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Author Topic: My 48 year odyssey - One fine day  (Read 7303 times)
johnl
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« on: August 01, 2011, 17:33:31 pm »

This past weekend had special significance for me and if I don’t bore you to much I thought I’d share the story.  Parts of this I’ve told before, so once again please forgive my ramblings as I’m now classified as an “old guy” and feel I’ve earned the right to do so.

I’ve told the story about wanting a ’63 406 Ford with a four speed and my dad who was very supportive of me simply said “NO” as he thought I’d kill myself with the car.  My rebuttal was “if I can’t buy one of those I want a VW”.  Soon thereafter this came to pass.

Going to school and working as a box boy in a grocery store making $1.57 per hour before the retail clerks union got their piece of the pie was not bad money for a 16 year old in the day.  I had been told by my parents that I could have a car, but would be responsible for the monthly payment and had to keep my grades up in school.  My payments were about $43.00 each month which was a large chunk of change in the day.

On July30, 1963 my dad came home and advised me that he had put a down payment on a Ruby Red sunroof VW at the dealership in Riverside, CA. and we would take delivery the following day.  The car was equipped with white walls, a radio and cloth seats which he felt would be more comfortable than the vinyl.  I actually think the seat material was his deciding factor on the purchase of that particular car.  As it turned out the seat surfaces had pretty much gone south within about 18 months. 

Dad was a marketing rep in the grocery industry and traveled most of SoCal and had been looking at dealerships.  He picked the color as he thought I’d like it and I did, but truth of the matter was I would have preferred Anthracite and still really like that color today.

The night of the 30th was pretty much sleepless as I knew what tomorrow would bring or so I thought.  The truth of the matter was that it would be a like changing event for me and formed my life’s path to this day.

On the morning of the 31st dad and I left the house (I didn’t have work that day) in his 1960 Ford Ranch Wagon and headed towards the Riverside area some 40 miles to the east.  Dad made numerous stops and visited with customers and I did the best I could to be calm and collected, but the hours dragged on. 

Finally we arrived at Econo Motors then in downtown Riverside and he signed some papers to finalize the purchase.  While this was going on we were informed that the car was over at their body and paint shop as the left front fender had been damaged and was being repainted. 

I remember us walking into the parts department and looking at the display cases with all of this stuff marked “EMPI” on it which at the time meant nothing to me.  The other event was just outside the service entrance there was a rather unique orange small window with writing all over it and a guy fooling with the engine.  I think you all know the history of that car and yes, the man was Dean Lowery himself.

Soon we were on our way a couple of blocks over to the paint and body shop.  As we walked around the corner there is sat with masking tape and paper still affixed to the areas around the freshly painted fender.  We had to wait a period for the paint to dry enough before the shop manager felt the car would be roadworthy for the trip back to Anaheim.

I vividly remember that drive home as one of the highlights of my life.  I knew the route as I’d traveled it many times as a passenger for the past seven or eight years.  Off I went with dad behind me in the Ranch Wagon.  The roof was partially opened and as we entered the freeway I turned on the radio and started searching for KFWB which back in the day was “the station”.  As it turned out this station was the first to start playing top 40 hits of the Rock & Roll era.  For some history go to:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KFWB

Once I found the station the very first song that played was a Carol King and Gerry Goffin composition, “One Fine Day” by the Chiffon’s.  I had like the song from the beginning, but with all of this it has become a very special song in my life and every time I hear it to this day my mind goes back to that time.

At that time the 91 Freeway wasn’t complete and some of it was a divided highway and of course traffic was far less than today.  I’d never driven a VW at highway speed prior to this and was told to keep the speed down and vary it to assist with the engine break in period.  Quickly it became apparent how responsive the steering was at speed compared to the American cars I’d had exposure to.

The drive home was a surrealistic experience for me and as a 16 year old kid I was taken to places I’d never been before or since.  Over these 48 years many cars (some very special and some not) but I’ve never had that feeling again.

Upon arriving home around the dinner hour I remember driving my dad over to my friend Gary Michael Huggins (DKP founder) who lived a few blocks away to share my treasure.  Fred, GM’s dad was a close family friend and I’ve considered him my second dad since the ‘60’s came out as well.  My mind takes me back to how young dad and Fred were at the time, but GM and I viewed them as old.  So this is the beginnings of my 48 year odyssey. 

