa Paula where there was sure to be a welcome committee waiting.

    I guess Tom figured he was in too deep to quit now and he had nothing to lose. For Whiny, asking Tom to slow down and then yelling at Tom to slow down hadn’t made any difference and about all he could do was tighten his seat belt. Which he’d done several times already.

    Tom ran the two miles or so of straightaways and easy curves then slowed down enough to make the big sweeping curve before he got to Aliso Canyon Rd. When he got there, he made a hard left turn with some serious speed still on and the rear end of the Dodge was hanging out like some pedal to the metal dirt track driver headed for the next straight. The Dodge left some serious black rubber marks behind and they headed up Alison Canyon Rd. to the north. No doubt about it. Tom could really handle the Big Dodge.

    For Whiny it was strange to travel around a corner watching the road unfold through the side window. By now, he was all through yelling and was simply hanging on and hoping for the best.

    About half a mile up the canyon, Tom turned the big Dodge into the lemon orchard and blasted down the dirt lane between the tree rows. I say dirt lane, but this was just the narrow open space between the trees and not the typical farm truck access road that runs through the orchards. About the only vehicle this lane had seen was a farm tractor or two.

    The orchard was badly in need of pruning and the trees were almost touching one another. Lucky for Tom because it made a good hiding place. Bad for the Big Dodge since the tree branches were scraping the paint on the sides of the Dodge all to heck and gone.

    With the engine shut off and the windows rolled down, Tom and Whiny could hear the two cop cars, sirens blaring, turn up Aliso Canyon Rd. When they started slowing, they shut the sirens down and cruised up the dead end road about 35 or so. It was obvious they figured Tom and Whiny had ducked into the orchard.

    Probably more obvious by the small fact that Aliso Canyon Rd. was one of the favored roads in the county for street racers. They’d had more than a bit of experience in flushing the street racers out of the orchards where they were wont to hide.

    Spectators, another story. If the cops saw em, they would get a ticket for aiding and abetting an illegal drag race. It was far enough out of town and far enough away from any pay phones that whether the spectators were caught or not, they got punished anyway. The long hike home was worse than the ticket sometimes.

    It wasn’t long until they heard the sirens from a couple more cop cars. These were probably the Santa Paula cops coming in to help. Just listening to the cop cars driving around the orchard, it was obvious that one had stationed himself at the Aliso Canyon Rd. - Foothill Rd. intersection. Thereby cutting off any thoughts of idling through the orchard and getting out on the dirt road behind the old grammar school to the east. The guy at the intersection pretty well had that avenue of escape covered.

    In fact, the dirt road behind the school was the only avenue of escape. There was no other way out of the orchard than to go back to Aliso Canyon Rd. and try to leave. Bad part about Aliso, it only had one way in from the south. It ended a few miles to the north and that was it.

    So Tom and Whiny sat quietly in the dark listening to the cop cars driving up and down Aliso and decided to wait it out. With their guilty consciences, it was a long wait. They didn’t say anything to each other. They just sat there not saying a word while the Big Dodge was ticking and crackling as it cooled down.

    After a little bit, Whiny called Tom a stupid son of a bitch.

    And all Tom said was, “I know.”

    After a couple of hours, they didn’t know what to think. They’d heard two of the cop cars leave, but it was obvious that two of them were still there. After a while, they decided to walk out to where they could see what was going on. Course, seeing may have been an overly optimistic term. It was pretty dark with just a touch of light from a quarter moon and that was
    about it. At the least, if they saw that the coast was clear, they could hightail it out of there.

    Tom popped the dome light lense off, pulled the light bulb, tossed the car keys under the drivers side floor mat and walked out toward Aliso. It took him a while because it was hard to walk through the trees without making noise and he had to go slow.

    Whiny walked out the other way, going toward the dirt road behind the school. By now he was so mad he didn’t care if he made noise or not. It probably didn’t make any difference. He was far enough away from Aliso that he wouldn’t be heard anyway. Whiny figured if he got caught, he’d tell em where the car was and to hell with the whole thing.

    Whiny got out to the dirt road ok, walked down to where he could see the intersection and didn’t see any cop cars waiting there. Course, that didn’t mean they were gone. Cops are no dummies and the smart thing to do would have been to go up the road a ways, pull off and park in the dark shadows of the trees and watch the intersection.

    Whiny watched the intersection and road for an hour or so, gave it up and headed back to the Dodge. When he got there, Tom was still gone. It was very quiet and Whiny hadn’t heard anything suggesting that Tom got caught or that any cop cars had pulled out and left.

    After a half hour of waiting, Whiny figured he’d better go looking for Tom and headed down the trees the same way they’d come in. Keeping very quiet this time. The closer he got to Aliso the slower he went. Whiny figured he wasn’t guilty of anything, but he didn’t want to get caught either. When he got to the last tree he slid around it and took a look up Aliso. Nothing there. When he looked down Aliso, he saw a cop car sitting about a hundred feet away, the cop standing outside the car and listening very intently.

    Whiny stepped back, stood very still and did some thinking about what was going on. He thought he’d been very quiet and sneaky coming through the trees. When he looked again he saw the cop looking straight into the orchard and not looking up the road where he was.

    All Whiny could hear, besides the occasional buzzing of insects was a faint vibration.
    Not hardly a sound at all. Something you felt more than heard. The cop though, he’d heard something and entered the orchard to see what it was. Scary part was, he had his flashlight out, but it was not lit. No use making yourself a target I guess.

    Whiny decided the smart thing to do was to drop down a couple of tree rows so if he had to take off running, he wouldn’t lead anybody back to the Dodge. After he’d gone down two rows, he could hear the vibrating sound a little better. It came and went with a fairly steady pace. Whiny had heard a lot of orchard machinery run and knew what pumps sounded like, but this was
    different from any sound he’d ever heard in an orchard.

    It was kinda spooky and kinda stupid too, to be sneaking down toward where the cop was, but Whiny was drawn toward he knew not what. He was having serious thoughts about simply giving up. This whole debacle wasn’t his fault and the longer he stayed immersed in it, the harder it was going to be to explain. In the back of his mind, he still had hopes of getting away and was still drawn toward the strange sound. It was getting louder all the time.

    Whiny decided, one more tree row and that’s it. It was getting kind of stupid to be closing in on a cop who was looking for somebody and was armed to boot. Whiny and the cop got to the source of the strange noise about the same time. Neither was aware of the other. The cop knew there were at least two guys in the car and Whiny knew the cop was nearby, but didn’t know exactly where he was.

