Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The phone rings and I hesitate. Chances are the caller is selling something I don’t want. But sometimes the interruption delivers exactly what I need, like when my friend Gary called Sunday morning with an invite to join his car club (The Boogymen) for an intimate and laid back drive through the countryside, before the weather goes sour. I was smack in the middle of stressing over my latest deadline, but stopped to consider the offer. Winter is lurking just around the corner and I definitely needed some stress-relieving before facing that. Besides, I watch enough TV to know that a piano could fall from the sky and flatten me at any moment. For all I knew, this day could be my last. I took the leap of faith.

We rendezvoused at 8:00AM at Fleck’s Automotive in the next town over (Ashland, Oregon). The Boogymen are a loose knit group with various backgrounds and perspectives on hot rodding. Unpretentious and unassuming, these guys ‘get’ lowbuck reality rodding – salt of the earth types, with no respect for labels or other judgments. Several members couldn’t make the spontaneous date, but it worked out just how it was meant to. As always.

I climbed into the T with Gary. We were braced for the chill October morning, bundled up and gripping steaming coffee. We shot up the Siskiyou summit on I-5 South and took the Mt. Ashland exit, leaving the city and freeway pace behind for the day.

20 minutes into the tour, a quick break on the backside of Mt. Ashland for deep breaths all around, as the daily grind melted into the warmth of friendship and the serenity of motoring around in the palm of Mother Nature’s open hand.

Meet The Boogymen (10-9-11 edition): L-R: John, Mary, Allan, Jerid, Gary, Ross, Jerry, Donna. First names only - lawyers orders.

John – Full time hot rodder (AKA Retired). ’32 5-window. The Deuce sports a colorful pedigree, as does John. The 401 nailhead, 4-speed, Halibrands and competition orange paint have remained untouched for decades, but for some primer spots. Infamous on street and strip.

Mary and Allan – Full time hot rodders. ’28 Tudor. Allan and Mary were our hosts/tour guides for this run – the hostes with the mostest wisecracks! The A-bone runs an aluminum 215" Rover V-8 (same as 60’s Buick/Olds). Fuel injection was thrown in the river, replaced with ’62 Olds intake, for now. I suspect Mary insisted on their only closed car for this fall day.

Jerid – Exhaust shop worker. Currently building first hot rod. Expert navigator/shotgun rider.

Gary – Exotic bicycle builder/Longtime hot rod builder. ’23 T Roadster. Trad gow, via Winfield head on ’32 block, ’39 toploader, banjo rear and juice brakes. It’s a cross country runner with no ‘Off" switch, just like Gary.

Ross – Tire shop owner/operator. ’65 Fairlane. His mom bought the car new in ’65. Handed down to Ross, it still runs the original 289/C-4 combo, but Ross redid the whole car for his high school reunion (Class of ‘63). I shot my photos with a trad rod mag in mind, leaving Ross the odd man out. I felt bad for that on Sunday and feel worse now. Sorry Ross.

Jerry – Auto repair shop owner/operator. ’25 Dodge Touring. He’s a lifelong hot rodder who bailed out during the billet era, then was adopted by rats. You name it, Jerry’s done it, but usually insists someone else did it better.

Donna – Spare time hot rodder (Retired parts manufacturer). The new kid in the club, Donna is currently rodless, but considering her next move. Her late husband Barney’s last name rhymes with ‘bizarro’.

We spent the day finding our way from Ashland, Oregon to the California towns of Hornbrook, Callahan, Yreka, Etna, Greenview and Ft. Jones. The shops we visited are private and shall remain so here (call Gary for detailed directions: $20). We split our miles equally between pavement and dirt. There were no breakdowns. We received no traffic citations, despite constant blatant violations.

Our first official stop was the private collection of a gentleman known only as ‘Mr. Duke’. He likes trucks.

I fell hard for this ’55. It’s now the carrot on my stick.

John and Gary both came away with parts for their '34 projects. Then we were off again.

Dirt trackin’ through Scott Valley…

Gary was loving the twisties through the hills. The T is a slot car!

We played musical cars all day. Barney would’ve loved this. Donna and Gary sure did.

Coffee break #23. Downtown Callahan, California, population 50. These buildings were from the 1850’s and are under restoration (Post office is only business still open in this ‘shopping center’). Behind us is the bar/restaurant, and that’s it for Callahan.

Heading up to Allan and Mary’s place.

This was planned stop #43, but we got so sidetracked here, it became our finale. Enjoy...

We made it back to town in time for dinner. Playing hooky never tasted so sweet!