Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Fifty-Seven Chevy

One of my favorite cars is the 1957 Chevy sedan. I never owned one but my brother once did. I wrote the following with his car in mind. Please note that this is entirely fiction and is not about my brother or me.

My Fifty-Seven Chevy

The sign on the windshield said for sale
Struck my eye 'cause she sure was a beauty
Jet black and meant to be mine I could tell
So I just had to have that fifty-seven Chevy

All through my junior and my senior years
Drove the Chevy to ball practice and the dances
Summers drove to the beach with her sitting near
Then on most Friday nights to the stock car races

My fifty-seven Chevy was my best friend
And nobody had any better
We went everywhere together back then

My brother drove me to the railroad station
In my fifty-seven Chevy on that cold day
Promised to put it in the barn for the duration
Watched my Chevy fade as I pulled away

Arrived in Vietnam in the spring of sixty-six
Saw four of my buddies blown away that year
I was the one that called in for the medics
The purpose of the war was no longer clear

Through it all I dreamed about getting back
I dreamed about driving my fifty-seven Chevy
That day that Charlie attacked our bivouac
Thought I'd never more see my fifty-seven Chevy

My fifty-seven Chevy was my best friend
And nobody had any better
We went everywhere together back then

When I got home the whole world had changed
Nobody wanted to talk to a Vet from Vietnam
Everybody looked at me like I was deranged
Got a bottle and drove away in my Chevy sedan

The cop pulled me over doing eighty-nine
He hauled me over to the Cass county jail
The Judge looked at me and gave me time
The next six weeks was nightmares and hell

My brother came for me in my fifty-seven Chevy
Hauled me away from jail but not my misery
Said he had found a job that was just for me
Pumping gas if I could just stay alcohol free

After work was done I stopped for only one
But then that one became a whole lot more
Ran the Chevy into a tree on my way home
I called my brother up from the country store

My brother said that the Chevy was wrecked
We hooked it up and pulled it back into the woods
And left it set there forlorn with all of my neglect
The frontend smashed in under my Chevy’s hood

My fifty-seven Chevy was my best friend
And nobody had any better
We went everywhere together until then

I have done some traveling around since that time
But never traveled in a any car that I have owned
I’ve always walked or I have hitched rides every time
Wanted to see my Chevy but I always postponed

Now those Agent Orange symptoms got me down
And I know that I am just about out of time
'Cause all the VA doctors say it won’t be too long
Before they put me in that dark grave of mine

I left a note tacked inside my brother’s back door
To bring the dozer when he comes back the lane
I’ll be sitting in my old Chevy just like long before
And he can bury the Chevy along with my remains

My fifty-seven Chevy is my best friend
And nobody has any better
We will be together like before again

Copyright 2011 Wayne Nolen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hot Rod Race

When I was a sophomore in High School I bought a 1952 Ford with a 239 cubic inch flat head V8. It was obvious that the valves were bad and I tore the engine down to replace them. The valves were seated in the engine block. I found that the valve seats were also cracked; but worse yet, the engine block itself was cracked where the valve seats were inserted. I was about to look for another engine as everybody said there was no way to repair the cracks in the block. My dad, who worked at the Bendix Missile Factory, however, said he might know of a way to install the valve seats in the cracked block. He suggested I might try an epoxy adhesive. Although the use of epoxy was not all that well known for such use in 1961, I decided to go for it. I glued the seats in the block with the epoxy and the engine ran like new. A lot of my friends made fun of my car saying my engine was glued together, but I never had a problem with the glued-in valve seats.

The following year, I purchased a 1958 Ford and so no longer had use for the old 52 Ford. My brothers and a few other friends and I decided to convert it into a stock race car. I was too young to drive the race car, without my parent’s approval, which was a solid no, so we got an older guy named Zeek, who was twenty-one, to drive the old 52 Ford. We raced it at the South Bend Motor Speedway and a few other tracks in the circuit. Zeek had a propensity to crash the car, usually on the second or third lap of each race. We would then haul the car back home to make needed repairs to race it again the following Friday night.

By the third week of this same routine, we all talked about finding another driver; but Zeek anticipated each race with such enthusiasm, that none of us had the heart to tell him that he was to be replaced. Then a miracle happened on the forth race of the season; Zeek didn’t crash. He actually came in third. At the end of the race we ran back to the pits to congratulate Zeek; but Zeek only muttered “The dammed throttle stuck half open and I had to throw her up in into third and just go with the traffic!”

The following week we hauled the Ford over to New Paris to race. With the throttle fixed, of course, Zeek again crashed during the third lap. This time he destroyed the entire front end of the car making it impossible to load on the trailer. We left the car lying there in a heap. No one had to inform Zeek he was no longer the driver.

I think of my old Ford flathead with a smile in my heart whenever I hear the song Hot Rod Race sung by Jimmie Dolan: