Sunday, February 26, 2012

Making do or Repurposing

My Dad was a recycler before recycle was popular. He was one out of necessity, habit and choice. A term I hear a lot today is to repurpose an item and this, my Dad did a lot of as well. He was in some ways a renaissance man I use to think but in truth he was a man of his time and place in the world.

Born in the early 1920’s he was raised by his grandfather, who unfortunately I can not say was anything but a racist who left Georgia for Texas after killing a carpetbagger. Called Doc Adams because he was trained as Doctor from Duke University but preferred doctoring horses over people.  He carried on him a concelled colt 45 peacemaker that killed 7 white men in “self-defense” and unknown number of blacks which he didn’t bother to keep track of. Doc Adams lived to almost 100 years old and died in a accident on the horse farm he still worked in East Texas. When he was asked by mother how a man like him could live so long he responded “Because I hate.” When He died I understand that a number of people came to his funeral. I suspect not because of respect but to make sure he was dead. We didn’t attend my mother was a Choctaw Indian and wasn’t white enough.

I tell you this because my Dad was the most un-racist man I have ever known of and who passed on to me the belief that the quality of the man was not in the color of his skin but in the quality of his character.

Now why am I telling your dear reader of this short history of my Dad’s upbringing? It is because he had to begin at a early age to earn his upkeep.

From his grandmother a Southern Louisiana woman he learned to cook after Doc Adams had to remove her left arm when it was bitten by a spider and the bite turned septic. This was helping in the kitchen while other children there to visit played. From my granddad he learned to hunt, fish, skinned, clean and butcher anything worth hunting not to mention hogs and steers.

Since by the age of 10 he was almost full grown he was often lent to help out building barns and cabins so he learned carpentry, Because my great grandfather also mined low grade coal off his horse ranch he learned how to weld and basic mechanic skills to repair the old dump wagons and the model T that from age 11 he drove his grandfather around in on his doctoring rounds. In 1940 he was signed up by his Grandfather in the Army reserve at age 17 so that he could earn a few extra bucks while still hanging around as free labor on his horse farm.

Why you might ask am I telling you this short history of my Dad. Well because I have started a search for a second hand or very used mini or midi truck to replace the old Isuzu Pickup my youngest wrecked. This morn I awoke from a dream thinking about my Dad. When he needed a vehicle he often would go out and drag one from the field of some farmer friend and somehow get it to run and keeping it running using it until he had the finances to buy a better one. He tried to teach me by how by dragging me out on these rescue missions.

The first things he would do of course would be drag the old car out of the field to a flat area dis-lodging the snakes and field mice who had taken up residence in the old car. Then while I jacked up the car and began removing the wheels with the flat tires mounted on them he would begin the reviving of the old motor the whole time talking to me and calling me over to see what he was doing.

First he would remove the spark plugs and use Marvel Mystery Oil squirted from a old oil pump can into each cylinder through the plug hole. Then he would disconnect the fuel lines pull the carburetor putting it into a bucket of kerosene to soak away the old grease and carbon build up. Then he would with the car up on jacks drain the oil if any, replace the filter, fill it up again with MMO. Then he would take a heavy flat head screwdriver or small crow bar and at a access port turn the flywheel over breaking loose the engine from years of just sitting there.

If it turned over freely he would if I remember correctly he would then attach a fresh battery hook up and use the starter to turn over the engine at a faster rate circulating the Marvel Mystery Oil throughout the engine. He would use a compression guage to verify if it still had compression and if all checked out he would then put it back in use. Cleaning out the gas tank, flushing out brake, fuel and cooling system, greasing the ball joints fittings and setting gaps on fresh spark plugs (usually recycled plugs) and points on the distributor, all usually done in a single day. He would then drive off the old car to use until a paycheck or extra money would come in. Nearly everything he used on the old car most often came from a pull and carry wrecking yard. The last old car he did this too was a old Rambler station wagon about a 54 to a 56 as best as I can remember. Either way when Dad was through with something it truly was ready for the scrap yard.

Why am I again bringing up this old history of my Dad?

Well it is a reminder of lessons learned from the generation that recovered from last major depression/recession. They learned the hard way to recycle and repurpose an item until that item was totally used up and not throw it on the trash heap because it had lost it’s newness. Perhaps it is time for us to learn to do so as well in these difficult times as well.

I am still looking for that second had mini-truck and eventually I will find one. When I do it may not look very sharp based on what is considered by most. But, I will know it will get me around until better times or it has been totally used up.

On a side note as I lubricate a squeaky door or a rusty old bolt on the old car I will be using the same oil can my Dad used on the old cars he recycled.

In The Shop- movies -reading
The photo following is the reason I have deceided to spend time reorgainzing my shop space. Until I do I think not much will get done.

 Movies been busy with family to watch much but have enjoyed the latest round of the "Walking Dead" on AMC. 
Reading mostly Michael Dibbin "The Dead Lagoon" a Zen character mystery along with a issues of "Popular Mechanics." "Wood" and "Amerian Woodworker". 

1 comment:

  1. wow---
    great story---good luck on the truck hunt--and great memories....