I don't think I ever shared this here....

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14 Jun 2003 04:08 #397 by Dutch Jacobs
Dutch Jacobs created the topic: I don't think I ever shared this here....
Dust lay thickly, everywhere. I could well imagine a rustling sound ? then silence, while a rat somewhere behind the trunks and oddments in the old garage waited with whiskers a-twitch to see if it had been discovered.

The remains of many rodents had turned up in all sorts of places already, and one had indeed run out of an old Chevrolet door as I had pulled it out from beneath the back of my fathers last Desoto. I shall spare the reader a description of what these small animals had contributed to the overall mess through which I have been sorting these past few weeks.

Two short months ago, late at night, I had received a telephone call from the west coast while I sat before my computer terminal at home in a rented house in Tidewater Virginia. -Tidewater being a collective noun, describing the city of Norfolk, Hampton, and other surrounding areas. I had found it to be a run down, yet comfortable part of the country. I suppose what made it objectionable to me was the crowding and absolutely insane traffic conditions.

The message was one I had expected one day, though it was shear bad timing that it should have found me when it had. In a few days, you see, I was about to move to the California city of San Diego where both my father and older brother lived and where I would then serve out my last year and a half in the military. It was a simple message and yet complex in its consequences, and it came from my brother Lawrence.

In brief ? he was the only one left.

Under the circumstances there was nothing to do but continue on with the transfer arrangements that had already been made. And now that I had been on the scene for awhile I was thankful that I wasn?t going to have to stop and go back east to finish anything up, as I might have had to do had I dropped everything and flown out the day after learning of my fathers death.

And now I found myself in a strange but familiar place ? one I knew from having lived at the house before, but one also in which I was learning a great deal of my late father through the traces of the man that had been left behind?

To those who have never worked with machines, specifically automobiles, it will be difficult to explain some of this. For those of us who know them well, we can read a great deal about the character of a person in what we find as we look at their work. And though my father had never told me much about the old machine in the garage, it was and is a lot like not being told what is in (for example) a copy of Shakespeares ?Hamlet? or ?Othello?.

This may in fact be the nearest way of describing the experience, if we imagine a much thumbed copy with notes in the margins being handed on to the son of a writer. For just as that son may find much of his parents thoughts on the edges of those pages ? so I find my fathers presence written into the margins of this antique car. And it is in the way parts have been removed, or not. In how they were laid aside for later attention. How they were protected, if they were. And also in finding the point at which my father ultimately STOPPED; having reached a stage with it that he knew he was incapable of going beyond.

And yet the vehicle remains ? a 1936 Cord 810, a machine that embodies a multitude of legacies.

Here there are also a number of mysteries as well, for there seem to be parts of it that are missing. But there is no way my father would have let any bit of this, of all cars, go. And so I must think what Papa may have done with them, where they could have gone. Sometimes I could almost swear my father was there in the garage with me watching, and perhaps wanting to tell me where some of the answers I?m looking for are. And more than once, I have asked the rafters: ?Oh Papa, why did you do this in this way??

(This is an early journal note that I never included in my own website)

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