A Great Use for Stale Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Roll French Toast!

Here’s how this got started: it was one of those ideas which came to me, and I couldn’t wait to try it.

It was my wonderful wife’s birthday recently, and I asked her what she’d like for breakfast.

Cinnamon Rolls.

No problem! A quick trip in the early morning to the local big grocery store, and I was an instant hero.

The next day was a Saturday, and what would you like for breakfast? ‘Just reheat one of those cinnamon rolls and that will be fine’.

So I sprang my idea. ‘Um, no’.

Saturday afternoon: Again, I mentioned my idea. ‘That sounds good; they’re getting stale and hard’.

We had five of them left, and she helped me with the recipe:

  • 5 stale cinnamon rolls, cut into big chunks
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk

Spray a small casserole pan well (don’t make my mistake, it takes forever to get the carmelized sugar out), then dump in the chunked up rolls.

Combine the eggs and milk, dump it over the rolls, cover with cling film and weight the top down so the whole thing will soak in the egg mixture.

Refrigerate overnight.

It’ll come out looking like this.

(Sorry about the photo, it looked okay when I snapped it.)

Now cover it with foil, and bake in a 350° oven for between 30 (convection) and 45 minutes. Test with an instant-read thermometer for 165° internal.

It’ll come out looking like this:

Eggy, puffy goodness.

You may not even want good maple syrup on it…

Hope you get a chance to enjoy this.

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A Great Use for Stale Cinnamon Rolls

My wonderful wife wanted Cinnamon Rolls for her birthday breakfast. They were great, and she loved them.

Two days later, they were stale. Unacceptable for her (still ok for me), but I needed to find a way to use them.

So my warped brain came up with this, and she helped. Follows is the recipe:

  • 8 jumbo eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Dash of vanilla
  • Scant Pinch of salt

Chop up the cinnamon rolls (her idea, and it worked great), place in an appropriate combine the wet ingredients and the salt.
Spray or butter an appropriate casserole dish, dump in the chopped rolls, and pour over the egg mixture, and cover with cling film.

You end up with something that looks like this.

Find something to weigh it down just a bit, and put it in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, remove the weight and the cling film, then cover with foil and bake at 350° for about 45 minutes. Check it with a thermometer to make sure it’s hit 160°.

Pull the foil, show everyone how it’s gotten so puffy, and serve when it’s not volcanically hot.

Hope you can use this idea, and hope your enjoy…

My Media Awards for this year

Having been in Corporate and broadcast media for many years, there are times when you want to award people for doing a great job and award people for doing a … (crummy) job.

Today I have one of each.

In the Most Improved for Music category, I award the Barefoot Contessa show on Food Network the prize. I like the show and the content, but had to stop watching a few years ago, because of their forever use of one piece of background music – when they clearly can afford better. It always hit during one particular type of segment, and you just knew it was coming. You know the one, right? It was a Fender Stratocaster, plucking only two strings at once. went doit, Doit, DOIT, DOYYYYT, doit-doit-doit…. They used it forever! And it was the sure sign of sloppy production work by a lazy post-production staff. They HAD the budget; they just didn’t care.

But now, they have new music. And it is wonnnnnderful. One piece in particular has a sparkling quality, like sitting next to a creek. Well DONE!!

And now for the ‘please, please, PLEASE spare me this nonsense’ category, I have an award for the Most Needs Improvement Anywhere on the Airwaves.

It goes to NPR for the show The Daily, apparently produced by The New York Times.

I have no idea if anyone beyond the immediate production staff is listening to this show, because the “moderator” needs to be FIRED, or at least get a whole bunch of remedial training in broadcast announcing.

I have coached professional narrators and moderators for decades, and I cannot STAND to listen to this guy. He speaks in this affected, whispery voice, and…

cannot put more.

than three words.

together without.

a pause.

The whole effect.

is incredibly.

difficult to.

listen to.

Does the above give you a pretty good clue as to the super-annoying quality of the programming? The overall impression that you get is that of someone who believes they’re really hot stuff, and you’d better listen if you want to be one of the cool kids.

Nope, sorry. If that’s cool, I prefer to be square. Meanwhile I vote with my hand, tuning the car radio to something, anything else.

So there are this year’s awards; I hope you enjoyed them.

