After Uncle David completed his divinity studies at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, he was ordained and received his first Call at Adams Lutheran Church in Batesville, IN, and served from 1961-1963. Prior, as a student, he drove a 1950 Chevy and kept it running in relatively good shape. Now that he had contracted a full-time call, he offered to sell his car to William and me for $50. We accepted his offer and took over ownership. Since William was of and had the engineering mind-set and already worked the previous summer at a ‘body shop’, we thought that we’d be able to spiff this car up ourselves and learn some auto mechanics in the process. First, we ‘gapped’ and replaced all the spark plugs. Finding that a few wires appeared too worn, we went to a junk yard and towed home an identical car model to use as replacement parts. That worked well because we could choose and use the better parts from either car. Next, we borrowed Uncle David’s timing gun and adjusted the engine fly wheel to specification. Then we cleaned the carburetor. During the summer, we fixed all the dents and spray-painted the car from olive green to a light sky blue. We also exchanged the front driver’s seat but kept the passenger and back bench seat because David’s car seats felt more comfortable. We always noticed that the ‘plastic’ steering wheel of the car was cracked, and the junk car had a leather lined one. We loosened all the nuts and bolts visible on the steering column but simply could not ‘budge’ the steering wheel more than ¼ inch. (Of course, we had no manual to follow). Cocky Smart as I was, I suggested that we use the tire jack and position that to ‘jack’ the wheel out. Accordingly, we tried. But the wheel moved slightly and only ‘crookedly’ not symmetrically as expected. Both William and I pushed the jack handle together once more, but the jagged tip of the jack suddenly popped out and glanced past William’ arm and hit me squarely on the right side of my nose, tearing off a flap of tissue ½” by ¾ inches, along my nose just under my right eye. Of course, this was accompanied with much bleeding and pain. We ran into the house and had Mom wash the wound. After the bleeding stopped, l noted that the torn tissue seated very well back in its original position. Mom wanted to take me to the ER. I argued that they cannot sew me better than if I kept it clean and protected it with a band aid. If it got worse, we’ll go later. Self-care healed it in 7 days. We put all the nuts and bolts back and kept driving the car with the even more cracked and disfigured steering wheel.
My Mom’s older sister by 16 years, Auntie from New York, came for a visit. We proudly showed her our car. She was gracious and gave us some money to buy new seat coverings to make the car look even better.
The car serviced us well from high school through two years of college. And we learned a lot about car repair and maintenance; very useful lessons.