Tag Archives: classic cars

Fire Muster

The Fire Muster is this coming weekend – Labour Day Saturday and Jack and judges, Fire Muster dog showSunday – in Pinafore Park, St. Thomas.  A chance to see fire fighters, fire trucks old and new, classic cars, and dogs.  There are always lots of dogs at the Fire Muster.  On Sunday afternoon, there’s a dog show.  It started as a Dalmatian show, and there are still special prizes for Best Dalmatian and Best Dalmatian ‘wannabe’.  Dogs wear costumes, do tricks or just walk across the stage.  The first time our late dog Jack I won!entered, he won Best in Show.  I don’t know who was proudest, us or him. Later, he happily rooted around in his prize hamper from Hartz.

From then on, every time we were at Pinafore, he wanted to walk across the bandshell stage. Strut across it, reliving his moment of glory.  I’d sing “here she comes, Miss America”, and he’d look out over the cheering audience that only he could see. The year they tore the old bandshell down he was crestfallen.  I took him to the new one at the back of the park, and he walked across it.  But you could see it wasn’t the same for him.

He lining up for the showentered the dog show every year, never won again, but always enjoyed it.  As soon as he’d see dogs heading for the registration table and lining up, he wanted to join them. He liked going to Pinafore Park any time of the year, but he would get especially excited when he’d see the ladies on the boot toll at the gate.  He knew it was Fire Muster time.

For several years, my husband and I worked at the souvenir t-shirt booth.  Jack loved being there, meeting and greeting dogs and people.  One year, though, he Jack the muscle dogwasn’t really happy.  We’d made him his own tshirt.  He didn’t like walking around like a canine advertisement but, in his black “muscle shirt”, he brought a lot of attention to the booth.

The new dogs, Leo and Charlie, were at last year’s Fire Muster for the first time.  They both entered the dog show.  Didn’t win, but they didn’t care.  They were happy with their participation gift treats.

First published Aug. 31, 2010 on my St. Thomas Dog Blog

 

Fiat Bambina

Fiat 500 - 7439-121-low-wide-rear-5-8-view-480If I could possibly justify another teeny-weeny cute car, I’d get the new Fiat 500. I’ve only seen one around here, a silver grey one. I like the tv ads, and I’ve checked them out online since I first heard that Fiat/Chevrolet was going to remake the Bambina.

I was so much hoping they’d do a good job – keep the look and spirit of the original, as BMW did with the MINI. And Fiat, bless their hearts, did.

In the 1970s, in New Zealand, I had a 1965 Fiat 500. There, at the time, old Bambinas were the car of choice or, more accurately, no choice for students and others with no money. I learned to drive on that little car and my boyfriend’s parents’ 12-seater Land Rover. It was like switching between a Dinky Toy and a tank.

Bambino in Ponsonby, AucklandMy Bambina had the “suicide doors” that hinged at the rear (it was 6 months older than the last of those). The back seat would hold two adults as long as they didn’t demand a lot of legroom. Storage was under the hood and the 500 cc engine was in the rear.

It was two cylinder. In models like mine, both pistons went up and down in unison instead of alternating. That meant a lot of vibration, leading to engine parts and wires falling off.

Fiat repair manual

My boyfriend and I bought a manual for it because we had no money for garage repairs. My father was a mechanic, but he was in Canada and he’d never seen an engine like that anyway. I drew pictures of it and mailed them to him to get his opinion on mechanical problems. But return mail took about 6 weeks so that wasn’t very efficient.

Fiat 500 with cats, Ponsonby, Auckland NZEventually we got so we could put blocks under the engine, haul the bumper off and push the body of the car away, fix it and put the car back together in a couple of hours. That was to replace the starter motor pins that sheared off regularly from the vibration. The starter motor was located at the front of the engine and there was no way to get in to it unless maybe you had a hoist.  We learned to tighten the starter motor every time before starting the car.

Wires also fell off, often at inopportune times like the middle of an intersection. I could push the car off the road by myself. And I learned which wires were more likely to fall off and where they belonged. We learned to check and tighten all wires and cables before starting the car.

But it was a good car. It took us and camping gear all over the North and South Islands one summer. It got crotchety and didn’t like the damp. On those days, it just wouldn’t start. It’s often damp and rainy in New Zealand. Finally, we just kept it for state consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/2011-fiat-500.htmoccasions, opting to walk or take the bus most of the time.

It’s the only car that I’ve known every inch of and known how to fix. And its engine was totally unlike any other, so that knowledge was not transferable. I’ve never had a car that frustrated me more and I’ve never had a car I remembered with such love. I am so happy that they’re back.

Car Music

I once had an old Chevy Monza hatchback, a ’75.  It came with a banged-in fender that didn’t seem worth fixing.  The rest of the body was so rusted that, well, what would be the point?

1975 Chevy MonzaThe car was bought as an immediate and probably short-term solution to my previous car dying at a time I had very little money.  But I quickly grew to love it.  It was my baby muscle car.

I realized that car needed rock and roll.  Until then, and since, my radio dial just stays on CBC.  It might flip from Radio One to Radio Two but that’s it.  But not for a Chevy Monza.  I had to search for a rock station that I could tolerate listening to.  It’s what the car wanted.

The car got something else in its life with me.  It was the exact same colour of orange as the City vehicles.  One day I came out to find very large City decals on both doors, the same as City dumptrucks, pickups and cars had.  As I told the City workers that came to my door a couple weeks later to remove the decals, I don’t know where they came from.  The City workers used a blowtorch to take them off, which didn’t do a lot for the car’s paint job.

But for the time the decals were on the car, it was fun.  I could park anywhere.  I got very odd looks from City employees who saw it.  The condition of the car really was a disgrace.  I avoided driving it anywhere near City Hall, but the City officials still tracked me down and sent men to take my decals.  The car died forever not long after that.

I went back to CBC with my next cars.  There’s only been one car since then that my 2002 MINIdemanded its own music.  That’s my Mini Cooper S, and it’s only sporadic.  On sunny summer days, it wants old rock and roll.  The car and I welcome the first warm, sunny day with the Beach Boys.  I crank the volume and roll down the windows.  “Daddy took the T-bird away” and “Little Deuce Coupe” speak directly to my foot and gear-shifting hand.  I got six gears and I want to go through them as fast as possible.

Other than the Beach Boys, girl groups and Jerry Lee Lewis, the Mini is happy to listen to CBC Radio One and Two.  But hot summer days need summer music. And summer music makes me think fondly of a poor, battered up old Chevy Monza.

St. Thomas now has its own radio station – 94.1 FM on the dial.  I’ve got it in the presets, just in case. And, just in case you should want them, here are some classic songs to drive to.