Saturday, July 30, 2011

Porsches to Oxford, July 30, 2011

Hi folks -- I took a nice 55 minute drive to Oxford, Ohio this morning and participated for several hours in the Porsches to Oxford event. This is the 7th gathering, and I wonder how many other events bring in more Porsches to a single place for a day? I doubt Hershey in April. Can you think of any event that gets more than 400 Porsches for a single day get-together?
I always wonder what motivates many of the folks who come however, since most of the entrants drive newer models. Is it look at the money I can spend? How about the looks of my trophy wife? (There are plenty of frumpy wives here as well!) The older cars and technical discussions are quite different than the conversations involving the crowd who bring in their newer cars, however.
For me the highlight is the great early morning ride with the top down on Ohio 725. It is a simply exhilarating drive, and I should take many more of these before the air turns cold and the pavement wet or snow covered.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Porsche: A Prelude to P2O -- John Dixon's Taj Ma Garag Visit, July 29, 2011

I have been going with classes to John Dixon's Taj Ma Garag since 1998. This weekend is Porsches to Oxford which is tomorrow -- today's open house was a prelude to the event. The $10 entrance fee is for a worthy cause : fighting cancer. The cars are always worth looking at, although I find the memorabilia, located in cases both downstairs and upstairs to be quite interesting -- including post-WWII German radios, and printed literature.
A hot day and a good visit.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Automoible and American Life Class and a Visit from a 1948 Chevrolet

Sorry Lauren and a bit of Pablo -- you are behind the tree leaves! We had a great visit today from Ken Koontz and his 1948 Chevrolet. Thanks also to Jim for arranging this visit. And thanks to Rob for photos better than mine! 1948 Chevys are very special for me, and this on is a real beauty. The first car I remember is a car more or less like this one -- also black and with a similar interior. The dash on this car is perfect, and perhaps that is what I recall best in looking back. Certainly it was not a glamorous car during the first half of the 1950s, as far more modern designs were on the highway and in neighbors' driveways. But for me, it was special. I remember smallest of details, like the windshield wiper switch, the manual choke, the vent window crank, and the cord behind the front seat.

Those first cars of ours were very special for my generation, as we all became "car spotters," able to tell at 50 yards what year and model a particular car was. Since the cars of the 1950s had very distinctive body styles and grills, it was an important part of what became a love affair with automobiles that was/is characteristic of a number of young men, now growing old.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Retractable Ford Hardtops -- 1957-1959 Ford Skyliners -- Come to Dayton; the future of the car hobby?

Quite a show -- top up or top down?

I hope your wife doesn't have too much luggage!

A dash I remember from childhood.

1958 Models are by far the most rare of this bunch!

1957 Retractables outsold 1957 Chevy Convertibles!

Hi folks -- blazing hot today in Dayton, Ohio. The Retractable Ford group is having its annual meeting and cruise this week, and so I decided to stop by the Marriott where they had their cars on exhibit and a swap meet today. Some nice folks and very nice cars in the Marriott lot, but not many folks around in this heat to browse and learn about a very interesting automobile design. Great paint jobs -- and many trailer queens. Dedicated wives out sunning or under tents that provided some shade.
What was so striking is how old these folks were. Who will carry the torch once this generation is gone. Who will possess the technical knowledge to repair these cars? Younger people need to get more involved -- but rarely do they. One way is to teach a course like I have done at the University of San Diego and the University of Dayton. Car collecting is so expensive that young people just starting out, particularly in this economy, are restricted from entrance, unless they inherit cars from a family member. More needs to be done to ensure that a next generation of enthusiasts who truly appreciate the design and engineering of these vehicles and others emerge on the scene.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On the Pre-History of Garten Motors, Hinton, West Virginia

An interesting contribution from Dr. Ed Garten!!

After some research I’ve located the name of what would have been the first Ford dealership in Hinton, West Virginia and the forerunner to Garten Motors Ford. This from the History of West Virginia, Old and New, published 1929, The American Historical Society, Inc. Chicago, and New York, Volume III, p. 597.

“W. Shad Peck, has been for the past ten years the progressive and successful local agent for the Ford automobiles at Hinton, the judicial center of Summers County, West Virginia, and here, in 1918, he erected his modern garage, with an attractive sales and display room and well equipped repair department, this building occupying the site of the home in which Mr. Peck was born, the date of his nativity havng been June 1, 1892.”

A photo of the side yard of the dealership is attached and, among with a few new Ford cars and trucks, is shown the dealership’s tow truck.

I have learned that the dealership existed from 1918 until the beginning of World War II when it ceased operation. My grandfather Garten then revived the Ford franchise in Hinton in 1946.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Targa Top IV: Lateral Straps are now Glued and Riveted

Here are the "Tuff-Stuff" straps glued and riveted to the targa frame. Usually on the web it is said that if the straps are gone, then you are in big trouble. We'll see! Mine were almost all worn to the point where they served no real function anymore. In particular, there were full breaks at the most important points, namely those slats that are between the edge plates and the center plate. So the only option I had was to get new material, set up a geometric jig of sorts, and then put the material on myself.

