Saving The Old Rustbucket--My 1982 FJ40 Tale

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SouthBostonFJ40

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Can we keep it to one chapter a day? I like the suspense.

Lee, you really should think about becoming a writer, you certainly know how to paint a picture with words.
 

Sea Knight

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Lee, when did this trip take place? Recently??
You must have missed the first few posts. The first trip, the one you're reading about now, started in April, 2005.

Can we keep it to one chapter a day? I like the suspense.

Lee, you really should think about becoming a writer, you certainly know how to paint a picture with words.
Thanks. I don't know about the suspense part, but there should be enough meat in this tale to keep it interesting for a few more chapters. We have 2005 to present to deal with, so there's plenty of story material left. Believe it or not, there really is some 40 tech on down the line. Just bear with me.

On being a writer, I wish. Maybe this thread will be the beginning of my third career.

I doubt you'll be seeing any more than one chapter a day. I knock these out late at night after the wife has crashed, then try to tidy them up the next day. Sometimes I'll add things that were left out. If you go back and read the last couple of chapters, they've been edited and fleshed out since the original postings. Not a lot different, but hopefully more readable.
 

Sea Knight

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The Kitchen Table

This chapter has little to do with Land Cruisers in general or Uncle Meldon's 40 in particular. It has everything to do with the journey. Feel free to skip if you're expecting tech, drama, or humor. There's none of that here. This one is personal.

My Mom died last Summer, 3 weeks shy of her 91st birthday. I was in Oklahoma City when she passed. I'd been there several weeks, camping in my parents spare bedroom, muddling through rebuilding my wrecked 40. Two weeks after I arrived, my Mom was hospitalized; she'd fallen and broken her left hip and right arm. At her age, I think we all knew she wouldn't recover. After a week in the hospital, her doctor recommended moving her into a hospice. He said they'd be able to make her more comfortable than a conventional hospital. Every day I'd rise early and do something to the truck, often nothing more than swapping out a couple of rusty bolts. Something to clear my head before going to the hospice. When I'd enter my Mom's room it was always the same. I'd ask how she felt. She was in obvious pain but she'd answer that she was fine, just fine. She didn't want anyone worrying about her. Then she'd ask about my family, Erin in Frisco, Clay in Nanaimo, and the grand kids, and always she'd ask about progress on the Old Rustbucket. She called it my "little red truck." She'd ridden in it, seen it after the wreck, watched me agonize over its resurrection, shared my woes as all Moms do. She knew about me and old Land Cruisers. On the Friday she passed, she thanked me for coming, for being a good son, said she'd enjoyed the visit, closed her eyes, and slipped away. She was one of those special people you don't forget, and she belongs in this story.

Following my trooper encounter outside Jacksboro, the remaining 200 miles to Oklahoma City are uneventful. Bucolic countryside, clear blue skies, and virtually no traffic. If you love the open road and wide open spaces, it doesn't get any better than this. In Bowie I change my road music to Robert Earl Keen and turn North onto US 81, I cross the Texas-Oklahoma state line at the Red River bridge, and drive on through Waurika, Comanche, Duncan, and Chickasha. Just south of El Reno I dogleg East on the Mother Road, US Route 66. Passing through Yukon, I'm on the home stretch, only 15 miles to go, but the timing is off. Way off. My parents eat supper at 4PM sharp. They're more punctual than the atomic clock, and I'd timed my Austin departure accordingly. I wanted to be there in time to wash up and enjoy a great home cooked meal without disrupting their schedule. After meeting Ken and Barbie in Stephenville, and chatting up the troopers, I'll be late by almost two hours.

I pull into my parent's driveway at dusk, porch light is on, and there's my Mom at the living room window peering out, just as I knew she'd be. Even though I'd called ahead with a revised ETA, she'd probably been standing there the entire two hours. We hug, and she says that I look too thin. I'm not even close to being thin, but she'd still say that if I weighed 300 pounds. It's a Mom thing. She says I should eat now, while the food is hot. I follow the aromas into the kitchen; they're familiar and comforting, scents I've known since childhood. Her cooking is legendary. In high school, my friends would often happen by just before supper time, knowing if they hung around long enough she'd invite them to pull up a chair. This annoyed my Dad, but not her; everyone was welcome at her table. She's slowed down with age, but hasn't lost her touch. The table is set but it's obvious no one has eaten. On the counter I see a big baked chicken, a pan of cornbread dressing, homemade mashed potatoes, a green bean casserole, and a fresh fruit salad. Cooling on a trivet is one of my Mom's home made pecan pies. No fast food in her kitchen. It's all made-from-scratch Southern comfort food. Labor intensive dishes. Enough food for 10 people. No sign of my Dad. I search, and find him in his TV room, perched in his recliner watching the news, wearing a dour expression. He is not pleased.

