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History Planting the “Seed”

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by modagger, Dec 28, 2020.

  1. modagger
    Joined: Jul 2, 2013
    Posts: 313

    modagger
    Member

    9 BBFE666A-799F-4436-9D9A-A1211285BFF3.jpeg 728CA4DB-871E-48FD-9D9A-0459ED976739.jpeg Planting the seed

    The seed was planted in the spring of 1958. I was halfway between ten and eleven years old when it germinated.

    We lived around the corner from my grandparents and every day after school I would go there until one of my parents got home from work.

    Four of my uncles still lived there. The oldest, a Marine Gunnery Sargent veteran of WWII in the pacific, another Marine vet and a Navy vet. The youngest of my father’s five brothers, Andre’, was himself a veteran of sorts. Reform school. It seems that he “borrowed” some tires and rims from a new car one night and was “pinched” with the goods the next day. I remember him telling the story and he would say that he didn’t think he should’ve gotten as much time as he did (three months), because they should have taken into consideration the four brand new metal milk crates he left in their place. At 22 he was more like a big brother than an uncle.

    Following along with the planting metaphor, I guess the ground was prepared for the “seed” a year or two before. Andre’ and one of his brothers had what I thought were the most amazing pieces of machinery in the whole world. Harley Davidson motorcycles! To my young eyes, they were a perfect blend of noise, chrome, lights and leather. Every time they would stop at our house to chat with my dad, invariably the begging would start. “Please Unc can I have a ride?”. Without fail I would get my ride from one of them, but only to the turnaround at the end of the street and back. I would get up on that big saddle seat with the chrome wraparound bar and hold on. It amazed me that they could do so many things at once. Twist the throttle, step on the clutch, shift that lever with the big chrome knob. What else could they possibly do to top this? When my ride was over, I’d take in a deep breath of that wonderful bouquet of gas, oil and leather to hold me until the next ride. Andre’ would always look at me and say, “pretty cool, huh kid?”. “Yeah Unc, that’s cool!”.

    I didn’t think anything could top that! I underestimated him.

    Back to the Spring of ‘58. Out of school one day, down the hill and into my grandparents driveway. I heard music playing as I walked toward the house but as soon as I could see where the music was coming from, I stopped and stared at at my uncle working on something that was, I couldn’t believe it, cooler than his Harley! At that point it was only a frame with a ‘33 Plymouth coupe body, (I actually didn’t know what a coupe was yet) and four wheels. He looked up from his work, saw the smile on my face and said, “pretty cool, huh kid?”. “Yeah Unc, that’s cool!”

    Unbeknownst to me, he had been working on it all winter in the small one car garage to get it to this point. I would hope upon hope every day that when I got to the house, he would be working on his “coupe”. When he was, life was good.

    There are things that he did building that car that really had an impression on my sponge like brain.

    The channel around the roof insert was rust pitted pretty badly so he cut it out and started to rebuild it. He abruptly stopped and said, “I’ll be back in a while kid”. When he came back, he had a piece of green tinted glass that he said came from a “Crown Vic” at the wrecking yard. I didn’t know what a “Crown Vic” was, but he was thrilled to get it.

    He made some measurements and he and I took it to a friend of his that had a glass shop so he could cut it to size.

    I showed up early one morning and he was already working. He had the headlight buckets laid out on some cardboard in the driveway. Then he poured some really foul smelling stuff into a glass jar. I could not believe what happened to the paint when he brushed on some of the liquid. It curled up immediately and with the next brush stroke came right off! “Can I do some?” I begged. He said my dad would kill him if he let me use it and got some on my skin. Which he said would melt off just like the paint did. An exaggeration, well come to think of it, in 1958, maybe not.

    I showed up one day and was disappointed that he wasn’t in the driveway working on the car. I went into the house to say hi to my grandmother and no sooner got the “Hi” out when I heard him coming! I knew the sound of his truck. It was a ‘58 Chevy that he bought new and chopped about a week or two later. He was a pretty good pinstriper and I remember asking what that saying in the bottom corner of the tailgate meant. It was bracketed by some tasteful striping . He kind of chuckled and explained what “Bad News Travels Fast” means. I nodded and said “oh, ok”, but really didn’t get it. I do now.

    I could see that he had something in the bed of the truck. He dropped the tailgate and with a huge grin said, “there it is!”. I said, “wow, you got an engine!”. He said, “kid, that’s not just any engine, that’s a practically brand new 348 with less than 500 miles on it!” Now, I had no idea what a 348 was or the significance of “less than 500 miles”. I knew I had to walk two miles once and it was not something I was excited about. So how could something that had gone almost 500 miles not be worn out? Hey! I was a kid.

    It was always a great day when he would ask me to hold a wrench or hand him a part that was just out of his reach.

    Summers usually go by pretty fast when you’re a kid, but that summer I was having the time of my life and it flew by.