This weekend there was no “Hemi” rumbling at home for me.  Saturday I took the current black ’63 of 30 years out and drove to Cars & Coffee and spent a good amount of the time walking and talking with my long time friend Ron Fleming.  Also in that group were Rich Kimball and Dave Mason, the latter of DKP II.  Ron and I always seem to discuss a topic of our VW history of days long gone and this day was no exception.  Porsche was the featured mark of the day, so that made it just that much better.

On Sunday I’d planned on taking the black ’63 out to an event to remember that day of long ago but some unusual rain made me decide to keep the old girl garaged.  She seemed to say “thanks for letting me have the day off and we’ll do it again soon”.  This car has remained very stock in appearance since new and I think my reasoning is to remember the beginnings of my VW experience as it was a simpler time.

The original car was with me for 10.5 years and went through changes with the final being the Butternut version.  As Christie and I were being married the car was at Becker’s Bug House being painted the Warbonnet Yellow.  That was 40 years ago later this month, but it only seems like yesterday.

Of that original car I only have the VW badge from the hood and the owner’s manual.  Ah but, the memories are to numerous to write about here.  My dad has been gone for six years and he was my best friend.  I think of him and the car many times daily as they both hold a very special place in my memories and heart.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 years of Volkswagens in my life 1963-2019

Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
Zach Gomulka
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2011, 17:41:14 pm »

Thanks for that, John. And congrats on the anniversary Smiley
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Born in the '80s, stuck in the '70s.
Fastbrit
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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2011, 17:59:39 pm »

 Cool
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Der Kleiner Panzers VW Club    
So it took some guy 17 years to run 0.31secs quicker and he boasts about it? A case of All Talk and...
Fritter
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2011, 18:12:42 pm »

Good stuff John.  Cloth seats....interesting!  I always liked the cloth seats and wish they were easily available in the reproduction market like the vinyl ones are.  I guess all the European guys restore their cars with the US spec vinyl?

Keith, you need to collaborate on a book with John.....he has an amazing talent for remembering things and a flair for storytelling.  Working title:  History of the California Look Part 3:  Stories from those who were there.  Grin Grin Grin
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Mike F.
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Rick Meredith
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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2011, 18:32:43 pm »

Great story John and a great read!  Wink
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javabug
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« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2011, 19:26:10 pm »

Beautiful, John. That's a quality story. You have to tell it again in two more years.
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Mike H.

Sven was right.
Matty c
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« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2011, 19:30:38 pm »

What an awesome story, i could never tire of reading stuff
Like this, so uncle Keith how about it  Cheesy
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67heaven
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« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2011, 19:56:29 pm »

thanks for a great story John. Jan from Czech Republic.
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Nico86
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« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2011, 20:18:00 pm »

Wow great story, thanks for sharing!  Cool
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JS
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2011, 21:05:14 pm »

Outstanding!!!  Grin
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vwcab
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peter


« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2011, 21:25:25 pm »

Outstanding!!!  Grin
x 2  Wink
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'72 standard käfer
'74 cal-look project
'78 1303 cabrio
'12 Triumph street triple

ESCARABAJO's CALIENTEs
jonathan
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2011, 23:27:37 pm »

Congratulations on the anniversary John.
Thanks for sharing your "ramblings".I feel very lucky to have spoken to you at Nicks last year and heard some of them in person.
I am sure this hobby wouldn't be what it is today if your Father hadn't stopped you buying that Ford!
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Mike Maize
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« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2011, 00:49:22 am »

I hope to tell stories half as good as you! Now lets build that bigger engine we talked over in that diner in Hershey PA..... Wink
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« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2011, 00:59:28 am »

I want to go to John's house, cook hotdogs over an open flame and listen to his stories all night long.
 Smiley
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Rick Meredith
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« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2011, 01:08:02 am »

I want to go to John's house, cook hotdogs over an open flame and listen to his stories all night long.
 Smiley

Don't forget the s'mores!  Cheesy
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67 Beetle - The Deuce Roadster of Cal Look
Cheesepanzer
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« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2011, 01:17:40 am »

Cool.   Cool  Thanks for sharing.

Wouldn't it be cool to climb aboard the ol' "way back machine" and drive over to Renfree Motors and pick up a new '67, or '68, or whichever your preferred year is.  I feel like I just did.