An Open Letter to Northwood Industries

We now have a new Airstream trailer sitting in the upper meadow. We haven’t been able to go camping for the last two years because it was so difficult for my wife to get in, out, and around in the Snow River. Between her Congestive Heart Failure, and back injury, making the four very tall steps up and into the coach was bordering on the impossible. The last time we went camping, I asked her to come out and sit with me by the fire, and she said she felt trapped.

Oh, so not good. Heart-crushing.

We needed a more-accessible trailer; and search, visit dealers, tour coaches, and look as I might for a Northwood or across-the-street-from-Northwood trailer, there just is not anything now in the lineup that’s workable for access. Not even close.

Widening the search, we began to look at other brands, beginning with cost-conscious decisions and moving up from there. I looked at a Bigfoot, and wow, everything was just perfect for access. Until I got to the bathroom. No room to move around, a little narrow entrance to the shower, all combining to make it a dangerous place for anyone needing disability access.

Meanwhile, we have decided to stop regretting the sale of our 2000 Arctic Fox 26J; remembering that at the time we felt it was getting tired, and we had wanted a trailer with a big back window so as to be able to enjoy the outdoors from inside. The Snow River was the result, and it has stopped being what we needed in a trailer.

I’ve now found that in the Airstream, and I don’t care what it costs. Her happiness and us being able to go camping again is paramount.

I wish Northwood could somehow read this (on their website, there is no way to contact them via email), because I want to leave them with some possible competitive advantages which would be useful in their business. I offer the following suggestions not as a gripe session, but in a positive manner of feedback in the hope of getting Management to listen to an ever-growing segment of our population.


Dear Northwood.

I regret to inform you that you have lost me as a Customer.

Not for any quality issue, but for simple ignorance of a growing segment of our population as us “Baby Boomers” age, become less capable, but still have the spirit within us that wants to get outdoors and go camping.

I have enjoyed my ownership of Northwood products for the last 18 years, and have been proud to have owned an Arctic Fox and a Snow River.

But I needed a replacement trailer which has better access for the impaired and disabled, and you do not offer anything. Not anything even close, although I did tour and research the entire line of your coaches, plus many, many others.

I submit that if you were to pay attention to this segment of our population, you would be handsomely rewarded in sales. Not everyone wants to have “bigger, longer, wider, taller, heavier”. There are those of us who are looking for a good-handling trailer that offers nice amenities (like the Fox line) but in a smaller, more efficient, footprint.

And that is the key: You are sacrificing efficiency; in looking for ‘the next big seller’, you are getting lazy in your designs.

May I suggest you dust off your Arctic Fox 26J plans from the 2000 era and take a good hard look at what those trailers provided:

  • Only two steps up into the coach
  • A nice, wide place to walk, everywhere – even around the bed
  • Accessible bathroom, with plenty of room around the toilet, and a shower that was easy to step into
  • A comfortable couch and dinette with chairs that you could set anywhere
  • Lots of nice, large windows
  • Only 8′ wide – making it easy to maneuver in tight spaces
  • Enough ground clearance for bad roads, not off-roading and fording three-foot-deep creeks, as all seem to be made for, now
  • Low to the ground and low center of gravity – this was the best-handling trailer I have ever towed, with the exception of the one I have just purchased.

Maybe you’re not old and creaky enough to appreciate the above, but I gently assert that someday you will be.

You likely have the plans and the jigs still available. The choice of what you do with them is up to you.

With deepest regrets at having to leave the Northwood family,
Steamguy

Hot Days and Tansy (a photo post)

The last few days it’s been working up to uncomfortably hot, and yesterday we hit a peak. It was actually hotter here than it was in Los Angeles.

That’s a distinction I’d like to avoid as much as possible. Honest.

Saturday I attempted to get an early start on mowing the tansy; at least the County allows us to just mow the stuff down to keep it from going to seed. It takes a few years, but eventually the plant gets stressed out from being mowed and finally dies. There was quite a lot of it in the upper meadow; and the job is complicated by the blackberry thorns being extra-sharp and aggressive this year. See, the tansy seems to like to grow inside the perimeter of the blackberry bushes, which means you have to get brave and just dive right in there with the tractor. So I took out my aggressions on the tansy by mowing back the blackberries – no matter how much they gouged me. My scabbed-up forearms attest to this.

