George Worthy
George Worthy

For the readers who have been reading my thoughts for the past few years, you will be happy to know that my old ’56 Ford F-100 is finally on the road. Of course, it isn’t completely finished as I would like it to be sometime in the future, but it is road worthy and safe to drive on our fine California highways.

I had already finished arguing with my true love about my Harley and I gave that up a few years ago. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. However, with the influx of all the new citizens of our fine state, I had actually lost the thrill of riding down our highways that seem to be more crowded every day. 

Too many folks, men and women, have a hard time estimating the speed or distance of a motorcycle. I won’t even begin to tell you of the times someone pulled right out in front of me requiring a lane change or standing on the brakes to allow a wayward driver to turn left right in front of me. This isn’t the same roads that I learned to drive on. I still shiver a little when I think about riding home from Monterey after a meeting or during the rush hour on any of the roads we have.

I let the bike go with tears in my eyes, but with the hope that the new owner will understand that riding is not a right to assume the other guy will understand that a motorcycle is quite a bit lighter than a car, and any car can destroy a motorcyclist and ruin his or her day. I loved that motorcycle, but I had to admit that the fun had grown stale. I pray that the new owner will experience the wonder of riding safely and that he will be as happy as I was while riding.

I used to have a contract with a Florida buyer to inspect his order of tomatoes once a week during tomato season. It was 100 miles from my front door to the cooler over in Newman. If I left early enough, I pretty much had an open road. Then the season finished and I had to make up things to do or places to go so I could ride my Harley. It just wasn’t as much fun anymore. But hey! Our Savior does not close a door without opening another escape route for a guy who has done the things I have done in my life.

I still had my old 1956 Ford F-100 that I bought from a preacher down in Paso Robles who had built his motel just before the State changed the path of Highway 101 and bypassed his motel. That was over 50 years ago. My dad had bought a 1956 Ford F-100 just before I joined the Army, and I was always looking for another one to keep my Pop in my memory. I had joined the Army reserve after my last trip to Southeast Asia and I was on my summer camp, two weeks of duty when I spotted the truck I have now.

I had to borrow the $300 that I paid for it from my brother, and to give my brother credit he never bugged me for the money, but he always told everyone that he gave the truck to me.

This was back in the days when any of the Ford F-100 series of trucks were very popular to folks that were as enamored with the body style as I was. I lived in San Jose at the time and joined a truck club and then became president of the club, and my truck was featured in the second issue of the Trucking Magazine. Oh my goodness! Those were the days!

Then there were the years between buying my truck and working on my truck. As more folks bought any F-100 Ford pickups the price of anything related to that truck got more and more expensive and harder to find. Married men and those who found that dealing with anything related to the F-100 was just too expensive, slowly but surely sold their trucks or had a problem getting parts for their truck, and the clubs closed and no one kept up the search for new sources for parts. They were supplied by some who paid high prices for anything F-100 and actually had new parts fabricated and opened businesses supplying old guys like me who had a history of keeping their trucks on the road.

Then, it got so expensive that men who had families had to let their family needs get in the way and it would tear at your heart to see a 1956 F-100 sitting on blocks in the garage or driveway of a former young man who had to finally grow up.

I was a little different in that I never wanted to let my F-100 go. I could still remember my dad coming home in that pickup painted a light blue and the big back window that was ahead of the General Motors copies of their C-10 pickups that just didn’t have the love of a F-100.

My truck stayed in the garage and I kept trying to find cool parts to keep it looking new. My lovely bride surely felt the love I had for that old truck and never bugged me to sell it or to not spend money on it that we didn’t have. Slowly but surely, I kept looking for parts or old trucks till it became obvious that my truck was one of the old ones, and that if I wanted to keep it modern I had to design parts to keep it on the road.

I can still remember laying on my back under the truck and turning my head to see where I might fix whatever was wrong. In case you didn’t know, there are NO soft parts under an old pickup. It got so every time I turned my head I would open another wound on my head. My Angel would get a little incensed as she had to keep putting Band-Aids on my noggin.

I finally got in touch with a fellow named Alex, who runs a company called Big Bear Automotive. They took all the heat off me by setting me up with brand new suspension. So my truck is home and running and sitting in the garage. I will be driving it a lot more now and my Angel approves of my endeavor. It is funny how life goes around like it has with me and my F-100. You will soon see it in local parades.

God Bless.

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Gonzales columnist George Worthy may be reached at [email protected].


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