Chrome Jewels Part Three

What a great car, the ’51 Monarch.

With fender skirts and Hollywood muffler dual exhausts it was the coolest car we ever knew. Since it was Dad’s car, he was automatically the coolest Dad.

It was about 2 years old when he bought it from the family dentist – who was another cool man. The dentist was into racing small hydroplane boats and had a buddy who liked to (as the saying went) “breath upon” anything that burned gasoline – in order to make it go faster. This car was one he had “breathed upon”. It had hotter ignition and shaved heads on that flathead V8.

Back in the mid ‘50s most police cars were rather sedate and not too quick, there was no radar to catch speeders, and particularly in small northern towns, a snorty “breathed upon”  1951 Monarch with Hollywood mufflers and fender skirts could really make time heading north to the cottage for the weekend. No small towns had stop lights to impede progress back then.

With the windows open, Mom and Dad in the front seat, , two kids, two cats and a dog in the back, the fur would fly around inside the car and the rumble of the exhaust pipes would bounce off the store windows and walls in those small towns– and in the fall, the leaves would be flying off the sidewalks. The trunk loaded with suitcases and groceries gave the car that certain look – low in the back end and slightly raised in the front.

The dad loved that car and liked to drive fast. It must have been his wartime experiences that made it seem like he had no fear. But he never worried about his family being hurt or not being able to pass that other car on a two lane road at 90 miles per hour. It was just the way he was – he made it back from the war and that hadn’t killed him – so nothing like a little speed in his own car could touch that for risk.

He turned out to be right after all.

Chrome Jewels – Part 2

Over behind the little cottage we found this old car.

Funny, someone had used it for target practice – Stupid punks. Why would they do that?

Let’s see what it is………looks like a Prefect……English… did it get here? Why is it just here sinking into the sand and leaves?

You know, I remember hearing something about this when Gramps was talking to Uncle Fred a few years ago. Seems the owner was named Pappy Hall by the locals…Mr. Hall by the kids. He lived over in that little cabin and had a stash of nuts and seeds to feed the birds and some old English style candies for whenever the little kids would drop by to help feed the squirrels. Pappy was originally from England and might have been a veteran – that’s all I remember. But his family must have died- since he was always alone. Nobody ever said.

Story went that he was a retired streetcar conductor from the city with no family and not a lot of money.  I don’t think the City transit company had pensions back then. Gramps got to know him somehow and decided to help him out by giving him a small piece of property and that little cabin over there. Well Pappy Hall had this little car that he’d use to get groceries from town but his left leg was pretty lame – meaning he tended to burn out the clutch. Since he couldn’t change gears very well, he often would turn corners at speed and had rolled the car over more than once – see that dented roof and fenders on the far side? I guess sooner or later someone would come along and tip the car upright again. With no money to spare – and no local garage that knew how to fix an English car – especially and old one – Pappy just parked it. From then on, would walk to town to get his supplies. Sometimes the local farmers would give him a ride – feeling sympathy for this little old man with his lame leg. My guess is they came to know his schedule and watched out for him – made sure he had a ride. It was about 12 miles each way and must have been a pretty grim trip in bad weather. Or any time I would think – with that leg and carrying his supplies

Naturally he grew older and less mobile over the years but I don’t remember hearing what happened to him. All that’s left seems to be this old car and that little cabin. There is nobody left to ask about any more details.


Chrome Jewels – Part One

Hey you kids ! What are you doing out there?

The two boys jumped and spun around to look at the barn……………

The big voice seemed to be hollering from the upper floor in the barn……..there was an open window but no face.

“What are you doing, you two, I said……….Don’t move I’m coming down.”

The two boys froze. The shorter one said “he sounds really mad”. The taller one just nodded.

Out of the barn comes an old man in overalls and carrying the handle of an old axe.

Closer, when they could see his grey whiskers, he said “ I asked you what you are doing here? Who are you? Where are you from?”

The taller boy pointed to the two bicycles leaning on the corner of the barn. “I’m Billy and this is my brother Johnny…we’re from town….we just wanted to look at these old trucks.

“These are my trucks and I don’t let anyone touch them” he said.  “From town? “ Billy and Johnny who?”

“Farrell “, said the smaller boy. “We weren’t hurting anything”.

Classic Cars in Field

“Farrell?  Hmmm. Did your family own the general store in town? Now it’s a flower store?”

“Yes, said the taller boy. That was grandpa but he died”

The old man’s face softened a bit. “Yes I know. He was a friend of mine a few years back – actually a friend of my father’s”.

“So you boys like trucks do you? Old trucks?  I guess it won’t hurt to let you look them over. Just be careful you don’t break anything – or cut yourself on the rusty metal. That old car is mine too, plus the tractor- that was here when my father worked the farm…nothing runs anymore.”

“But I have a barn full of old cars. He points at the barn behind him … nobody lives in the farm house – I’m fixing it up. I live in that farm over there he points.

But when you’re done, come on over to the barn and I will show you some more old cars….but I don’t have all day.”