Posts Tagged ‘Ford Fairlane’

Embracing The Struggle

June 23, 2014

Friday June 20th, 2014 – Sparta, WI

Yet another life lesson I continue to learn is that life lessons never stop at any age – and neither do problems. I’m sure my grandfather told me that at some point in my youth, but I was probably preoccupied with thinking I would be the exception to the rule and missed it. We all think that.

When we’re kids, we assume that life gets better and at some point everything is problem free. I remember being around seven or eight and knowing a couple of families in our neighborhood that had a house full of kids that were all older than me. The Lutes family lived on my block and the McCauleys lived across the street. They were friendly to me, and I knew most of them well.

I still remember walking around in the neighborhood talking with them and thinking how great their lives were. They all seemed so much older and fully matured at the time, but in reality they totally weren’t. They were regular people going through the same problems everybody else does.

Tim Lutes worked at Sears. I remember thinking he was a borderline celebrity because I’d seen him there on the sales floor with his name badge on when my grandparents were shopping. I was really impressed, and in my mind he had totally ‘made it’. He could buy all the candy he wanted.

His brother Cliff was into cars, and that was my greatest love besides sports. Cliff would work on his old Ford Fairlane in the driveway, and I would often wander over and keep him company. Looking back, he had the patience of a saint and would answer my deep probing dumb questions about how cars worked. He could have chased me away, but he didn’t. I thought he was a genius.

The McCauleys were my sports connection, and they were the first ones to let me play in their baseball games. I’m still not sure how many there were, but I do know they were all boys. I liked them all, and again they didn’t have to be nice to me but they were. They showed me how to not bat cross handed, and how to field a ground ball correctly. To me, they were all sports superstars.

They were all bigger than me, and could run faster, throw harder and hit better. I assumed they would all not only play Major League Baseball, but end up in the Hall of Fame. In reality, it was just a bunch of average kids that played baseball in summer just like the kids everywhere else.

Tim Lutes was never named CEO of Sears, nor was Cliff at Ford. None of the McCauleys ever played Major League Baseball, and as far as I know they’re all still alive and facing the same life problems everyone else does. They might be different problems, but they still need to be solved.

If and when they are, there will be a whole new set just around the corner and the process starts all over again. It’s the perpetual pile of problems that wear us all down, and I don’t see anything on the horizon to break the chain other than death. And who knows if that’s the end of the line?

The current lesson I am in the process of learning is that I will always have problems, and that I might as well learn to embrace them. The obstacles I faced as a kid seem pretty tame compared to what I’ve gone through in just these past few months, but they seemed insurmountable then.

I didn’t realize all I had going for me along with what I was trying to overcome, and I see now that none of us ever are without struggles – at least not for very long. Life is process of perpetual change and evolution, and then we each have to make our individual adjustments accordingly. It may not be fair, but that’s just the way life works. I’m receiving a new batch of problems. Yay!

Welcome to life, where everyone has problems to overcome. NO exceptions.

Welcome to life, where everyone has problems. NO exceptions.

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Car Struck

August 20, 2013

Monday August 19th, 2013 – McHenry, IL

   If I have ever hit it big financially for any reason, the one and only vice that frightens me even a little is old cars. I’ve never had a drink of alcohol in my life, nor have I ever experimented with illegal drugs. Ever. People doubt me when I say that, but it’s true. I never took even one puff of a joint or did one line of cocaine. For whatever reason, those things never held any allure for me.

   Old cars on the other hand have owned my heart since childhood. My grandpa and I used to go on long walks when I was a kid, and he’d show me how to identify cars. Buick had the portholes, Pontiac had the Indian, a Lincoln Continental had the suicide doors, and the list went on and on.

   I was captivated by the cars of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, and I still am. They’re rolling works of art, even though most of the cars of today are actually much better products. I don’t care. I’d still love to have at least a couple of the old ones to enjoy. I don’t need a fleet, a few will do nicely.

   My friend Bill Mihalic in Detroit invited me to the big Woodward Dream Cruise last weekend, and I really wanted to go. I’ve heard about it for years, but I had to take comedy work to pay the bills and had to back out at the last minute. One of these years I’m going to get the chance to go.

   There’s just something about an old car show that puts me in a good mood. I love to look at all that hard work and pride of ownership in one place, and most of the owners are more than happy to share info about their babies. I’m genuinely interested in hearing it, so it works out splendidly.

   Today I happened to be out and about and found a big car show in McHenry, IL that’s held on Monday nights apparently. I had no idea it existed, but when I drove by I had to stop. It was free, and there were about 150-200 cars – mostly of that ‘50s to ‘70s vintage that I have loved so long.

   I was in my own personal heaven as I strolled through the aisles of gorgeous cars soaking all of them in for their intrinsic beauty. They had the standard fare of Chevelles and Thunderbirds and Chargers and the like, but there were also some more obscure entries one doesn’t see very often.

   I saw several Mercury Comets for example. When was the last time I saw ONE at a car show? They’re basically Ford Fairlanes, but it was still cool to see them. I also saw a ’65 Buick Skylark. I owned one years ago, and LOVED it. Mine had a crunched up front fender when I got it, but it was still drivable and had a lot of power. I’d barely touch the accelerator and it would really fly.

   I’m also a big sucker for Cadillacs. I’ve always loved them and always will. I think I’d qualify as an honorary soul brother, as I dearly love barbecue, soul music, Cadillacs and white women. If I had my way I’d never be without at least one Caddy in my garage, but at this point I’m just one small step from living in a garage myself. If and when a windfall comes, so will the vintage tin.

   Jay Leno really lived out the car fantasy, but I don’t think I’d have to take it that far. He’s been able to afford it so it’s no big deal, but at this late stage in the game it would take a lot less for all my wildest dreams to be satiated. I’d probably turn out like Elvis and end up giving cars away.

   That would be fun, I have to admit. I’d get more of a kick out of watching the look of surprise on someone’s face than if I actually owned it myself. Still, no matter who owns them I still love to ogle the classics. I loved every minute of the car show tonight, and it was a nice little surprise treat after the disappointment of missing out on the Detroit experience. I’ll be a car fan for life.

I LOVE Cadillacs! This is my favorite year - 1966. Super sleek!

I LOVE Cadillacs! This is my favorite year – 1966. Super sleek!

Another classic - the 1965 Buick Skylark

The 1965 Buick Skylark – another classic beauty!

The 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7 - I want one!

The 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7 – I want one!