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nlvtinman
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« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2011, 02:23:35 am »

As I wrote to John in a prive mailing, his clear recall of that actual day that a VW forever changed his life is truly a great story to enjoy reading. Thanks again John!

Makes me think we ALL have the 'Very First' moment story as to haw a VW came into our lives and has yet to leave us alone, and that it'd be interesting to share those with the Lounge world.

In late 1966 my Dad bought a used Java Greeen 1966 from Colley VW in Glendora, my home town. I was 13 at the time.
Well, nearly every time my folks left for an evening out, I'd fire the 40 horse up and drive up and down the driveway. The ranch style of homes in Southern California gave a perfect 'roadway' for a kid and buddies to test out his shifting skills.
Never quite brave enough to venture out on the streets, I wonder how many miles I could have driven up and down the driveway?
once, when my Dad asked if "I'd been driving his car? and I said "No Dad",he laid his hand on the warm decklid and just smiled.

When I did get my license to drive, my Mom (as some moms do) thought I'd get killed in that VW, and it got traded in for a "safer car"...that being a 400 CI small block 1967 Cutlass Supreme.  Oh how much fun that car was to power brake and smoke the tires right off!  So much for it being safer than a 40 horse.

Okay, now how about others sharing their stories.

And SORRY John for hijacking your thread.
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Dave Galassi
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« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2011, 05:59:00 am »

That's a great story Steve!  I can imagine your dad hearing the engine "clicking" as it cooled off...........
I used to wait for my dad to drive into the driveway in his new Bozzani Ghia.  Dad and Bob Bozanni were fraternity brothers and my dad and uncle bought the ghia and a red standard beetle at the same time.   
I'd wait what seemed hours at the curb, just standing there watching the traffic go by until I heard it.  He'd turn in, stop, and then let me steer and shift from his lap.  The smell of the coco mats, the faux wood trim on the dash and the clock.  When I was about ten, he let me drive in the yard to wash it. 
When my sister was 16, she got it as her first car and personalized it with the requisite nose dink and fender doinks.  Learned how to PROPERLY rebuild and tune a 34 Pict3 (with a ROYZE kit - what else was there?) and dual vacuum advance distributor on that car..................   

Seems like yesterday.  How could a kid not get hooked?

John, thanks for another great thread.


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johnl
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« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2011, 16:01:44 pm »

To all who replied publicly and privately I'm most appreciative.  The thought of writing the story came to me in the middle of the night early Monday morning, 2am.  I got up and watched TV for a couple of hours as the memories were stirring in my head.  About 4am I went back to bed and by the time I got up a couple of hours later I'd pretty much talked myself out of writing it.  I've done this before and have actally written articles in Word and then never published them.  My reasoning is you folks would think I'm to schmaltzy and I certainly don't want to be perceived as a goof ball.

When I arrived and read the article by Jim Ratto and the Mahaffey split I responded with my comments and that got the juices flowing, thus I then pounded out the story.  Sorry for the spelling errors, but I think most get the message and that is what is important.

I always sit back and hold my breath waiting for someone to simply say "SHUT UP" you idiot, but to my amazement that doesn't seem to come.  It was rewarding to read the comments from you all and I left work feeling very upbeat because of it.  For those of you who are not aware I only do computer stuff at work, so sometimes there is a lag on my part.  This may change in the future, but for now that is the way it is.

I've always believed that things happen for a reason and I'm now convinced that my writing that story was for what follows.  I had to go upstairs in our garage to store some monthly Royze stuff.  When I opened the cabinet I happen to look down and spotted a box of slides.  It was very warm up there so I took them down into the house and found a view finder to see what they were.  As I write this I now have (5) boxes of DKP related photos that are forty years old and have never been seen by anyone.  Soon I hope to share some of all with you folks and I think you will enjoy them.

I was so excited I could hardy sleep last night. Grin Grin Grin

PS:  See you Saturday Dave............
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 years of Volkswagens in my life 1963-2019

Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
j-f
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« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2011, 16:32:30 pm »

I think that most of us can no more sleep now, waiting for you to post those DKP pics  Grin

Thanks for all your stories John. They make us live the days gone by and what drove people to build VW and cal looker. The fun  Cheesy
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Nico86
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« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2011, 19:08:49 pm »

Write a book!
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lawrence
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« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2011, 03:03:59 am »

This is interesting stuff, John. I feed on memories from the VW heyday. Do not be so hard on yourself and keep up the good work. Thanks

-Lawrence
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"Happiness is a Hot VW!"
Rennsurfer
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« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2011, 07:53:49 am »

Very nice story, John. And worry not... this is most likely the last place on Earth where anyone will tell you to stop with the stories from days gone by. In my opinion, this is the only VW site worth spending time on.

