Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Cars in my Life

I started driving at about 12 years old when we moved to Ontario, NY on 35 acres of land.

We had a 1948 Oliver tractor, and a 53 Ford pickup truck, we used on the property. I cut my driving teeth on these two vehicles first, off the road. The poor truck, which we nick-named "The Beetle" had many scrapes and dents thanks to my ineptitude in driving, but, I did learn to drive.

At about 16, one day, my sister fell while in our back garden and broke her leg. I did not have a drivers license, but eased her into the back seat of Dad's 59 De Soto, and drove her into the village to the doctors.It was late spring with the yards still pretty wet and I drove the car right up to the doctor's office door, leaving muddy tire tracks in my path. The next visit to the doctor, revealed cut telephone poles, staked and lining the edge of the parking lot! Oh well!

My first real legal drive on the road car was an old 61 Volkswagen. I paid $ 300.00 for it and it was tired. I loved it to death. Faded red, rusty floor pans, 6 volt, no heat, I could drive it for two weeks without a fill up. After Dad deeming it unsafe, he bought a 65 Dodge Coronet 440 from our neighbor, handing me the payment book and wishing me luck with it. It was barely two years old. To an eighteen year old, it was kinda boring in contrast to the ole VW. Soon afterward, I found an old 1957 MGA roadster convertible in Rochester for $ 200, and towed it home with a hunk of rope, my friend, Lonnie in tow with my new toy. It had no top, it would not start, but I bought it anyway. We began the long tow trek home to Ontario from Rochester. Unknown to me, Lonnie, instead of keeping the car in neutral, put it in high gear while I towed it home. Right in the four corners of Webster, I heard a loud bang and looked in the rear view mirror. I could not see Lonnie or the MG; they were shrouded in a thick cloud of black smoke. the car started! As the smoke cleared, there sat Lonnie at the wheel of the MG, a big grin on his face. He put the car in neutral, and we continued home to Ontario, the MG, idling roughly. It only ran on 3 of the four cylinders, having a cracked head. I found a used head at a junk yard, and it now had all four cylinders banging! The car was more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I drove it about a 1 1/2 years, till I went into the Navy.

Once I settled in Norfolk, Va. in the Navy, I bought a 1962 Rambler. This was the one and maybe only piece of crap car I've owned. It smoked from bad rings, and broke down on a regular basis. Among the more famous break downs, I recall the single strap holding up the gas tank breaking, tank scraping on the road. Another time, while in the morning traffic jam on route to the Navy base, a tie rod end let loose, making it impossible to turn the steering wheel to the right. The single U-joint assembly broke one time, leaving me stranded again. I was forced to drive it for a couple years till I could afford something better.

Than came the 1968 Camero Rallysport, with the hidden headlights, 327 CI and Muncie 4 speed transmission. Very cool! By then, I was slowly learning how cars worked, and fixing most of what I was capable of. I guess I got more than a few speeding tickets in that baby! I had it almost five years, and just got bored with it, moving on to a 1968 limited edition MGC with a six cylinder engine they only made one year. being a fan of the British sports cars, I loved it dearly. I was not the first owner, not the fourth, but about the fifth owner to have that, and was forced to fix all the things the previous owners did not! It needed something done to it on a weekly basis. Being a limited edition auto, parts were hard to come by and it might sit for weeks, waiting for some stupid part. Another problem with it was, it was a two seater convertible, and I was married with two kids. Picture a wife, two kids, and 11 bags of groceries jammed into it! So the time came to get an additional car for family use too! I got a 89 Ford Galexie, purchased from a neighbor in my apartment complex. He had taken great care of it, and it served me well. Oh, and it was automatic, so my wife could drive it. So we had the MGC, and the Ford. After a long wait for parts for the MG, and I had it running like a top, I decided to sell it. A young Ensign in the Navy fell in love with it. His problem was that he had to sell his car before he could afford mine. I looked his over; a 1967 VW convertible, very well maintained. WE made a swap, he paying me money as well for the difference, and I was the proud owner of my second Volkswagen. What a great care free car it was. Peppy, sporty, a full back seat for the kids, a top that went up and down without calling on the neighbors to help stretch it into place (like the MG!)

