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Old 10-31-2011, 11:14 AM   #1
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Helping Poppa....

My dad did all his mechanic work on his car and a lot of the cars in the neighborhood. After the war he owned a 37 Chevy. It was a ''basic car'' with no frills like no radio, no heater, no clock, just a basic car. It had a 6 cylinder engine and a 3 speed manual shift transmission.

One day he was going to remove the transmission and replace the clutch, pressure plate and the throw out bearing and it was a big job and he asked me to help. I was thrilled beyond belief because it would give me a chance to work with poppa and get dirty...

He pulled the car into the driveway and up onto some cement blocks using boards as ramps. He got out the greasy, dirty, piece of cardboard from the wood shed and slid it under the car. He got out his big box of tools and sat them on the ground along with another piece of cardboard. He removed a lot of the tools from the tool box and placed them in ''order of size'' on the cardboard explaining as he went as to what tools they were, what size they were and their usage. He laid out screw drivers and different pliers and a few punches and a couple ball peen hammers. He sat and explained that he would be under the car and I would place the proper tool that he asked for in his hand. When he would hand them back out to me I was to put them back in the proper place for the next using. He slid under the car and I sat down beside the tools. From there on for a while his hand would appear with a request for a specific tool and I would place that tool in his hand. This went on for a long time and I got really good at handing tools and putting them back in order when he handed them out to me. After a ''time'' he said ''Kid, I need a good man to come under here and help me with some hard to reach bolts. Would you like to help?''.......... I jumped at the chance and scooted under the car with Poppa. Poppa explained that there was some bolts on top of the of the transmission that he could not reach because his ''hands'' were too large. He asked did I think I could reach up there and get those bolts lose for him.

In retrospect I know Poppa could reach the bolts but he wanted to make me feel important and to feel that he really needed me to do this job and he would have real difficulty if I was not there to help him. I scooted under the transmission and reached up with a wrench and started taking the bolts lose. Poppa watched and told me the ''rightie tightie, leftie lousie'' rule concerning bolts. He pretended to be my helper by handing wrenches as I worked. Words can not express how good this made me feel. I was actually ''helping Poppa'' and he needed me and this made me very proud.

I got all the top bolts out and Poppa said that I should help him pull the transmission away from the engine plate. We got two big screwdrivers and with me on one side and Poppa on the other we jacked the transmission away from the engine plate and Poppa said for me to hold the ''tail stock'' on the transmission and he would heft the front. We laid the transmission on the cardboard between us. When you are a skinny boy of about seven years and you get to help your Poppa remove a transmission it is one of the highlights of your life. We slid it out and Poppa carried it into the workshop. He said he believed it had a bad bearing somewhere inside and he would check that while we had it our. Sure enough, there was a cracked bearing on one of the shafts and we replaced that also. I would hold the work light and hand the tools and Poppa did the work explaining as he went. We got Mr Armentrout our neighbor to go up to Napa and bring the needed parts while Poppa and I cleaned out the inside of the transmission and got ready to put it back in. Mr. Armentrout came back with the bearing and the clutch, pressure plate and the new throwout bearing and me and Poppa put the transmission back in the car and hooked up the drive shaft and the clutch lever. Poppa rechecked everything and I got up the tools and the cardboard and put everything back in the wood shed. It was about then that mom called us to supper and we went to the back porch to wash up. There was a shelf on the back porch with a very large pan of hot water and a large can of Borax hand cleaning powder and a old towel waiting for us. We both were pretty dirty and I wore mine with such pride that I did not want to wash it off. Poppa said that if I didn't wash, I got no supper at moms table. I remember to this day that we washed with the hot water and the Borax and scrubbed and scrubbed to get the grease and dirt off our hands and arms. Poppa would take my little hands in his hands and scrub off the dirt and the grease. To most that simple ''touch'' would mean nothing but I remember it like a ''touch from heaven''. We got finished and dried off and went to supper. Poppa picked me up on his arm and carried me into the kitchen and told mom what a great mechanic I was going to make someday. Mom, Poppa, Grannie Cecil and me sat at the supper table and held hands while Poppa thanked the Lord for our blessings. He also thanked the Lord for having me there to help him with the car. I remember it to this day and I think about it often.

