This Boy's Life
by Eddie Buck
So, I get an email from Rob about the March 30th deadline. No problem!
Wait.... what will I write? I know...no... not that.... or... nah...Okay...I got it. I'll introduce myself!
I down the last of my exquisite repast of French-cut green beans with a smothering of soul seasoning. Coax the last few drops out of the coffee cup. Some of you have no clue who I am. Some know me from the web, be it from the Classic Funny Car Board as "Eureka", or the numerous Facebook groups I try to do the duty as admin for, or events around the country. Some are friends, some foes ... and a couple... when they first saw my name on the byline, their head probably exploded. First and foremost, I am in love with anything that has an internal combustion engine, and skims across this earth. Whether it flies, floats, or ferries in some form or fashion, it's got my attention. I was born in 1963, grew up in the ‘70s with Bob Fleeman, the best friend any mofo could ever have, or deserve.
Bob's dad was one of those degenerates.... you know the type: a drag racer. Hide the daughters, lock your doors.... you're damn well right, friend (read the following with a growl).... a drag racer. I think the first time I spent the night at Bob's house, I discovered the coffee table with the stacks of his dad's issues of Hot Rod and other mags. I stayed awake until what seemed like three in the morning looking at them, as if they were treasure maps. Over the years it was my ritual to read every single one numerous times. He eventually gave them to me; I use them for reference material for my restorations, to this day.
Bob Sr. was one of a kind in my world. He intimidated, scared the hell out of, entertained, and taught me. And, at the most precarious point in my fifteen-and-a-half years of life, seemed to be the only one who gave a damn about me, when my dad died. I'm sure, he would not have hesitated one millisecond to pop me if I needed it. A lot of the things he spoke of - good, bad or indifferent - still ring in my head from time to time. He fed me, gave me a place to stay if I ever needed it and showed me we are all human. We lost him a little over a year ago. He was rough around the edges, smoked filterless cigarettes and could craft masterpieces out of cuss words. But, when you're a kid, heroes come in all forms. Bob and I were like any other boys in that heady era. We knew the racers’ names, rode our bikes and jumped ramps. We played, laughed, fought, cried (only in front of each other and certain death would come if you told anyone) and when I lost my son, he was there for me. We're still friends to this very day and I love him and consider him a brother. If it wasn't for meeting him...this tome may not have been written. I dedicate this one to the Fleeman family. I'm lucky to have you.
Heroes. That's kind of a unique handle; few get it and fewer know how to live with it. Another hero in this journey is "Scotty." Harold Alfred Scott, my aunt's second husband, my cousins’ stepdad, the Snap-On tool guy....... MY UNCLE! I was thirteen when he appeared. He was from Jersey, by way of Florida, where my aunt met him. He was another one of the degenerates, but on a broader scale. He liked bikes as well as boats and cars, with the scar and limp to prove it.
The first time I met him was Easter of '77. My old man was making fun of my shyness of girls. In front of the uncles. Scotty chimes in with that Jersey accent: "Aw, dammit John, leave him alone. We were chasin' them girls away when we were his age." This guy just defended me! Wow! I think it was week or two after my dad passed, and Scotty, my aunt and cousins took me to a St. Pats Day Parade and car show in Rolla, Mo. I got to ride with his friend Ron in a flamed 34 coupe... a REAL hot rod! Scotty won 3rd place in his class and he wouldn't go get the trophy. They told me to get it, so I walk up to the stage and there....in all her glory.... Miss Missouri handing the trophy to me. What do I do?!! It started early folks, right there.... I grabbed her and planted what had to be the most hot sex-filled kiss any fifteen year old ever laid on a beauty queen, at the state level! Miss Missouri's name was Virginia Dean. She was speechless to say the least. There was a crowd of about 300 there and they went wild. LOL
My first time over 100 mph, was with Scotty. Easter Sunday ‘79, on the Earth City Expressway, in his Studebaker Avanti... supercharged no less. From a dead stop he nails it; I was scared, ecstatic and hooked...nothing compared. Truly, the elder delinquent, imparting the ways of delinquency to the junior. Bitchin.
There were others, maybe not so heroic, maybe more influential or impressive. There were the guys in the neighborhood, with race cars in the garage. We'd be perched on our bikes at the edge of their driveway, when they were working on them. We'd speculate how fast they may be, who had the better looking one, etc.
Evenings in the spring and summer, someone would fire their car up, parents would complain about the noise and we'd be on our bikes headed that way. Then there were the older brothers of friends, who had the hot muscle cars. Camaros, Novas, Mopars, Mustangs, even an AMX or two. If there was anything fast, we knew where it was. Life was good, we'd build models, read magazines. We came of age and started to get our own. Big ideas, big dreams, very little $$$$. Your first would be a beater, or hand-me-down from a relative. Mine was a ‘70 Maverick Bob and I had put a 302 in.
But then..... you came into possession of the cool one. Mine was a ‘74 Camaro LT, red with a black vinyl top and dual exhaust and..... hold on to your hats.... a 350 with a 4-BARREL! I actually didn't like Camaros, I wanted a lifted 4x4. But.... my girl, Bob's cousin no less, really dug Camaros and..... Well, you know the rest. I've had over 30 of them so far.... the last four have been fiberglass.... My real disease.
All these pieces of the puzzle come together and form what I call, "the Life." It took a while; had a few kids, a couple wives, a business and all the other craziness that gets in the way of a hobby/obsession. The business, I started in it when I was barely a teenager. I wanted to be Von Dutch. My only way to be around race cars and customs, or so I thought. First, it was pinstriping, then lettering, and before I knew it was signs and displays. One day it was like, where are the cars? Then it was vinyl letters and wraps, no one wanted hand lettering (or, read: they didn't want to pay for it). I decided to do more, wanted to get back to roots and started doing hand lettering and took up sculpture, with a racing theme.
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