Jackie Cutter is a car guy by lineage in much the same way that Prince Charles is royal by default.
She didn’t inherit castles and a seven-figure royal allowance but she did inherit a ton of car parts and a ’63 1/2 Ford Galaxie two-door hardtop.
This old Ford became an acquired taste for Jackie because she’s still assessing the fate of this 50-year-old car. She explained the history of the car, “The papers go back to 1994, Dad was a collector so he had a little bit of everything”.
The Galaxie has been in semi-slumber as Jackie recalled, “It’s sat in the garage been started a few times. He’s been gone for ten years so it’s been awhile”.
Despite her uncertainty about the ’63 Ford, Jackie admits that her automotive DNA link to her father is still strong, “The more I drive it the more I like it,I’m at the point where I don’t want to sell it”.
The explanation is simple, “I’m sentimental, this was my Dad’s passion and it’s really been kind of fun. My Dad would love a car, work on it and them off it goes. This was one of his last ones”.
Jackie jumped…or was pushed into the deep end of the car hobby pool and she wrote a piece about what this hobby meant to her father. Here are some excerpts from her experience.
Notes from the other side of the hill; Look what My Dad Left Me!
“The smell was unmistakable, motor oil with a touch of dust, dried leaves and grass with a choking under scent of grease, gasoline and exhaust. This is the smell that greets everyone who walks through the doors of an antique car swap meet.
I sit in my stall at Red Deer’s annual Central Alberta Swap Meet trying to unload the last of my father’s collection of miscellaneous and largely unknown (at least to me) bits of metal, chrome and plastic from antique and classic cars salvaged from rusting hulks found in abandoned barns, garages, ditches and farmers’ fields.
It is over 10 years since my Dad, or Junky Johnny as he was called in fun, went to the great swap meet in the sky.
Ten years of garage sales, yard sales, notices in local auto club newsletters and swap meets for me, his daughter the inheritor of all of his beloved junk. I had made a promise to myself that I would not load a dumpster with his treasures, after all this was my legacy. ‘Thanks Dad’, I said.
So here I am at my third swap meet. Once again I hauled this trust of valuable and cherished stuff to see if a home could be found for any or all of it.I vowed this would be my last kick-at-the-can to clear out the hundreds of bits and pieces he had gathered over a lifetime of antique car collecting.
The double and a half garage and its attached shed, an area Dad called the Berlin Wall, had been loaded with boxes and drawers of stuff he was sure would be good swap meet fodder when he located the part or parts he needed for his current restoration project.
Red glass or plastic tail light lenses from classic ’60’s T- birds hung in pairs from the ceiling, along with wired sets of mirrors from God knows what classic or antique gem.
There were auto horns from vintage vehicles, some with rubber balls still attached, willing to make that ugga-ugga sound once again when mounted on the side of a model ‘A’ or ‘T’.
Chromed bent grills, headlight frames and glass tail lights suspended by wire from cup hooks swung from the rafters.
In the drawers of his work bench, many old radios waited to be matched up with the right dash board. There were carburetors, coils, fuel gauges, gas caps, windshield wipers, and hubcaps everywhere, lots and lots of hubcaps.
Jars of screws, baking pans with valves, body work hammers and pieces only Dad, or some other “old car nut” could have identify covered the bench and the area where the grinder, clamps and drills were mounted. This was the place Dad liked to ‘putter’ as he called it.
At the Swap meet, my big sign, hand scribed in colored markers stands in the aisle in front of my booth, it reads, ‘Look what my dad left me, no unreasonable offer refused”.
It stops traffic and garners a lot of laughs from the men and looks of near panic from their wives. “Don’t do this to your wife or kids,” I call out. My banter draws a handful of guys over with stories of the number of barns, sheds and farmers’ fields they have stuffed with parts and pieces of cars.
Some of these guys recognize me and my sign from previous swap meets and come by to say hello, poke through my tables and tell me they remember my Dad and what a great guy he was.
As I watch, groups of men literally kick tires in the stall across from me, while others pass by rolling much-prized, newly-chromed and shiny wheel rims down the aisle towards the exit. They look like they just won the lottery.
Others walk by with silly grins carrying battered boxes with bits of metal sticking out at odd angles. Only they know what treasure they have uncovered.
A swap meet is the kind of event where guys in greasy overalls hang crudely lettered signs made from cardboard box flaps around their necks, front and back secured by bits of string or shoe laces. These are the Seekers, the walking sandwich boards, advertising their need for the missing car part that will make their dream auto complete.
There are families, pushing strollers and while some moms look bored, there is a new phenomenon appearing at these meets. Women have joined the ranks of antique car enthusiasts. Some have inherited cars from their husbands and remember all the good times had at rallies, in parades and on the show and shine circuit. Others just have an eye for the style and class of older vintage vehicles and have the funds to pursue this not cheap hobby.
And there are proud grandpas, showing grandkids the rusted hulks and the gleaming, newly restored cars and trucks, hoping that the youngster will catch the old car bug. Maybe they would have someone, after all, to leave their restored and loved classic to in the future.
At the close of the two day sale, I still have stuff left over but at least the load is lighter. Much has been given away, some donated to a museum and other items sold to augment other collections.
Dad’s hobby and love for old cars meant the world to him and he would be happy to know his little gems will end up in the hands of other guys who love antique cars as much as he did.
I am warmly thanked by many of the men for seeing that these valued parts are not destroyed or scraped but left for others to work with and cherish.
Best of all, I’ve had a great time, met men who remembered Dad and I’ve learned more about old auto parts then I ever thought I wanted to know.
Guess I have no choice to head to the Swap Meet again next year with the leftovers”.
In the end, the real legacy a car guy like John leaves behind is bigger than his collection of parts or his ’63 Ford.
The real legacy is the perpetuation of the car hobby through the generations.