    The day finally arrived when it was time to start it for the first time. I felt so special when he said, “Been waitin’ for you kid”. There weren’t any mufflers on it yet, only the open headers.

    He pointed to a spot about ten feet from the car and told me to stand there. Then he picked up a button from the cowl, (I had no idea what a cowl was yet), connected to some wire. “You ready?”. Boy was I ready!

    He held that remote start button up like it was a detonator and thumbed it. A couple of revolutions and boom! It fired! The sound and the fury coming from that engine were amazing! The ground was shaking! Those were totally new sensations for me and I was hooked! The “seed” had been firmly planted. He was all over it checking this and adjusting that until he was satisfied that it was “tuned” to perfection.

    When he finally shut it down he looked over at me with a S.E.G. And said, “pretty cool, huh kid?”. “Yeah Unc, that’s cool!”.

    “Can we go for a ride?”. “Maybe in a week or so, I still have a few things to finish before we can take it for a blast”. The wait was painful.

    During the next week he would adjust something and then take it out for a test. The street that my grandparents lived on paralleled U.S. Route 1. I would watch as he drove down the street and then listen when he turned onto Route 1 and invariably put his Engineer booted foot into it. I could hear every time he shifted that Lasalle transmission and spun the tires. He knew I was listening and it seemed liked he was writing a song just for me. He was a pretty good guitarist too.

    Finally it was time for my ride! Unfortunately, my dad happened to stop by and Andre’ said he was going to take him for a ride first. Okay, I guess I could wait a little longer.

    I watched them go down the street and heard them turn onto Route 1. I heard the roar and the squeals and then they were coming down the street. Soon it would be my turn.

    They pulled into the driveway and through the windshield I could see the big S.E.G. on Unc’s face.

    I had never seen my father tremble before. He closed the door and leaned against the car. Looking at me standing there with gleeful anticipation, he said, “the only time you can sit in that car is when it’s not running!”.

    What?!, did I hear that right? Why Unc, why did you have to show off for your big brother, couldn’t you have eased off just a bit I wondered. I would come to learn as I got older that “easing up” was not part of his makeup.

    Well, time moved on and a couple of years later my grandparents moved to Florida. I’m not sure if they wanted to move or just finally after 13 children, wanted to live alone.

    My uncles all went their own way. Andre’ moved to Oakland California and opened a hotrod shop. Through the years he built some interesting cars and bikes for people. Some for celebrities but mostly for people that wanted his hands on their projects.

    One of his own cars was in American Graffiti. And later on he was customizing Segways for people. He was the first to build off road Segways. His imagination was limitless.

    I would send him pictures of cars that I was working on and there was no greater validation for me than when he would call, photos in hand and say, “nice job kid”.

    I never did get to ride in that hotrod. But every time I walk into my shop and see the only surviving photo of it, I imagine me sitting next to him, we’re turning onto Route 1 and he blasts through the gears like I’ve heard him do so many times. We finally get back home and he looks over at me with that ever present S.E.G. And says, “pretty cool, huh kid?”. “Yeah Unc, that’s cool.......really cool!”.

    R.I.P. Unc, you did good.

    S.E.G.=Shit Eatin’ Grin :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2020
    ski, AndersF, Chris Nantus and 32 others like this.
  2. Cool story. :) HRP

    Here in the Sunny South the S.E.G. translates to P.E.B. ( Possum Eating Briers)
     
  3. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 3,472

    goldmountain

    You did pretty good writing,kid.
     
  4. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 11,257

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta

    Thanks for the story.
     
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  5. vtx1800
    Joined: Oct 4, 2009
    Posts: 1,415

    vtx1800
    Member

    Your story was worth reading, nice job!!
     
  6. ROADSTER1927
    Joined: Feb 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,963

    ROADSTER1927
    Member

    You did Good Kid!:D
     
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  7. Pretty cool story, kid. I enjoyed that and it was well written.Thanks for sharing
     
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  8. modagger
    Joined: Jul 2, 2013
    Posts: 313

    modagger
    Member

    :)
     
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  9. hook00pad
    Joined: Mar 5, 2013
    Posts: 21

    hook00pad
    Member

    Very Cool, Kid!
    Al Hook
     
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  10. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 8,409

    Budget36
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Great read, you certainly have a gift of putting pen to paper!
     
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  11. corncobcoupe
    Joined: May 26, 2001
    Posts: 5,907

    corncobcoupe
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

  12. modagger
    Joined: Jul 2, 2013
    Posts: 313

    modagger
    Member

    Thanks for all of the kind comments!

    Be well
    Jeff (The Kid)
     
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  13. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 7,874

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    Dang...
    That was pretty cool, kid.
    Really enjoyed that, Jeff.
    Thanks.
     
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  14. Great story!
     
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  15. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 28,594

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    A great tribute to your "Unc", and the rest of your Family - do you have someone to pass the "car seed" on t0?
     