In case you’re not familiar with Tansy Ragwort, here’s a link to what it is, why it’s so nasty, and why we have to work to eradicate it. There are several links and fact sheets at the bottom of the page. I’ve seen what it does to livestock, and it is NOT pretty. In fact, leaving the stuff around for livestock to eat is just damn cruel. Tansy kills. Slowly and painfully.

Back to getting rid of it. You can see here how the tansy likes to ‘hide’ in the taller grass, which would otherwise be food for the deer and elk.

It took a good hour and a half in the heat and dust of my smaller upper meadow, to knock down the tansy.

And then I get to the front meadow, and here is my… (okay, I’m not going to call the guy a moron, but…) neighbor, who was supposed to have taken care of this quarter acre which was fully infested with tansy a few weeks ago – here’s what it looked like then:

And I guess he thinks he tried. But there is no ‘good enough’ when it comes to tansy. He played around for an hour or so with his excavator-toy, but did he get it all? No. With tansy, one plant is one plant too many! The stuff reproduces like the worst of weeds, and because this … (not calling him an idiot) person was too lazy to finish the job, there’s still tansy, getting ready to go to seed.

And where do the seeds go…? Into my place. Thanks … buddy.

Couple years ago when they moved in, I was trying to be helpful and warn them about things like roving bands of coyotes, the harsh weather up here on the side of the mountain, they told me that “we’re used to living in the country, we know all about it”.

Well, dammit, I submit you don’t. Kicking your dogs out of my meadows is not my idea of fun, nor is trying to keep your goat from climbing on my car and truck. And dealing with your lack of willingness to learn is getting frustrating. Especially when I’m hot and my knees are going to ache for days.

I’m praying for patience. Really. And I hope it comes soon.

Old Guy Stories – in other words: “Yarning”

I had breakfast with my best friend of all time a while ago; I’ve known him longer than I’ve known my wife. And we had fun swapping stories.

It occurred to me that while they won’t fill a book, these are things from the nineteen-fifties, -sixties, and -seventies that we’ll never see nor hear of again; and they really should be written down and shared.

They won’t be in any order, and I’ll add to this as I think of things. Just like any old-guy yarning.

Okay, away we go: Get a cup of coffee and pull up a chair at the table.

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When I was an Apprentice Mechanic, the “Service Station” that I worked at had a clientele ranging from the most disadvantaged to the well-to-do doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. We also made a good business of caring for antique cars. Our place was at the bottom of a big hill, a hill where all the “nicer” houses in town were built. The hospital was also up there, one block up, and two blocks over.

Doc Turner had two Cadillacs: his was a ’62, Cadillac Black of course, and a true Sedan de Ville – a two-door sedan, with those big, heavy doors. Hers was a ’66 Sedan de Ville, a blue 4-door with a white roof. I knew where he lived, so one afternoon he asked us to run his car back up to his place, and please park it in the garage; leave the keys on the back counter, the back door’s open. No problem, Doc. We’ll have her back in a couple hours.

Driving that car was like piloting the USS Saratoga – ye gods, it was HUGE. And of course any little push on the gas would bring that giant V8 to life, and the car would shoot forward. Doc even had a piece of foam glued to the front of the gas pedal to help in controlling it. Even so, the hills tamed it to a point where it was a pussycat crossing the flat streets. I got up to his place, and as I turned into the driveway, I saw that the garage was TINY. And it had her Cadillac in the left side of it!

Oh lordy, now what…? I did some careful looking, as that big car rumbled at idle. Would… it… fit?

I looked back and forth for a minute, the car idling. Well, it just might

I carefully eased forward. There was about an inch and a half clearance between the front right fender and the edge of the garage door, and about the same amount to her car, on my side.

My heart was in my mouth. I for SURE didn’t want to scrape up Doc’s beautiful black paint, and marking up her baby blue Caddy would pretty much guarantee that my name would be Mud for years to come.

I started to enter the garage, listening for sounds which would ensure my doom. A tortoise would have easily won a race with me, I was going so slowly.

The front fenders began to penetrate into the shadowy interior of the garage. Then what seemed like ten minutes later, the base of the windshield entered the shadows. All the while, there was just this little tiny bit of clearance, and so far I hadn’t hit, bumped, or scraped anything.

