Transportation Alexander MB

 

Transportation Alexander Manitoba


(rough copy)

September 2020

When I arrived in Alexander Manitoba in 1974 I was 8 years old and owned a nice bicycle which I bought for the Canadian Tire Store in Brandon Manitoba before we moved. I saved up my money from mowing lawns and helping out to buy the bicycle when it came on sale. The only problem is that I bought it when I lived in the suburbs of a big city which a Pee Wee Herman Red Beach Cruiser fits in no problem. But to arrive in a small farming town 15 miles west of Brandon, the Nerd Bike did not really fit in with the kids who might become my friends or the dirt trails that everyone rode on. It did not take long for the bike to be re-designed when mother was at work. I learned early in life it is easier to ask for forgiveness then it is to ask for permission. When mother arrived home that night the Nerd Bike was now a custom made trail and gravel road bike. Of course mother lost it and made me put it back the way I bought because that is the way it was made and sold. That is when I found out the local garbage dump had lots of old bike pieces. The only problem I dragged the bike parts home and made the yard look like a junk yard so I had to organize the bike parts and keep the area clean. Over the next few years I made a lot of different bikes and designs and even put a 2hp gas motor on one. The was a fun bike and cheap on gas for the distances I travel.

Once bikes got boring I moved on to cars to have more fun and live more dangerously. I acquired a couple of 1955 Chevy 4 door cars that were in rough shape. The one 55 Chevy was stripped for parts to make the other one the better one of the two. The stripped 55 Chevy became a field cruiser car for us to have fun in after watching the Dukes of Hazzard on TV on Friday nights 1979. We would watch the show then on Saturdays we would have fun by jumping the 55 Chevy or rolling it. When I was younger dad had a 55 Chevy stock car that they raced at the local tracks. So dad told me how to make the car safe with a roll cage and supports to keep the front end from folding up when landing. Dad knew this car was going to keep us busy learning and fabricating then actual driving. The drive time would not be very long and then it would have to be fixed just like when dad raced the 55 Chevy stock car.

Of course we need pipe to make a roll cage a farmer south of Alexander gave us pipe on the condition we took 1 piece we took it all. No problem and we thought we hit a gold mine with all this free pipe. Dad just smiled when we unloaded the pipe by the shop because it was galvanized pipe and hard to weld and cut because of the fumes from the galvanize coating. As soon as we start to work with the pipe me and my friends helping were getting upset tummies. Of course no Google or YouTube back then so we drove to ask a welder guy in Souris Manitoba what the trick was to this pipe. His reply was to drink milk to coat your tummy or drink beer. When dad was around helping, we drank milk and when he was not around we drank his beer. Once again it is easier to ask for forgiveness then ask for permission. Our workmanship was terrible because chop saw were not invented or really became popular for another 15 years so everything was torch cut. Everyone knows torch cutting galvanized pipe is basically melting it to get the galvanized coating off. A good torch cut might need 1/4” of weld to fill the uneven cut. Plus back then the 7” grinder were made out of steel and weighed about 50lbs so doing lots of grinding to make your weld or torch better was a work out.

Like all great projects everyone quits or leaves because they fall in love or fall out of interest in the project so in the end it was just me building this field cruiser car to have fun like the Dukes of Hazzard. I also learn how to weld up hand to get the roll cage built inside the car and it was a good thing the welds were hidden by the body of the car because they were not pretty. There was lots of gravity most days and the AC Buzz box burning the farmer rod 7014 could not over come the gravitational pull and the hot beads of welds just flowed down ward not up. For some reason I stuck with the project and never gave up even if all I did was improve my grinding skills. When dad said the roll cage was good enough it was time for a test drive. We got in the 55 Chevy field cruising car and it was late fall so we were wearing winter clothes more as paddling for the fun we were going to have. I was driving and buckled in and wearing ski-doo helmet. Dad was on the passenger side and wearing his helmet from racing and buckled in. The 55 Chevy only had a 235 inline 6 motor which would give us enough power not to kill our selves.