Poppa thought me to ''fix things'' .. To work on cars and to use my mind to see how things worked and how to fix them when they went wrong. He taught me how to ''think'' and to ''reason'' and these gifts he gave me have helped carry me thru life. They helped make me a successful business man. I give Poppa credit for my success in life because of his teachings when I was a small boy. To me, that is a large part of whats wrong with our country today. Not enough ''fathers'' are teaching their children the basics of life. Not enough ''fathers'' are taking an interest in their children and taking the time to even teach their children right from wrong. I think if everyone had a Poppa like mine, the world would be a much better place....... This is just my opinion of course and I am probably wrong.

After supper we all go in the car for a test ride and it was decided that we had done everything right and we deserved some ice cream so we drove to Lindale Dairy and we all feasted on ten cent cones of Black Walnut Ice Cream. Me and Poppa ate two, each.......

So it was in the life of a skinny kid back in 47, workin on an old Chevy and learnin' about life..............

God bless our troops and keep them safe ..

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Old 11-01-2011, 01:17 AM   #2
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Great story Seajay.

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Old 11-01-2011, 09:35 AM   #3
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Best story you have ever done CJ. Thanks for all the memories it brought back to my own youth.
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:37 AM   #4
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I would respond but I have tears in my eyes and can't see.
Great story
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:03 PM   #5
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Great story.
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Seajay View Post
I think if everyone had a Poppa like mine, the world would be a much better place....... This is just my opinion of course and I am probably wrong.

You're definitely wrong . . . about thinking that this is wrong!
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:25 PM   #7
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I don't normally read prose in forums, but yours was just right, and you ain't wrong either. Thanks.
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:32 PM   #8
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Agreed, great story!! You are right in my opinion. I learned alot of things from both my Dad and Mom. It served me well so far!
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:13 AM   #9
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Thanks SeaJay, You said it just right. I wasn't too special to my Pa. But, I am thankful for the good things he taught me.
We were poorer than we knew. We were taught to be clean and honest. And I still believe in that.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:40 AM   #10
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Well thanks alot !
I manage a busy auto repair shop, and now I have to go into work all watery eyed and sentimental.
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Old 11-02-2011, 09:06 AM   #11
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Great synopsis of life Seajay. I guess there are many ways for a father to teach his son or daughter the right way to be a productive citizen. How to be honest an how to believe in yourself and others. I was born and raised in the rough and tumble copper mining town of Butte, Montana and my dad was a miner; huge and muscular but quiet and unassuming. When I was 10 to 12 years old I had a paper route that I did after school so my dad taught me how to be dependable when delivering papers and how to be appreciative when collecting payment for the papers, with simple words. I even delivered papers to the miners in bars and the "ladies" in the red light district in the evenings and made a good wage in the process. The things my dad did and said during that time in my life made me independent and strong but he never "helped" me with my duties. He said if I wanted to do that sort of thing I would have to figure out how to accomplish it. So it wasn't the things he did "with" me that helped form my life, it was mostly the things he said and how he said them.

I had the money to buy the treasure of my life at that time, a Schwin bicycle that had a horn in the tube frame. The horn stopped working so I went to my dad to see if he could fix it. He said to get the right screwdriver from his toolbox and take the tube apart to see what was wrong there. I was kinda disappointed he didn't "help" me but I did what he said. I found a broken wire and "fixed" it and the horn worked from then on. I can't tell you how proud I was of myself for doing all this on my own. So, there are many ways a father can "help" form your life, from being there at every turn by your side or simply telling you what needs to be done and standing in the wings to be sure you did it right. I'll certainly agree with your statement, there isn't near enough of that in today's society.
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Old 11-02-2011, 02:27 PM   #12
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I could never thank my parents enough for what they taught me. I remember well working on dad's old 49 Fraizer. I wasn't always the best helper so mother would have to refree once in a while. But the basics stuck and between my parents and a preacher carpenter for a grand father I have had very few things I couldn'tt accomplish. I am fortunate to still have my mother who is nighty two,, very independent she still does a lot of her house painting and gets up on the roof to check for storm damage.
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Old 11-06-2011, 09:33 PM   #13
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Thanks for the story Seajay!

Just a few hours ago, my own son came out to the garage with me to change over the tires on DW's car and to give the car a once over in prep for the coming winter. He was disappointed that we didn't have what we needed to do the oil change though. He was also in like a dirty shirt when it was time to winterize the trailer.

I cherish all of these times I have with him like this, the same as I cherish the times I spent with my dad. I hope what i'm teaching him today will have that same positive impact and that one day he'll tell stories like that too....
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:05 PM   #14
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Thanks for another great story Seajay! Enjoyed reading through teary eyes!


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