What seemed like another dozen minutes passed, and then somehow I had the car most of the way into the garage. I switched on the headlights to see exactly where the wall was, and began to ease into position.

It then occurred to me that I had no way to get out of the car.

I started to think about taking off my shoes and socks and how I’d climb out the window, then make my way backward, one foot on each car…

I then looked to my right, and noticed the side door of the garage was starting to line up with the passenger’s door. And that side door was open. …What’s more, it looked like if I parked the car just… right… the car door would line up with the outside door, and swing outward, into it.

Now I started to look back and forth between the front wall of the garage and the passenger door, judging the swing of it against where the car was starting to get close to the back wall of the garage.

I chose a spot to stop, set the parking brake, and switched off the engine. My heart slowed, and I started to breathe easier. The door looked like it lined up pretty good, and I figured I could move the car a little bit if my guess was off too far. I pulled the keys and slid across the seat to the passenger’s door. Moment-of-truth time. I carefully opened the passenger’s door, and it swung outward. Outward toward the side of the garage door’s frame. NO! I grabbed it just in time, stopping it just before it would have banged into the garage’s side-entry door framing.

I stepped out of the car, and had just enough space between the car and the wall to stand up, reach the passenger’s door, and close it, and then squeeze past the car to step out the door. Doc was a really tall, lanky kind of guy, what we used to call ‘a beanpole’. He had to be sixty or seventy, and was in marvelous shape. I figured that he could get back into the car pretty easily, with me parking it this way. But dang, I had to tell the boss about this before anything blew up on me.

I found the back door standing open, just as Doc had said; so I dropped the keys on the counter where they couldn’t be seen from outside, and began the hike back to the station. All the way back, I had plenty of time to think about how I’d parked that car, and lots of time to worry about the consequences.

As soon as I got back, I found the boss and told him I’d put the car into the garage, next to hers. His reaction wasn’t what I’d expected: “Good. You didn’t scratch either of them, did you?”

“No-no-no! But holey cow, it was a real sweat to get that car into the garage!” At that point, he began to chuckle. “Good for you. I figured it was time you got yourself a little character built… That garage was made for two ’39 Fords to fit side by side, and it’s some feat of driving that neither of those cars has not a single scratch on them after all these years. Can you imagine doing that every day? But I’d bet that’s how Doc Turner stays so fit! He has to do all those gymnastics every time he wants to get in and out of his car. So, did you see how it works for HER car?” I admitted that I was so scared that I’d done something wrong, that I forgot to look. “Well, with hers, it’s kind of the same thing. Her doors are a foot and a half shorter, so she just parks so that the door swings out against the side of the garage, and then she just steps right outside from the car. I don’t know what they would ever do if they forgot and locked either of those garage doors.”

.

One afternoon, we’d finished up a restore-to-drivability service on a little Ford.

A 1955 Thunderbird: 22,000 miles. Original, unrestored, in that salmon pink color. (Yeah I know, but remember, it was the 50’s.) It really didn’t look like anything special, just another car that was twenty-some years old and that just sat most of the time. It was the early part of summer, and the owner was going to be driving it periodically again. And the car was perfect, exactly the way it came out of the Ford factory, every part original (well, except for replaceable stuff like the fan belt, wiper blades, and spark plugs).

Anyway, it was done, we didn’t want it just sitting there in the lot, and so it needed to be delivered. I spoke up first, and the boss relented.

“BUT!!” He spoke with great sternness, getting right in my face: “I will NOT give you the keys unless you promise one thing.”

Sure, name it.

“Every intersection, and I MEAN EVERY INTERSECTION, you STOP COMPLETELY and LOOK BOTH WAYS!!”

Ooookayyyy… and this is … why?

“Almost every one of these cars that’s been in a wreck, has been T-boned. It’s because you can’t see out of them, to see if anything’s coming to the side! NOW, PROMISE ME!!”

Yes, sir, I promise.

“WHAT are you promising? Tell me!”

That at EVERY intersection, I will stop and look both ways.

“NO! You will STOP COMPLETELY and look both ways! Say it!”

I will stop completely and look both ways.

“Do you PROMISE!?!”

Yes, I promise.

“All right then. Here’s the key.”

