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Which Reminds Me

Which Reminds Me


So, most every day along about supper time, I turn on the radio or flick the TV switch. Mostly out of habit, but it is how I try and keep up with what is sparking the whole wide world at the moment. And right now, there is a lot of mumbles about the country of Ukraine.  Which reminds me of Carl  Brunson.

Brunson is one of the fortunate people who is an absolute master working with absolutely nothing. Except his own pure genius. Example: When I met Carl, he was working his own two many body/paint shop out of downtown metropolis Driggs, Idaho. Population about 300, and a couple old soreheads. That was back in the mid-l980s. Summertime, when for two or three months it is throw-down gorgeous. The weather. The burg was just another dusty old cowtown that dots western America.

I was looking to leave the Great American Race in Dallas and get back to Real America, Carl was just looking to survive. It was said locally that Driggs was Poverty With a View. Perfect.

Ayway, we hit it off since I had a background in body shops, And Carl was keen on experimenting with all the chemical changes happening in automotive finishes. So I watched him and learned. Like how to color sand with a DA, and how to cure a ton of paint applications gone wrong. And, how to please a DC (that’s trade talk for Difficult Customer). Which was why one Saturday morning I walked into his spacious three stall shop to find Carl and his helper hard at matching a paint color. The duo had a large diameter shop fan on full blast, with the helper stationed directly in the air flow with a very large bucket of shop sweepings. When Carl said “Now”, helper grabbed a handful of sweepings and threw it all into the air flow. Which was blowing directly onto a new model car that had a door and front fender taped off. As the helper threw the dirt and whatall into the air flow, Carl sprayed a wide fan of color in the general direction of the car.

Turned out just the day before he had done a ding repair but the lady customer was unhappy with the fact that her two-year old car paint job was slightly faded so that the called-for matching color was too bright. Yea, I know, but in the body and paint racket you meet all kinds. This customer would not be placated, so Carl solved the problem. By throwing dirt into a light coat of clear he could “age” the paint appearance.

The result was a stunning match, the difficult customer was perfectly satisfied, and Brunson just brushed off my praise as another day at the office.  He only asked where we were going for the next rod show? You see, at a moment’s notice he would jump in my magazine Van Of Doom and off across America we would wander.

Which is why I am reminded of Ukrania. Because sometime in the '90s Carl got a new mail order bride. Direct from the Ukraine. And absolutely drop dead gorgeous. At her home town of Kiev she was an actress and TV presenter.  Which was how it is that on one of these sales trips I asked her to help me in my pop-up sales tent by selling subscriptions to Hot Rod Mechanix magazine. Not that I was overwhelmed with customers, but because I had the call of nature.

When I returned to my tipi, the place was boiling over with lusting car types, all wanting whatever it was that my new ace salesperson could supply.  And she could barely speak a few words in English. Still, it served to prove that car guys weren’t interested in buying from car guys, not if there were ladies around.

Eventually this Ukrainian woman got her double-double drop dead gorgeous daughter through immigration and drag racing has never recovered. Which reminds me that drag racing sucks. It was way more fun when the quarter mile times were in  the very low l00s,  the cars had proper seats, and there were no special fuels. Mumble, mumble, bitch gripe…

Which, somehow, reminds me that the ladies of hot rodding are the very backbone  of this sport/hobby/pastime. Without them, we ain’t nuthin’. Amen, pass the offering plate, and I don’t want to hear no clinking!