    Everything was clear once the cop flicked his flashlight on. The surprising glare about blinded Whiny, rendering his night vision gone for the moment. He had time to see what the strange noise was though. It was Tom, bundled up in his jacket, sound asleep, snoring and lying in the dirt under the trees. Whiny backed up as quietly as he could and he could see the cop roll Tom over, handcuff and search him, drag him to his feet and march him out of the orchard. All he heard the cop say was “Well, well”.

    Then Whiny saw who the cop was. It was the ex-rookie who’d been biding his time and keeping an eye out for Tom. He’d seen Tom pull a few stunts, but couldn’t quite prove it. This time though, he had him dead to rights. Tom was about to find out that crime didn’t pay.

    Whiny stayed right where he was, being very quiet and waited for the cop car to pull out.
    When it did, he walked back into the orchard, got in the Dodge, found the keys under the floor mat where Tom had left them, fired it up and drove out toward the dirt road behind the school.
    He figured his troubles were over when he got to Foothill and figured he’d drive home and try to get some sleep.

    Trouble was, his troubles were just beginning. The cop who was originally down at the Aliso-Foothill intersection was a Santa Paula cop who’d been on more than one hunt for street racers hiding in the orchard. He’d run the cop car down Foothill, turned around and parked in front of the grammar school in a location where he could see both the dirt road entrance that ran behind the school as well as the beginning of Aliso Canyon Rd.

    When he started the cop car and flipped on the red lights, that was enough for Whiny.
    He shut down the engine, got out of the car and just stood there. Hands in plain sight, ready for the inevitable. Which was, arrest, handcuffs and the back seat of the cop car.

    To say Whiny was a bit mad was putting it mildly. Mad at Tom and mad at himself for not just walking out of the orchard and walking home when he had the opportunity. For some reason, he thought he had to get the Dodge home. He hadn’t bought it yet, but he felt like it belonged to him. They’d already cut the deal on the Dodge, all that was required was the money and the paperwork.

    Whiny got dragged off to jail in Santa Paula and figured he would languish there for a while. The Santa Paula cops told him the Dodge would be towed to a Santa Paula impound lot until it could be released. Whiny figured that he was there for what little remained of the night.

    Not to be though, the cop who’d caught Tom had taken him into Ventura and dropped him off at the city jail was more than happy to drive over to Santa Paula and transport a prisoner. He figured he had a vested interest in Tom and now he was interested in Whiny as well.

    The ex-rookie was surprised when he saw Whiny. He recognized him from the few times he’d been into the tune-up shop and told him that the high speed run down the freeway and the ensuing chase was pretty damn stupid.

    Whiny sighed and said, “I didn’t volunteer for it.”

    Volunteered or not, Whiny was in for the duration. Even if it was only for the rest of the night.

    Tom and Whiny got dragged into court at ten o’clock in the morning, both disheveled a bit and Tom with dirt all over his clothes. A pair to draw to I guess, but they sure weren’t going to impress anybody as being good citizens and all, looking like they did. They were both surprised to find us in the courtroom. Jill, DeeDee and myself were there with DeeDee’s mom sitting between DeeDee and Jill.

    The judge, a no nonsense sort of guy had Whiny up first and had him explain what happened. He listened to the story and told Whiny that he should have walked out of the situation the first chance he had. By staying, he was aiding and abetting felony drunk driving, speeding and God knows what else. The penalty was a hundred dollar fine and nothing on Whiny’s record.
    Driving or otherwise. The judge warned him that he’d better not be in his courtroom again or
    he’d get the book thrown at him.

    All Whiny said was, “Yes sir.”

    Next up was Tom. He looked like a scared little kid. Something along the lines of the chickens had come home to roost. Kind of appropriate in a small way. Tom had done so many crazy things in the few short years he’d been driving and now he was about to pay for it.

    Tom told his story to the judge, but it wasn’t much of a story. He’d gotten drunk not so much as a form of celebration, but simply because he was afraid of going overseas and was deeply regretful of endangering innocent people and putting the police officers involved at risk.

    The judge listened intently and told Tom that a lot of young men and young women were in Vietnam and he would imagine that the great majority of them were scared, but they’d gone as they should have and done their duty without raising such a hell and gone mess before they left.

    The judge ruled that Tom surrender his license for one year. One year being the usual length of stay in Vietnam. I don’t know why and neither did Tom, but he asked the judge what would happen if he was gone for longer than the one year.

    The judge removed his reading glasses, looked down at Tom and said in a soft voice, “Your license will be here waiting for you whenever you get back”.

    He banged his gavel, case closed and retreated into his chambers. We were stunned. At the leniency shown both Whiny and Tom. A hundred bucks was a chunk of money, but Whiny figured it was nothing like it could have been.

    For Tom, facing an uncertain future, a gracious gesture by the judge.

    I guess sometimes justice really is blind.
    Or at the least, has a heart....


    End of section A.

  2. Doofus and Whiny - Part 8, section B

    It would be poetic I suppose, to say that Tom sailed off into the sunset. What he really sailed off and into, was the great unknown. Truth to tell, there wasn’t much sailing involved. He got on the bus, waved goodbye and headed north to Fort Ord and an uncertain future.

    It sure seemed like the judges last words had an effect on him. He didn’t seem to be worried about the whole going off to war thing like he had been. Either that or he figured he’d just let life roll on and see where it took him.

    Life, like always, takes it’s own twists and turns and most times, even if we were involved in the decisions, we’re just along for the ride anyway. Kinda true for Whiny and the Big Dodge.
    Once again, the Dodge changed hands and once again it was Whiny’s. Whiny gave Tom the same price they’d settled on the first time around. Tom made a point to deduct what the towing and storage costs were. He offered to pay for painting the car too, but Whiny demurred. He had plans for the big Dodge and a little scratched paint didn’t make any difference.

    Whiny drove the big Dodge for a while and for a while it looked like he might end up leaving it as it was. In a way, the Big Dodge was a bit of an ugly thing, but it had a charm all it’s own. Tom had loved it, probably still did. Whiny loved it too.

    Seemed like there was something about the Big Dodge that made the owners crazy. Kind of like pursuing a beautiful woman who smiles at you, but won’t talk to you. A one way romance for sure.

    For Whiny though, the love affair didn’t last long. Whiny was a good driver and didn’t really fool around on the street to any great degree. It was enough for him to roll the throttle on when the Big Dodge hit the freeway on-ramps and letting off when he hit the speed limit. Trouble was, the Big Dodge was well known to the local cops. All of em it seemed. As well as the cops from Santa Paula. Whenever any of the cops saw it, they would give it the eye and watch it for a while. A few months of looking over his shoulder and wondering when he was going to get stopped kinda got to Whiny. He parked the Big Dodge behind the shop and covered it up with the same old tarp it had spent so much time under.