I went over to the little T-Bird and threw in a towel to sit on, then sat and carefully swung in, so as to not touch the door or the frame with my shoes. We were careful around all antiques in this manner; that’s one of the reasons we had a good business in them. Meanwhile, we’d done a good job here: she fired right up and that little V8 settled into a smooth idle.

I closed the door and sat up into driving position. Holey cow, NOW I saw what the boss meant. Although my head didn’t hit the inside of the roof, the front edge of it came to well below my eyes. I had to hunker down to see out the front. Carefully I eased the gear selector into Drive, looked around to clear the lot, and made for the side exit of the station. I stopped at the edge of the curb and looked both ways. Clear.

I eased onto the gas and began to ease my way out. I heard the boss yell, “Good job. That’s the way to do it. Now do them all like that!”

It was kind of cool, driving a little car like that, even though the wheel was huge in comparison with today’s cars that have power steering. This did not, and even so, it communicated the road surface nicely back through the wheel.

I made it to the top of the hill. Stopping completely, I checked both ways as I signalled for a right turn. Clear. I eased onto the gas and rolled forward.

Exactly one block.

Then I stopped again, and looked both ways. Clear. Satisfied, I rolled forward. This car was fun to drive; I bet it’d be a hoot on a country road.

But I remembered my solemn promise, and stopped completely at the next intersection, which again was exactly one block. And I looked both ways.

Onward I rolled, stopping at each and every intersection, remembering my promise.

Twelve blocks later, this was starting to get really tedious.

And repetitive.

But I’d made a promise, and dammit, I was going to keep it.

I stopped at the next intersection, and looked both ways. Again.

Clear. Or so I thought.

I was just about to take my foot off the brake, when something caught my eye from the left: it was a car… and not just any car; it was a great big old Buick, the kind made with about ten tons of iron, coming downhill REALLY fast.

The guy hadn’t seen me, because the T-bird was so low.

He zoomed through the intersection at what had to be a good 35 MPH in town (where are the cops when you need them…), with the speed boost from coming downhill for so long.

Then I realised, that if I’d started through the intersection, I would have been T-boned. And probably hurt really badly. Not to mention that it would have been my fault for really screwing up a customer’s antique.

NOW I was scared. I had about ten blocks to go.

There is no way to express the relief I felt when I finally pulled into the Customer’s garage, put the T-bird in Park, set the brake, and switched off the engine. I pulled the door down behind it, went to the house and hung the key in the secret spot by the back door; all as instructed.

Towel in hand, I began the walk back to the station. The shakes had finally quit by the time I walked in the garage; I found the boss and told him he was absolutely right. And why. (And I also knew that if any of our customers were around to witness this, that the story would get back to him sooner or later.)

To his credit, all he did was nod sagely.

 

.

We had an important Customer who needed his ’63 Lincoln Continental 4-door (yes, the suicide doors) started. His wife was going to be driving it, and it wouldn’t turn over.

Three of us got into the service truck: the boss, the shop manager, and me. We had everything we needed to get it going, as that car tended to sit for long periods of time between being run.

We arrived at the house, a smaller, unassuming place, but with a big single garage. Inside slumbered the Lincoln.

The boss went to the door and got all the keys; I was standing by with a hand oiler (that’s the proper name for the trigger-pull oil can you hold in your hand), and gave both the lock and the handle a shot, holding a rag underneath to catch any drips.

The door screeched open, and I went to work on the track and rollers. Up and down twice, and it was silent.

Now the guys came in to get the car started. The boss opened the door, pulled on the headlights… and nothing. So the battery is indeed dead; so that’s where we start. He pulled on the latch to open the hood.

It’s important to note here that on those years of Lincolns, the hood opened from the back. That meant we all had to be careful about not bashing it on the ceiling as it opened, and because it couldn’t be opened all the way, that inhibited access to the battery. And the jump cables had to go across the fender. I brought in a cloth to cover the fender, then went back outside.

I stood there outside, biding my time as the guys got the battery hooked up to the Start-A-Car and made ready. A couple shots of gas down the carburetor throat, plus a few more to get gas into the fuel bowl, and they were ready to try it.

The shop manager stepped back, took the long cord from the Start-A-Car that ended in a control button on the end, and put his thumb on it; the Start-A-Car clacked loudly as the relay snapped over and fed about 80 amps to the battery. He gave the boss the thumbs-up.

