Saving The Old Rustbucket--My 1982 FJ40 Tale

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Dinner vs Supper

In Texas (or Alaska) dinner is the meal that the family eat together. It is usually the biggest meal of the day and the only one attended by everyone. As I am refering to Texas and Alaska it is also assumed that the family in question are workin folks. so breakfast and lunch will come at different times depending on whats being done that day.

So it breaks down like this...

Mon-Fri breakfast, lunch and Dinner (the family is together in the evening and therefore Dinner happens to be supper).

Saturday is too busy and hectic for organized eating... but usually Dinner is in the evening (if we aint fishing, hunting or wrenching)

But on Sunday it is breakfast, Dinner, and then supper (popcorn for the ladies and sandwiches for me and Dad -sandwiches made from the remaining caribou roast we had for Sunday Dinner)

Dinner is the term used for the meal that the family eats together!

That's my two pennies

~ GREAT thread! thanks for the story
 
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Lee,

How ya doing man? I kept checking this weekend if you might have posted another chapter. Looking forward to the story continuing forward and whichever way it the story goes
 

Sea Knight

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Army and The Turtle--Part One

Not much about the 40 in this entry, but I can't finish the Oklahoma City chapter without talking about my Dad, better known as Army. Ernest Hemingway is famously quoted as having said "The first draft of anything is always $hit." It's hard to argue with Papa Hemingway about writing, but I want to let this come out rough. Unedited thoughts about my Dad are probably the most honest. If you don't know where he came from, his reaction to The Turtle will make little sense.

For as long as I can remember, everyone has called my Dad by his nickname, Army. I've never known whether Army was short for Armstrong, or came from his beefy Popeye forearms, or had something to do with his WWII Army service. He claims he doesn't remember how it originated and I never pressed the question because, well, we never talked much. Ours was a difficult relationship, an overachieving father and an underperforming son who seemed to never quite meet expectations. At least not in the early years.

My Dad is a hard man. He grew up dirt poor during the Great Depression, the youngest of five children. According to my Grandmother, who wasn't prone to exaggeration, during the worst of times starvation was never far out of sight. On good days, a baked potato and a bowl of greens cooked with salt pork was considered a hearty meal. Most days it was something less. My Dad was the only member of his family who was able to finish high school and when Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was beginning his third year of college. He was still poor, but ambitious. He lived in an Army surplus tent hidden in a wooded area near campus, showered in the gym, worked nights as a janitor and weekends as groundskeeper at a nearby cemetery. He was nothing if not determined. As a child, he never played childhood games, or had toys, or learned to ride a bicycle. As a young man, he didn't hunt or fish, didn't have time for sports, and never owned a car. When I once complained about one of my Mom's meals not suiting my taste, he gave me a sad look and said that he didn't experience eating three meals in the same day until he entered the Army. I don't know what happened to him during the war. I do know that he was at Anzio, and that it must have been horrific. I also know that he has an old cigar box full of medals that he keeps stored in his bedroom closet, but won't discuss. He doesn't care to talk about those times, even when asked. The war was just something else that he had to work through, like others of his generation. After three years slogging across North Africa, then Italy and France, and finishing up his Army hitch in the Philippines, he returned home and started working in earnest.

He was married by then, and it wouldn't be long before I showed up, so he had to get busy. He signed on as a roughneck with Gulf Oil, first working on drilling rigs and later moving up to a seismograph crew. He'd put in 10-12 hour days, then attend college classes courtesy of the GI bill, four nights a week. And then there was studying, which occupied the rest of his time. For more than five years we didn't see much of him during the week. He'd leave the house before 7, head for the drilling rig, then from there to school. I was usually asleep by the time he made it home. There was little time for traditional family activities, or father-son bonding. After finishing his undergrad degree, before long there was more night school for a master's in geophysics. Straight A's. What else would you expect from Army, my Dad the workhorse.

On weekends, he'd work even more--projects around the house, and he'd take on occasional side jobs as a general contractor. Oh, and we had a garden, like a WWII victory garden, but larger. He spent countless hours tending his garden, growing all our vegetables in the back yard, because they were "better than store bought," which they were. When he decided that we needed a new garage, he excavated the site with a spade and wheelbarrow, put up the forms, hand mixed concrete in a wash tub, poured the slab, then framed and built out the entire garage by himself. His only helper was me, age 7, handing him materials. He had no carpentry experience. He just read a how-to article in his bible, Popular Mechanics, and went for it.

In our house, the idea of calling a repair man, or taking our car to a commercial repair shop, was a foreign concept. It was the same with everything, from a broken television set, to malfunctioning appliances, to whatever car we happened to own. In the days before factory service manuals and internet help sites existed, my Dad would take apart whatever was broken and figure out the issue, and he wouldn't stop working until it was fixed. At the time I thought that he especially enjoyed getting greasy and working on cars. For a long period we only owned one vehicle, the family car, which had to be operational at all times. The first car I remember was a gigantic hunk of Detroit iron, a baby blue Pontiac Chieftain with their infamous Silver Streak flathead straight 8. It had a 2 barrel Carter carburetor that was considerably less reliable than our bulletproof AISIN's, and required constant attention. I can recall my Dad once coming home from work, dead tired, and being told by my Mom that the car sputtered but wouldn't run. He choked down supper and spent most of the night doing an emergency carb rebuild in order to have the car ready to roll the following morning. I remember this well because I was there in the garage, over my Mom's objections, holding a shop light and handing him tools throughout the night. There seemed to be nothing my Dad couldn't do, or build, or fix.

I honestly think that working was the only thing Army knew. In the 17 years I lived at home, we never took a vacation. It wasn't that he didn't have time off, or that we couldn't afford vacations. He simply thought they were frivolous, a waste of time when he could be working, and he expected the same of me. My Dad is now 91 and in those nine plus decades, I doubt he's ever done a single thing just for the hell of it.

The Turtle is where I left it last night, parked in my parents' driveway. It's the first morning in Oklahoma City, the morning after my arrival and late night conversation with my Mom. It's also the morning after receiving the silent treatment from my Dad. I rise at 0600 no matter how late I've stayed up, an old Navy habit that I can't seem to break, go into the kitchen, and build a pot of 90 weight java. Another Navy habit. It isn't long before I hear my Dad's walker rattling down the hall. He's had two strokes and can't get around without his walker, but his mind is as sharp as ever and he hasn't let his condition slow him down. Whatever disagreements we've had over the years, how to make coffee isn't one of them. He loves my high octane coffee.

....to be continued
 
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Thanks Lee, please keep up the great story telling. Sounds like you dad and mine were raised with the same mantra that showing love to your son would make them weak and soft. Sure glad that idea has been discredited!

Thanks to men like your old man, we live in a free nation. Hope you found out the stories behind the medals.
 

Sea Knight

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Mornin' Everyone,

And thanks for the props. Most of this has been fun to write. Some of it, not so much, but therapeutic. I'm pleased that this tale is going over well, and I appreciate your positive comments and PM's. I'll try to finish the OKC chapter and post later today. Then The Turtle and I will be back on the road.

For anyone who feels this thread is veering too far off topic, well, maybe in a sense it is, but it's first and always the story of adventures in an FJ40. Keep in mind that the central character is an old truck, and none of the incidents I write about would ever have occurred without that truck. The same will be true later, when the story moves on from The Turtle and eventually shifts to The Old Rustbucket. A couple of chapters ahead, there may even be some 40 tech. Way ahead, when I run out of story, there's lots of tech, so keep the faith

Cheers,
Lee :cheers:
 
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