The Midnight Run

I have not felt this way in a long, long time. I vaguely remember all-nighters from decades ago, but I forgot the specific feelings of disorientation and other ill effects of sleep deprivation. It has all come back to me now.

After tying up several loose ends at work Saturday morning, I headed home to pack. But first the carwash, the swing by the ATM and finally the gas station. Crap, the air machine at the Shell station was broken. I’ll deal with that later. Maybe it isn’t so important to have the tire pressure exactly 40 psi. At home, I hadn’t even started packing yet. The RainX needed to be applied on the windshield, music chosen for long hours on the road, and the wondering about what I’ve forgotten to think of since it’s now the last minutes before leaving town. Hopefully the wife and daughters were done packing and ready to squeeze what could be squeezed into the Camaro for the ride straight through to Maine. Continue reading

The Odditty of Ottis

After Ottis, all others pale. An American Ford; non-descript, basic transportation… that is until you got to know Ottis.

“Fair Lane” was the residence and estate Henry Ford had built for himself in Dearborn Township. Named after an area in County Cork, Ireland, the birthplace of Mr. Ford’s foster grandfather, Fair Lane was a masterpiece designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Ottis was a Ford Fair Lane. Introduced in 1962 as the first “mid-sized” car, the Fairlane was the bigger-than-a-Falcon, smaller-than-a-Galaxie alternative.


This is a 1962 Ford Fairlane - not Ottis. Ottis was green.

I was introduced to Ottis in this manner. Bro Tom got his drivers license exactly 40 years ago in 1968. I think he borrowed Dad’s cars for a year or so, but he eventually got his own. Previously loved by long-time friends of the parents, his first car began life as a 1962 Ford Fairlane.  The four-door white over medium-green sedan was powered (a loosely applied term) by a 170 cubic inch, straight 6 cylinder engine with a two-speed Fordomatic transmission. Tom had a vision that the car needed an identity (he was right) and figured he’d paint “Ottis” in Old English white lettering (over the rust) on both rear fenders. Ottis. Continue reading

A Lesson I was Never Taught

A midnight-blue, two-door hardtop Chevy Impala with 42,000 actual miles on the odometer would tip the value scale today at several thousand dollars. But in 1973, the price tag was $450.00. This, the second automobile I ever owned was certainly a keeper. But no one told me that. Even if they had, I probably wouldn’t have listened. I was only seventeen!

This Chevy is still one of my favorite automotive memories. My first car, a 1962 rusted Ford Fairlane four-door sedan named “Ottis,” was a $50.00 hand me down from my older brother. Ottis was a sad story which I’m sure I’ll write about someday. So the Chevy was a MAJOR upgrade. I bought it from Mr. Budde, the neighbor across the street, with cash I saved from my paper routes. It seemed like a lot of money then…

It was stock. 283 cu. in. (220 hp) with an automatic transmission. Very little rust, no rattles, no dents, near perfection. I’m sure I have forgotten the little finish flaws. Now that I think about it, I remember spending New Years’ Eve 1973 painting the car with a friend in a borrowed paint bay of a local body shop. It was a midnight re-application of the original color, midnight-blue, a color eerily similar to my 1974 Firebird, my 1987 Grand Marquis, and my 2002 Camaro Z28.

1965impala0011Thinking further… the original wheels must not have been perfection to my taste either. I changed out the plain stock steel wheels & full wheel covers for the magnesium “bullet” style wheels pictured. I’m not quite remembering where I got those beauties, but they are undoubtedly the all-time number one WellsWooster favorite wheels over the last 35 years. Continue reading


A Burrito/Fajita Dinner for two at El Sombrero – $14.00

Purchasing an El Sombrero Blazoned Shirt for a Friend – $12.95

2,400 mile round trip shirt delivery to Bar Harbor – $340.00 in gas

Watching a Friend get arrested by Federal Agents at an “illegal” Speakeasy – Free

Chased down and caught in Bar Harbor

Showing the photographs to his mother – Priceless

June 5 – Homeward Bound

We woke to a northern Ohio rainstorm. The agenda today called for a visit to the James A. Garfield Museum, indoors mostly, so it would work out fine. Besides, the Red Wings had Stanley! How could it be a bad day?

In March, I got an email from someone asking for information about Thomas Garfield of Jamestown Township in Ottawa county, (Mich). Turns out I have lots of information about him because of the years of research I’ve done in Jamestown on Mindy’s ancestors who were among the founding families in 1847. Thomas Garfield was the brother of President James A. Garfield. The person asking the question was a first person historian preparing for an upcoming presentation in Greenville, Michigan. Debbie Weinkamer portrays Mrs. Lucretia (RUDOLPH) GARFIELD, wife of the President. She worked as a volunteer at the Garfield Museum for many years and learned her stuff real well! Mindy, her mother and I went to the presentation in April. It was very good. Continue reading

June 4 – Wings Win Wednesday

The trip west through Pennsylvania was noteworthy. I can’t remember exactly why. Probably because I was getting closer and closer to Pittsburgh, home of the nefarious Penguins. What would I do if I were to meet one of them?

We were headed to Akron, Ohio to visit the third and final cemetery of this particular vacation trip. Remember John and Susan (CHAPMAN) EVANS in Niagara county (earlier post)? John’s parents, Lewis and Mary EVANS came to Tallmadge Township, Summit County, Ohio probably before 1840 with John’s sister Mary and her new husband, Philip H. SMITH. One of John and Susan’s daughters also came to the area mid-1860s and another followed sometime in the 1870s. Continue reading