    Enough was enough as far as Whiny was concerned. It was time to get started on building the Ford coupe into a sleeper. At least the cops, local or otherwise didn’t pay any attention to his Ford coupe. Sometimes fame can be a bad thing. Trouble for Whiny, the Dodge was getting a little bit too famous.

    Once Whiny got started, he darned near had a juggling act going as far as swapping engines and all went. He was smart, gotta give him that. He’d thought about how swapping the 413 into the 50 Ford coupe would go and how it should go. He gave it a lot of thought and did a lot of measuring and then he did some more thinking about it.

    Before he did anything, he bought a good running 318 with automatic and the proper driveshaft at the junkyard. The big 413, automatic and the driveshaft were pulled and set in the back of the shop.

    Installing the 318 and it’s automatic was easy. The driveshaft bolted right in and after everything was connected, including running the exhaust pipes to the big truck mufflers that Tom had installed, the 318 started right up, settled into an easy idle and ran great. Kind of funny to see the little 318 engine sitting in the great big engine bay. It didn’t have any accessories other than the low slung power steering pump and the alternator. Funny too, to see the 318's little exhaust pipes dumping into the big tubes leading to the truck mufflers. At least it sounded good.

    Whiny had Carl up the street repaint the passenger side door where it had been scratched badly by the lemon trees in the orchard. The rest of the car wasn’t too bad at all and once it got rubbed out and waxed, the Big Dodge was looking pretty good.

    Sure was funny to ride in it though. After being exposed to the killer torque the big motor had, especially on the low end of the power band, the little 318 was a touch anemic. That was ok though. All Whiny wanted to do was sell the car and get started on the 50.

    It must have been the shiny paint and the straight body that did it. The Dodge was sold a couple of hours after Whiny stuck a for sale sign on it and parked it in the front of the shop parking lot. The lady who bought it was more than pleased. The price was right, the Big Dodge ran good and she was more than impressed with the huge trunk. That was enough for her.

    Interesting part about the lady who bought the Dodge was that she went to the same church that Whiny, Jill, DeeDee and I did. We didn’t realize it right away, but she recognized Whiny and me right away and introduced herself as Miss Whiteman. A nice lady, good looking, perhaps 40, but she wore a wedding ring. Which was a bit at odds with the Miss title she gave herself. Funny coincidence about the church I guess, we didn’t know much about her except that she was there most Sundays that we were. Once we thought back on it, we realized she was there most times by herself.

    Miss Whiteman was a small lady, modestly dressed and once she got in the Dodge, she yanked the seat all the way to the front, sat up straight, fired the little 318 and drove off.

    Not into the sunset and not very far. She was so tickled with the big Dodge that she wasn’t looking where she was going, rolled out the shop driveway into the street and darned near into a cop car. She would have gotten him a good one if he hadn’t been a very skilled driver. As it was, he ended up in the other lane having switched ends on the way. Nothing was scratched and no one was hurt. Regardless, the cop got out of the police car with fire in his eyes. Easy to tell from clear back in the shop that the cop was running on adrenaline. Probably with a touch extra since it was the Big Dodge that was involved. Seems every cop in the department knew about the Dodge and at one time or the other had been on the lookout for it. The cop car wasn’t driven by the ex-rookie. Far worse. Miss Whiteman had picked out a cop known far and wide for his hatred of hot rods. It was the muchly talked about, and free with the traffic tickets cop who’d picked up the nickname of Red Ryder somewhere along the line. The nickname, we had absolutely no idea how that came about. Probably within the department.

    All we could see was that he had red hair and the famous red head temper to go with it.
    I don’t know how or where that red head temper stuff got started. All the redheads I ever knew, were calm, collected and pretty much had it all together people. It didn’t make any difference, red hair or not, Red knew the Big Dodge. It still had the look, even with the 318 under the hood and he’d recognized the car right away. He had his ticket book with him when he got out of the cop car and Miss Whiteman didn’t stand a chance. Red wrote her a ticket then and there.

    It was interesting to watch. The police car was sitting sedately in the middle of the east bound lane facing west, the red lights weren’t on and people were simply pulling out when they could and going around.

    Miss Whiteman got her ticket, a bit unfair we thought, but Red was probably on a roll when he got out of the car and for sure somebody was going to get a ticket. The little fact that it was the Big Dodge wasn’t lost on him. And maybe in his mind he was writing the Dodge a ticket and not Miss Whiteman.

    Poor Miss Whiteman. A few seconds of happiness in the Big Dodge and now a traffic ticket. We found out after Red left that it was the first ticket she’d ever gotten. A bit of a strange interlude, but we figured we’d seen the last of the Dodge, wished it’s new owner well and went back to work.

    Whiny figured he was ahead a bit. He’d sold the Dodge for darned near what he paid for it and counting the cost of the 318 and all, he ended up with the big 413 engine and trans for way less than one would have cost out of a junkyard. You could see the wheels turning in his head. He had big plans for the little 50.

    A few days after Whiny had peddled the big Dodge, he ran the 50 over to the Chevy dealer and got the engine compartment, front end, rear end and pretty much the whole darned car steam cleaned. He figured why not get it done now while the car was still drivable.

    Doofus and I had to agree, it sure beat scraping the dirt and grease off with a putty knife while lying under the car on a creeper. We had a lift at the shop, but even with that, cleaning a car up as good as Whiny wanted was a pain in the neck undertaking. Nothing new to anybody who’d ever built a car. For sure, we’d done our share of cleaning and scraping.

    Whiny drove the car back to the shop and that was the last time the little flathead ever ran in the 50 coupe.

    After our typical half day open on Saturday, the three of us had the 50's front clip off and the flathead engine and trans out in a little over two hours. Things sure went fast with three guys working.

    Having the front clip off made life a lot easier as far as engine swaps went. We’d seen a few guys do them with the front clip on, but they were either done by guys who’d done that particular swap before or guys who’d never done an engine swap.

    For the experienced guys, the swaps went pretty fast, but there were still some hard to reach areas. For the novices, it made the engine swap, in more than a few cases, a long drawn out, whole lotta work affair.

    It always amazed us to see swaps done by first timers who wouldn’t remove the front clip.
    Fear I guess, although doing an engine swap was more fearful than simply removing the front clip. I never did understand that part of it, but it worked for some and for others the car sat for a long time. Most times it got peddled, sometimes towed off to the junkyard and best of all was when the right guy got hold of a good car, finished the swap and got it running.

    Saturday was usually the night that the three of us got together, grabbed up the girls and took em out to dinner. Making a nice end to a strange, but ok week. It got stranger too.

    The six of us were in Whiny’s big Impala and headed for the Sportsman on California Street when we saw the Big Dodge pulled over darned near in front of the restaurant. There was Miss Whiteman and there was Red Ryder. And just as we thought, she was getting a ticket.

    Kinda interesting, Miss Whiteman hadn’t even owned the car for a week and here she was getting another ticket in it. What for, we didn’t know and never found out. As things turned out it didn’t make any difference anyway.

    Dinner was nice, but we sure didn’t know what to think about Miss Whiteman. We got to talking about her and the main thing we remembered was that she was always modestly dressed. Most times she wore one of the popular with the ladies pillbox hats, a modest dress, not too high of a heel pumps and fairly often, white gloves. She was very much the proper lady. I don’t think we ever saw her in casual dress. There didn’t seem to be any men in Miss Whiteman’s life regardless of the wedding ring. None of our business anyway, we let it slide and enjoyed our evening out with the girls.

    Whiny did make a point to ask his mom about Miss Whiteman, but she didn’t know much of anything about her. I asked my mom and got the same answer. So far, all we could figure was that Miss Whiteman had a short run of bad luck. At least as far as the tickets went.

    Life got back on cruise mode for us and we got back to work on Whiny’s engine swap. We hadn’t let too many of the guys know about it, just a few of the locals who hit the Saturday afternoon barbecues was about it. It probably didn’t make any difference, Whiny wasn’t going to get into street racing with it. At least we didn’t think so and neither did Whiny. He was a responsible guy, but I think he just liked the idea of building a sleeper. They can be fun cars for sure.

    Funny part about the well cleaned up Ford coupe and the removed front clip, the first thing Whiny did was get a 3.70 ratio 31 spline Ford nine inch rear axle out of a 57 Ford wagon. First things first. At least, that’s what Whiny figured.

    Torching off the spring perches, making a new set out of channel and welding them on had the little coupe well set up as far as a good strong drive line went. With the torque of the 413 and the strong automatic, it was easy to see that the original 50 axles would have broken right away.
    The axles weren’t much to write home about anyway. Seemed like guys and a few gals broke them right and left running stock motors.

    To balance the bigger brakes in the back, Whiny got a pair of front brakes, drums, spindles, pretty much the whole assembly off of a 52 Ford station wagon. These were 11" in diameter with slightly narrower linings, but we felt it would make a good balance front to rear. Far better than the original 10" diameter drums the 50 came with.

    We couldn’t think of anybody running a built Y-Block who’d ever broken one of the Ford nine inch rear ends. Including the known to be weaker 28 spline ones. The 31 spliners were the hot setup when it came to the dragstrip and we figured it would work well in street use with street tires.

    After a week or so, the 413 engine and trans were in place, motor mounts and transmission mounts made, a nice driveshaft made up by the Marrone Brothers machine shop in Santa Paula, a Bell Auto dropped tie rod installed and it looked like we were close to getting the 50 on the road. Looks aren’t everything though. We’d been there before. There were still a lot of details to iron out, but we had a darned good start.

    A few days later, in the middle of the week, Dinah ran out and got lunch for us. We were pleasantly surprised to find that she’d brought back some of the great burgers that Mike’s Café put out. Seems he did about as much take-out burger business as he did right there at the Café . Especially true around lunch time.

    Dinah knew about Miss Whiteman and knew about both tickets and like us she thought the first one was unfair. She saw Miss Whiteman and the big Dodge pulled over down near the Wharf on Front Street, a local store that sold all kinds of stuff from goldfish to Levis to lawn seed. In short, the kind of place to go if you ran a farm or ranch or just wanted to see some interesting stuff.

    The Wharf was down the street a bit from Mike’s Café and Miss Whiteman had the Big Dodge parked with a cop car pulled in behind her. When Dinah got out to go inside to pick up the phoned in order, she could see Miss Whiteman holding what looked to be a ticket, arguing with Red who was busy writing another one, and Miss Whiteman was not getting very far in her apparent plea for leniency. Either Red or Miss Whiteman were really on a roll. That was just short of three weeks and Miss Whiteman had four tickets already.

    We found out more about it when Saturday rolled around. Miss Whiteman brought the big Dodge in and asked if we could put some quiet mufflers on it. Struck us as funny since the truck mufflers, especially with the little 318 up front were pretty quiet anyway. All she would say was she’d gotten a ticket for a noisy exhaust system.

    Whiny didn’t even explain that we weren’t a muffler shop. He just told her he’d take care of it and it wouldn’t cost her a dime. At least we got a smile out of Miss Whiteman. First one we’d seen since the first ticket although we hadn’t really seen her much at all lately.

    Whiny got the Dodge up on the lift, yanked the whole darned system off except for one tailpipe, bought all new pieces from Automotive Supply a couple of blocks away and hung a stock 318 exhaust system on the big Dodge. It was quiet now. We figured even Red Ryder would approve.

    Miss Whiteman picked up the big Dodge late in the afternoon, smiled gratefully, told Whiny thanks, got in the Dodge and drove off. One thing we’d noticed, she wasn’t dressed quite as spiffy as she usually was. No hat, no gloves, just a simple dress and flats and that was about it.
    Who knew. Maybe the hat and gloves were especially for trips to town and shopping and church and things like that. Just a woman thing as far as we were concerned.

    The engine swap in Whiny’s coupe was getting down to the wire. Just about everything was done, including re-wiring the car and changing everything over to 12 volts. The instruments, radio and heater remained at six volts and the car looked totally stock until the hood was opened.

    The six volt bit was done a little differently from what most guys did. Whiny stuck a pair of battery trays in between the spare tire and quarter panel and installed a couple of six volt batteries in series. With a long piece of arc welding cable running to the starter solenoid on the fender well and another length of arc welding cable running from engine to the negative terminal at the batteries as well as grounding the batteries to the frame at the rear and grounding the engine to the frame at the front we had a pretty solid electrical system.

    The six volts required for the engine, radio and heater were easy. A length of 10 gage wire was fused and run from the positive lead of the closest to ground battery and it gave us the six volt tap we needed. A couple of guys thought we would create a problem with the six volt system tapped off of one battery. We didn’t think so and as it turned out we were right. It was a good, simple system and the only penalty was the extra weight of the second battery. And that not too bad since we’d stuck in a pair of the smallest batteries we could find. Even with two small batteries, we had more than enough capacity to start the big engine in the little Ford coupe.

