A Father’s Day Tale
.With Father's Day coming up this weekend I'd like to share a story of a situation that happened to me when I was about 18 or 19. One of those memories that you don't give much thought to until that loved one is no longer living on the planetary orb and is a tribute to the man he was with regards to his little "squirrel."
During my poor, starving college student experience the '66 was my primary (and only) vehicle. Not a great choice for a daily driver at that time as it was "rode hard and put away wet" if a steel horse with four wheels could be called that. But it was and because I wasn't "beating" on it regularly, since my cruising and having fun was taken up with studying and writing papers, it wasn't being properly maintained in the high maintenance fashion for which it was accustomed.
One evening after being out with friends I got on a local highway and got after it for the first time in awhile; shortly thereafter the engine developed a "rod knock." I pulled into a shop parking lot where I knew there was a pay phone and called the house to see if Dad was up (yes, kids we all didn't have neat cell phones much less smartphones back in the day.) He wasn't when I called and after some grumbling and the like, which I understand now as I am about the age he was then about that precious commodity called sleep, he gathered himself and some tools and trucked out in the dead of night in the family '69 Caprice and came to the rescue.
Once he arrived and we ran over the situation he had me start the car. It hammered like it was about to split the engine block in half when he had me shut it down again. Of course I was beside myself when he opened the trunk and grabbed something from inside his car. After he returned from the car he held in his hand an empty Coke bottle (remember glass 16 ounce bottles?) In the trunk was a jug of distilled water he carried to keep the battery maintained and proceeded to fill the Coke bottle with a sizable portion of the water.
"What are you going to do with that?" I asked.
"Just pay attention. This is an old trick your grandfather taught me and I hope it works in this case" he replied.
Dad took a drag from one of his unfiltered Camels and had me start the '66. Once running it jack hammered as bad as before, if not worse, I thought. Just then he ran up the throttle and the hammering got worse the higher the RPM's went.
"What in the Hell are you doing?" I said.
Just then he started pouring the water from the Coke bottle into the carburetor in small increments. As he did that the car started sputtering and bogging down. As this continued the hammering subsided and clouds of steam were pouring out of the tail pipes followed by clouds of black smoke. After a few minutes and back at an idle the car ran smooth with no knocks or any other noises whatsoever. Apparently my lack of throttle had caused a carbon deposit or chunk to land somewhere it shouldn't have causing the noise. The pouring of water down the primaries was turning the liquid to steam and cleaning out the innards of all that dreaded carbon buildup.
"Wanna go for a test drive?" He asked.
Knowing he would flog by precious flower and not wanting to be a wuss but was being one anyway I countered "Nah, you go ahead."
Shortly thereafter I see my black chariot cross all lanes of State Street in an accelerated slide of black carbon induced smoke and tire rubber as he roared off in the night like a dragster on a night run at the local track. As I heard the sound of my car getting fainter as the distance separated us I felt an unusual calm at the outcome of my situation. Fifteen minutes later he returned and all was new. His advice was to me was to "get after it once in awhile but don't get picked up." I was a very grateful young fella at that moment and that trick is still used to flush out the crud even to this day.
He's been gone nearly four years now and every time I get behind the wheel of that car his spirit is riding around in there somewhere. Much of his tribal knowledge led me to where I am today in this regard. That's why, in part, why I try and take a road trip over the upcoming weekend. It's as much remembering his memory as it is road therapy for me.
Happy Fathers Day.
See you out and about and keep the rubber side down.
© All text and photos © 2017 Jay Horrocks Jr.