I'm Not The Super Fan Type
by Eddie Buck
I'm not much for being a Super Fan type. The kind of person who collects photos of myself with the celebrities of our hobby/sport. I don't get into autographs, or collections of cast off personal belongings... unless it was the car(s) they piloted. I'd much rather casually meet, and if fortunate enough, cultivate a friendship. I'm also not one of those people who have to friend every celebrity I can find on facebook. In fact, I won't send a friend request to anyone I haven't met, or had some sort of dialogue with. Now, if collecting famous, or infamous, "friends is your bag...have at it. Sometimes, erring on the side of caution is preferred and maybe a wise concept, when it comes to our legends and icons.This is what I have commonly referred to as the "Cole Coonce Theory", the one in which sometimes we are better off not meeting our "heroes".
For whatever reasons, those we have put on a pedestal, sometimes show us they are no different than us. Some show us their flaws shortcomings, prejudices and in some cases an utter disregard for others. I can honestly say, I've become friends with many of my "idols". I've found most to be genuine and accomodating. Many I consider dear friends and feel a reciprocity. A couple have been plain nuts, pricks,drunks and flakes. Whatever the reasons we place them in our pecking order of admiration isn't important, they are there and that is all that matters. You never know what had caused them to be as they are. Maybe it's coat tail riders, leeches, or flakes. Maybe they just aren't personable and are socially inept. Hey, who am I to judge. They owe me nothing in exchange for my appreciation of their accomplishments, though I believe we do owe them a certain respect for their privacy.
The place I jump off and begin this go around, is my account of a day a little over two weeks ago, when we landed at LAX on our way to Bakersfield.
My pre-disposition to anything concerning front engined dragsters, 60's drag racing, or anything Surfer's is pretty well known. My friend Bob Higginson, a fellow junkie of all things Surfers, coordinated a breakfast and tour of "the Westside" with none other than Tom Jobe as our guide.
I'd met him a couple years ago when I did a sculpture depicting the Surfers, for the inaugural auction to benefit the Wally Parks Museum at the California Hot Rod Reunion. He's also provided some insight on some aspects of my restoration of the Mickey Thompson Maverick funny car. He has to be the most gracious man I believe I have ever met. Hopefully, he will read this and once more accept my thanks and gratitude for sharing a few hours of his time. My wife and I were truly honored. I'd be remiss if I didn't give a huge thanks to Bob Higginson. Without his efforts, it wouldn't have happened and I'd have to sit here and think of something else to ramble on about.
We arrived at Dinah's for breakfast, after a decent flight and an almost tedious wait for our rental car. We made our 10 am breakfast date, almost on time. As we pull in the lot, waiting at the door is Tom. We exchange pleasantries, as we see Bob pulling into the lot... cool... at least I wasn't the last one to show! There's always an initial awkwardness, or so it seems, when you meet up with people you aren't regularly with. Trying to remember all you want to ask or talk about, along with the spontaneous chatter, it becomes a test of memory and at the same time getting caught up in the moment. Usually when you leave you think of what it was you wanted to ask. The joys of CRS, ADD and just plain getting older.
(L-R) Me - Tom - Bob Higginson
Once we ordered, it seemed as if the conversation flowed like we did this on a weekly basis. We were regaled with memories of Tom's many experiences as a young man, student, racer and innovator. All this while being one of the most humble and genuine human beings I have had the pleasure to meet. But I digress. We piled into Bob's truck and headed out into the wilds of west Los Angeles. Some of the sights we saw were one of Isky's first shops, the birthplace of Jon Peter's Freight Trains, what was left of Howard Hughes' complex and other recollections of the bygone era of the golden years. For some reason, the conversation turned to flowers in Roland Leong's yard. The name of the flowers escaped Tom and we were no help in guessing the name. With that, he tells Bob, "Get over here , turn there, make a right..." Before we know it, we are in front of Roland's home. " See, there they are." Tom says. Then he says out the window," Hey, get out of the trash can!" Around the trees comes a smiling Roland.
When he asks what we are up to, Tom explains what we are doing there. Roland tells us to get out of the truck. The next 20 minutes, we are treated to a tour of the grounds and given a tutorial on how he has grown his ....here's the name....Plumeria..
These things smell great
Finally, I'm not the shortest guy in the bunch
What's left of the only Hawaiian Roland ever drove.... just once.
We were treated to a few stories and conversation and all too soon had to get back on the move.
Continued on next page...
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