    All this time, the flathead engine was sitting on some 4 x 4's next to the side wall of the shop and now the wheels started turning in Doofus’ head. He asked Whiny how much he wanted for the flathead. Whiny hadn’t even gotten to the thinking about selling it point. Didn’t make any difference, he told Doof if he wanted it, it was his.

    Doofus was fired up about the 413 being swapped into Whiny’s Ford coupe and he had a project in mind too.

    We hadn’t done any drag racing with the Chevy coupe for quite a while and drag strips all over the Southland were closing down. For most of them, due to the population explosion and the ongoing expansion of communities all over the state. San Fernando closed. Long Beach closed. Palmdale, a fairly new strip in the desert and one we hadn’t gone to yet closed. Santa Maria closed. San Gabriel closed. Fontana closed.

    At one time, the Southland had many dragstrips in operation, but now they were closing left and right. We had hopes that Palmdale would come back, but it stayed closed for several years. The rest never came back. They were closed forever.

    It took a couple of years at least for them all to close, but when they did, it seemed like it all happened at once. About all that was left was the deservedly famous Bakersfield drag strip. Better known as Famoso, it was way out in the country north of Bakersfield, but the way things were going, we figured it would be next to go.

    All of which left us with a nice little drag racing coupe in the 39 Chevy, but as things went it would be quite a while before it saw daylight again.

    Well, we were car guys, always had been, probably always will be. We just aimed in a different direction. Easy enough for Whiny with his just about ready to run 413 Dodge powered 50 Ford coupe. It looked to be a tire shredder for sure.

    Doofus and I met at the shop on Sunday, hooked the car trailer up to the Chrysler and drove over to his granddad’s barn. Doof figured it was about time to do something with his 41 Ford coupe. Up to now, he wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do with it. All he really knew for sure was that he didn’t want to sell it.

    Pulling the tarp off Doofus’ coupe after a few years of storage was strange.
    Kinda like stepping back in time. It looked just like we remembered it. The coupe was a good looking little car. Dark blue factory paint, stock 47 Merc engine, duals, dropped axle, big &amp; little tires and a TJ tuck &amp; roll interior.

    It looked to me like it would have started right up, and it probably would have, but the battery was long gone. Good part was, the tires held air ok and still looked good, but Doof said he was going to replace them anyway. Rolling the coupe out on the trailer and winching it up was no big deal. The little trailer we’d built had come in more than handy many times. For us, and for several of our friends who’d borrowed it.

    Most of the guys took pretty good care of it, a few had changed the trailer plug wiring after being asked specifically not to and a few others had dinged it up and not said a word. Not too big a problem for us, but disappointing at times. The cure was easy, we just took em off the list.

    People can be funny about borrowing things. Most are great and take better care of the borrowed item than they did with their own stuff. A few tended to bash things up and return them damaged with never an offer to replace it or repair it. I guess they figured they only needed it once. Nothing you don’t know I suppose.

    We got Doof’s coupe back to the shop, rolled it into the back next to the covered up 39 Chevy coupe and the light sorta dawned on us. There was still plenty of room to work on customers cars, but with the 39 and 40 in the back and Whiny’s 50 taking up one service bay, which meant it sat outside when the shop was open, it was time to add a building to the shop property. We’d been talking about it for a while anyway. The business, with three of us working there and Dinah doing the books was doing well and it was time to expand. Not expand the business so much, but expand the storage area. There were a lot of things we could get out of the main shop and store away, but the main thing we were interested in was having someplace to store our projects.

    Doofus’ deciding to build up the 41 coupe kinda got me to thinking about a project of my own. I wasn’t sure what I wanted and figured I’d just wait and see what popped up. Right now, finishing up on Whiny’s 50 and starting on Doofs’ 41 were all the projects we needed for the time being.

    I’d skipped out on church to give Doofus a hand and right after we got the 41 unloaded and parked, Whiny showed up as planned. We figured that since the girls had some plans of their own and would be gone most of the day, this was a good time to fire up Whiny’s coupe.

    Right after he got there, we saw Miss Whiteman drive by in the Big Dodge. When she saw us, she went down the street, pulled into the parking lot, turned around and came back. Miss Whiteman looked like a changed woman to say the least.

    She’d gone from looking like a typical well dressed, headed for shopping or the church to . . . well . . . we didn’t know what the heck she’d gone to. She got out of the Dodge wearing shorts and a sleeveless blouse. Perfectly acceptable summer wear in Ventura for most any woman, just that it was unexpected with Miss Whiteman. Miss Whiteman’s demeanor had changed considerably as well. She talked faster and was a little nervous. On top of that she’d started smoking. A lot of people smoked, but it was something we never expected from her. We didn’t know what to say.

    She’d stopped in to ask what she could do about the Big Dodge. Seems she figured out that it was what was attracting all the attention from the cops and she didn’t know what to do. She’d never had a ticket in her life and now that she’d owned the Dodge for a little under six months, had been stopped many times and had at last count nine tickets. All of them from Red Ryder.

    Some of the tickets were just fix it tickets, but five of them were traffic violations which meant that she was very close to losing her license. At least she hadn’t gotten any tickets this month. She figured that was because when she went to court to try to explain, the judge stopped her in mid-sentence and asked Red if he was harassing Miss Whiteman.
    Red answered “No sir, your honor.”

    The judge told him that he better not be. Nine tickets from one cop to one driver was hard to believe. Even for the judge. And maybe, especially to the judge. It sure did to us.

    All we could think of to help Miss Whiteman out was that she get the car painted a different color and since it was about ready for tires, buy some whitewalls and we’d get her some full sized wheel covers from the junkyard. Granted, Whiny sold her the car and wasn’t really responsible for her problems, but in a small way he did feel responsible. He’d turned Miss Whiteman loose on the world with the Big Dodge. Or maybe it was that he’d turned the Big Dodge loose on Miss Whiteman. Either way, it wasn’t working out at all for Miss Whiteman.

    We had her drop the Dodge off the next day, Monday morning, and we spent the week in between the regular jobs sanding it down and spot priming a couple of places. Kinda took up our spare time at the shop. Spare time that we figured we’d use to get Whiny’s coupe running, but that was ok. A little charity was certainly due in this case. After the sanding was done, we took the Dodge over to Earl Scheib’s and had a dark blue - Miss Whiteman’s choice - shot on.

    The Earl Scheib bit, the famous $29.95 paint job was the way a lot of guys got their cars painted. Sand em, pull the bumpers and small trim and all the Earl Scheib guys had to do was mask, tack and shoot. They liked skipping the hard work part and being able to pay attention to just the painting. They had pride in their work and it seemed like the hot rods always got an extra special paint job.

