I’ve called the Porsche 356 my automotive soul mate. But it turns out I have two of them, thanks to my father moving us to the US in 1960. That obviously changed the course of my life, one of the biggest being exposure to physical work, which I learned to enjoy. City dwellers in Europe, especially those from an educated background, are not very likely to experience that.
I started mowing lawns and raking leaves for neighbors at the age of nine. And I spent several weeks each summer with Mennonite farmers, where I was exposed to a whole different way of life, one that revolved solely around physical work. Although Mr. Yoder drove an old Studebaker pickup, I noticed that old Chevy trucks of this vintage were everywhere in the Iowa countryside.
I fell in love with them, and they perfectly represent the other side of me. We’re about the same age, and we’re both still working. Given that the Chevy had a recent engine rebuild, it’s still working as well as it was 70 years ago; me not so much so. That’s the cruel difference between cars and humans — no engine rebuilds for us.
This old Chevy truck is still hard at work for its owner, Jon Sigurdson, a Port Orford tree and landscape contractor. Before Jon bought it in 1990, it had been a lumber hauler. I found it and Jon at our neighbors’ house across the street from our Port Orford place, where I’ve been doing more tree trimming and brush clearing than I ever have before. And I’ve been hauling lumber in my ’66 F100 for decades.
I can’t just sit in front of the computer all day doing head work; If I don’t do some physical work each day too, I start to feel frustrated and out of balance. The somewhat curious thing is that the older I get, the more I crave physical work and get fed up with too much time sitting at the computer, even though I’m obviously not as capable of working as hard as I once was. I guess it’s because I can feel my physical powers diminishing, and I want to use them while I still can. Hopefully my mental powers will still be somewhat useful when my physical powers are worn out.
This truck is still running like new, thanks to a thorough engine rebuild three years ago. I wish it were that easy for me. Isn’t that why we love to see or keep old cars fixed up and running, because it’s a way of creating the eternal youth and immortality we can’t for ourselves?
For me, it’s not so much the “eternal youth” part, as I like to see the natural effects of time, on people as well as cars. As long as it doesn’t affect the ability to function, patina, dings, rust spots, wrinkles, moles and saggy skin are all something to wear proudly. This truck and I have earned our badges of age, experience and wisdom. If others can’t appreciate them, too bad for them.
This Chevy is all-work, inside and out. And there’s a dog in the passenger seat to keep Jon company. I can relate.
When I’m doing physical work, I wear really grubby clothes. More like rags, in Stephanie’s estimation. I can’t bear to stain, soil or tear newish clothes. I wear the same work pants for many years, and have Stephanie patch them up for me until it’s not feasible anymore. My work jacket is a grubby fleece I picked up at Goodwill ten years ago, a relic from the 1990s or so. When I walk into Home Depot, I look like I just crawled out of a ditch. Which I may well have.
When I’m done working, I change into my other “uniform” that consists of comfortable and fashionable black all-weather athletic pants, a black turtleneck and a vest or light jacket. Then I’m in my “Porsche” mode: head-work, exercise, hiking, skiing, eating, and chilling. Before the pandemic, that included concerts (classical and jazz), theater, art exhibits, etc.. Speaking of, I’ve really been missing that part of life, although it is coming back. We just haven’t yet felt ready.
I may not be able to rebuild my engine, but I do try hard to keep it in good tune. I take care of myself by eating right and staying fit. It’s the only way to stave of losing compression and burning oil for as long as possible.
You’re looking at one half of my automotive self, right down to being a bit longer than average. This 3/4 ton 3600 series Chevy obviously got a frame extension at some point in its long life. I got mine at age 15, when I grew a foot in one year.
I’m sitting here in Eugene itching to get back to Port Orford tomorrow, as I’ve got a lot to do; install my electrical system, some rough plumbing, install a new entry door in a new location, as well as a long list of other things. And of course my chain saw will be along, for when I really crave a workout.
So what car(s) best represent you?