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Remembering Tex Smith

Remembering Tex Smith

I joined the staff of OLD CARS WEEKLY in Sept. of 1978 and sometime in 1979 I heard that Tex Smith was looking for a job. As a kid I head read Tex's stories in HOT ROD and his book How to Fix Up Old Cars. I immediately told Chet Krause, the owner of our company, who Tex was and that he was available. A few weeks later, a deal was put together between Chet and Tex. Tex was hired as the editor, but the real deal was that he would quickly become the publisher.
Tex was living in California and had a lot of stuff to move. OLD CARS WEEKLY had a show trailer and it was determined that I would drive the trailer to the Rose Bowl Swap Meet in Pasadena and fly home, leaving the company Suburban and trailer for Tex to use for his move. That was my first trip to California. On the way out, the U-bolts holding the axle on the new trailer shook loose. We made roadside repairs, but Tex took care of fixing it the right way in California.
Tex was a great boss because he understood the old car hobby and when we traveled, he would OK adding a day to the trip to visit a museum or a famous collector. Tex knows his old cars and owned a big '48 Chrysler limo. He was always "working on his hot rod" but never quite did too much on it. He did bring a lot of hot rodders to the Iola Old Car Show and he also sent us to events like the Street Rod Nationals.
One time we went to the Nats in Minneapolis and cars were doing bleach burnouts on Hennipin Ave. Our show guy Kenny decided to do one with the OLD CARS Suburban and someone from NSRA took his picture. The next morning they would not let us into the Nats until Tex pulled a couple of strings. He was a little ticked at is, but it wore off quickly.
One time Tex and I were at a truck club dinner during the Hershey, PA car show. I was having a lot of fun, but Tex said we had to leave to take pictures of the boss getting an award at another dinner. This time I was ticked, but Tex had the car keys. I was even more ticked when we got home and Tex found out he had no film (remember film?) in his camera.
But Tex was always good at making work fun. One time we were taking a photo for our annual Christmas issue and he took a Model T windshield and steering wheel out in the snow. Then he had us all sit-down, in the snow as if we were riding in an old touring car. Neal East was our West Coast editorial/ad rep back then and posed the same way in California. Of course, his butt didn't get as cold as ours' did.
In about 1984, Tex left us to go work for the Great Race. I always missed him. He was a childhood hero that I actually got to work for. And he wore the hero hat well.