    After we got the Dodge back, we ran it over to General Tire and had em stick on a set of whitewalls. All of which, Miss Whiteman paid for. Our donation, besides the sanding and all, was a set of full sized wheel covers for the big Dodge. Off a Chrysler, but they looked good anyway. Kinda funny to be covering up the chrome wheels, but, too late now.

    We figured the new paint and stock looking wheel covers ought to go a long ways toward helping Miss Whiteman blend in with the traffic. It seemed to work, Miss Whiteman didn’t get a ticket for three weeks, then she got two in one day. Right in the middle of downtown and once again, both from Red Ryder.

    I guess she just snapped. We read in the paper that after the second stop, she’d parked the Dodge and spent the afternoon and most of the evening in a downtown bar and wandered out quite drunk.

    I don’t know if she decided to end it all or destroy the Big Dodge. For sure, her life had taken quite a turn after buying it. She was arrested after traveling Thompson Boulevard - as the paper put it - at an excessive rate of speed. It took three cop cars to get her stopped.

    What we found out later was that she was so drunk she’d punched in low gear on the shifter and thought she was flying down Thompson at a hundred miles an hour when the truth was, the little 318 was straining to run at 50 in low gear. We were amazed that the 318 still ran ok after four miles or so at top rpm. It didn’t seem to have hurt the motor.

    What it did hurt was Miss Whiteman. She got to spend the night in jail and got dragged into court the next morning. She pled guilty on the drunk driving charge and tried to explain to the judge that she’d never had any trouble until she bought the Big Dodge and she just couldn’t understand it. She explained each ticket briefly and then broke down in tears, put her head on the table and had nothing more to say.

    The judge took one look at Red Ryder, figured out what was going on, dismissed the latest tickets and ordered her driving record cleared of tickets going back to the first one. He ordered the fines refunded and told Red Ryder that if he thought Miss Whiteman was being a hazard to the driving public, he had to call in the duty sergeant before he wrote her another ticket. All he had to say to Miss Whiteman was, that perhaps now would be a good time to sell the Big Dodge. The judge hadn’t even seen the Dodge and it seemed like it was casting it’s spell on him.

    Red Ryder was a more than zealous traffic cop for sure. And he still delighted in ticketing hot rodders or anybody he thought might be a hot rodder. More than a few paid the price after the Miss Whiteman fiasco. They figured they could fly through town and Red couldn’t do a thing about it. Wrong for sure. Miss Whiteman was the only one that had the “Get out of Jail Free” card. She never used it as far as we knew.

    The others though, they paid the piper.

    We’d see Miss Whiteman around town now and then, and now and then we’d see her at church. Dressed to the nines as they say. Always well turned out, with her little hat, nice dress and white gloves.

    She bought a nice white 64 Falcon hardtop off of Mickey Merc’s used car lot at the dealership and went back to enjoying life as it had been.

    The trade in was the Big Dodge. A car who’s reputation preceded it. Miss Whiteman didn’t get much on the trade in and to tell the truth, she didn’t much care. As far as she was concerned, the Big Dodge was a trip to the dark side of life.

    After watching the whole Miss Whiteman/Red Ryder debacle or whatever the heck you want to call it, we weren’t sure whether the Big Dodge carried a curse or was just plain magic. From what we could see, a little bit of both.


    Winter came and things didn’t slow down a bit. The drag racing, still on hold. The car building, well started for Whiny, just getting started for Doofus and I was still looking.

    I say well started for Whiny, but the truth was he was right on the edge of startup and had been for about a week. Seems like things kept happening to keep him away from getting the coupe running. It’d been a couple of months since the last of the Miss Whiteman extravaganza and the Big Dodge was still on the lot at Mercury Ford. Although it was way in the back with the other relics that would end up who knows where.

    Whiny had been keeping an eye on it and we could tell he was thinking about buying it back. He drug his feet too long though. In an effort to let it sit and the price get down really low, he missed out and the Dodge was sold to a ChryCo enthusiast named Jones from Ojai.

    Jones was no dummy and kept up on the car front, at least locally and he knew all about the Big Dodge from the first time that Tom brought it home to the dust-up with Miss Whiteman and Red Ryder.

    In fact, we found out that Jones had wanted to buy the Dodge for some time and was pretty much biding his time in hopes Tom would break it or get tired of it and he could pick it up for cheap. He lost track of it when it went to Mercury Ford and stumbled across it pretty much by accident. Kinda backwards from Whiny who was patiently waiting for the price to drop. When Jones found it, he went in and bought it. Simple as that.

    All of which left Whiny and his biding his time theory out in the cold. So much for good ideas I guess. Didn’t matter too much, Whiny still had the good parts and most of them were installed in the 50 coupe. The only things not installed were the cast iron factory headers hanging on the wall of the shop. Which created a small dilemma for Jones. He had the Dodge he wanted, only trouble was the engine - unknown to him - resided in Whiny’s coupe. He’d heard about the cast iron headers and dropped in to inquire about them, but for some reason Whiny wouldn’t sell them. Seemed kinda funny to us. Jones was a good guy and we didn’t see any reason not to sell the headers to him, but Whiny wouldn’t. All Whiny would say was, he didn’t think he ought to
    sell them, but he didn’t really know why. That kinda made things tough for Jones. The factory cast iron headers were very rare and very much in demand by the ChryCo guys. At least the guys who liked the cars exactly as they came from the factory. That struck us as a little funny. All the factory hot rod Dodges and Plymouths we knew about were usually changed quite a bit. And the cast iron headers were the first to go. They were heavy, no doubt about that.

    I don’t know what Whiny thought he’d do with the big Dodge, but for some reason he thought he should buy it. Too late now.

    We hadn’t heard much from Murgy for a while. He’d stop in from time to time although we hadn’t seen him for three or four weeks. Murgy was pretty wrapped up in his work and really wrapped up with the beautiful Carol. He wouldn’t admit to it and from what we heard neither would Carol, but it sure looked like marriage was, if not on the horizon, definitely lurking out there somewhere.

    We saw Mickey Merc around town fairly often. For some reason, he’d started driving his maroon 64 Mustang coupe again. A nice little car, all stock with 289 and four speed stick. Mickey had owned it since new and hadn’t put very many miles on it. Somewhere along the line he’d decided it was a hot rod and he would drag race almost anybody he found at a stop light. Mickey, no dummy, knew the seriously fast cars and avoided a race with them, but he wasn’t above picking on cars he figured he could beat. Just something in his makeup I guess. He had to beat somebody somewhere. It was kinda like an addiction with him.

