Today started as a fairly typical Saturday......an early ride up to the city for coffee, a visit with mom (shortened) but from there things changed. Rather than riding home after my visit with mom, today was the annual Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club along with the Viking Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America show at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
Mike had his new MG at coffee, so that definitely qualified as a highlight.....I caught him just as he was heading over to swap the car for his Triton on the way to the Vintage Show.
Sorry for the chopped 'ends' Mike.....I should have backed up one more step.
I purposely didn't take my camera and though I did have my Smart phone, I refused to take "sort of" photos of the excellent machines present since I just wouldn't do them justice. Turnout was great, the weather mostly held and the variety of better than perfect machines was incredible. The swap meet was crowded; the only thing I was looking for were some pipes for my Cafe Project but didn't find anything today. There's an outside chance that I'll attend the annual Blind Lizard gathering in Minneapolis tomorrow and if so, I'll take my camera for sure.
Checking my weather radar early afternoon, things looked more colorful than had been predicted. The approaching line of yellow and red blobs matched the darkening skies to the south and west. With a quick exit, it looked as though I could make a reasonable attempt at avoiding the worst of it by heading home to the southeast.
I left, taking a route that is different than my usual, though more direct. Using Mr. Dylan's Highway 61 and its 4 lanes, I was making good time, briskly and frequently using the passing lane to get home as quick as possible. Just before the town of Hastings, I came up behind a 1963 Chevrolet Impala, something I'd have known even without the personal license plate of "63 Chev". As I began to pass, I was 99% sure that I knew the original owner of the car. When I took stock of where I was, the ages of the people in the car, the condition and lastly, the dual rear radio antenna's, there was little doubt that the car was with its 2nd owners, the first owner had been Mr. Coop.
In the fall of 1962, typically September, it was standard Cooper practice to visit all of the local dealer showrooms to see what was going to be latest and greatest. It was something we did traditionally as a family. In fact, one of my first acts of teenage defiance was the year ('68, '69??) that I insisted that I was going to wear jeans, something dad was just not going to accept. We both stood our ground, I stayed home and dad went without me. I later was really disappointed and of course have come to know that he must have been as well.....something had been broken or at least very strained.
Anyway, I don't remember exactly how excited he must have been about the look of the brandy-new '63 Impala's, but he placed an order for one....black, a Super Sport, the 327 cu. in. 4 barrel carburetor (250hp, not the bigger 300hp version), a 4 speed, red interior, fender skirts and the optional dual antennas for the Deluxe AM radio.
I was 8 years old and still remember that in that following January, the northern Wisconsin hometown dealer that he had ordered the car from, delivered it to our suburban St. Paul home. That trip was the first and last time that dad's favorite car of all time ever saw winter streets. It was and remained our 2nd car and was essentially a Sunday car, used only for going to mom's folk's or dad's.
So, today I passed the car, but at the next possible place to exit the road, I pulled over and waited for the black Chevy to pass me. I had been (mostly legally) hustling past the slower traffic, hoping to beat the storms, the older Chevrolet running more calmly in the right lane. Confident that the car wasn't headed for St. Louis or Memphis, I was almost certain that once we got down the hill and into Hastings, the car would turn off, either to a restaurant, a picnic, a park visit, something local at the very least.
I guessed right; we no sooner crossed the big new Mississippi River bridge than the car turned off and headed downtown. I followed onto a side street and parked the bike. By this time, the car's passengers knew something was up, so I tried to approach them with a smile, offered my name and told them I was pretty sure I knew where their car had come from. They were in town early for the every-other-week car show.
I'm not sure about them, but I had one of my best hours of conversation with the couple that I've had in a long time. We talked of dad's passing, how the car came to be theirs, repairs that had been done (almost none), changes (even fewer), car shows visited, others' interest in the car, on and on. Not only that, but the new owner had a history at the same company that my dad worked for; his Tool and Die education had happened at the same school, under the same teachers that mine had, only an almost decade earlier. We found much to talk about and discuss. When I looked in the car, so many memories came flooding back to me; trips taken, the few times that dad actually had trusted his oldest son to take the car on my own, the smell of the vinyl, the howl of the 4 barrels once they'd open and how dad loved to hear it and feel it run. The seats were perfect, the carpeting spotless, chrome shiny, anything red was bright.
Thanks so much Mr. and Mrs. P.....it was grand meeting you both. Dad would be so proud and pleased that we got together and that you care for the car as much as you still do!