Saturday, May 19, 2012

Old Blue

Well, this blog entry has been delightful. It took the assistance of Bill Taylor, Alan Taylor and Johnny Gailey to fill in some blanks.

My dad had an old 1948 Chevrolet pickup. It's value was mostly sentimental. When he replaced it with the Chevy Apache pickup sometime in the mid-sixties, he took the '48 up to the Dry Farm (long before public landfills) and parked it in the ravine. It was too special to mix with the regular throw-away stuff, and there it sat until Johnny Gailey came along. I tracked Johnny down in Clifton just as he was walking in the door the other night. His wife handed the phone to him and off we went. I could tell he had fond memories of Old Blue. He said Dad had removed one of the wheels after he drove it in the ravine just to keep people from doing something stupid with it. That sounds like Dad. Johnny said he kept the blue color but dolled it up with some metallic paint. He replaced the flooring in the front, cleaned it up, fixed a few things, then drove it around for several years. My favorite part was when he said he fixed the broken speedometer by removing the gizmo and installing a match stick for the speedometer dial. He said he's kicked himself over and over for selling that truck. Apparently it went through several owners before it got to Gary Garner who sold it to some fellow in Sugar City. It's highly possible that Old Blue might be listed on Ebay like this version of the same vehicle (and I hope they haven't removed the ad before this posts:

Apparently back then, you only needed one tail light and it was on the driver's side. Bill said that they figured if you couldn't see it with one tail light, you weren't going to see it anyway. HA HA. That's probably true. Also, you didn't start the engine with a key. You turned the key, then stomped on a starter switch mounted on the floor. Now, I remember vehicles with a floor button for dimming the headlights, but I'd never heard of the starter thing. On rare occasion, even now I find myself stomping my left foot on the floor to dim my headlights, sort of like throwing your arm out to catch the long-ago grown up kid as you apply the brakes.

The '48 did not come with signal lights, either. To turn left, you stuck your left arm horizontally out the window. To turn right, you indicated by sticking your left arm out the same window, only you bent it at the elbow and sort of pointed your hand to the right. Nobody had backup lights on their vehicle. The single red bulb on the back was for night-driving and braking only. The light got more intense when you applied the brakes so you'd know to slow down should you be following. Since everybody in town knew where everybody lived, signaling wasn't as big of a problem as you might think, and it was often omitted in the winter when it was too cold to keep the window down. Also, there were no cute little windows that you could bend to get a little breeze in your face, though there were some vents you could open and close from the outside for a little air movement, highly inconvenient and not too effective. Something I did not remember was that the windshield was in two sections split by a vertical divider.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Wave

I live on a corner lot and often sit out front on my park bench in the summer, watching the world go car at a time. In the evenings, and occasionally in the mornings, there are people walking by, sometimes in twos, sometimes in the accompaniment of dogs on leashes. There's an older couple who pass by in the mornings before it gets hot. We say "hello" and wave. He has a longer stride, so I'm guessing she actually gets more exercise. One neighbor down the street a bit has a big Rin-Tin-Tin kind of dog, not sure if it's male or female. We exchange waves. Another neighbor down the street had two grey dogs that looked like a mix between a poodle and a schnauzer, sort of like Pete and RePete. We either wave or have the same small conversation every time. A couple of years ago, there was just one grey dog, and this week when she walked by, she was not accompanied by a dog at all.

There is one amazing woman who mesmerizes me. A few years ago, before my knee issues, I would go to the nearby high school track and walk a few rounds. This one woman, who is probably my age or older, would appear and move about with Olympic-type speed. She is bronzed and has not one obvious ounce of fat on her body. There was an old movie called "Walk, Don't Run" that included an Olympic speed-walking competition. This woman could have won that contest hands down. I read where a regular walking pace is 3-3.5 mph, 4 mph being a brisk walk. This lady goes about 4.2 mph, I'd guess. She speeds by the house, speeds 'round the track several times, then speeds up and down the bleacher stairs for a while. (I believe coaches have football team members do these "ladders" as punishment.) Then she heads home, still at the same pace. There is always a bottle of water in her hand, and it's not unusual to see her pulling a couple of her grandkids in a little wagon behind her. None of it slows her down one bit. When I can catch her eye, I wave. Once she even slowed down just enough for me to have time to tell her she's amazing. I'm jealous of her knees mostly.

I like the wave you get (and give) after someone stops to let someone else into busy traffic. It's like you suddenly have a best friend.

In the countryside, waving is not unusual. I remember riding in the truck and watching Dad wave. If you were someone he knew but weren't particularly his forte, he would do the only-forefinger wave, keeping hands on the steering wheel. This is also the wave used for complete strangers, sort of a reserved greeting. A little more familiar-person wave would be the keeping-hands-on-the-steering-wheel-but-lifting-all-but-the-thumb-up wave. If it were someone he really liked or hadn't seen in a while, he would do a type of salute, even tipping his hat occasionally. That's when I knew we had passed someone really special!

This was back before the middle-finger salute was invented.