Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Walking In My Dad's Shadow

Several years ago I sent my mom some money for her birthday. She poked it down in a corner of her purse and let it age for a while. Then one day while out with my dad she spotted the remains of an old buggy. Almost a buckboard yet a bit larger. Probably something like a doctor's buggy but without the canvas top. It was in sad condition but she knew that my dad could put it back together. And he did. He saved as much of the original wood as he could and then made patterns off the pieces he couldn't save and before long they had a nice little black buggy sitting in the front yard at their little farm. The wheels on it were not original. None came with mom's purchase, but dad found some metal wheels that he took off some farm impliments and so it looked pretty cute.

Well, in August of 2009 my dad passed away. It was tramatic for all of us because my dad, in his quiet way, had been the head of our family. He was the leader. He was the one we called when we faced a problem because he seemed to have the answer even if it was just to listen to us.  When we went back for the auction at the old home place I asked if I could have the buggy. Mom said yes, since she was moving into a senior adult duplex where she couldn't have yard art.

I loaded it on my motorcycle trailer and towed it to Colorado where we parked it in the yard and Jane immediately loaded it down with geraniums. For two years it sat there through rain, snow, sleet, hail and hot mountain sun. The grandkids climbed on it and pictures were taken with people sitting in it.

When we came home from Seattle one of the first things I noticed was the old buggy in the yard. It had seen better days. The seat had collapsed and the box was ready for someone to step right through. I decided that it had to be one of my summer projects.

Two weeks ago I drove to Home Depot with measurements in hand, purchased wood and screws and paint and hurried back up the mountain to begin the process.

But as I started dismanteling the buggy I realized that I was handling the wood that my dad had last repaired. I was trying to rebuild something that he had rebuilt years before.  I carefully took it apart and just as my father had, I saved the pieces for patterns. I drew them with care because I wanted it to be like my dad's. It's funny how, in moments like that, I find myself talking to my dad and wondering what he would think. "Am I doing this right?"

In a matter of about 4 hours I had the thing put back together and ready for paint. By the next afternoon it was back in the yard and Jane was out looking for flowers to put in it. This weekend two of our grandsons will be here and I can guarantee that they will be climbing into that buggy and sometime during the hours that they are here, pictures will be taken.

But I realize that, not only did I take patterns off my dad's buggy, but I've used him as a pattern all of my life. He was such a good man and his values were so clear. He wasn't a baron of industry or an executive in some Fortune 500 company. He was a simple man who repaired boxcars for the Santa Fe Railroad for 43 years. But his life was worthy of emulating. He was my dad and working on the buggy reminded me again of my rich heritage through he and my mom.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Colorado Summer

Jane and I have been back in Colorado since May 4th. After 9 months in Seattle it was nice to find our way back to our own home. You know, there's just something about being around your own "stuff." We totally enjoyed out time living in Seattle and we love the people at the Aurora church but coming home is a wonderful feeling. I still fly to Seattle on Saturdays to preach on Sunday and then I fly home Sunday afternoon. It's a nice way to spend the weekend.

After coming home I started scheduling my little projects. I've got one specific project each week plus the little things that have to be done just to keep the home place up.

Two weeks ago I was mowing the yards (mine, the next door place and the place next to it, plus the lot across the stream). As I started to ride the little John Deere back across the bridge I hit it a bit hard and the crazy thing flipped right over backwards on top of me. Luckily, I'm bigger than the mower but it still left some bruises. I had shut off the blade and naturally the thing stopped running when it flipped. After it landed on me I pushed of off to the side, got up and set the mower up on it's wheels and then hit the switch. It started and I finished mowing. That was on Tuesday. On Thursday we looked out the back windows to see a large bear strolling down toward the stream. He stepped in, took a drink and then just layed down in the water. I stepped out to grap a picture and the minute he saw me he got up and took off.

And then while looking at the internet I discovered a little Model A Pickup for sale. I contacted the owner and went to see the vehicle. He told me he was wanting to build a Rat Rod and didn't want to cut up the Model A. I had a great idea. "Would you like to take a 35 Ford truck in on trade? It would be a great candidate for a Rat Rod." I went home that night and sent him pictures. He accepted my offer.

Now I had to get a trailer, load the 35 and drive it almost 100 miles, unload the truck with his help and then load the Model A.

On Wednesday we loaded the 35 on the trailer. How, you ask? With the use of a Come-a-long. That's a cable that's attached to a rachet and for a fat guy to keep pumping that rachet until the truck was on the trailer was quite a feat. Oh, and before I even started that I was pulling the 35 with the John Deere while Jane sat in the cab on a paint bucket to steer. here's the thing. The 35 had no brakes. Once I got it to rolling she couldn't stop it. I looked over my shoulder just as she hit the back of the mower and started pushing me sideways. I thought I was going to go over once again, but I knew that if I did it now I'd get run over. The truck finally stopped rolling after she pinned me between her truck and the trailer.

Thursday we got up early and headed to north east Denver to pick up the Model A. It was a great expereince. You see, the first car I ever had was a 1931 Model A Coupe. I started building it when I was 15. It was a father/son project. My dad knew all about Model A's. I found the frame on a flat bed trailer that my uncle Wayne owned. I went and asked him if I could buy it from him and he was kind enough to give it to me. We found the coupe body and fenders for $35 dollars and a rebuilt Model A engine for $20 bucks. (Remember, this was 1963). Dad and I spent hours working together on that little coupe. My last few days as a sophomore in High School, I drove that car to school.

This little truck reminds me of my dad and the time he spent with me all those years ago. As I was pulling the batter out of it today I was wishing my dad could be here with me. I wish I had paid more attention when we were building the first one.

Well, the Model A is  a project, but not the same as the other specific projects I have for the summer. It's a project that will take some time. I may never get it finished. My Son-In-Law Josh, says that my car projects are just vehicles that I pull or drag home in order to watch the air escape from the tires. I guess we'll see. Anyway, I have a summer full of jobs and a mind full of dreams.

I love summer in Colorado.