    The weekend after Whiny missed out on the big Dodge, he fired up the 50 coupe on a quiet Sunday afternoon at the shop. Sort of an anti-climax in a way. The engine was a good runner when it was yanked and didn’t need much of anything. All Whiny had done to it was clean and paint it, install a new fuel and water pump, as well as stick in some fresh points, rotor, cap, condenser, plugs and plug wires. May as well do it now while it’s easy.

    The big 413 sure looked cool sitting in the slightly cramped engine bay of the 50 coupe.
    They could just barely get the hood shut over the air cleaners, but it did shut. The 50 sat a little lower too. The 413 and automatic dragged the front end down a couple of inches over stock.
    Whiny cured that with a set of station wagon springs out of a later model. With half a coil cut off, the little Ford sat just like it did when it ran the flathead.

    Whiny had done well in adhering to the sleeper theme. To control spring wrap-up, he’d built a set of home-made Traction Masters, but instead of hanging them under the spring like most did, he welded tabs on top of the rear axle tubes and ran them forward on the inside of the frame. They ended just above the rear spring leaf eye and were completely out of sight. The only problem created was, when the tailpipe’s were built, they had to be set a little further toward the center. A set of handbuilt, inside the frame Tri-Y headers were built that dumped the exhaust into a small collector and the exhaust gasses went to a pair of two ton truck mufflers. In an attempt to disguise the sound, Whiny stuck some short glasspacks in the straight run of tailpipe between rear axle and bumper. You couldn’t see em unless you got way down low. Something not many did.
    The tailpipe’s ran all the way to the rear bumper, but they were larger in diameter than the usual tail pipes. The right side, complete with chrome extension stuck out from under the bumper just like the stock ones did. The left side was tucked up under the bumper and had a curved tip that directed the exhaust gasses downward and you couldn’t see it until you kneeled down on the ground. The best part, at least we thought so, was the interior. To look at it, it looked all stock and for the most part it was.

    Whiny’d stuck four seat belts in the car not long after he bought it, but that wasn’t too unusual. The cool parts were the tach and the shifter. The original Ford instrument cluster was used. May as well, it was a good looking design and the instruments were pretty good ones to boot. He stuck a tach under the dash, just to the right of the heater controls and it was difficult for anybody standing outside the car to see. It sat back under the dash a bit, was turned at a slight angle and was easily seen by the driver.

    The sneakiest thing of all was the adaptation of a stock Dodge push button shifter which was hung under the left side of the dash, just a little ways back under and it was like the tach in that it was pretty much out of sight to those who might look in. It took him a while to set it up since there were some accurate adjustments that had to be made so that it would coordinate properly with the trans. We thought it was a work of art mechanically speaking.

    Whiny’s offbeat sense of humor came into play too. He left the stock Ford shift column intact, complete with shift lever and little white plastic ball on the end. A couple of springs were hooked to it so it was pulled down as if it was in low or high and to top it off Whiny could move the shift lever up and down. He even left the clutch pedal in the car. That held up by a strong spring and it would depress. He really got into the sleeper theme. We weren’t sure why, but it got to be a bit of an obsession with him. Gotta admit though, he sure did a heck of a job.

    The 50 coupe was so well done, that all it took to light the engine off was spinning the engine over until the float bowls were full, switch on the ignition - give the throttle a half pump and hit the starter button. The 413 fired up like it had been run yesterday, instead of darned near four months ago. It settled into the typical ChryCo idle and once it was fully warm, Doofus shot the timing and that was about it. We’d already looked underneath for leaks and there weren’t any

    it looked like the Ford radiator was going to cool the 413 just fine. We let it idle for 15 minutes and the engine got to 182 on the underhood temperature gauge and that was as high as it went. Oil pressure was good too with 40# at idle. A permanent underhood oil pressure gauge had been installed and both it and the underhood temperature gauge agreed with the Ford’s stock instruments which had settled out at the right places. About in middle for the temp gauge and a little higher for the oil pressure gauge.

    Only thing left to do was take the coupe for a spin. Whiny backed it out, Doofus shut the big shop door and I climbed into the back seat. We didn’t have far to go to reach the coast highway and the trip through town was quiet and uneventful. A small disappointment in a way. We were cruising in the best built sleeper we’d ever seen and hardly anyone gave us a second look. It made sense though. That was what sleepers were all about. With the big 413 rumbling along up front, it felt like everyone was looking at us, but in truth no one really was. Nothing very special about one more totally stock tan 50 Ford coupe.

    All of which gave me and Doofus second thoughts. Driving a sleeper was a darned good idea. Maybe Whiny was on to something here.

    So far, the coupe was a smooth runner. ‘Course, we hadn’t gone over 35, but it sure sounded smooth. No vibrations evident and the tires just hummed along.

    Whiny ran the car up to the legal speed limit after we hit the coast highway going north and it still ran smooth and quiet. Heck, we figured Whiny’s grandma ought to like this car just fine.

    We cruised along until we got to the Conoco plant about five or six miles out of town.
    When we did, Whiny pulled in, turned around and when most of the traffic was gone, he pulled out, got straight and nailed it. No rolling the throttle in, no finesse or anything like that.
    He just flat nailed it. With all the mid-range torque from the big 413 the rear tires went up in smoke. Whiny hit second gear at about five grand and the tires were still smoking. Geez . . . the sounds coming out from under the hood of the little coupe were like something else. Even though the tires smoked all the way through second gear, it was still accelerating like nobody’s business. When Whiny hit third and the tires finally quit spinning, we were pulling past 80 headed for who knows where.

    Well . . . Whiny had good sense. He’d found out what he wanted to find out and he reined in the big 413. We weren’t worried, Whiny could handle a car pretty well and we knew he wouldn’t get crazy on us. He did have one helluva grin on his face though.

    The trip through the gears did show us one thing. The little coupe needed a locker in the diff and it really needed some bigger and stickier tires. The locker shouldn’t be too big a problem. We could probably get one through Murgy or maybe get one of his old drag racing diffs with the Detroit Locker in it. That would probably do most of it. The tires would come later.

    We went back to the shop, Doof and I picked up our cars and were gonna head home, but we stood around to watch Whiny drive out of the driveway in the coupe. Darned thing was just about as quiet from the outside as it was on the inside. The only thing that gave it away, at least to our way of thinking was a bit of a ticking noise from the tubing headers. The ticking, a normal noise made by most tubing headers. In Whiny’s coupe you couldn’t really hear it unless you listened hard. We didn’t think it would be a problem at all.