After a couple years with the convertible, there was still a need for a second car, and I found a beautiful 1972 VW camper. We now were a two VW family. The camper was perfect for any driving condition. With screened in windows, curtains, table, sink, foldout bed, cupboards and stowage galore, it was heaven, whether driving to work, the beach, or taking it on vacation. Eventually, wife # 1, took the camper, left me with the kids and was seen no more, leaving me with two kids and a very tired VW convertible. It was however, easy to work on, and I managed to get many many more miles and a year or two before retiring it to service. Even when I sold it, Kelly, my youngest daughter, actually was the driving factor selling it. While I was at work, she made a sign for the window, and I came home one night, met at the door by the kids, who tossed $ 700 up in the air! It had sold the first day it was advertised, purchased by a sailor who only had a motorcycle, and needed a car too!

About that time, my girlfriend, later, wife # 2, got her income tax refund and wanted to get a car. She was hell-bent on looking at a French car, I can't even spell. A friend of mine, working at a car dealership had just called, informing me that they got an older car in trade that the dealer was going to auction off, being too old to sell. For $ 431.00, tax, registration, everything, turn the key, we got a 1967 Dodge Dart, we affectionately named Nelliebell. Another goldmine for a car. We drove Nellie for time out of reckening, till the interior, literally flaked away, and still got $ 70 bucks for her! With the VW convertible gone, I also got a 68 Ford Falcon for $ 100. It had a 3 speed on the floor, but reverse did not work. I backed it up by sticking my left foot out the door and pushing it backwards. I drove it a while till the first cold day and discovered the heater core was shot. For $ 100, it was a good ole car though.

We were back to one car, Nellie Bell. We needed two like most families. We planned on going to Florida to visit my in-laws and find a southern car to bring back up. My father in law called one night before we went down there. He said he had found a car and went ahead and bought it. He loved it and if we did not want it, he would keep it. It was a 74 Chevy Caprice, the last year of the HUGE cars! He was right, the car was nice. It was loaded, 350 engine, power everything. We drove it many years.

About that time, Nellie Bell was tired, really tired, and we looked for something else. Actually, the Caprice had given us good service, but was ready for the demolition derby too.

I found a 1978 Volvo 240 DL, the first of many Volvos for me. It was owned by a nursing student from California, no rust, and ran great. It was a hand me down from her father, another Volvo man, and well taken care of. She was firm on her price, and we bought it for $ 1500.00 Two days later, my wife and I took it to Cape Cod. Our first Volvo, we named Olga. We passed Olga down to our first daughter, Lisa who drove it for a while too. About that time, my wife and I were going through separation and I bought a 72 Volvo, I named Shven. I got Shven for $ 490.00, because it had a clunk in the rear somewhere when you shifted it. I drove it with the clunk for many many years before getting the clunk out. Shven, was a worthy car by any means.

One day, my friend Ron called and informed me that my car needed to be replaced and offered to sell me his 1990 Chevy van. The van had an oddity for going through U-Joints on an all too regular basis, but was a great vehicle. It had 368,000 miles when I retired it!

When Dad turned 97, the family talked him into giving up driving, and he gave me his 1994 Buick LeSabre. Being the black sheep of the family, I thought it was too much of an old man's car, and sold it to my room mate, who thought it was just fine. I then bought a 72 BMW 2002, and my ex gave me her husband's 87 Ford F150 pickup. I drove the BMW in the summers for about three years, and the truck all year. Whatever they say about Fords being bad, is just not true. It was a great truck, all the greater for it was free.

Eventually, the BMW needed work that my old back was not up to fixing, and I sold it and the truck.

I bought an 89 Volvo, Gustoff, which I still am driving. Gustoff, just turned over 249,000 miles last week! Good car!

Reflections on the end of a decade

Good bye, 2009, good bye, decade, good bye, red in my beard, good bye, country living.