Dad: "Nice of you to drop by." (delivered with sarcasm)
Me: "Thanks. Why haven't you eaten?"
Dad: "Your mother said we couldn't eat until you arrived. It's your special meal."
Me: "I'm sorry. I didn't know."
Dad: "It took her two days to prepare that meal. And you can't even show up on time."

Awkward silence

Dad: "Forget it. Let's eat."

We eat, and of course it's fabulous. I have seconds. I may have had thirds. My Dad is silent while my Mom peppers me with questions about the trip. What Western states will you cross? Tell me about the Land Cruiser you're driving? Can I have a ride before you leave? What friends will you see along the way? Will you finally get to meet Yooper's brother? And on it goes. She's as interested in this adventure as she was my elementary school field trips. 50 years, nothing changes. My Dad retires to his TV. He's still peeved at my tardy arrival, and he likes to end the day with Letterman's monologue. Creature of habit.

My Mom and I stay up well past midnight, sitting at the kitchen table, talking like never before. I tell her about the ambitious young couple at the Hard 8, and her eyes twinkle. She says "I remember being like that, feeling that way. Feeling like there's nothing you can't do." We talk about the Land Cruiser family. I call it my extended family. Some would laugh, but she thinks it's a great thing. She says it reminds her of the way things used to be, people helping their friends. People helping people because it's the right thing to do. People caring. And we talk about life. She gets it. I hope I'm finally getting it.

My Mom lived for six more years after I returned from Hawaii. There would be other Land Cruiser road trips, other home cooked meals, other conversations, but none like this. When I think of the beginnings of that epic trip, the trip I'm writing about now, it wasn't in Austin. It was that night in 2005, sitting at the kitchen table, talking into the wee hours, talking about old Land Cruisers, and life's lessons, with my Mom.
 
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davegonz

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Dammit, Lee. I'm sitting here in my office at work with teary eyes. I know how hard the last year has been on you and how therapeutic your 40 project has been. Like I've told you before, your mom was an amazing woman.
 

yooper

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I want to type in some Robert Earl Keen lyrics here but I suspect that Lee is saving this actual line for the right time in the story, maybe even the epilogue, so I will defer.

:beer: my friend.
 

77mustard40

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Sorry I missed meeting her Lee, but she sure left a high end product behind.

Sitting here reflecting on the amazing contacts these rattle traps have assembled for me, and thinking back on the Friday I rolled past Billy's in Ole Yeller and saw a pile of 40s parked out front. I'm stuck in the vortex now.
 
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Lee, that is the best post yet and the above replys show why. I've seen it said on this forum many times....it's not about the rust and metal it's about the connections and life long friends and experiences we have, and can recall, in and around these fantastic vehicles.......WELL DONE Sir
 

Sea Knight

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I want to type in some Robert Earl Keen lyrics here but I suspect that Lee is saving this actual line for the right time in the story, maybe even the epilogue, so I will defer.

:beer: my friend.
I do have a Keen lyric in mind for the epilogue. Thanks for saving it for me. And :beer: back at ya.

Sorry I missed meeting her Lee,
She'd have said the same of you, and all my Cruiser friends. She knew many of you by name. She'd have loved you guys.

Damn dust in my eyes, or cedar fever, or something...
Yeah, I had the same problem last night while trying to write.

Like I've told you before, your mom was an amazing woman.
Indeed she was. As I realize more and more each day.

If I'd thought to add a lyric to her chapter, it might have been this one...from Billy Joe Shaver

When this old world is blown asunder
And all the stars fall from the sky
Just remember someone really loves you
We'll live forever you and I​

I'm gonna live forever
I'm gonna cross that river
I'm gonna catch tomorrow now​
 

Sea Knight

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Bunch of fags....

...ok, ok, you know I'm kidding.
Hey, be careful in here, or risk being eviscerated in a future chapter. :flipoff2:


Did they call it dinner or supper?
Interesting food tech question.

supper - Dinner is the main meal of the day; supper is the last meal of the day and lighter than dinner.

I think my parents always referred to the evening meal as supper. Not sure when I started calling it dinner. Maybe the Navy? From the definitions I just read, it appears that supper is correct. One more of the many things my parents had right.

Everyone have a safe weekend. I'll try to post another chapter by Monday.
 
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