February 17, 2010
Meghan Saar and I worked until eight last night on the big Road Trip cover story for our eighth annual travel issue, which goes to the printer tomorrow. Stumbled out of here in the dark and forgot my truck was still down at Red Truck Trading Co., so after a double take (my truck's stolen!) I walked down the road against traffic, got in the Ranger and fired it up and headed for the homestead.
One of the towns we were researching last night was Elk City, Oklahoma. In 1974 I was driving back from the family farm in Thompson, Iowa in my grandfather's 1964 Ford Galaxy. I had delivered a new Ford Crown Victoria to my grandpa and after a ten day visit, I was driving back the '64 to my father's house in Kingman. When I got down into Arkansas, on my way to visit my mother at Fort Smith, the car started overheating. The local Ford dealership claimed it needed a new thermostat, which they installed. But as I came across Oklahoma on I-40, it still kept overheating and I landed at a gas station in Elk City. The service station operator claimed it was sawdust in the radiator and said he'd have to pull the radiator and clean it out. Although it sounded suspect, I called my dad and he said it was probably true. As I waited for him to fix it, I took this photo of an old cowboy who made sailing ships in old whiskey bottles:
He brought them into the station to sell to tourists and as he sat there a local boy who knew him, sat down and began to examine the ships in one of the bottles. Having grown up in a gas station myself, I loved the clutter in the grease room and snapped off a couple black and whites. Yes, that is a creeper leaning up against the Dr. Pepper pop machine, used by mechanics to slide under and creep under cars. Not sure they even make these anymore. I wonder where that kid is today? Probably some old grandpa himself. Ha.
If I remember correctly, car makers put sawdust in the radiators and it was standard procedure at the time. My grandfather drove the car from 1964 to 1974 and never had an overheating problem because he never drove anywhere farther than nearby Forest City! Ha.
“If I think, everything is lost.”
—Paul Cezanne, French Impressionist painter
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