The boss turned the key, and that big Lincoln engine  started to turn over, slowly at first, then picking up speed as oil got to the engine bearings… CHOW—-WOW—-WOW—-WOW—-WOW–WOW–WOW–WOW-WOW-WOWOWOWOWOWOWOW….

Nothing. The boss let off the key so the starter could cool for a minute. The shop manager let off the control button and the relay in the Start-A-Car snapped back with a loud THUMP.

Outside, I could see them both looking at their watches, waiting for about 45 seconds to go by. Then the clack and the thumbs-up again.

Again, the same drama with the starter growling; this time the shop manager gave a couple of shots of gas straight down the carb, as the top of the air cleaner had been left off for just this reason.

That big engine almost caught; it tried to clear its throat, but there wasn’t gas coming to the carb from the fuel pump yet. That gas tank was a long ways away.

A couple more shots of gas down the carb, and the engine caught and ran on its own, but it was really rough; it was going TUHHHHH–TUH-TUH-TUH—TUH-TUH-TUH-TUH….and then it began to hit on more and more cylinders. Finally it settled into a roar, and the boss let off the gas to let it slow down to the top step on the choke; to high idle. Meanwhile, I’m outside and I’ve moved upwind, because the Lincoln is smoking heavily. I saw the shop manager disconnect the Start-A-Car and begin to pack it up. He put the air cleaner cover back on, and spun the wingnut home to put it all back in place. Leaving the fender cloth in place, he came out of the garage with the Start-A-Car, and just as I was helping him put it back into the service truck, we saw…

The backup lights on the Lincoln came on.

The shop manager exclaimed, “What the hell…?”

The hood was still up.

We jumped out of the way as there came a tremendous CRASH, as the Lincoln’s hood caught on the garage door. That monster motor, even though it was still a bit sick, had plenty of guts to move that big car plenty fast from a standing stop.

The boss stopped, then drove forward into the garage enough to let us get the hood down somewhat. It was plain to see, even in the dim light of the garage, that things REALLY weren’t right with the front end of that Lincoln.

The boss backed the Lincoln out into the sunlight, and we could see that the whole front end of the car was about half ripped off. It was at about this time that the owner’s wife came out of the house, having heard the noise. Both the shop manager and I quietly stepped to the far side of the service truck; we knew what was coming, and this gal had a real temper. And we’d just screwed up her all-original Lincoln.

After the thunderstorm subsided, it was decided that the shop manager would drop me off at our service station so I could go back to work, then he’d meet the boss down at the local body shop and give him a ride back.

The story has yet another twist: the boss took his wife’s car over to where the Lincoln lived so the gal could have a quality ride for the weeks it would take to get the Lincoln fixed. Now, the boss’ wife was known for a less-than-sunny disposition, and we all knew she gave him hell every night for having to drive one of our station cars around for the duration of the repairs to the Lincoln. Our station cars were clean and everything worked okay, but they all were just on the edge of being ‘beaters’.

I never saw the Lincoln again, although I did have occasion to see the body shop manager from time to time. I learned that the damage to the Lincoln was something in the nature of $1,600; which would be probably about $12,000 today. But consider: that was at a 30% discount, because we did a lot of business with him. So the real nature of the damage would be about $15,000 today.

 

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Here’s a couple from when I was a kid. My folks loved going camping, and Dad saved up the money to buy a 12′ Aloha travel trailer; and we went so many places with it. My older brother quit going with us at some point; his loss…

The sleeping arrangements consisted of the pull-out couch across the back of the trailer, a hammock above it, and the de-luxe fold-down dinette in the front. I always thought that was the best spot.

We had a German Shorthair Pointer; her name was Maisie, and she was a good and quiet companion. One Sunday morning, my Dad was in the process of getting up: he’d swing his legs over the edge of the bed, then take whatever time it took to fully wake up. This particular morning, Maisie was anxious to go out, and from the front of the trailer, I could hear her anxious pacing – her toenails clicking back and forth – while she waited for Dad to get up and take her out.

Suddenly, my Dad lets out with a groaning expletive, let me just say it wasn’t “Jiminy Crickets”. This was the expletive he deserved for really bad situations. Mom instantly came awake and said with alarm in her voice, “What’s wrong?”

“The… dog… farted…!! Ohhhh…” Another long groan. “Oh, this one’s WORSE!!”

