One of my good friends named Richard lived a few houses away from Uncle Bob’s. His Mom cooked the best Polish food in seven counties. Most of them I couldn’t even pronounce, say nothing about spell. She was a master at wrapping all kinds of small portions of food in pastry and cooking them in homemade broth and stock. Richards father was a large quiet man. When he did speak you had better be paying attention. He had a good sense of humor, but had to reach a comfort level with you before showing it. They had about ten acres of property and you could follow the old wood roads for miles behind their house. Richards father had an old Model A truck sitting out back. He told Richard he could have it, but would have to fix it up and maintain it using his own money. The Model A was a great adventure.
We weeded gardens, babysat, mowed lawns, and took all kinds of odd jobs to earn money. It wasn’t long before we had it running and were able to drive it. The Model A’s had a lever on each side of the steering column. One adjusted the spark at the magneto and the other would adjust and hold throttle speed. They had a manual floor transmission, gas pedal, and clutch. You would operate the gas by foot until up to speed then use the lever on the steering column to maintain a constant speed without the foot pedal. The old truck also had what was known as a “Johnson Bar” behind the transmission to allow a low range if needed.
If we had money for gas the Model A was on the go. We never left the old wood roads, but we covered a lot of territory. Only problem was, we would destroy an engine every few weeks. Off we’d go to the junkyard with $80 for a used engine. About the third time we showed up the man at the junk yard scratched his head and asked us to explain how we were driving in detail. When we finished he just looked at us and shook his head. He sat us down and explained our engine problems. As soon as we got going we were setting the column throttle wide open and leaving it there. We were shifting with the engine at full throttle. He told us to use nothing but the gas pedal. Never shift without letting off the gas. It was good advice and saved us a lot of time and money.
The Model A was a great way to learn responsibility…………….but the junkyard gave us the driving lessons.