Thursday, May 2, 2013

Again I am falling back to share old recollections with you. Each day, I am penning them down, but I am not feeling the need to write poetry, which I am sure to some, considered a blessing.

This is an anecdote about an old car ride.  As a kid, I used to wander next door to visit the neighbor boys. They were older than I was but it was something to do. They were always tinkering on an old car, either dismantling one or fixing it so they could drive it. They would sometimes do something unusual.
I can remember that they raised the rear end of an old truck and by using a long loop of leather belting and a home made stand for a saw blade, made a way for their dad to saw slabs for the wood burning furnace.
Another time, by raising the back end of a car and sliding a wooden trough under the one tire, they could take the outer skins off the green walnuts. The spinning tire was hovering above the trough about 3/4 of an inch. By rolling the walnuts down the trough, the spinning tire would scrape the husk from the nut. We would gather the nuts up and spread them out to dry.
The exact experience I wanted to share, happened as follows. The younger boy was rewiring an old car. He had the interior stripped for easy access to all of the wires that he was replacing. Only the front bench seat, dashboard, steering wheel, and gear shift were left inside. The car was an older Dodge I can't remember the year, but the hood was hinged at the back. The front of the hood curved down like an eagle's beak almost meeting the bumper, between two frog-like headlamp eyes.
When I said, "Hi.", he said, "That's enough for now. Let's go for a ride." and closed the hood of the car.
I grabbed the thick chrome handle and twisted it downward. The door clicked open. Giving a tug, the heavy door swung open and I climbed into the passenger seat. The bench seat was plush, full and comfortable. There were no seat belts in the cars at that time.
Les jumped into the driver's seat and turned the key. The engine coughed once and then rumbled to life. The noise reverberated. It bounced off the bare metal interior of the body. Les was sitting behind the large steering wheel. It was cream-colored and had a matching "steering knob" attached to it.
Spinning around in the driveway, we were off. At the end of the driveway, we stopped, then shot across a busy highway and onto the series of dirt roads beyond.
One of the dirt roads ran through an abandoned camping area. Some people still used it and sometimes the local Boy Scout troops still camped there. The road was actually a narrow lane, little more than two bare grooves with a hump of grass in the center and grass berms on either side. It had rained and water was laying in some of these channels.
Les was speeding through the long straight aways and rooster tails of water were arching out behind the old car.
This is the exciting part. I was watching the fan of water when I heard Les say, "Oh no! Boy Scouts!"
I swiveled my head around in time to see a double line of Boy Scouts hiking on the berms of the lane. It was too late for Les to stop without wrecking the car and possibly hitting some of the scouts, so he said, "Hold on!" and pushed down harder on the accelerator. "I don't want to be here in the middle of a bunch of angry and wet scouts."
The rooster tail rose higher. I could see scouts diving off the berm into the woods beyond. Just as we made the middle of the scout troop, WHAM! the hood of the car popped open, flew up, and blocked the view through the windshield. Les was blinded, but not for long, By squatting down and leaning forward, he could see through the crack between the dashboard and the bottom of the hood. ZOOM! we sped by the confused and wet (I'm sure.) scouts.
Out of sight, Les turned the car down a dead end lane and turned the car around. He shut the car engine off, and we sat there. The only sound was the car engine cooling. He finally said, "There's no way I'm driving back that way right now. I know those scouts will be looking for us." Then he said, Reach back into the back of the car and grab some wire. That hood won't pop open any more." I grabbed a long piece of the wire that was left on the floor from the rewiring project and climbed out of the car to help. Pushing hard, we managed to get the sprung hood back into place. While I sat on it, Les slid under the car and wired it shut.
We sat on the bumper in the sunshine and relaxed for about twenty minutes before we drove back home. The Boy Scouts had gone. We were safe.

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