    The interesting part to the first day the coupe was running was what Whiny told us next day at work. He’d run up against Mickey Merc and the maroon Mustang at a stop light on Thompson Blvd. right after he left the shop. Mickey knew who it was in the tan Ford coupe, smiled at Whiny and when the light turned green he blasted through the intersection like nobody’s business. Whiny just pulled away normally, in fact not pulling away at all until Mickey was clear across the intersection. I don’t know who the heck Mickey thought he was beating. The little Mustangs were quick, but were no match for the guys with the seriously fast cars. One of which was now owned by Whiny.

    Seems like Mickey got on a bit of a tear with the little Mustang. He’d gotten kind of hooked on the stoplight grand prix thing and it seemed he was always looking for a victim.
    It was hard to believe that the high strung, in your face Mickey and good old sensible and steady Murgy were related. Murgy was probably lucky that most of his genes came from his mom’s side of the family. We figured that was a good thing. Two Mickey’s running around town was about three too many as far as we were concerned. I guess too, that Mickey’s somewhat mellow manner that he’d had the last few times we were at the races had gone by the board long ago.
    It didn’t take long until we knew for sure.

    Mickey and Jill drove pretty much the same route to work all the time and it wasn’t long until they found themselves at a stoplight. Jill saw Mickey and smiled her sweet smile. Mickey saw Jill and tossed out his oft used and locally famous smirk. The one that got under your skin and made you start looking for a 2 x 4 to swat him with. Once the smirk was out, the light changed and Mickey nailed it. Jill didn’t really want to get involved in a street race and besides, her little red 39 Chevy coupe with the 250 six and automatic wasn’t much of a match for the quick little Mustang. She wasn’t mad about the race. What got to her was Mickey’s smirk. More than a few had been driven to a fit of temper when Mickey laid it out there. Funny part was, Mickey still had all his teeth. Don’t know how, just lucky I guess.

    As far as Jill was concerned, it was ok. Probably wasn’t gonna happen again. She was pretty good at forgive and forget. Right up until Mickey did it to her again a couple of days later. As fate would have it, Mickey caught her driving the red 39 at a stoplight, pulled alongside and stopped. Jill looked over, Mickey smirked, the light changed, and he nailed the Mustang. That was the limit for Jill. She came into the shop absolutely seething. We couldn’t blame her.
    Mickey had a way of getting to darned near everybody.

    Jill was a smart girl and to her the answer was easy. Whiny’s 413 powered, tire shredding 50 Ford coupe had been running for a few weeks and had turned out to be a dependable and fun car. He loved it. Jill decided she would drive the coupe to work for a while.

    Ok with Whiny, all he said was, “Be careful.”

    Jill drove the 50 to work for two weeks and never saw hide nor hair of Mickey Merc. Seemed like he’d disappeared. She’d even trolled by the dealership a couple of times looking for the maroon Mustang, but it was not to be seen.

    By now, Whiny was having withdrawal pains and was ready to have his coupe back. Jill decided that street racing Mickey wasn’t the way to go and she couldn’t find him anyway. So Whiny got the coupe back and Jill returned to driving her beloved little red 39 Chevy coupe and all was well with the world.

    For two days anyway. Once again, Mickey caught her at a stoplight in the Mustang. Once she recognized the maroon Mustang and looked over to see who was driving, there was Mickey with that patented smirk. It was too much for Jill.

    When the light turned green, Mickey nailed the Mustang and Jill nailed the throttle which flashed the converter on her coupe and she got one heck of a hole shot. I think Mickey got a bit of a surprise. With the coupe’s automatic and the 3.89 rear end combined with the fat and sticky Atlas Bucron rear tires along with the small fact that Jill was a killer on the lights, the red 39 was clear across the intersection before Mickey got the tires on the Mustang to stop spinning. He must have been half way across before the Mustang started to get some bite and then started to pull the coupe. Jill was a smart girl, she let off the throttle and let Mickey blast on by. She realized that once the Mustang hooked up, it would be all over for the little red coupe.

    She did the same thing to him at the next light. This time around Mickey was a little quicker on the lights, but Jill drilled him anyway. Mickey really had the tires up in smoke on the Mustang and once again the red 39 was first across the intersection. And like last time, she rolled off the throttle and allowed Mickey to blast on by.

    The next light down, there they are together again. This time Mickey is determined to get the hole shot. It was not to be. Jill smiled sweetly at him, turned right and drove off. When she came by the shop and told us the story, we were darned near rolling on the floor. It was the perfect revenge. To beat Mickey in a known to be slower car, especially a Chevy and with a female driver to boot was darned near more than he could take.

    We didn’t see the maroon Mustang on the streets for a long while. We heard through the grapevine that Mickey parked it in the basement of the Ford garage, covered it up and walked away.

    It probably didn’t help that word got out around town and especially at the golf course.
    Seemed like Mickey couldn’t go anywhere without getting razzed about getting beat by a Chevy.
    Driven by a girl to boot. And it was a six. A six cylinder. It was almost too much.

    Live by the sword, die by the sword I guess.

    I guess too, sometimes the swords are short, but they cut exceedingly well....



    Attached Files:

  3. Just printed it and heading to lunch.
    I love Mondays, thanks Jay
  4. krupanut
    Joined: May 4, 2001
    Posts: 1,619


    Thanks Jay.

  5. Wasn't Red Ryder and that Dodge a story of it's own, once
    upon a time?
  6. [ QUOTE ]
    Wasn't Red Ryder and that Dodge a story of it's own, once
    upon a time?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I excerpted it a couple years back to see how folks liked the story.
    It's been re-written and edited, but still holds true to the original posting.

    Always did like Miss Whiteman.... [​IMG]
  7. Crestliner
    Joined: Dec 31, 2002
    Posts: 3,011


    I really enjoyed it.
  8. chromedRAT
    Joined: Mar 5, 2002
    Posts: 1,714


    deja vu on the last part man! i remember that from a long time ago... cool as hell. shame on anybody that doesn't read this, the sleeper bit is classic.
  9. Crosley
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 1,039

    from Aridzona

    C9... always interesting.


  10. tapkoote
    Joined: Feb 6, 2013
    Posts: 70


    I just run across this--
    know it's old, but reminded me of my younger days.
    Home on leave from the army 1969, orders for Nam in my pocket. Driving my sisters Corviar,
    stopped by a local cop for drunk driving.
    He made me pour my beer out and followed me home
    to make sure I got there, and didn't leave.
    And I was blasted.

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