Monday, June 9, 2008

The Lee Boys and Their Toys, Episode 1



I have often wondered why I am so interested in cars and trucks. My brothers all seem to enjoy them alot, also, especially Ed and Jim. Tom has a few trucks but he and Vi own a horse ranch so that is reasonable. Bob has that whole pool area going on referred to here, but his garage has a John Deere tractor to mow all 1,200 square feet of his lawn and a cool ass Matchbox scale layout with some of the coolest, rarest trucks available. I mean, US Forest Service '48 Ford 5 tons. Every seen one of those in 1/64 scale? And not one, but ten. Cool. Plus, he just took title of my nephew James' ole Mark Martin gocart.

And Bob is a generation older than me and I am 48.

Well, I have been interested in cars and trucks for as long as I can remember. A few years ago, I was forwarded this picture of myself, at probably age 8 or 9 laying on the floor in my Dad's den on South National in the Ozarks.

Reading this big old hard cover book about Classic Automobiles. On the cover of this is an old Rolls Royce and the front end of a Lamborgini Muira. I don't remember those cars on the cover from that time but I know what they are now, just by looking at the pictures. I look for a copy of that book whenever I am out looking at stuff like that. Certainly not at Wallyworld.

I was never active in sports. I played once in 7th grade on the football team but never did well and that was it. Now, my brother Ed can play anything and does it well. His son, James, as well as daughter, Taylor, inherited that talent as well.

I did win a trophy once.

It was for wrecking the original Haven Lee Farms Dodge truck, referred to here.

I had just turned 16, gotten my license, and was going to "check the mail" down the mile long gravel road that was our driveway. I was travelling a little to rapidly for the conditions (read speeding like hell down that hill, around a curve on a gravel road and lost the rear end in loose gravel) and struck the railing on the bridge over Turnback Creek. As you can see, with the location of the damage, the left rear mud and snow tire was hanging over the edge of the bridge, about 20 feet above the water.

Mrs. Britian, a sweet older woman and our closest neighbor, arrived first and made sure I was okay. After a bit, Dad came driving up in his 73 Maroone Buick LeSabre, which almost floated away at Jim's wedding (another blog), and was he PISSED OFF. The first thing he did, after asking me what happened, "Dad, the brakes failed"! was take my license. Mrs. Britian said to my dad was "Bob, now be happy he wasn't hurt." My Dad's response, "Hurt, Hell I'm going to kill him." Mr. Britian, never did know their first names, showed up with his cool little IH Cub Tractor and pulled that truck to safety.

I tell all youngsters I have influence upon that if you do something wrong, admit the reason right away, things will go alot smoother and being honest ain't such a bad thing.

Now where was I? Oh, yeah, Dad, some months later, found that old trophy in some flea market somewhere and yes, drug it home, for me. Got away from me over the years, wish I still had it. And yes, it is as tacky as it looks.

So, we are interested in cars. Is this heriditary? It seems to me I remember once being told one of our relatives sold, I think, Mormans, the automobile, in St. Louis back during the early 1920's. I could be mistaken, but I think so. My Uncle Frank, Dad's younger brother, always had cool Pontiac convertibles. Wish I had some pics of those, they were sweet. Early 60's, real nice. My maternal grandpa, whose name was Alphonse Bansbach, and referred to here by the bus in the blog that got all this silliness going, (now you know what that meant)---anyway, Alphonse the Man must have owned the cool ole woody my future Mother is pictured on in this pic.
So is it heriditary?

I don't know.

But...

Since I can only apply for about 20 jobs per day, some of which I have absolutely no opportunity of getting (sorry HR) and some of which I am way overqualified for, again, sorry HR, I have a bit of free time on my hands these days. And while I meet my Hispanic friend, Manuel Labor, nearly every day, under Ed's direction, I still have way to much free time.

The past couple days I have been going through some of my hard copy photo library, been through less than 1/2 of it, and have come across some interesting old photos of the Lee Boys toys.

I am going to try and put the pics I have of Dad's in chronological order, but I doubt it. I know I am leaving a bunch of them out but I am hoping some reason will arrive on June 11 and we all can get the pictoral of this part of Dad's automotive history returned to a trusting sibling.

Anyway, here goes.

