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"The 1921 Model T Ford

Updated on September 23, 2015

Mechanical Abilities

I’ve always admired my Uncle Bob and his mechanical abilities. He and my Mom’s sister, Helen, live in an upscale neighborhood of Granada Hills, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.

While I was stationed at San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot, I frequently visited them and Bob and I would work on my new 1974 Ford Pinto. Not that it needed it, but I wanted to keep it in mint condition…and Bob loved fooling around with cars anyway.

My uncle had a passion for rebuilding older vehicles and would sometimes sell one to a responsible, mature person who would give it a good home.

However, there were two he refused to sell. His 1952 Lincoln was one. But his pride and joy was a 1921 black Model “T” Ford sedan he had rebuilt from scratch in his youth. He had found the rusted out body in a junk yard and it took him years to locate all the original parts and reassemble it.

It was also my favorite and a source of many fond memories. I remember times he would take the car out of his garage where it was stored, covered with a protective tarp, for a wash and wax. Occasionally he would take me, my brothers, and sister out for a ride in it. We got a big kick out of that.

Told Us Stories

Uncle Bob told us stories about traveling across the states in his vintage automobile. But now both he and the car were getting a little too old for such adventures. The area he lives in has many steep hills and the car can hardly make the climb anymore. So, now it mostly stays secluded in his garage. Suggestions he put the antique in a museum have been mostly ignored.

Bob, a former WW 2 Navy Pilot, was also a member of the prestigious “Horseless Carriage Club” and he and his Model “T” were frequently invited to participate in parades and fund raising events. Sometimes we were allowed to accompany him. After all, there had to be somebody in the car to wave and smile at the spectators. For a bunch of youngsters that was quite a thrill.

My aunt and uncle lived close by to several celebrities and prominent people of note. For instance, Max Baer who portrayed the character of “Jethro” on the hit television series “The Beverly Hillbillies” lived a few houses down the street. I remember our family Christmas caroling in front of his house.

My uncle’s next door neighbors were millionaires and we often swam in their pool along with their children. This isn’t to say they were rich, but they weren’t exactly poor either. Bob had held a high level position with “Hughes Aircraft” before retiring.

I recall riding in several fund raising parades, even in my teens, where movie stars and other celebrities lent their personalities to charitable causes. It was exciting for us to actually meet some of them. There was Paul Brinegar, the grizzled cook from “Rawhide”, Lee Merriwether of “The Time Tunnel” and Alvy Moore, as Hank Kimball, the bumbling county agriculture representative on “Green Acres”. Bob wasn't as starstruck as we were, but he did enjoy a close up inspection of the famous "Batmobile".

These days, Bob is past 87 years old and mostly confined to a wheel chair. He suffers from cancer and other ailments. However, he still maintains his pride and joy via another pride and joy…his daughter Bridgette who shares his love of cars and will someday inherit it.


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