Good bye, Eddy Cete, John Knar, Gary Comacho, Steve Freelove, Ronald Paul "Ugly" Albright, Ken Cummings, Steve Waldo, Dave Vogt, Kit Austin, Gary Zefting, Michael DeFrancesco, Terry Gore, Mark Manetta and Tom Chappell. If I've omitted anyone, I am truly sorry.
I only counted those my age or younger; I'm sure many others have passed in their natural way, like my Dad, Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Jane, Clyde Briggs and many others. For some reason, the ones, younger than I seem to leave a more lasting hurt then the ones who lived a long fruitful life.
Good bye, past vehicles of the decade. Goodbye, Chevy Van, who I put the most miles on: 368,000. Good Van; got it from my good dear friend Ron Ugly Albright. Lets not forget the 87 Ford pickup, I got from my ex for free. Once I fixed all the million little things broken, it served me very well. Good bye, 72 BMW. I had that beauty for only three years, driving it in the summers. sold it to get the 89 Volvo, I still am driving: Gustoff. Gustoff just turned 249,000 miles last week. In the future, I will do a blog on just the cars I've had over the years.
Good bye, Puddies. When I moved into an old house in Palmyra with a friend, she had two puddies, Mr & Mrs. Puddy. They were really brother and sister but I called them Mr & Mrs anyway. They were up there in age and pretty special to me. Mr Puddy had a very outgoing personality, and Mrs Puddy, a bit more shy. Mr Puddy, passed first at about 18 years old, right there in the old house where he always lived, his domain. When my room mate moved with her fiance to Seattle, she took Mrs Puddy with her, all the way cross country. She too passed on about a year later. When I was living alone there in Palmyra, they were both pretty darn good company to me.
Good bye Life Teen Mass. After five years, playing in the Life Teen band, and two years, directer of the band, the time has come to resign from that venture. The church management and i do not agree on how things should be done, and that's all there is to that. I am still in mid-stream, composing the 150 Psalms that make up the weekly readings over a three year cycle. I have about 50 to go.
Happy New Year, and Happy new decade. Time to look forward to the things to come, social security, composing and recording more music, writing memoirs, and canoeing more. It's been said before, and time to say again: "Old too soon, and wise, too late"

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday after Christmas

Hello, Blog World!

Dec. 28th 2009 Wow; where did the time go? I guess it's true, the older we get, the faster the time seems to pass. But what have I learned? This year did seem very dis-heartening in many respects. Good folks going their own separate ways, a step son, trying to find his place in a big world, and creating havoc along many lines, the economy taking a dump into the abyss, and wow, I am whining, aren't I?
The good news: I'm still above the grass, the Volvo turns over 249,000 miles and although experiencing some problems, still rolling down the road. Jesus has not left my side. Though all my transgressions, sinning, insulting him, he's still there, merciful, forgiving, loving, the perfect Father. The perfect Father in an imperfect world.

Hold me, Jesus, for I am weak
I hunger for your presence
Seeking the rock to plant my feet
How glorious, my Saviour

Wrap me in your warming cloak
I'm shivering outside it
Only You wash clean my stains
My precious God, my Saviour

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Stick your cell phones,computers and Ipods where the sun doesn't shine

OK, this digital age has gotten out of hand, or should I say people have gotten out of control with the cell phones, laptops, I Pods,etc. You can't have a meal in a restaurant, shop, sit in a waiting room, car, or any other public place without the annoying drone of people on their precious phones. In New York, we put into law talking or texting while driving, and it has not stopped people one bit from what I can see. When are we going to learn? Last week, at a diner, a jerk at a near-by table gets a call, leaves his table, stands right behind me and talks on his stupid phone. I hear them going off in the midst of Mass for crying out loud. They can't even put them on vibrate. Don't get me wrong; I do have a cell phone. It's on 90% of the time, always on vibrate. I turn it off or to silent when I step into the church sanctuary for Mass. If I am in a group of people, I do not stop to answer it; I may check and see who is calling then step out in private and talk. If I am driving, I either pull off the road, or not answer at all. The texting crap is out of control too. We are media crazy all together. It's driven me nuts to the point that I have not even watched TV or gone to the movies any more. Many people don't even watch TV; they simply have it on as a white noise. How stupid is that? Yes, I am on the computer at this moment (obviously) I am not saying all the high tech gadgets are useless; I am saying that most people are way over-board with the continuous use, 24/7. If some terrorist really wanted to pour havoc to the world, they would figure out how to knock off the satellites we use for phone and Internet service. That may be all we need to bring an end to the world!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rochester NY Skyline

I was driving around this morn, taking photos and sight seeing like a tourist in and around downtown Rochester, NY. I passed through some neighborhoods and my heart sank as I passed house after house, some with boarded up window, some just plain busted out and no boards. It seemed as though I passed through an area of a war zone. In-between the boarded up houses, some families still resided, kids playing in the streets, people out on their porches. I was only going to post the nice scenic pics of the Rochester skyline, but decided to show the ugly along with the beautiful. I wish I knew the solution to the problem, but where does one even begin? Is it imperitive to change the inner city society before we can repair the landscape and neighborhoods? If one started with one busted up home, and fixed it, people would be breaking in and stealing the copper wiring, pipes, and anything else they could sell before one night was over. I wonder if there is a fix at all!