Category Archives: small town USA

A Boy’s Toys – – –

Jack just scrapes over the line with his Wednesday guest post – –

Like most people I have recurring dreams and in one of mine I still have all the cars I owned in my youth but can’t remember where I parked them around my home town of Dunfermline. As long as I can find one I can get to work but where are the others?

So that’s a good excuse to describe these cars in the order that I owned them –

The first was a 1938 Austin ‘Big 12’ which I bought from a workmate in a share with a couple of friends in the late 1950s. It lasted until the tubes started poking through the tires and the muffler fell apart. I was playing banjo in a New Orleans style jazz band so it had a musical send off on its last trip!

The second was an Austin Mini that had seen better days – full of rust and didn’t last long.

The third was when I hitch hiked to Bedford in England and then shared with friends – a 1935 Austin 7. It had cable brakes that never worked but it brought us back to Scotland eventually with smoke coming out around the gearstick every time we climbed a hill!

Fourth was another mini and this time the van version and in better condition so it lasted longer.

Then I got a Morris Minor – the British equivalent of the Volkswagen, that predated the Mini. My main memory is having the cylinder head out and on the kitchen table while I re-ground the valves!

After that a Triumph Spitfire that had the infamous transverse rear spring which produced my first ‘near death experience’. Wet leaves on the road which resulted in cartwheeling down the road from front to side to rear etc. I still have a scar on my forehead from the rear view mirror!

Following that came the most famous one – my 1962 MGB Roadster which was sold to a friend and eventually back to me again to grace the roads of America.

These were the early ones and were followed by a Maxi, a Wolseley 1800 and numerous Saabs.

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, crafting, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

Always Thus – –

Jack gets in just in time for Veterans’ Day – –

Today is Veterans’ Day in the US and Armistice Day in the UK.

My feelings are very mixed because of the way this day has developed over the years in Britain. It started in 1920 as a memorial for those who died and a plea for no more wars. But it has developed into a glorification of the armed services and an opportunity to promote Britain’s ‘might’ and how it single handedly ‘won the wars’. This has become much more obvious during the Brexit period, promoting the notion of ‘Britishness’ in the parts of the UK that lie outside England.

It’s my considered belief that all wars have been fought for economic reasons and that was certainly true of WW1 – simply a competition between empires to hold or increase their colonies. WW2 was in many ways little different although as usual it’s been spun differently since. Of course the armament manufacturers stand to make lots of profits so you can usually find them on the sidelines and often selling to both sides while funding the politicians who will promote war but never fight. Sometimes they’re about the need for a politician to boost their popularity – The Falklands War, both Iraq Wars – but mostly these days they’re about oil! Wait for when water becomes the new oil and see what happens.

My views are obviously colored by my Quaker beliefs, and here’s a more personal note –

My Dad volunteered for the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of WW2 because he could see that he’d be called up (drafted) and could have ended up in the army. He couldn’t bear the idea of personally killing anyone. He joked that he was immediately handed a rifle and sent to guard a barrage balloon site which might have defeated his object somewhat.

He was promoted to Leading Aircrafts Man (LAC) and sailed to Egypt where his skills in sign painting and lettering were put to use in map-making and painting the numbers on the sides of liberators, Mitchells and Spitfires. He also spent a good bit of his spare time capturing the local views and people with his water coloring skills. I have no idea if he was anywhere near any action that might have meant him personally killing anyone, but there is an odd connection to my later life –

About eighteen years ago Wendy and I were in Romania where I was teaching a management program and she was working with Rroma storytellers (that’s not a typo). We stayed in the town of Ploesti which is at the center of the Romanian oil industry. During WW2 it was frequently bombed by the US air force flying from Libya and Egypt – yes, Egypt! I wonder – – –

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Filed under between books, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch