Writins of Weakeyes Cody
Talented and witty writings
Sure, and if you can remember kerosene soaked corncobs set on fire to hold on the end of a stick to heat the manifold of a model T on a cold morning, then you know the meaning of the words Tin Lizzie and Ford.
It must’ve been 1936 or ’37 when my step dad would perform this ritual to his 1925 Model T Ford and alternately move back and forth from the throttle and the spark located on the steering column to the crank in front between the split bumpers of the old car. And he did this until at last the machine sputtered to life and sat there shuddering emitting its unique cackle with its magneto singing the white vapor shooting from its tail pipe equaled only by my step pop’s vapory breath as he rested his weary head against the ice cold quivering radiator. Most of the time we watched this from the window of our warm dining room but if the ritual went on longer than fifteen minutes, we would sometimes join him standing alongside the house. By then, mom was usually summoned to work the spark and throttle.
They had a terribly long commute, about 25 miles, and made it once a week. My sis and I were relegated to a babysitter. There was the South Canadian River to cross and the Adkins Hill to make on their way - no heater in those days. Today I watch the commercials tout the dependability and comforts of the Japanese auto industry, and agree totally on the quality of their cars, having owned my share. They actually showed the American manufacturers how to tighten up the seams of their products and made the consumer aware that there were other people in the world who could build reliable machinery. Still are.
But I still remember that vibrating old Tin Lizzie as she shuddered to the top of Adkins hill, her cylinders hitting so slow you could count the firing of the pistons and I remember mama’s gasps when pa had to depress the clutch and back down, turn around and back up the hill because its reverse was lower geared than it’s forward low gear. I remember too, the river channel so deep as we crossed it the water would come up in the floor boards of the old car. Pa, refused to pay the fifty cents to the guy with the team of horses to pull us across. That old car was miserable there’s no doubt. But it took my folks to work during what we’ve come to call hard times, and never failed.
And from 1908 to 1927 and beyond the Tin Lizzie, gradually and inevitably converted our transportation from the weary harnessing of the horse to a quick turn of a crank then to a starter, for our quick little trips down to the ice cream parlor and the general store and finally on to the great expanse of an America too big and too far to cross casually by the horse. And today with all the hoopla about the dependability of the Toyota’s, Honda’s, Mazda’s, Lexus, and host of others, which I know is true, I’d liked to see them cross a 100 ft. wide river channel, three feet deep with swift running water and climb a sandy hill with skinny tires. Moreover there’s got be something wrong with a seventy-six year old man who pushes his foot down on the accelerator and leaves it too long coming away from a boulevard signal with a Japanese car to his left. Is it that I just like to hear the sound of a Lincoln engine scream? Or do I still long to put the name Ford out front? Actually, I think I slip into nostalgia too easily in these later years. Please forgive my adrenalin forays into the past.
~ Weakeyes Cody 2009