Friday, June 15, 2012

"Time to Kill"

It was a Wednesday and I was a long way from home at mid day and waiting to meet a co-worker to give him some badly needed supplies. But there was one problem....he was running late and was miles and miles away from me and he held the key to the building I needed to unlock. He said "I am sorry but it will be at least 2 hours before I can get there so try to find something to do if you can" --- :-)
"No problem" I said, and I took the short drive to Ellis, KS to see a customer which only took 5 minutes and then drove by the Walter Chrysler boyhood home Museum and took this photo.
I thought about taking a tour of this neat place right on old US 40 Highway but then I saw the shop of my friend Mike who restores cars in a cool old car dealership building nearby. And proudly sitting out front was his newly purchased 1956 Chevy Nomad wagon.

I knew from his recent messages to me that he had bought this car about 2-3 weeks ago and had went in a rental car with his wife and two young kids to Montana to get it and it appeared to be so road ready that they actually took it to Yellowstone and had a great family vacation by taking the long way home.
I found Mike inside pounding on a steel fender with a body hammer. His employees were in the back area doing paint work.
His strong handshake and friendly smile were those of a self made working man. He quickly showed me a few of the customer projects including this cool hemi powered 34 Ford coupe. It had a hand built firewall, very cool custom dash, and really cool engine mounts and a cleverly hidden AC compressor so as not to ruin the traditional hot rod look he is striving for.
He also showed me some of his toys including this pinball machine that his kids like to come and play. 
Mike had alot of old signs and cool stuff to look at but seemed more proud of his collection of old tools than anything. And old brake lathe and some very old air tools for metal shaping were not only shown to me but also demonstrated as well. I was enjoying the tour and took a photo of this old lube station...
We soon sat down in a pair of soft upholstered easy chairs in the sales lobby area and he told me he was glad to rest as he had poured some concrete early that morning for a project at home.
I kept staring at the Nomad outside and finally said ---
"we should go for a ride" ---
And just like that, we were cruising the two lane blacktop with Ipod tunes playing good music accompanied by the sound of the 327 cubic inch engine under the hood. The car was built for roads like this one and Mike talked of last weekend's trip to Colorado to a big Good Guys show where his family once again got to go along and enjoy the fun. We were going fast and the fence posts looked like a picket fence and I was just wondering how my day could get any better when he pulled up to a Dairy Queen and we both had big ice cream treats. It was a real pleasure on a hot and windy day.
After that he showed me around the small town where he lived. A nice park across the street from his home, a nice creek that is dammed up and has camp grounds with fishing right behind his home, their church within walking distance, his wife's bank job 2 blocks away, his own shop 3 blocks away.....and I wondered...
How could he have chosen a better place to live and raise a family? It was perfect like some Norman Rockwell painting.
We continued the cruise and found this enormous old railroad locomotive repair shop where Mr. Chrysler first began his career  as a mechanic and I took some photos of his car there.

He has plans to repaint the roof and buff out the rest of the paint and then lower the suspension some more and so it will only improve as time goes by. 
This shop building was part of the same railroad complex and was nearby.

And Mike told me that a roundhouse had once been here too but sadly had been torn down long ago. They were used to turn the heavy locomotives around and are very seldom seen anymore...
And after a few more sights my tour was over and we both decided it was time to get back to work. I sure enjoyed my visit with him and plan to come back later. Maybe next time I will visit the museum.
But one thing stuck with me on that day... positive things can happen even when you are having what could have been a bad day.
Thanks Mike for being a great host and sharing a slice of your "American Pie" with me.
Join me next time as we drive the back roads just to see what's around the next bend in the road...

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