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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Man Of Constant Sorrow

The five years at Butler had a certain element of sorrow to them.  First there was the divorce.  Then there was the overwhelming challenge of getting airline qualified, about which my mind created the metaphor of a large mountain.  I had made a conscious decision to remain unattached, not married, while I was still building the career, layer by layer.  I wanted to remain as flexible and mobile as possible.  I would not say the sorrow was constantly at a high level, but it was always there in the background.  I just wanted an excuse to add that very cool version of the song.  This was played at the end of episode 6 of the TV series, Fargo.

Of course, it was also a time of great enjoyment and accomplishment.  The guys I worked with were a social bunch.  We often went to a local bar dive called the Planeview to debrief drink beer and eat pizza.  BS and Jim were married when I first started there and Dave got married a couple years later.  Dan Wylie came to work as an instructor and since he was single, we did some running together.  We had to take it easy, because we worked long hours and could not afford to be hung over while working.

I owned several cars while working at Butler.  I had a Sunbeam Alpine at first.  The transmission blew up and I had to change it myself.  I didn't have much money, so my student, Bill Scott, who owned a car repair shop, let me bring it there and put in a used tranny (not that kinda tranny) I bought in a junk yard.  I had it up on jack stands and was under there on one of those little scooter things, trying to insert the shaft into the flywheel.  It was heavy and wasn't going in easily, when a big glob of hot grease fell down in my eye.

I felt the frustration and anger trying to take over my mind and body.  Then I remembered that I was under a car on jack stands, with a transmission in my out stretched hands.  I forced myself to remain calm, laid the transmission down and slid out from under the car.  Then I released a string of some of the language I had used in the Army.

Then I bought a Triumph TR 6.  I was into two seat, British roadsters at the time.  I love the sound of the exhaust on that car.  I was driving it to work on Route 8 one winter morning, when I saw a pickup with a trailer start fish tailing as it approached on the icy highway from the other direction.  The trailer came swinging out in my direction with a snap not unlike a ground looping J3.  I moved a lane to the right, but the trailer kept coming my way.  Finally, I had to go across the shoulder with all wheels up on a little hill at the side of the road to avoid being hit by that trailer.  I saw it swing closely by in my peripheral vision, because I was looking intently at where I was driving the car.

I had lots of trouble with that car also.  After all, it was a two seat, British roadster.  I thought I would buy a more reliable, American car.  I bought a Pontiac Le Mans from my old pal, Dick Sturman.

Before long, I had some big issues with the engine.  I took it to Sturman's dealership and complained to him for screwing a friend with a lemon.  He said, "You gotta screw your friends, because your enemies don't come around."  I had to laugh at that one.  He gave me a free rental car as his boys fixed it.  I traded that on a new Pontiac Sunbird coupe with a 5 speed transmission.

I drove that one for a couple years then bought a Trans Am, my favorite car of all time.  You have to remember that I have had a thing for fast modes of transportation since about age 2.

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