Categories
Cars Life Lessons

It was a Red 1956 T-Bird

It was a red 1956 Thunderbird just sitting there, hidden in 5′ tall weeds.

Dad was an avid gardener with a love for growing fresh vegetables. It was his way to relax, and I was generally a part of the labor. Rototilling, forming up the rows, planting, watering, and weeding were things I could always help with. Plus sharing in the bounty at the table. His gardens always produced more than we could eat, so we shared a lot with neighbors.

In the spring of 1965, I accompanied Dad to one of his favorite nurseries. They specialized in tomatoes and offered the biggest variety and the healthiest plants. Dad would spend hours looking at the plants and picking out the ones that met his approval. It was always a lengthy process.

After he shopped for a while, I got tired and wandered off. As a 15-year-old, gardening was not my thing, but wandering and looking at starter plants was boring. I excused myself and went outside.

I saw some old equipment on the other side of one of the big greenhouses and headed that way. The area was full of old farm equipment surrounded by tall weeds growing up to about 5 feet tall. Struggling to get farther into the weeds to see what was hidden from view, I saw something red peeking through off to my left.

Moving that direction, I stepped next to a very oxidized, red 1957 Thunderbird. It looked intact. It had a red hard top and a V8 emblem on the side of the front fender. Getting around to the driver’s door, I could see a white interior with bucket seats. There in the console was a standard transmission. A V8 with a manual transmission.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. As I was running back to get my Dad, he was coming out of the greenhouse with carts full of plants and seeds for garden.

I helped him get the items loaded into the back of his pickup and as calmly as I could, told him about my find. I explained we needed to find out who owned the car so we could buy it because it needed a good home.

After a very short discussion, he explained to me that it would be too much work to get it home and do all the repairs it needed.

A few months later, I had my license and I went back by the nursery to see what I could find out. It was gone. The field was mowed and cleaned of all the old equipment and the T-Bird. Gone.

Heart broken, I got back into my 1960 Ford Station Wagon and drove home. The opportunity of a lifetime was gone.

There are few times I was dumbfounded by my Dad, but this was one of them.

Categories
Cars

My “Money No Object” Cars

What are your “money no object” cars?

There are two on my list. I have lusted for these since High School and have not changed my mind in 49 years.

Of course, there are other cars I would take, but these are the favorites.

A 1969 or 1970 Boss 302

'70_Ford_Mustang_Boss_302_(Les_chauds_vendredis_'10)

A 1970 Hemi Cuda

'70_Plymouth_Barracuda_('11_Auto_classique_VAQ_Mont_St-Hilaire)

Now tell me you wouldn’t take either of these.

So tell me, what are your “money no object” choices?

Categories
Cars Information

Pictures With Cars

In the past, pictures of cars frequently included a person standing in front. A fine time-honored tradition, if you ask me.

In going through old photos, one can see my family was part of the tradition. I am in seven of the photos below, even as others are featured.

Look through your photo archives and I bet you will discover the same thing. Am I right? Let me know in the comments.

Categories
Cars Life Lessons

A Real Bucking Bronco

The bucking was fierce. Back and forth, up and down. Then, as quickly as it began, it quit. Once again I failed to meet the challenge. But I was determined. Again and again, the bucking continued until I rode to the metaphorical buzzer.

LRH-7thGrade_age13_Canyon_1964.jpg

I was thirteen years old and all I thought about was cars. In Texas, a drivers license was freedom from riding the bus to school every morning. And a Texas license was available at age fourteen. It was time to learn how to drive.

For several years, I’d watched Dad drive his old ‘57 Chevy pickup with ease: starting, shifting, braking. His use of the clutch was an art I hoped to learn. Our two family autos had a three-speed transmission with what is now called, three on the tree. We just called it a manual. The clutch was the trick and learning it was the challenge.

Summer Weekends were Family Time

We spent almost every weekend the summer of 1964 on Buffalo Lake—skiing, boating, and fishing. With both Mom and Dad working full time jobs during the week, the weekends were family time. Mom would get home first on Friday evening and begin preparations. When Dad got home, we would hook up the boat trailer to his pickup and then I cranked the handle down to the hitch on the ball attached to the rear bumper.

The drive to the lake took about an hour, then we set up the tent and launched the boat in plenty of time to watch the beautiful Texas Panhandle sunset. A little night-time fishing and then off to bed in our big Army-surplus tent.

On this particular weekend, Dad asked if I was ready to solo. I knew exactly what he meant and immediately agreed. The area around the lake was the perfect place to learn to drive, and Dad tossed me the keys to the pickup and said “Don’t hit any trees.”

His pickup was not the kind you see on magazine covers with brilliant paint jobs and plush interiors. No, this was Dad’s work truck. It was that strange bluish aqua color so popular in the late fifties. The interior was plain and well-worn, and smelled like a welder’s truck. Grease, welding rods, burned gloves, and there was normally a welding helmet on the floor board. 

