"Boys/Men and Their Toys" by Rolly A. Chabot
Here we are again at the keyboard, closing in on 1:45 am. Unable to sleep and I have to be up and on the go for the day at 6 am. Sound strange or does it sound familiar. Well for me it is far to often familiar. Far to many years of shift work and or grabbing sleep when I could and the end result is a totally messed up internal clock. Have no fear when it catches up I crash and burn for several hours.
RC Rumble our beloved writer here on hub pages left a comment on a hub I wrote yesterday on the medicinal uses of trees. He mentioned as a child recalling climbing in them and playing cowboy. It got me to thinking of my youth and the worlds we created as children to entertain ourselves. I thought I would maybe jot a few of these down.
Gather around, take up a place and I think hot chocolate all around tonight and lets have a few laughs. Please my home is yours, just rest and hopefully I can bring an old childhood memory back for you. Know that you are all dearly loved.
You may think I was related to this guy. Well maybe not that far because the used to call me Pyro when I was a kid. I lived on the edge. You see the difference from then to today is we had to use our imaginations. There was never any money for toys when I was a kid. Give me a can and a stick and I could occupy myself for hours.
Then I discovered adventure. The first was an attempt at becoming a downhill skier. Right, no money to buy any so the next best thing is make some. Dads old wooden rain barrel with the wooden staves became the patient. You I see borrowed two boards and sanded then all down on the convex side and polished for hours with moms paste floor wax. Bindings were simple just some rope tied around my feet. Poles came from the neighbours willow tree. (It was a midnight raid... OK)
You see I was one of the kids who never learned to spell the word fear so I had no idea what it even meant. In the small town where I lived we had a railway running through. From the top of the hill to the bottom I would say it was a good 100 yards. "Do you have any idea the amount of speed you can attain on homemade skis slathered in wax." It is something you would have had to try to understand. To put it mildly I would say I discovered SPEED. I might add here I had not a clue about turning. All I know was I was having fun and all my buddies were envious. It was a great day for a few moments anyway.
For those of you who are old as me you would know railway tracks in towns always had large posts and a page wire fence with 6 inch squares. It was 4 feet high on the edge of their property to keep kids away from the tracks. (Ya right) In this case the fence I was careening towards at top speed. I froze and ran face first into the fence. I had four perfect squares across my face. The fence never gave an inch and Dads water barrel ended up having two great looking staves back in place. A downhill skier was not my calling.
The best my dad could do was laugh, mom on the other hand took matters like these a little more serious. I had taken her wax and she discovered this hole in her can of wax. Of course I blamed my kid brother.
Everyone in town had a bike except for me. All I could do was stand in the hardware store window and stare. (Are you feeling sorry for me) Well you should but wait there was hope.
We as a family had gone to the Mountain Park for a holiday and part of the entertainment was to go to the town dump and watch the bears from the safety of the car. Mom would always pop a great big bowl of popcorn. To us it was like to the movies. That was until I spotted and old bike at the bottom of the dump. It was to become mine. Dad was my hero as he ran down and brought this sad looking thing back up and strapped it to the top of his car. (Trust me the picture above looks like a Cadillac in comparison)
Mine was missing the better part of the seat, one pedal, one tire and the back fender. I rode that thing all over the campground. The front rim grinding in the gravel. I had my bike. Mom and Dad had no fear of losing me, all they needed to do is listen and I could be heard coming.
Once I had it back home I cleaned it all up, saved all winter doing chores for the neighbours and bought a new tire. I was now in stealth mode and SPEED was again king. Then I discovered with a little ingenuity I could slip the gas powered motor off my moms wringer washer into a mounting bracket I had made and with a belt and few pulleys I had a motorcycle of sorts, my first. It was a simple design. Once the engine dropped it was direct drive. with no brakes just a wire running from the throttle wrapped around the handle bars. The inaugural run was from the hotel on the corner to the end of main street. Of course I had an admiring crowd.
Do you have any idea how fast a 52 pound kid can go on a bicycle with a 5 horse power motor. I was going for the land speed record in our small town. That was until someone opened the screen door on my Dads Pool Hall and Barbershop. The good news is I never went down and did earned the speed record for our town. My dads door was in tatters and so was my backside from his razor strap.
The lesson in life is parents keep and eye on your children at all times. Children always wear a catalog on your backside. Life can be full of little surprises when we fail to plan ahead. Good planning and insight can make the outcome more favorable. By the way the only way to stop the bike was to jump off before I ran into the slough at the end of main street. Both the bike and the motor got a good bath that day.
The motor was off limits from that day forward.
29 Ford Whipped
The first car I ever owned was a 29 Ford Whippet and it was a sad looking thing compared to this one. I worked all summer long for a farmer to be able to drive it home at the age of 14. Once I got it home my parents made me take the two back wheels off so I could not be tempted to drive it. Those were the days when accountable and a good tanning of you backside walked hand in hand.
The next two years were devoted to fixing up the prize I had. I do think there was a thing on that car that I had not taken apart to see how it was put together. It ran lie a top and a can of black paint and a brush and it was transformed. One of Dads customers came along and gave me 100 dollars and I was a happy kid. My folks were able sleep again as the farmer drove his new toy home.
First Hot Rod
36 Ford Coupe
Same car but not mine. By the time I was 16 I had learned a fair amount about mechanics and built a car very similar to this one. I placed a 327 cubic inch engine in and changed out the rear end, drive shaft and raised the back end. I worked at the local garage and other summer jobs to pay for all the parts and get my drivers licence. The same day I got it I got my first speeding ticket.
One of those other lessons in life we need to learn about accountability. I can laugh now but let me tell you then it was an expensive lesson.
32 Ford Coupe 5 Window B Model
Not mine, just a picture of one similar. I think of all the cars I have played with over the years this without a doubt was a favorite. I had gotten into the oil field and was making good money and spent the better part of it building one like this.
For the car buff I slipped in a fuel injected, blue printed 454 cubic inch engine in. It had been all potted and polished with a 3/4 racing cam. All the body work and upholstery I had done at a custom shop and had it painted in a candy apple red with seven coats of paint. Depending on the sun it would change colours.
I drove it for three years and it was the street king in the city. Well at least till I outran the police. The end result was they pulled the registration after i was caught and it was banned from being driven on the road. They classified it as a dragster. Who would have guessed... right.
I guess things have changed along with the toys. Chances were taken and the rebel eventually went full circle. By the age of forty I got a little crazy, motorcycles, skydiving, scuba diving and walking that thin line again. Now I can sit back and just smile watching the world pass by. Have I had fun, you bet and I survived. Do I drive this kind of vehicle today. Maybe I should but alas I drive a Chevrolet Silverado truck, I like to call it a sleeper. It looks like a ordinary truck from the outside but the big block that hides under to hood still stirs the youth in me every once in a while as I watch the gas gauge drop. "Men keep the kid alive in you."
I have several reminders of my youthful past. Some aching bones, a few scars and many fond memories. The best I have are three things Dad gave me one Christmas a few years before he passed away. The first I will always be grateful for, his gift of a sense of humour and his kind yet stern discipline.
The next would have to be the card he gave me that year. A card filled with many awesome words of love and affirmation of his prayers of protection he prayed over me for years. With a note that said "Well Deserved."
The third well the picture below says it all. The same razor strap which I learned had a pretty good bite to it. Today it hangs on a nail in my studio. I can still see my dad standing with tears in his eyes after using it on me. My thoughts today. "Yes Dad well deserved."
© Rolly A. Chabot 2012
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