Mom and I instantly dissolved into giggles, and they got far worse when Dad said, “Dammit, it’s NOT funny!!” Both of us had to pull the covers over our heads, because although my Dad would never, ever, have struck either of us, he did have a bit of a temper when things went bad.

And my Mom seldom missed an opportunity to tweak on him…

Once, they were working together on our new house, and Dad hit his finger with the hammer. Of course, a number of expletives followed. (Huh, maybe that’s where I get it.)

Mom was right there anyway, and said to him, “You know how you can keep from hitting your finger with the hammer?”

“No, how?”

“Hold the hammer in both hands!!” Dropping what she was doing, she quickly ran away.

I still remember the glee in her eyes when she told me about it later that same day.

 

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We had one mechanic who was really good, although to look at him, you’d never know it: he was a hairy block of a guy; goofy and good-natured. John’s methods were unconventional, but he got good results.

I was working the front one afternoon, and John was doing a brake job on a great big Buick. The right rear drum was stuck on, and no amount of hammering would budge it. I came in from outside to see John holding onto the drum with both hands, then placing his feet on the body of the car, on either side of the wheel well. He was four feet off the ground.

Thinking, this isn’t going to end well, I answered the driveway bell and started back out.

Right then, that brake drum popped loose, and John’s superhuman effort propelled him backward… Right into the window from the shop to the front office.

The window exploded with a giant CRASH..

Broken glass and shop chalkboard and office display pieces flew everywhere.

We all came running at the sound, only to find John, unhurt, standing up and shaking glass out of his hair, saying, “Wow, I guess I made a mess! But I got that brake drum off!” And it was still in his hand.

John’s next check was quite a bit lighter.

 

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Another story about broken glass:

We had a plumber who was a good customer, and we maintained his truck; which was his ‘office’. Between calls, sometimes he’d come in and borrow our phone for a few minutes. But this afternoon, the phone rang and it was him – the brakes on his truck had quit working, could we fix it right away?

I took down the details of his truck, then went to the boss. “Of course! Tell him yes.”

Back at the phone, I got an arrival time, then hung up and checked with our local suppliers to see who had brake parts for his truck in stock. I hit pay dirt on the second call, then hopped in Old Red (one of our station cars and trucks, the ’49 Chevrolet Standard pickup) and off I went.

Meanwhile, the rest of the day went on pretty much as usual, except that it was a cold day and we had all the bay doors pulled down to keep in the meager amount of heat for the shop. These doors looked just like firehouse doors; they had six panes of glass across and eight high, with the bottom panel being painted wood (because if it was glass, we’d always have to be cleaning it).

The plumber called again; he was on his way.

We cleared the far left bay (the one with the heavy hoist) for him, and left the door down. I started watching out for him, while cleaning up from a different job.

Suddenly there he was out in the street, waiting to make the left turn and up into our lot. I saw him gun it – that was the way he always drove – and bump-de-bump, he was in the lot, and heading for the far bay.

Suddenly I saw his face go white and his knuckles on the steering wheel tighten to a death grip.

I yelled, “Clear the bay!! Run!! He can’t STOP!!” And we all flew from that bay.

I just made it around the front side of another car, and turned back to see him hit the door at about 10 MPH, all that mass of tools and stuff in his truck making it into a battering ram. There was a tremendous BOSHHHHH!!! as most of the glass panes in the door broke, and glass fell inside and out. The door, being made of flexible wood, was surprisingly unhurt.

The guy had been slammed into the steering wheel (remember, no seat belts then), but he was okay. And he had the presence of mind to shut the truck off and jam it into gear.

It took a few minutes to sweep up all the glass (he helped) and get his truck in.

We spotted him farther forward on the lift than normal, remembering an incident from before I worked there – The same kind of thing, a plumber, but with a little Dodge A100 van. The back was all full of tools and stuff, and when the guys took the front wheels off, it was enough weight loss that the van literally tipped backward and slid off the lift, landing vertically on its bumper. It was trapped between the hoist in the air, and that same garage door. A picture even made the paper at the time. They had to break several panes of glass in the door to allow a tow truck to slowly set the van down forward on the floor.

The day ended with the boss calling the insurance company, and me going down to the lumber yard to pick up several pieces of plywood to cover the openings in the door until the glass could be replaced.