29 Years Ago Today …

Updated to give you a sense of my Dad’s reaction when he arrived home to find me in the middle of his almost new car … in pieces.

On January 19th, 1980 my dad, Raul Jorge Lozano, died unexpectedly of a heart attack, suffered while playing cards and otherwise just enjoying a quiet evening with his wife of 23 years (first, last, and only wife, and mother of six children – one died via miscarriage, one as an infant, four survive to this day) and a neighboring couple.

He was 43 years old the time that “he slipped the surly bonds of earth”.

On his birthday this past year I posted a tribute to this man to whom I owe so much.

I looked the tribute post over and it still stands up well … if you’d like to know a bit of who he was in this life, what he stood for, and why I am so grateful then by all means take a few moments to check it out.

On the Lighter Side
As I was thinking about Dad in a particular way over the past few days, a kind of funny story kept coming up, so here goes …

Cars had been hard to come by as our family grew, and it wasn’t until I (the oldest) was closing in on 16 that they were able to put together enough to buy a second car, a pretty basic (but new) 1971 Ford Maverick.

That poor car only had a couple of relatively peaceful years before I began driving.

One thing led to another, and like many knuckle-headed kids before (and after …), I’d soon inflicted enough damage on the car that something needed to be done.

barefoot-gas-pedals.gif

As I cruised around the K-mart auto section daydreaming of all these cool ways I could do really important stuff to this car – I mean really important stuff, like a barefoot gas pedal”, all of a sudden The Big Brainstorm hit me … I could fix this problem, simple.

All I need is a bit of paint, like, well, like these cans of official DuPont paint. These should work fine, I thought.

Doing a bit of quick math, I figured I could paint the whole car for about $20 in paint.

Man, I was thinking, why would anybody pay rip-off places like Earl Schieb $200 or $300 when I could paint this whole car just fine for less than $20, thank you.

Made sense to me.

Not wanting to be too risky I decided to start with only two cans, and figured I’d just paint a part or two.

The best part? I decided to surprise my dad while he was at work. Man, was he every going to be excited when he saw what I’d done…

That also made sense to me … or at least it did at the time.

With imaginary congratulations and appreciation bouncing around my head, I rushed home and decided my test part would be the front cowling of the car.

Wanting to be real careful and methodical I thought to remove the cowling from the car before painting. Since that turned out to be pretty easy, I picked up a head of steam and removed all of the sheet metal in front of the windshield.

Being a nice, warm summer day I decided to paint the car in the front yard. Plenty of room in the front yard, which was handier still.

Dad Gets Home
Close your eyes and imagine the scene from my Dad’s perspective,

Long, hard day at work … still tossing around challenges and frustrations in your head, even as you begin to think of a nice dinner and time with your family, when …

… you get to your house and see your two year old car, with no sheet metal in front of the windshield and your dumb kid spray painting the same part, over and over again, while that same part sat directly on the grass … and the best part?

Your subtle green car was sort of turning into a hideous, electric-blue, pile of automotive measles.

Maybe automotive leprosy, maybe the plague … whatever it was, it was clearly a terminal disease of some kind.

For my part, I couldn’t figure out why this really cool blue color just didn’t look like those race cars that I saw in magazines.

And to think, I’d spent $2.50 ON THIS PAINT!

I felt ripped off.

He Must Be Impressed
On the other hand, my Dad kept trying to say something, but for some reason couldn’t complete an entire sentence. In fact, I was glad to see that he was indeed excited, though I did find it rather peculiar that he was struggling to express his full appreciation.

Now I understand that he had a built-in emoto-circuit-breaker, which is pretty handy thing for a Dad to have when raising a bunch of kids. But at the time, I figured he was just really impressed or something.

After all, didn’t he want me to show more initiative and actually finish stuff?

Oh well, at least it was fun – in a proto-geeky sort of way – to drive the car with no sheet metal on the front.

Eventually I gave up trying to get the paint job right (no way was I willing to spend more than $20), and just bolted most of the parts back on, as best I could.

The Last Laugh
My Dad had a really peculiar sense of humor, and when Carol & I were married only three years later he called me over, and with a funny little twinkle in his eye he handed me the keys to a “new” car … a 1971 Maverick, in fact.

A 1971 Maverick with a new paint job … an honest goodness Earl Schieb paint job.

What did he say when he handed me the keys?

“Here you go son … this car is yours, you deserve it.

He was right.

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29 Years Ago Today …

One thought on “29 Years Ago Today …

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