It was one of those days we dream about. The sun was warm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was still early enough in the season so the lake was not crowded. A perfect day to learn.

Determination Won the Day

I was determined that I would learn to drive the pickup that weekend. Coordinating the clutch and gas pedal more difficult then I expected. More gas, slower on the clutch … more bucking, and another stalled engine. Again and again, until finally …

The first time I got the pickup going without killing the engine, I crept along in first gear, slowly keeping the pickup in the ruts which ran through the trees. In some places, the tree branches reached out from the side of the trail, encroaching on the narrow set of tracks. Some of the trees were bois-d’arc, with branches of sharp, sword-like spikes reaching out to poke and scratch. Dad’s pickup suffered from that day under my control, but he didn’t mind. He spent most of the morning laughing loudly. I believe he was having as much fun watching as I was learning.

Finally, I was getting the right combination of gas pedal and clutch pedal to get the truck moving.

Continuing Challenges

Then came the next goal… shifting into second gear. Another challenge to overcome, that took several tries, but ended in success. Since the truck was all ready moving, second gear was a simpler task. I never needed third gear that weekend, but knew I could win that one, too.

That weekend, I learned to drive a standard transmission without burning up the clutch and later, Dad would work with me on the back roads around the house to make sure I understood all that was involved in driving. Checking the mirrors, paying attention to the gauges on the dash (yes, gauges, not lights), and watching in all directions for the unexpected.

It was the best summer of my life.

My Life with Cars

Looking back, cars have played an important part in my life and this is one of the chronicles of my life. There will be more to come.

Categories
Cars Life Tech

Complying with the Normal

I will not say I’m retiring because I hate that word. It makes me think a person is giving up. Besides, biblically, the only retirement is death. I’m just getting my second wind and preparing for new adventures, new struggles, and new dreams.

This self-named website indulgence is for my opinions about life, tech, and cars.

I love tech. It makes me happy. I love cars, especially muscle cars from the sixties and early seventies. And life … what can I say. I am blessed with a wonderful family: my wife, my son and his wife and the two wonderful granddaughters.

Life

At my age, many have thoughts of slowing down, but nothing is farther from the truth. For me, it is time to pivot. To begin anew.

  • What is it like to be home every day?
  • What is it like for my wife to have me home every day? How do I deal with the flexibility?
  • Starting a new business
  • Time management for the above
  • Sleep management (no more 3:50 alarm clocks)
  • And more …

My wife reminds me frequently, “I took you for better or worse, but not lunch every day.” 

Tech

I love technology. All kinds of technology. 

Remember Day Planners? They were early time management technologies. Then digital arrived and I was blown away.

Personal Tech in a Small Way

Then Radio Shack had Rolodex develop and private brand a device that held contacts, notes, to do lists, and a calendar with reminders. It was fantastic and I went through three of them before they were discontinued.

Then came the Sharp Wizard. The high end model allowed for a cabled connection to a computer to backup information. Again, all four functions were available, contacts, notes, to do lists, and calendar. I went through two or three of those before the introduction of the Palm Pilot.

I used both the Rolodex unit and the Sharp Wizard for work. I was an outside sales rep and these electronics stored all the information about my customers on me at all times.

Then Palm released the Palm Pilot and everything changed. My brother-in-law loaned me his Palm Pilot (yes, the original) and my world changed forever.

First Owned Palm

Eventually I purchased a Palm Vx. It was the best device on the market and leaps ahead of my first devices … open pdf, Word, and Excel documents using apps built by third-party developers. That changed everything.

The Vx gave way to the T5 and later still, a Palm Centro phone. By the way, I still have all the Palm devices and they still work. I’m saving them for my Tech Museum.

Tech in a Larger Way

When Radio Shack decided to close out the TRS-80 Model 4P for half price, I bought one. The P stood for portable, but it was as large as a suitcase. It had two 5-1/4″ floppy drives and no hard drive. One floppy was for the Operating System, TRS-DOS, and the other drive was for programs and saving work.

Next was a DAK computer and I also bought a Gorilla Banana dot matrix printer. This was before Michael Dell began building computers in his dorm room.

Our second desktop is an interesting story. The DAK was getting old and slow and was ready for replacing. Our family got together and bought my wife and me a new computer for our 25th wedding anniversary in 1995. I still have that computer. It’s boxed and in the closet and last time I checked, booted and worked. Powered by a 286 Pentium processor, it was top shelf and set them back $2500. The good old days.

After that, my wife and I moved to laptop computers and I have a closet full of old, dead laptops waiting to be recycled. I just counted, and there are nine laptops in the house, but only four work.

There is one more desktop bought 11 years ago, an E-machine bought at Walmart for a few business applications. It still works, but is old and slow.

CARS

Car are a completely different topic and will be thoroughly discussed in another article.

Well, that is a quick overview of the new LarryHendrick.com. I hope you come along for the journey.