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  16. modagger
    Joined: Jul 2, 2013
    Posts: 313

    modagger
    Member

    The handoff has been successful! My eleven and a half year old grandson reminds me a lot like the “kid” I was. He spends his days with my wife and I doing his remote learning. As soon as school is out my shop door opens and there he is ready to help with my hotrod or whatever else I happen to be working on.

    He loves to hear me talk about growing up and what a great influence not only “Unc” had on me but all the people that took time to actually talk to me. I was indeed very fortunate.

    Thanks for asking
     
  17. 40ragtopdown
    Joined: Jan 13, 2015
    Posts: 14,273

    40ragtopdown
    Member

    That was a great story . Thanks for sharing.
     
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  18. jaracer
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,475

    jaracer
    Member

    A really great story, thanks for sharing.
     
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  19. You were fortunate to have an uncle like that. Many of us would have wanted one.
     
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  20. modagger
    Joined: Jul 2, 2013
    Posts: 313

    modagger
    Member

    Yes Nick, and the older I got, the more I realized the value of the skills and wisdom that were given to me by unselfish adults, and my responsibility to do the same. I hope they would approve of how I’ve handled their gifts.

    Be well
    Jeff
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2020
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  21. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 7,874

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    "... sponge like brain."
    LOL, that's great.
    My little buddy, Zander is like that. 11 years old and very inquisitive. Smart, too. And he's got both his dad and me feeding information to his little sponge brain.
    I like how you said that you appreciated it more as you got older. That's how it usually goes. But it gives me some assurance that some of it will stick with Zander even after I'm not around.
     
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  22. moparboy440
    Joined: Sep 30, 2011
    Posts: 856

    moparboy440
    Member
    from Finland

    Great story!
     
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  23. modagger
    Joined: Jul 2, 2013
    Posts: 313

    modagger
    Member

    Ricky

    I can guarantee that as long as Zander is alive, you will be too. How satisfying it is to explain something to one of these kids and, bing! The delight of comprehension flashes across their face?

    We’re not only passing on the hobby, we’re making memories for them and us.

    You’re doin’ good!

    Be well
    Jeff
     
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  24. corncobcoupe
    Joined: May 26, 2001
    Posts: 5,907

    corncobcoupe
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

  25. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 7,874

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    Thanks a lot, @modagger .
    Very nice of you to say.

    "The delight of comprehension."
    Yes.

    Zander was looking at a simple design I did on the frame of the custom bicycle I built him. Gave it to him for Christmas.
    Wanna see it?

    https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/posts/13876474/

    He asked, "How did you do that?" I said, "Just tape it, paint it and pull the tape." He asked further, "But how can you make tape curve?" I explained, You can curve narrow tape... 1/8", 1/4" wide.
    Zander... "Ohhhhhhhhh."

    He said to me recently, Mr. Rick, I'd like to help you build your old car.
    :)

    One day, he was in the garage with me, walks up to the engine I plan on installing in the car. It's just sitting on the stand, nothing done to it yet. He asks me, "How's it doin'?
    Me... "Oh, pretty good." LOL
    I believe he's anticipating hearing it run as you did with your uncle's car.

    I guess you can see why I enjoyed your story so much.

    I promise, Jeff... when the time comes, I'll make sure Zander is there and I'm gonna hold up the starter button like a detonator... just like your uncle did.

    I'm sorry for the loss of your uncle. I'm happy for your great relationship with him.

    My uncle taught me how to burn ants with a magnifying glass. :rolleyes: :D

    All the best to you.
     
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  26. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,751

    The37Kid
    Member

    What a great story, thanks for sharing it. Bob
     
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  27. Nicholas Coe
    Joined: Jul 5, 2017
    Posts: 2,075

    Nicholas Coe
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Outstanding! You could write a hell of a novel about those days. I can see the movie version now!

    Sent from my Pixel 3a XL using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
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  28. Nicholas Coe
    Joined: Jul 5, 2017
    Posts: 2,075

    Nicholas Coe
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

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  29. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 7,874

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    X2. It would be interesting personally, and we'd love to be able to tell people that we know the nephew of the man who built that car... right........ there.
     
  30. modagger
    Joined: Jul 2, 2013
    Posts: 313

    modagger
    Member

    Rick

    I’ll bet the cloth that you and I were cut from is full of holes and in tatters because it’s the nature of those of us in the hobby to share and nurture.

    I wish you could’ve heard me laugh about your uncle and the ants! Andre’ taught me that same skill but I left it out of the story so as to not offend the PETA members among us.

    What a wonderful model you are for Zander. And the things you’re teaching him. Those are life skills!

    Very cool bike! Just like I was, he’s a lucky guy.

    There’s a really detailed thread about Andre’s Graffiti car but I can’t figure out how to copy and paste the link to it. Can anyone school an old fool?
     
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