The day immediately following my graduation from high school I reported to work for Southwestern Bell Telephone. This was in the day when AT&T was unknown, and Ma Bell had just been broken up into the Baby Bells. I can’t recall where I reported to that first day or during the first week, but the following Monday I would find myself in Springfield for two weeks of training.
It was on that first trip to Springfield in my ’58 Volvo when in the vicinity of Mt. Vernon, I spun some rod bearings. It seems that when 20W non-detergent oil is pretty thin and presses that motor too hard, bad things happen. With traffic levels of 20 to 40 thousand daily in both directions on I-44, it is hard to imagine a day when you might only see a vehicle every three to five minutes. The car had initially gave-up the ghost between Mt. Vernon and Chesapeake, but I had managed to hitch a ride with some hippy chick back to Mt. Vernon where I got some more oil and then she took me back to my car and followed me to the rest area. There was where I just had to give it up.
So, I called home, my folks came and gathered me up, delivered me to Springfield where I spent the next two weeks without any transportation. That was workable since Bell Telephone provided a bus ride from the motel to the training center and back each day. Once in the motel each evening, I could get my meal at the attached restaurant and spent my evenings pretty much to myself.
With the training complete and back home once more, the task of rebuilding the motor commenced. I had another motor, but it turns out that nothing was usable. While I was in Springfield, I managed to find another crankshaft that would replace the one with the spun bearing. All of the new parts had to be special ordered and it took a couple weeks for them to arrive. Dad had already begun the process and had Tony Ezell break the motor down, so when the parts arrived, everything was ready for reassembly.
When the day arrived for leaving for the university, everything was ready and up to the trip. It was an exciting day and the trip went smooth. I liked the university and so I didn’t return home for a couple of months. Dad decided that the reason for my absence was the car. He went to Burr Motor, purchased a ’69 Javelin SST, brought it to Rolla and traded me that car for the Volvo.
At the end of the day and their visit, my parents and my sister were going to drive the Volvo back to Newtonia. It seems that I had forgotten to tell them that there seemed to be some issues with the brakes! They made it safely, but their stories about the trip were legend! Dad was proficient with use of the hand brake.
-Paul Richardson is the proprietor of In Sane Marketing Solutions. He writes a weekly column for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser, The Horse I Rode In On.