Tales from real life
|Well, if they're not true, they oughta be!|
|Dad always had a soft spot for Studebakers and I think he was both amused and pleased by my adventures with the pickup. I’d like to say that it became a lifelong interest and that I learned all about repairing and restoring old cars, but that’s someone else’s story. I just wanted to drive. My dad was a fair mechanic, but we didn’t have much money for new parts. I did the minimum necessary to keep the pickup going and made do with whatever was at hand.
There were a number of old vehicles available for parts in the old pothole, some dating from as far back as the 1940’s. The pothole was created when my uncles tried to dig a stock-watering pond into the top of a small rise about 100 yards from the house. It wouldn’t hold water, but its six-foot depth was perfect for hiding thirty years of junked cars from view. Why was it the ‘old’ pothole? I never knew, but that’s what everyone called it.
I mostly scrounged bald tires from those junked cars. I don’t think I ever had a complete set on the pickup that would’ve passed a safety inspection. And, boy, did I get good at changing tires and hot patching inner tubes. I always had two spares in the box and used them both on some trips.
In addition to worn tires, the shock absorbers didn’t, and the steering linkage had several degrees of ‘play’ when changing direction. A previous owner had installed a steering wheel spinner knob and I learned to use it to quickly correct course when a bump caused the front wheels to take an unwanted tack. And with every sharp bump or sudden change of direction, the truck body would do a rollicking bounce on the leaf springs.
In my mind, I drove to the Grand Canyon, the California Redwoods, or even Niagara Falls. In reality, I drove hundreds of miles that fall without ever getting more than fifteen miles from home. When winter iced over our gravel road, the pickup was parked, on advice of parents, to await the spring thaw.