by cuzzin cecil
My first car and learning to drive.
| Growing up with a Nomad Father was not easy as I averaged two schools per year and total climate change every few months of my younger years. I happen to be one of those people who lived a life of short stories and constant adventures as I was always active and outdoors when possible.
Around the time I turned 12, big kid now, and almost a teenager, I moved to the ranch of an Uncle who had become wealthy through hard work and perseverance. But, he is another story.
My older brothers taught me to drive at the ripe old age of 12. There were two vehicles mainly that we drove besides tractors and equipment. A small Willys Jeep and a Jeep pick up were my first lessons as I did my very best to emulate my older brothers with driving skills. Of course there is not much skill in just pointing the nose of a vehicle and changing gears but on a farm or ranch one has to learn to back up a trailer and each trailer as well as the vehicle create a different challenge as wheel base, trailer length, and number of axles, all create easier or more difficult backing of them. So, competition thrived between siblings and cousins as we all endeavored to be the better driver.
One day I was doing an errand and out of nowhere a woman asked me if anyone would want an old car on blocks in her yard. A 1951 Ford Flathead. It only needed a tune up or carburetor kit but being mechanically inclined I jumped at the chance. I was now 14, going on 40 so I told her I would like to have it. That same day it found a new home out behind the barn. A few days later and it was running and I was driving it around the back roads. The problem with old cars is that they are pretty well worn out when people put them up on blocks next to their homes. Couple that with a lead foot kid who liked to drive hard and fast and things happen. This particular car, my very first, would be a collectors dream today. A 1951 Ford business coupe. Two doors and no back seat, just a place to put samples, wares, and briefcases in the back. It had the standard Flathead V8 engine, column shift, 3 speed transmission. I loved that car and was always having to repair something. It had an appetite for throughout bearings, it ate them like candy. I was lucky enough to have the owner of a junkyard as a friend and I would visit the yard, stroll through and find a Ford car missing the engine and there would be the used bearing sitting in the clips of the transmission shaft. Almost no one wanted used bearings so my friend just gave them to me.
To change the bearing on that car, one has to drop the drive shaft at the rear housing, unbolt four main bolts that mount the transmission to the rear of the engine, then slide the transmission back enough to reach inside and remove the old bearing that just clipped in place and replace it. I became so good at this that driving down the road and "bang" the bearing would break, obviously a slightly warped or bent shaft caused the breakage, and I would coast to the best spot I could find, grab my tools, slide under the car on an old piece of cardboard and 15 minutes later a new (used) bearing would be in place. Many a date sat impatiently while I was repairing my old Ford in latter years. I kept that car until I joined the Navy at 17. Meanwhile, I made 'boogy' money finding old cars for free and hauling them to the junk yard or sometimes take two or three similar old Fords and make one good one that I could sell and junk the others. Back then people would give them away just to get them out of the yard.