by Animal Jim Feuer
Classic Car Ramblings and Reminiscing subtitled " Beating The Reaper" cont...
One day I ran it with out that big oil bath air cleaner. After hearing those WCFBs moan, That big air cleaner never got put back on. I put it in the corner of the garage , then went to the local parts store and bought two unrestrictive chrome air cleaners. I don't know what ever became of that original oil bath air cleaner. Mom probably gave it to the junk man many years ago. Today they are worth about 3 grand.--- Gulp!!
I beat lot of cars with that hot 56 Chevy. Only one ever came close to beating it. It was a factory two tone green ,57 Pontiac, four door. In two inch letters on the quarters was written in white paint, "Moms Car!" Those Pontiac racers came from the Chicago suburbs to LaSalle Peru just to run me. Their engine was all Pontiac with tri power and some other modifications. It also had an automatic trans.
The driver's family owned an Automatic Transmissions shop in Cicero and specialized in HP automatics. That transmission was their edge. Later I learned about stall type converters and realized that is what they had.
When we raced, at the start that Pontiac would jump out with no tire spin at all , I was told. The Pontiac would be half a car ahead of me. Toward the end of the run ,I would catch up and maybe? Only maybe? Get a bumper ahead. We did it three times. Crowds of people were out there to see the race , but no one watching could determine positively who won.
After the three runs, I told the Chi-town boys, "Let's just call it a draw. Keep our money for another day. Very seldom racing on county roads is that close. Especially three runs in a row." The boys from Chi-town agreed and we crashed out the beer, and headed to the sandbar to party with our new friends from Chicago. Since they were our guests, my friends and I supplied all the refreshments.
Some months later, just before I turned 21, I totaled my beloved black hot 56 Chevy. I hit a guard rail head on. Punched my head right through the windshield. Damn near got killed.
Now you may ask and try to picture how a person smashes into a guard rail head on.
Well here is the recipe. First go to a sand bar beer party and choke down five quarts of Star Model Pilsner.
(Back then, for our impromptu parties we would get beer in cases of glass quarts. Cans were not really in vogue yet. For a well planned party, we would get a half barrel from the Star Model Brewery in Peru.)
So after drinking five quarts of beer, it was almost 11 PM. Time to pick up my girlfriend Barbra Jane, who worked at the Stop and Eat flipping burgers. On the way there on the short State RT. 6 open stretch from downtown Peru to LaSalle, my friend with a 56 Plymouth Fury pulls up beside me, and we start to race. All at once he drops way back.
Oh! God! Suddenly, I remember up ahead is a detour for the new bridge. I was so drunk and caught up in racing the Fury, I forgot about the detour.
I see the flashing lights close ahead, There are barricades and signage warnings across rt. 6 and to the left, is an opening to a temporary narrow sweeping blacktop road curving around the construction site.
I tired to slow down, I lifted off the gas jammed the brakes, to try and make the turn onto that temporary road. The 56 skidded from the locked up brakes, I cranked the wheel hard left , causing me to slide on my new slippery plastic seat covers I had just installed days before. Losing control and grip on the steering wheel, I ended up on the passenger side of the slippery bench seat. My 56 Chevy was taking me for a ride with no driver. It went down through the ditch, and amazingly missed all the equipment and materials down there and came shooting up out of the ditch 90 degrees dead center of the curve of the detour road , flew across it , and smashed head on into the guard rail on the far side. (There was no guard rail on the inside??)
Now here again, by the numbers, this is how to do that trick.
1, Drink 5 quarts of beer in less than 2 hours.
2. Drive a hot 56 Chevy while drunk , to pick up your girl.
3. Race a friend , in town on a short stretch, while drunk, and forget about the detour.
4. And---have new slippery seat covers--and of course no seat belts back then.
5. Being young, stupid and irresponsible is also a very important ingredient.
As for my injuries. I was lucky. I got out of the car on the passenger side, my head squirting blood all directions. After several cars passed by me while I stood there bleeding to death, an insurance agent, a complete stranger, stopped and took me to emergency only a few blocks away. He had a brand new Plymouth. My blood squirted all over his new interior, even the inside of his windshield. He gave me a towel and told me to press it on my cuts. That man, I am ashamed to admit , I cannot even recall his name , got an award from his insurance company for saving my life. I would have bleed to death , if he had not stopped. If you are out there. Thanks Man!
My parents were out eating supper, and got called about my accident. They arrived at the hospital just in time for my dad be at my side so I could squeeze his hand while dozens of stitches put my face back in place. (With head injuries ---no Novocain or gas-- is used when stitching. It is brutal. I was stone sober when th stitching fest was over.)
I did try some humor while being tormented with needle and thread. "Dad", said I, "I did as you said. I did not get myself killed. I beat the "reaper".
Dad did not laugh-exactly?
I did survive--but my wonderful treasured 56 Chevy did not.
Animal Jim Feurer 3-20-14
In my youth and even through my middle age, most my friends and colleges I buried , died from drinking and driving.
When I was young , teens to early 20s , after the funerals, we would celebrate our fallen friends , and have a party. We would drink some more, drive some more and die some more. We did not Learn a damn thing.
Perhaps the young chooses to challenge the "reaper", that takes our friends from us.
Now days, at times, I see the "reaper" in my rear view mirror. Oh No!
Animal Jim Feurer 3-20-14
Nostalgia Drag World - by Animal Jim Feuer
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