Gunners Garage

The '54 Chevy's Last Ride was to "Green Acres"

Today I am marking my 29th year at Krause Publications. That’s right, it was September 17, 1978 that I landed in Iola, Wisconsin, after a 2-day drive from Staten Island, N.Y. in a “ratty” ’54 Chevy 210. The car had sat on the New York streets all winter, sometimes with snow inside it, since it had a broken window. It also had a “broken” motor. Late that summer, a friendly mechanic got it going and it served as my only car. (Most of the time I rode a bicycle). The plan was for me to fly home, put my family on a plane and drive the old Chevy back. The car had basically been inoperative before this trip. Our parents packed the car with all kinds of stuff and I set off with my nutty dog. Each time the car stopped, the dog tried to jump out the window. The car had year-out-of-date New York plates and as you might expect, we got pulled over by a trooper in New Jersey. I said, “I’m going to Wisconsin and I’m never coming back. He must of thought it was best to let a crazy guy with a nutty dog and a junky car just go. In Pennsylvania, the car’s muffler blew apart, but I kept going. We crossed into Ohio at 4:30 and by five minutes to five I had found a Midas shop. They installed a “lifetime” muffler. it was one they didn’t have to wory about coming back under warranty. As soon as I left the Midas shop, the engine seized. I rolled the car down a hill into a Shell station next to a motel where I got a room. The station owner worked late into the night, freeing the engine up with oil and a breaker bar. I was starved, but I couldn’t leave the nutty dog alone, so I ordered hamburgers from room service. I really thought the dog was going to eat the guy who brought the burgers; he didn’t even wait around for a tip! The next morning, the Chevy started and we drove it all the way to Iola without shutting it off again. The car had a “funny” wheel on the right front that the friendly mechanic had put on. It had the right bolt pattern, but the wrong type of hub. I thought it was a truck wheel. In any case, it ground up the front wheel bearing, which disintegrated in Chicago. The trip from there was made with the wheels “crunching” every time I turned the steering wheel (but not while driving straight ahead). I got to Iola late that night, half a day ahead of schedule. My family had found the farmette I had rented. When I drove in, the noisy old Chevy just about scared them silly. It was the Chevy’s last ride. It brought us to “Green Acres.”

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