Fullerton, Nebraska

At some point during the NRCA Tour Nebraska event that my wife and went on in 2003 somebody from the Twin River Cruisers Car Club in Fullerton gave us a flyer for their upcoming car show in June.  Encouragef by some of the favorable comments about Maych that we received from NRCA members on the tour, my wife and I decided to see how Maych would do in a car show.   The car show in Fullerton looked like a good one to enter as a first-timer.   Fullerton is a rather small town (1500) and it's only about 40 miles northeast of our home in Grand Island.  So, I sent in the pre-registration fee of $10.00, and just like that, we were entered in our very first car show.

Registration at the car show began at 9:00 AM on a Sunday so we didn't have to get up too early to be able to drive the 40 miles to Fullerton.  I spent Saturday getting Maych ready for the show -- wash, wax, vacuum  -- and gathering the needed supplies to help him look his best after we arrived.  I call these supplies my "car show kit" and I put them into one of those stackable plastic milk cartons you can buy at Wal-Mart.  The supplies included window cleaner, wax (paste and spray), bug remover, California Duster, Armor All, Formula 409, paper towels, and terry-cloth towels.  

We got a little later start than I had hoped for on Sunday morning and we didn't arrive in Fullerton until around 10:00 AM.  That really wasn't much of a problem because registration went until noon and the car judging didn't start until 4:00 that afternoon.  The only drawback is that I didn't get a parking spot in the shade.  I quickly learned that shady spots are highly desirable among car show aficionados, not only because it's damn hot in Nebraska in June but mainly because detailing your vehicle in the sun is a real pain.  The windows were so hot the window cleaner would dry before I could wipe it off.  And, of course, every streak on the windows is painfully apparent in the full sunlight. 

Lesson #1 --   Arrive early if you want a good spot.

My Grandson, Joshuah (no, it's not spelled wrong) did most of the detailing, so I guess I didn't have too much to complain about.  Joshuah was going to Church camp not too far from Fullerton so I decided he could ride with me up to Fullerton.  He was a little disappointed at not getting to go on the Tour Nebraska event, so I thought this would smooth things out a little.  My daughter (his mother) and my wife would drive up later in the day and his mother would take him to the Church camp that evening.  That decision turned out to be a good one.  He worked like a little Trojan keeping Maych looking good.  Several other entrants wanted to know if he was available for hire.  I know they were just joking, but it really stroked his ego (which is a good thing for a 10 year old).  And, as it turned out, he knew a lot more about car shows than I did.

I say he new more because if I would have listened to him the day would not have started downhill so early.  As the time approached for the judges to start their rounds, Joshuah had Maych all ready to go.  I was "supervising" with a cold one under the nearest shade tree.  Joshuah came over and asked me if I wanted him to raise Maych's hood because everyone else had their hood up.  I still had some work to do under the hood and it wasn't one of Maych's strong points, so I had decided to just leave the hood closed, thinking that I would get more points from the judges if they couldn't see under the hood than I would if they could.  I looked around and did notice that nearly everyone had their hoods up.  But, I also noticed that there were a couple of vehicles that didn't.  So, I told him we would just keep it closed.  Joshuah told me that some guy had told him we really needed to raise it but I, being the intelligent grown-up, told him it would be OK and it would only cost us  a few points. 

As it turned out, he was absolutely right.  It stated clearly in the show rules that all vehicles will have the hoods raised and failure to do so would be cause for disqualification.  Of course, I didn't find this out until after the trophies were awarded and Maych wasn't among the winners.  After the award ceremony I visited with several of the competitors in my class and they all said they were surprised I didn't win anything.  They all had me pegged for 1st or 2nd place.  We I mentioned that I didn't raise my hood, they all kind of moaned, like "what a dork".

Lesson #2 -- Always read the show rules.

Lesson #3 -- Listen to your Grandson.

As it turned out, not winning (and having it be because of your own stupidity) was only the start of worst things to come. 

My daughter had left before the awards, to take Joshuah to Church camp.  At least I didn't have to hear "I told you so" from him for a few days.  The plan was for my daughter to drive back to Fullerton around 5:30.  My wife would then drive the car back to Grand Island and my daughter would ride back with me in Maych.  Well, 5:30 came and went and there was no sign of my daughter.  Around 7:00 she finally showed up.  My wife and I and a few clean-up people were the only ones left in the park.  Turns out, it took her nearly two hours to get Joshuah registered at Church camp because everybody decided to show up at the same time.  I made up my mind then and there that it was time to get a cell phone.  My daughter has one but I don't.  Waiting for my daughter and thinking of all the things that could have gone wrong convinced my that getting a cell phone would be worth the expense.

My wife left first in the car and my daughter and I followed in Maych.  My daughter gave her cell phone to her mother, thinking that in case something happened, she would need it more than we would.  Another bad decision, as it turned out.

Everything was going along fine on the drive back until we got about 17 miles outside of Grand Island.  That's when all hell broke loose.  I was cruising along happily at about 60 mph when my daughter said she was getting really warm and would I turn on the air-conditioner.  I tend to leave the air-conditioner off when I drive Maych.  It just seems more appropriate to drive with the windows down in a vintage vehicle.  As soon as I reached down and flipped on the air the most ungodly noise I've ever heard in a vehicle arouse from under the hood and the engine died.  Because the noise happened the instant I flipped on the air conditioner, my immediate thought was that the air compressor had somehow come lose and was banging into the radiator fan.

I pulled Maych onto the shoulder of the road and, with some hesitation, raised the hood.  I was expecting to see a scene of destruction, but to my surprise everything looked fine.  No rods sticking out of the side of the engine, nothing dangling in the radiator fan.  Perplexed, I got back in and tried starting him.  The engine cranked over a few times then back fired and made another horrendous noise, this time from underneath the truck somewhere.  I got out and looked under the cab but couldn't see anything wrong.  I then looked under the bed and noticed that my new muffler looked like someone had stuck a  stick of dynamite inside and set it off.  With the kind of back pressure it would take to blow the muffler apart I figured it must be a timing problem.  And with the awful noise I first heard I figured it was a broken timing chain at best or a busted cam shaft at worst. 

Whatever was wrong I wasn't going to fix it on the side of the road with only a couple of hours of daylight left.  I really could have used the cell phone that my wife was carrying right about now.  As my daughter and I were standing around thinking about what to do, I heard someone yelling at us.  A lady who lived in a house about 100 yards off the highway had heard the noise when Maych gave up the ghost ( I told you it was loud) and she was asking if we needed to use her phone.  Thank God for mid-western hospitality.  I walked over to her house and used her phone book to look up a towing service in Grand Island, then I used her cell phone to call them.

About 9:00 PM the tow truck delivered my daughter and I to our house in Grand Island and dropped off Maych in the driveway.  After telling my wife all the news, my daughter and I pushed Maych into the garage and I closed the door.  I knew whatever was wrong with him wasn't good and I didn't want to think about it anymore today. 

As it turned out, I didn't get up the nerve to tackle the problem for 2 more months and the problem turned out to be much more troublesome than I had imagined.  In some future episode in the Progress section, I'll let you know how it all came out.

So, that's my tale of the very first car show I entered.  I would have had things turn out a little different if I had a choice but I did learn a some valuable lessons, I meet some really nice people, and I had a good time with my Grandson.  Hopefully, the next car show will turn out better.

Copyright 2001-2006 by Johnny M. Patterson
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