A Good Kid

Terry was the skinny kid from down the street. He showed up one day while I was under my ‘38 Ford convertible in the driveway, pulling another broken transmission. It was cold and drizzling and he asked: “Can I help?” I thought he was crazy but one look at his face, and I could see that he was serious. Well, as all of us backyard early Ford mechanics know, the lower bolts holding the front U-joint cover are difficult to reach; there is little room for a wrench. We crawled under, I showed him where Mr. Ford hid them, and he dove right in. Every time I had a car up on blocks, Terry would come by and dive in, with great enthusiasm, into the tasks I hated. Nice kid. Serious face. Car nut.

Fast-forward a few years. I returned home from my required military experience driving from Washington D.C. in my ‘54 Ford sedan. All it needed was a rear end switch, from 4:11 to 3:73 and a valve adjustment. This should have been done in D.C. BEFORE the trip. As soon as I started, Terry showed up to help. He was working part time as a lot boy at the local BMC dealer. Remember those? As Part of the sports car movement, they sold MG’s and Morris Minors plus all the other British used cars. He would bring cars over to my house to drive. I spent fun times in a Jag 120 coupe, a Daimler roadster with a little hemi V-8 and one of the first Mini’s, an 850 sedan. We laughed like idiots as we tore around corners in it, not believing how much interior room there was. The place let him wear a tie and sell cars on Saturdays. Terry soon sold me a ‘56 TR-3, giving me a good trade in on my boring ‘54 Ford. Hey! I was single!

Fast-forward a few more years. I returned to the Puget Sound area after working Minute Man Missile sites in the Mid-West, now married with two children. I bumped into Terry while shopping. He was different, very confident and apparently successful. He owned several high end used car lots and was investing in other areas. He said his life changed after reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People”‚ by Dale Carnegie. That coupled with a genuine interest in people and cars and a good work ethic brought him success. I should have taken the time to read it but life was moving very fast in those times. Guess I’ll have to make do with what I’ve got.

Recently, I tried to “Google” Terry and he’s not there. I can “Google” me, so have I succeeded after all?