We head across the field to the first approach so we can cross the gravel road, my dad reaches over with his foot and hammers my foot down on the gas pedal. The little inline 6 motor is giving all the power it has and the 55 Chevy is spinning to get traction. We hit the approach very fast and clear the main gravel road to land on the other side like the Duke of Hazzard did on TV the night before. The 55 Chevy had a prefect landing by the tie rod broke which controls the steering. That caused the car to turn quickly causing it to roll several times. The car stopped upside down and dad and I were hanging by our seat belts and having a good laugh. Of course when you undo the seat belt you fall and have to climb out of the car that is upside down. We checked out the damaged and the distance the 55 Chevy flew which was impressive. By now we figured someone would coming looking for us but no one did. It was not such a fun walk back home to the pink house and when we arrived home we went in the house to get a drink. Of course mother was sitting in her chair puffing on a cigarette, enjoy a coffee while reading a book and watching TV at the same time. All she asked dad and I if we were dying and need a ride to the hospital which we said no. After a quick drink we drove my Massey 44 farm tractor I bought at an auction for $300.00. I had to buy this tractor at the auction to tow dad’s truck that broken down on the way to the auction. Dad was broke so I had money so I bought the tractor to get us home. The tractor was handy to have around the yard for moving the ever increasing car collection.

We arrived at the upside down 55 Chevy, the Massey 44 had no problems flipping it back on it wheels. It was not a bad drive home towing the 55 Chevy with the steering tied straight because of the broken tie rod. The tractor just dragged the front end around to follow. It would be the next weekend by the time we had the 55 Chevy fixed for more fun. There is not one picture of this whole event because dad had no film for his 35mm camera. The go-pros and digital cameras plus everyone having a camera as a phone would be another 30 years or more to come.

Once summer time rolled around the field cruiser cars had to be parked because the fields were planted with crops. That is when I worked on the good 55 Chevy to make it my hot rod car to cruise dairy queen to see and be seen. The 55 Chevy was parked in the shop and I needed gas for the lawn mowers because we ran out and the next trip to Brandon to top up all the gas can was in a few days. For some reason I did not use the siphon hose to suck gas out of the gas tank on the 55 Chevy. I thought it would be easier to disconnect the gas line at the carburetor and crank the motor over and the fuel pump will fill the gas can. This is a great plan on paper because I don’t get a mouth full of gas when sucking on the siphon hose. The 55 Chevy is hard to start because the carburetor needs a lot of work so it never starts right away. With the gas can sitting on the motor ready to be filled with gas. I reached in through the driver’s window and turn the key to crank the motor over. Well the car was in gear and the engine started. The car drove through the garage door and across the street only to stop in the neighbour’s garden because the carburetor was out of gas. That is when dad and mother arrived home from work to see me standing in the garage door way with a smashed door and the 55 Chevy in the neighbours garden. Prefect timing on arriving on their part. Dad did not really say to much while mother was yelling that we are going to get sued and we must call the insurance agent because we pay for coverage. Mother went to the house and phone everyone because this is big drama. Once dad and I got the 55 Chevy out of the garden and back in the shop and plywood patch over the opening. Mother came out to tell us that if we claim this little accident our insurance rate goes up. Dad just told mother he will be mowing a lot more lawns this summer to buy the new garage door.

It was a long summer listening to my dad tell the story over and over how his dumb kid drove the car through the garage door and he was not even in the car. Plus anytime we were in Brandon at the lumber yard or hardware store dad was pricing out new garage doors so I knew how much money I was paying him. By the end of summer I had all the money saved to buy the replacement garage door and I gave dad all the money. He returned from Brandon with a used steel-tin door that he bought at a yard sale. That is when I pointed out to dad that I gave you the money to buy a new one to replace the one I broke. Dad told me “sorry son” you have just learned a life lesson here. Then I had to help dad install the yard sale door which did not fit the opening. My dad is not very good at fabricating or working with wood because he is an auto mechanic turned in to a teacher of auto mechanic. Once the new yard sale door was installed, dad drove his 47 Monarch Coupe in to the shop. The 47 Monarch Coupe had just came back from the paint shop and looked good. When dad went to close the new yard sale door it fell off the tracks that guides it up and down. The coupe being a gentle curve caused the steel-tin door to slide down the coupe until the door rested on the shop floor. There was lots of deep scratches in the new paint on the coupe and I was just smiling. Now the shoe was on the other foot and when people stopped by I showed them the yard sale door and the scratches in the paint on dad’s 47 Monarch Coupe and called him a dumbass for being cheap. I paid my debt and he cheaped out and this would not have happened if he bought the proper replacement door.

