7. Vehicles, Their Care and Feeding
A. The Oatmeal Parade
Ralph and Bob join the parade
B. The woods look different at night, even if you own them
or Falling into the pattern of the landscape.
One dark night, EB was showing a particular part of the
lease to the hunters. They were in Bill's Jimmy and being directed through
the bottoms across the river.
Now, left and behind that calf feeder.
Right, through the opening.
Now straight on.
Then a bump and every one was thrown forward and the truck stopped cold. Bill
opened the door and stepped out and on to the ground. But not down to the
ground. The ground was right at the bottom of the door. The front axel was
hanging, to the full depth the springs would allow, down into a trench four
foot deep. The Front bumper and the winch had made it to the other side and
were on the far bank. The tires were still almost two feet above any solid
ground. Everyone piled out and a general discussion to find a solution began.
They had a winch, a tractor jack, manpower and the most essential ingredient,
group-tightner (Coors, back then). There was no tree close enough or strong
enough to tie the winch to. Could they dig a hole to bury the spare for a
deadman? Could a hole be dug to get the jack inder the bumper or frame? Once
bumper was raised, more than the three feet needed to get the wheels to groung
level, could the vehicle be moved to get the wheels onto either bank. Could
a ramp be built? Could the ditch be filled? Would the beer hold out? Would
they have to walk back to the cabin? EB heard all of the possiblities and
questions confronting his hunters. Then, with maybe a guide's guilt, he walked
back to his house for the real solution: tractor.
C. Bringing Cyclops home
Bill bought an old cable TV company truck to use on Mickey's
place. It had a ladder rack and a utility body with cabinets on each side.
It sported overdrive, a cracked windshield, one headlight aimed to the ground
about three feet in front on the bumper, thanks to a long ago wreck, and it's
once white white paint was now a mix of chalky white and rust. It was christened
Cyclops and served well for moving stands on the ladder rack and filling feeders
by standing on the side cabinets. The hatchets, hammers, saws, pliers and
bailing wire all had a place for storage. A good lease truck. When Pat and
Bill left the central Texas lease, Cyclops was trailered to the Winters lease
between Coleman and Abilene. After a couple of years it came back to The Lampasas
area when the old group got together again at the Price Ranch. It was unlicensed,
beyond meeting state inspection again and no trailer was available to bring
it back. Bill got a onetime permit from DPS to drive it to the new lease.
He loaded it up with the debris of leaving a lease, the feeders and barrels
piled higher than the cab, the salvageable 2x4's and a case of cheap motor
oil for the trip. Too many trips up and down the canyons in Winters, had killed
the clutch and it had to be started in gear and kept moving by up and down
shifting and coasting through stop signs. A complete stop caused the "iffy"
proposition of trying to get one more jerky start out of the battery. Betty
drove Bill to Winters and, with the travel trailer behind the Jimmy, followed
Bill south. Things were pretty uneventful except for the necessary stops for
oil and water, the traffic lights that stayed red too long and the need, again,
to add oil and sometimes gasoline. Uneventful until Goldthwaite. There, a
parade was going through town and Bill could see, two blocks ahead, where
the procession was coming in from the right and turning the down the highway
a in front of him. There a blockade was set to hold back the southbound traffic.
He was able to turn down hill to the left, without stopping, and with a right
at the next corner, parallel the parade route. He was able to downshift to
low gear and creep along watching the parade passing fairly quickly along
the street above. Betty and the travel trailer were still behind him. At the
last intersection before his road ended he saw the end of the parade passing
and turned up the hill to get behind the last truck of the parade. It was
carrying a big paper mache Goldthwaite Eagles mascot. Knowing that if he stalled
or stopped on the hill he would never get Cyclops restarted, he was patting
himself on the back because he saw he'd timed it perfectly to pull onto the
highway a few car lengths behind the mascot bearing truck. Trailing the parade,
he looked back to see how the rest of his personal parade was making the turn
and saw, not the Jimmy with the trailer, but, more of the Goldthwaite parade.
So the good folks of Goldthwaite were treated to, for the last few blocks,
a reminder of the "Dust bowl of the '30s" and "The Grapes of Wrath" leading
the flatbed truck load of football players and banners. He stayed on the highway
and after the parade pulled off to disperse, his Jimmy and travel trailer
pulled up behind him. There was sure a big grin on Betty's face.
D. The paint job
A truck of a different stripe -
Bob and Bill ran to Lampasas on several errands and took Bob's red Blazer.
They were gone a fair while. The only thing they failed to remember was it
was not wise to leave Ralph and the two brothers unsupervised. The crew had
recently finished building stands, and along the way, Doug had come up with
several gallons of olive drab paint. The real OD stuff. So, Bill was in town
and his truck, Ralph, Dan, Philip, some beer and, oh yeah, the paint, were
at the lease and it was, as the saying goes, a slow news day. Who came up
with the idea is obscured by obfuscation. Ralph had to have had a hand in
the layout and oversight. Philip may have started it, but then Bill always
thought Phil started most things. The rationale, whether to hide the truck,
or to make it look better or to make it look like a Safari World vehicle or
just to do one on Bill is not important. It would have been interesting, though,
to have heard the negotiations. The end result was to take a truck that was
just a junker and make it a memorable vehicle. Possibly even unbelievable.
E. The Final Solution for Cyclops
Theirs for the taking-
After more than 15 years Cyclops began to falter. In spite of the bumps and
crashes the hulk would still steer and stop. The further good news was that
starter would still spin the engine quicker than most new cars. The bad news
was that the same lack of compression that helped the starter meant that you
had to slip the clutch to get up hills and the the hard crossing became too
much a risk. Being put out to pasture, while good for a faithful horse, was
not for Cyclops. During one of bill's year long hiatus, Doug and Ralph agreed
to dispose of her. They had a hard time finding a junk yard to come get her.
One finally agreed to pick her up at the intersection of the county road and
the FM road the first of the next week. On Saturday they put the signed title
and keys in the glove box, tied her behind the jeep and led her to her roadside
abattoir. We don't know for sure, but they probably paused for a moment and
reviewed the years of mostly unstinting service she'd given. Late the next
morning as they left for home and at the intersection found Cyclops was gone.
The salvage man was to come on Monday and Cyclops had not waited, but had
"gone before". What can you say? "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth?" No.
Hopefully, it was more "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
F. Flats, jeeps and repairs