Oh, and to state the obvious; we're all looking very forward to seeing said pictures, some day.
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johnl
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« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2011, 16:03:44 pm »

UPDATE:  I've ordered a 35mm slide converter through Costco that should arrive next week to get everything digital and then I can move forward on sharing them and writing stories.  On Tuesday night Christie and drug out our slide projector and about 14 carousels of stuff we hadn't see in years.  This in itself was a bit challenging as we've had somewhat of a disaster at home.  Long story, but three weeks ago part of our living room ceiling collapsed in the middle of the night and really made a mess.  This is what happens when your central air decides to start leaking.  The house is in disarray currently, so to drag this stuff out at this time was adding more fuel to the fire.  (Photos attached)

In reviewing all of this I've found far more than I ever thought I had and will try to bring it all to the site in various story topics.  Some may not be considered "Cal-look", but if you read deep into them and the people involved I think you will understand how they affected me regarding things I lived and did with the cars.  I don't want to reveal to much yet, but I think everyone should enjoy seeing all of this.

With this stated I hope I have your interest.....................   Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 years of Volkswagens in my life 1963-2019

Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
.
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« Reply #24 on: August 04, 2011, 16:49:45 pm »

John, I'll fix the ceiling while you lay out the DKP photos and plug in the slide projector !
Is that popcorn I smell ?
 Smiley
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j-f
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Jean-François


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« Reply #25 on: August 04, 2011, 17:26:10 pm »

Damn, that's a big hole!
Good luck with the repair  Wink
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johnl
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« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2011, 18:40:17 pm »

John, I'll fix the ceiling while you lay out the DKP photos and plug in the slide projector !
Is that popcorn I smell ?
 Smiley

The scanner just arrived !!!!  Guess what I'll be doing later today??    Grin Grin Grin

The ceiling repair will be completed by tomorrow and we can get back to normal, what ever that is....    Tongue Tongue
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 years of Volkswagens in my life 1963-2019

Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
Rick Meredith
DKK
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We can't force ya to have fun


« Reply #27 on: August 04, 2011, 19:58:45 pm »

Normal is overrated  Wink
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67 Beetle - The Deuce Roadster of Cal Look
Speed-Randy
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« Reply #28 on: August 04, 2011, 20:58:35 pm »

John, have you had the drain lines cleared out. If not, it will happen again shortly. You should have 2 drain lines on that AC, the primary going to a sink drain, the secondary going outside over a window or door. If the secondary is dripping it means the primary is clogged. It needs to be clear and since the secondary is outside it's very susceptible to spider webs and other small insects. A quick blast of air will usually clear them, but will make a mess on other end so cover things up. Great story, you should write a book, they are all very enjoyable to read
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johnl
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« Reply #29 on: August 04, 2011, 21:39:03 pm »

John, have you had the drain lines cleared out. If not, it will happen again shortly. You should have 2 drain lines on that AC, the primary going to a sink drain, the secondary going outside over a window or door. If the secondary is dripping it means the primary is clogged. It needs to be clear and since the secondary is outside it's very susceptible to spider webs and other small insects. A quick blast of air will usually clear them, but will make a mess on other end so cover things up. Great story, you should write a book, they are all very enjoyable to read

I know we're off the topic now, but I will say thanks for the input.  I was aware of all of this and did check on the lines and they were clear.  Problem was the pan had rotted out thus the drains never got to go into action...  Cry Cry  The unit had been up there for 17 years so I guess it just lived it's life up.  New unit has a plastic liner in the pan AND I have also installed a shut off should the lines become blocked and the water rises the unit should shut down which would make me go up to see why.  Embarrassed Embarrassed  Beyond this the only thing to do is check it every hour... Wink  Based on the previous unit's life I doubt I'll live long enough to deal with the problem again, so I'll leave it for the next owner.

Regarding the writing of a book.  Don't you think I should learn how to SPELL first??   Grin Grin
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 years of Volkswagens in my life 1963-2019

Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
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