Some of Dad's toys:

This 65 Ford Country Squire wagon, with vinyl wood paneling is really the first car I remember my Dad owning. This was after a succession of VW Microbuses and before the memorable sky blue 67 Country Squire which probably formed my lust for longroofs. It had a 390, ten seater, hard metal all over. I remember Dad driving us to the lake, no boat or trailer this time, but he was trying to pass a car, I remember the stretch of roadway, now on old 65, and every time he tried to pass this car, it sped up. Finally, we were approaching the deadly yellow line and an approaching car arose around the corner. Dad did a full panic stop. Ed and I, in the back back, saw the tire smoke and the skid marks on Highway 65. The next time Dad tried to pass that car, the old bastard in the other car let us by. I think we got to Coombs Ferry about 3 minutes earlier. It was okay, I was ten and got an experience I remember 40 years later.



This is the old 63 Corvair the bus mentioned earlier this year. This is the only pic here that is not an original. I shamelessly stole it from the bus, but at least I admit it.

This was the 66 Buick Electra Deuce and a Quarter Dad got from Strecker. I think this is either behind my grandmother Moo's home, and later Uncle Frank's, on Giles in St. Louis, or behind his Mirror office at 616 S. Harrison in the Queen City of the Ozarks.

This is the old, then new however, Craftsman tent trailer we camped out at with the Bingles down in Coombs Ferry Campground on Table Rock. Is it still closed? Also, check out Ellen and Joan's nearly full scale playhouse in the background.

The neigborhood kids perched on Dad's Model "A" circa, 1970 or so. From left to right, Maureen Verfurth, her little brother-forgot his name-, Jim McGregor, who had Hot Wheels when we had Matchbox, Jerry Verfurth in mask, my brother Ed, I think Joan, and Jeanne Muetzel, who enlisted in the Air Force in our Junior year and clepped out of Senior year.


Fast forward quite a few years. We had moved to Halltown and had this experience and a whole lot more to be shared.

This is a rare photo, at least to me, of Dad's Citroen DS21 Palas. I knew when Dad bought this car he was "Car Crazy'. Up to this point, he had owned mostly mainstream "amurrican iron", not really remembering the MicroBuses and Hillmans, although the Corvair should have been a hint. Dad bought this car while we were living on Haven Lee Farm in Halltown. This was also during the fall of Saigon, I will leave it to the Bus to provide the political insight here, and Dad was involved in the relocation of uncounted numbers of Refugees coming to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. One of them was Bach Nyugen. This Dude knew Citroens back and forth and was Dad's personal mechanic on this beauty. It is interesting, back then these Citroens were laughed at. Now, they are thought of as technological marvels and way advanced for their time. Especially the SM.
We moved back to Springfield and Dad bought the cool old house the Bus referred to here. It was on 3 acres and Dad needed a tractor to keep it up so he bought this cool old 8N Ford.

Years later, he bought this old Fiat and owned up to his dying day. My Dad loved this car and spared no expense on it. Jim sold this car to some dude from the Pacific Northwest, they flew in and drove it home! Guts.


This is a pic of the wagons my Dad built. I don't know how many he built but my daughter, Jessica got one the size of the larger wagon for Christmas, the Christmas before she was born.


This is my Mom standing by that Fiat. This has to be staged, there is no way that little car pull that boat. Also, the previous pic discloses the fact there is no trailer hitch on that ragtop.


Dad took this pic while we were on a memorable North Carolina vacation when Jessica was 2, so that would make it 1997. That in my Cherokee Limited on the left and Dad's blue Cherokee on the right. I am understanding Lil Jim now owns it. I can't wait to see the blog he does on his Dad's cars.



I know there are a ton more, I remember a Green 72 Buick LeSabre, a Maroone 73 LeSabre---wait for that post!!! a mid 80's Dodge Ramcharger Dad bought new but with no warranty as it had fallen off a train, 66 Pontiac Bonneville 4 door hardtop sedan, a 63 Coupe de Ville, all those disposable Chevettes and T-100's he bought for Mom....the list could go on and on.

I hope I am able to post some other pics of Dad's cars soon.

Stay tuned for Episode 2.

2 comments:

Stephie said...

I remember that Fiat...Grandpa actually let me drive him and it around one day. I drove like a little ole lady and he kept telling me to floor it. Of course I also remember what Fiat stands for...in the words of Bob Sr. "Fix it agian Tom!" Memories like that are like gold. I really love the pics of grandpa, they bring him back to me. Love you Uncle John.
Stephie

john lee said...

Stephie...

Thanks so much...glad you are enjoying this so much!

I am too...although,

unfortunately,

I never got to drive that oleragtop...

john