Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

but the second mouse gets the cheese.   Old joke.

Cruisers and liveaboards are like everyone else.  We all need other hobbies and interests besides boating.  I have several.  Although I haven't in some time, I like to play guitar.   I like to write, as evidenced by this blog.  I enjoy photography.  I also like antiques, including automobiles.

My dad retired early, at age 60.   For the first ten years he was very active.  He played softball in an old timers' league and he traveled quite a bit, including his beloved Ireland.  But when he hit 70 he slowed down.  He couldn't play softball anymore, and he couldn't rent a car in Ireland.   They don't rent to anyone 70 or older there.  He wasn't doing much of anything and I was concerned.  If you sit, you rust.

In his younger days, he was a great shade tree mechanic.  Friends and relatives would bring their cars to him for tune ups and such.  Mom often sent me out to the garage to help.  My job was to hold the flashlight and to search through the pretzel can for nuts and bolts.  Dad had this pretzel can that he tossed nuts and bolts in from various projects.  He would hand me a bolt and tell me to look in the can for a matching nut.

"I can't find it Dad.  It's not in here."

"Keep looking.  It's in there."

I've always loved antiques, and like my dad, I've always loved automobiles.  I called Dad one day and suggested that he buy a classic or antique car.   "Oh no," he said, "I would never spend money on something silly like that."

"You're not spending money," I replied, "you're investing in something different, something fun.  You can't play with stocks and bonds on the living room floor, can you?"

A short time later, Dad called to announce that he had purchase a 1956 Ford Thunderbird from Amos Minter in Dallas Texas.   Minter specializes in restoring "early birds", Thunderbirds from 1955 - 1957.  I went to see it when it was delivered.  While we were looking at it and admiring it, this is what he said...

"Do you remember the 1956 Ford Fairlane I had when you were a kid?"

"The blue and white four door?  Sure."

"Well, what I really wanted was a Ford Thunderbird, but I didn't buy one.  Do you know why?"

"No, no idea.  Why?"

"Because the Thunderbird was a two seater, and Ma and I had you and so I needed a back seat."

So at age 72, Dad finally had his Thunderbird.  He had a ball with that car, and loved it so much that he bought a '57 T-bird for his winter house in Arizona.   He passed away a couple of years ago, and in his will he left his '57 to my sister, and his '56 to me.  It's with me now here in Georgia.

Dad's house had to be cleared out.  His wife was moving back to Arizona.  She and my sister discussed his personal things, and furniture and such.  They asked what I wanted.  I didn't want much of anything.  I've never been one to care much for material things.  I had Dad's Thunderbird, after all.  But I also took this.

Yep.  It's right here on the boat.  And yes, I've used it to look for various nuts and bolts.  The pretzel can is magic.  Whatever nut or bolt I need, it's in there.  Just keep looking.


  1. Nice story, Dave. I remember back in the mid-60's my dad needed an inexpensive car. A friend found him a deal on a red and white 56 Ford wagon like the 2 door in your photo. My dad always wanted a Lincoln. Finally in his late 70's he bought himself a Towncar. Not nearly as cool as a T-Bird but it made him happy.

  2. Heh. My late father-in-law was a lifelong marine mechanic and introduced me to the idea of a "Lucky Box." As in, if you're lucky, you'll find the nut, bolt, washer, etc that you need. I've continued the tradition and every now and then amaze my bride by producing "at no cost, and with no trip to the store" the item to get a repair done. It's fun.


  3. Don't know if you like to read or what genre you prefer but I have an author in mind you might enjoy. Cormac McCarthy. One of his books "The Road" won a Pulitzer. Among his other works he has what's called "The Border Trilogy" as you might imagine is three western books and are quite good. He has an unusual way of writing as he uses no punctuation to speak of except periods to end a sentence. I have read four of his books so far with "Suttree" being his Magnum Opus as most of his reviewers will tell you. His books are taught in University Lit classes around the country. There is even a Cormac McCarthy Society that you can join for a fee but you'll see mostly University Profs there. The man is pushing 80 and his books still sell like hot cakes. Give him a Google. I think you and the Missus will enjoy reading this author.

  4. Having both worked in and owned a bookstore for a good part of my adulthood, I am well aware of Cormac McCarthy. Not my cup of tea, although, his books are a hit. I have tried, on several occassions, to read his books and I must say "the Road" is the one most often recommended, but I just can't get passed the first fifty pages. I used to force myself to finish books. I don't anymore. Thanks for the recommendations.... You are right, I think Dave would enjoy him.

  5. Speaking of books, Dave has a talent with words. Has he ever considered writing a book? The hard part is not the writing itself, but writing something that someone will not only read but pay for out of their pockets.