Friday, April 3, 2009

Hammer, Screwdriver & Vise grips

I grew up in the backwoods boonies of northern California. Several of the homes and cabins we lived in had no electricity, and even those that did could sometimes have the power interrupted for days or weeks at a time. Long before cell phones if a tree took out the power, it took out the phone too, for weeks. Such was life deep in the woods. Most homes ran on generators if they had one. Otherwise it was kerosene lamps, propane stoves and fridges, hand washing and sun drying, just like the good old days grandpa kept yappin about.

The bus stop was at the end of the line, over an hour from the centralized high school. And then it was another 7 mile walk home over a mountain pass with over a thousand foot elevation change. For several years I had to walk and it was 5 miles uphill, 2 miles steep down. So yeah, it kinda WAS uphill both ways. But I wasn’t thankful, ha-ha-ha… Especially when it snowed, and it snowed a LOT.

You learned to make do with what you had. Later when I started driving, if your car broke down you had two choices. Fix it with what you happened to have in the trunk or found laying on the side of the road, or walk home - because there were no part stores. The problem with walking home was that even if you made it without encountering a bear (Yup, say “Yo bear!” ala Man-vs-wild) or mountain lion, you still had to walk back and fix the car.

The big cats and bears usually left you alone and weren’t much of a problem. It was the free range cattle and wild pigs that were a problem. Every herd of cows had a bull somewhere that did not take kindly to you making your way through the herd as they wander stupidly all over the dirt roads. You never knew when you would run into a herd, and when you did, you looked for and hid from the bull. When you heard the snort and feet stamp, you knew you were in trouble.

The wild pigs were something else completely. I don’t know what their problem is. I do know I had been treed a few times in gold rush era apple trees by angry boars. They will circle the base of the tree snorting and grunting for HOURS trying to eat you. Thank god there were apples to munch on.

It was a lot easier to just fix the car.

I once replaced a lower control arm and spindle on the Gremlin (wheel got torn off by the infamous cedar trees I don’t want to talk about) on the side of the road with a hammer, flathead screw driver and a pair of vicegrips. I was doing the vagrant thing, living out of my car and couch crashing as I tried to finish high school, so I REALLY had no place to go. A nearby hippy had an old Hornet racecar sitting behind his shed, so he cut parts off with a torch and rolled it out to me wheel and all. I sat down in the dirt and did roadside surgery right there at the scene of the “incident”. It took me 3 days and it wasn’t pretty, but I got it rolling again. Do you realize how long it takes to remove a bolt using the hammer and screw driver technique? It CAN be done though. As a result though, to this day I have a tool fetish, and am no longer allowed into the Sears tool department.

Just one look at that back wall with all their tools on display, and...

Next: Convergence of weirdness, team comes together.

Previous: It lives... No, not really.

From The Beginning: The Hook... (Part 1)

1 comment:

  1. Great story! Mom didn't have any straight butter knives in our house, they made great pry-bars and screw drivers. I can only imagine how good a mechanic your team has.