The more I worked on the 55 Chevy the more I realized that this vehicle is not a chick magnet being a 4 door sedan. Then there was a miracle with one of dad’s friends getting his wife pregnant. Yes having a pregnant wife is a good thing if you want to buy something from that person. Plus it takes 9 month to incubate the egg which will give me time to save up the funds needed to purchase a real chick magnet. After 9 months the egg was incubated in to a bouncy baby boy. When dad’s friend brought the new bundle of joy home I was there to greet the new family but I had an envelope that was not a baby card. The greeting card industry is made by women for women not men. As everyone got to enjoy the new baby, dad’s friend and I sat at the kitchen table with my envelope. Being 16 years old and trying to be cool like the Italian Mafia, I slid the envelope across the table so dad’s friend could see why the envelope was so bulky. After he had a quick look inside he slid it back to me and said no. That was OKk, because I’m young and have lots of time on my hands. Then the fellow's wife came in to the kitchen and asked what was in the envelope on the table between us. I think maybe she thought this was a big drug deal going down like on the TV Miami Vise. I reached out and turned the envelope so his wife could see why it was so bulky. Her eyes got big just like the smile on her face and told her husband to say yes which he immediately said no. That is OK, I took my envelope and pulled the $1000.00 in cash which was all $20.00 bills because the ATM machines only let you take $200.00 a day at a time. Now with the wad of cash in my hand I tossed one $20.00 bill at a time at my dad’s friend until he said yes.

Of course when there is about $800.00 all over the table and floor when he finally said yes that is when everyone that was in the living room is now in the kitchen. For some reason I even brought a receipt book so he could write the bill of sale on August 20 1984 for his 1937 Dodge Hot Rod truck that was in the shed on his acreage. Of course all the hot rod guys in Brandon Manitoba have been trying to buy the truck since it was rolled on the dangerous curves on the Trans-Canada Highway just out side of Alexander Manitoba. Now I was the proud owner of a wrecked truck with no motor or transmission but it still had status of being a legend in the hot rod world. Plus a very fast hot rod truck is a chick magnet when you cruise Dairy Queen to see and be seen. A 55 Chevy 4 door sedan is for when you are married with children and really don’t want to be seen.

Once I got the truck home it was an all winter job getting the truck stripped down and rebuilt with improvement since it has been 10 years since the truck was built as a hot rod in Cumberland Ontario in 1974. My dad had great knowledge on building hot rod motors but the only knowledge I had was by reading his hot rod magazines like I did with his Playboy Magazine too. To get a motor we found a 1970 Chevy Impala car that had the living daylights driven out of it. Dad said this was the prefect motor which he says just broken in. What I had read in his hot rod magazine is that we are starting with junk and need a new block bored out to over size piston and such. When I pointed this out to dad all he asked me for was my gold top credit card then we will build this motor according to the hot rod magazines. The motor took forever to build because I was working and dad would give me a list of parts to buy on pay day. Some of the parts were expensive and took a couple of paydays to pay for them. Plus dad assured me that any new parts we bolt on this worn out engine block can be put on the replacement engine when this one blows up. Once again my cup is always half full.

By the month of May1985 the truck was ready for the road and first test drive. Dad and I leave the shop and I drive slowly and baby the motor because it is freshly put together. My dad is not impressed me because he has driven hot rod truck aggressively in the past and now I’m driving like it is grandma’s car. When we stop on the Trans-Canada Highway to check for leaks and see if anything was falling off because I forgot to tighten it, dad said he was going to drive. The 37 Dodge hot rod truck was geared for speeds not smoking the tires or laying rubber as it is called. Dad revs the engine up and slips the clutch as we pull back out on the highway. I’m in shock because that is a $1100.00 racing clutch that he is now smoking. He assured me that smoking it will break it in to what we want. My dad just wines the motor up to extremely high rpms then shifts the transmission. This has me worried because the engine being a fresh rebuild with blow up but dad assures me it will break the engine in the way it will be driven for the rest of it’s life. That is when I say I hope it last longer then 30 minutes.

The truck is running good as we head back to Alexander on the new 4 lane highway that was just complete. Of course my dad comes up close behind a fellow from Alexander heading home. Then he takes and drops the transmission one gear then punches the gas pedal to the floor which kicks in the 4 barrels on the carburetor. The 37 Dodge came to life and we were out and past the fellow who was doing the speed limit of 65mph as if the fellow was standing still. Once the truck was up to extremely high rpms, dad shifted it back in to high gear and truck just floated along at a high speed. But dad knew what this truck could do because he had driven it when it was first built 10 years ago. We arrived back home and all the locals came over to check out the truck and have a beer. The 3” side pipes with no mufflers let everyone know of our arrival.

My winter beater vehicle I drove while I rebuilt the 37 Dodge hot rod was a 1967 Chevy ½ ton truck with dual heaters to stay warm because the truck was a little rusty. The truck had the Chevy inline 6 cylinder motor with a 3 speed transmission but the cab was very roomy and you could fit a lot of friends in. Then to switch over to the 37 Dodge with such a small cab and lots of V8 Chevy small block horse power was a big difference. What I liked the most about the 37 Dodge was the way the 4 speed floor shifter was made to fit around the bucket seats to get 4th gear. When Naughty Natalie was riding with me and I shifted from 3rd to 4th gear I could always slide my hand up her leg to make her smile. The truck also had a few other unique design features that made the truck a legend in the hot rod world.

Once the truck had all the little bugs worked out and reliable, we made plans to attend a hot rod run where all the other hot rodders enjoy the weekend. Dad and mother would head to the hot rod run on Friday night with their RV which was a 1956 Ford school bus made in to a camper. I would arrive late Saturday night because I had to work at my job to make money. Everything worked out well and I arrived around 2am because it is a 2 hour drive from Alexander to the event. Instead of waking up dad and mother to sleep in the RV, I just climbed in the little plywood shack on back of the 37 Dodge because that is what it was made for 10 years ago. In the morning dad knocks on the plywood camper to tell me breakfast is ready. Of course Naughty Natalie replied back instead of me. That is when dad asked if I brought a friend and Naughty Natalie replied back to my dad “yes”. Once out the little camper it takes a bit to get straightened out because the truck box is short and I’m tall plus I have to wake up. But Naughty Natalie was always perky and happy so dad chats with her on how the trip was to the event traveling in the truck in the dark. That is when mother came out of the RV camper to announce that breakfast is ready. Seeing Naughty Natalie stopped her dead in her tracks and made her speechless. Of course dad has to ask mother if she remembers Joey’s little friend. Mother only reply was “yes” in a stern voice.

As we eat breakfast, the hot rodders gather around to see the 37 Dodge which has not been seen at any hot rod events since the roll over accident 6 years ago. Of course these guys are pointing out how things are different then when they last seen it. I point out to them I’m the new owner and it is my truck now so things will be different. This kind of pissed me off because off all the hard work I did over the winter to make it ready to attend these hot rod events that I grew up while attending with my parents. My dad asks if I want to do the beer run in the 37 Dodge just like the good old days I told him he can go because he has the memories, I was only 7 years old back then. Dad was all excited to drive the 37 Dodge on the beer run to town and he thought the other hot rodders would be eager to jump in to join him. But I guess I pissed them off when I told them I’m the new owner. At the last minute Naughty Natalie jumped in with my dad and off they went. Of course mother was pissed and you could see the fire in her eyes.

They seemed like they were gone forever for a quick run to town for beer and I was beginning to worry if the truck broke down. When they did return they stopped at the beer gardens to unload the beer. I walked over and dad had the biggest smile on his face because the truck preformed and handled like it did 10 years ago. As we unloaded the beer I warned dad that mother was mad and all he said that was normal for her. Naughty Natalie said everyone in town was looking at the truck as we drove around and your dad keep putting the truck in 4th gear. That is when I looked at dad and said it is a tight fit going in to forth. All he did was smile and smile some more. With the beer unloaded I took the 37 Dodge over for the safety inspection so I could drive in the driving events. I waited all my life to become of legal age to drive in the events after watching all these years.

The 2 fellows doing the inspection seem to be taking forever to look over my truck. Then when they came over and said it failed to meet the safety requirement of the driving events. When I pointed up to them that the truck was just inspected for a Manitoba Highway Safety which means I can drive on the highways. But you are saying I can not drive in your little event. Then both of them turned in to drill sergeants and were rude in pointing out why they failed my truck. Now if they had been polite and showed me why I might have understood. With that I told my dad we are out of here and left. My whole childhood was being around these events and then to show up with my own truck only to have them be so rude, I wanted no part of this. That was the last hot rod run I ever attended as a person or with my 37 Dodge truck. Naughty Natalie and I attend other events around Alexander for the rest of the summer. She got to drive the truck when I was too drunk to drive and she drove the truck hard because that is what the truck was built for. Lots of good memories with her and the truck which are still fresh in my memory as I write this in the year 2020. The engine that was suppose to blow up has lasted all these years with lots of high rpms shifts. The speeding ticket I got at 145mph that was framed and hanging on the wall was destroyed during one of my DIEvorces. Naughty Natalie and I grew apart when she became of age to dance on the tables at the all you can eat buffets in her birthday suit. She was a classy lady and always will be in my eyes.

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