I used contact cement to glue the straps on. This takes some careful planning concerning alignment, as the line on the strap indicates. Contact cement is the way to go according to a local convertible top restorer. It will stick.

I don't know if my wood jig parts were accurate enough or not, but I just used carefully measured and cut pieces of wood to attain proper alignment.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Review of Kevin Nelson's Wheels of Change: From Zero to 600 m.p.h.: The Amazing Story of California and the Automobile

Wheels of Change: From Zero to 600 m.p.h.: The Amazing Story of California and the Automobile. By Kevin Nelson. Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books, 2009. Bibliography, illustrations, index, and source notes. 405pp. $24.95, paper.
Reviewed by John A. Heitmann, Professor, Department of History, University of Dayton.

Histories of the automobile in America often begin with the all-too-familiar quote that "The Automobile is European by birth and American by adoption." And while that generalization certainly is useful in explaining things to undergraduate students, it rings particularly true in the case of the state of California, where beginning with the car's appearance on the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco, late 19th century society and culture were rapidly and markedly transformed into a 20th century machine age. Indeed, the automobile is the perfect technological symbol of American culture, a tangible expression of our quest to level space, time and class, and a reflection of our restless mobility, social and otherwise. It transformed business, life on the farm and in the city, the nature and organization of work, leisure time, and the arts. Further, the automobile transformed everyday life and the environment in which we operate. More specifically, it influenced the foods we eat; music we listen to; risks we take; places we visit; errands we run; emotions we feel; movies we watch; stress we endure; and, the air we breathe.
That part of the story seems obvious to anyone who has ever visited the state. A related story, however, namely one of how Californians contributed to the evolution and diffusion of the automobile in American (and indeed global) life, has never been carefully compiled, that is until the recent publication of Wheels of Change. For example, Californians, including Carl Breer, Harley Earl, Frank Howard, and Earle Anthony were critical to the engineering and design of the automobile, notions of planned obsolescence, and the formulation of sales strategies. The business of speed was very much a California enterprise, as witnessed by the work of Harry A. Miller, Leo Goossen, Fred Offenhauser, Stu Hilborn, Mickey Thompson and many, many others. California contributed a lion's share of the greatest race drivers of the 20th century, from Jimmy Murphy, who was the first American to win a European Grand Prix race in 1921, to the late and incomparable Phil Hill. And finally, several generations of Hollywood actors and actresses, to a degree unwittingly, did more to glamorize the automobile than all the Madison Avenue advertising agencies combined, intimately connecting this inanimate and often mass produced object to wealth, status, and individuality.
While Wheels of Change is author Kevin Nelson first work dealing specifically with automobile history, it demonstrates the author's surprising command of the topic. Harnessing a considerable variety of sources, Nelson skillfully spins a tale that centers on individuals, but weaves these figures together almost seamlessly. And with each of the figures, Nelson develops fabulous and at times humorous stories and adventures, as these characters come alive on the written page. Further, the narrative moves at a fast pace. Nevertheless, there always seems to exist a context bigger than the automobile and California, as Nelson reminds the reader at several junctures of concurrent events nationally and globally. In terms of chronology, the story is strong and comprehensive to the late 1960s. However, it then falls off as almost every auto history does, perhaps because of the end of the automobile's Golden Age, perhaps because it is easier to write enthusiastically of its positive virtues than the critiques and engendered problems that follow after Oil Shock I in 1973. Yet the 1970s are now nearly fifty years removed from us, and historians need to conduct more work on this recent past.
While my overall evaluation of this book is most positive -- I would argue that it would be a great addition to an undergraduate course reading list in 20th century history, the history of technology, or California history, it does have its shortcomings. Most significantly, Wheels of Change reconstructs an expected past. By drawing so much from newspapers and journalistic literature, this story is one that has been told in various places far and near, but it does not probe beyond the largely known. Nelson provides a wonderfully readable synthesis, but there are no surprises or new insights. Secondly, the citation format of this book is awkward to say the least. Source notes exist in the back of this book, but conventional footnotes or endnotes would have been more helpful to this reader. Placing these criticisms aside, however, Wheels of Change is a great read that makes the history of automobile come alive with human interest and a rare energy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Update -- Restoring a Porsche 911 Targa Top III: The Jig is UP!

Outer top and burlap along with come padding removed. On the left the black webbing is still covered with burlap, that I did not to want to remove becuase of alignment considerations.

Oh, Oh! I didn't figure on this when I bought the top for $50 at a swap meet in Oceanside, CA.

Wood jigs spacing the plates at set distances. Since webbing was broken, the top had lost its alignment.

Hi folks -- it has been a while since I updated you on the Targa top restoration project, "Clapton." OK, it has turned out to be a far more complicated story than initially anticipated. One major issue is that the webbing that keeps the plates aligned was broken in several key places. What that meant was that no longer were the plates aligned properly. God, what do I do now? Well, I did careful measurements and then built a jig out of wood pieces. I noted that the optimal alignment -- since the center plate and the two end plates do not move -- is that of 6.5 mm from outer plate to inner plate, and 5.2 mm from inner plate to center plate -- on both sides. So today I cut very carefully using a fine blade on a circular saw these jigs, and put them in the top to serve as spacers. Now that that is done, I can cement and rivet in place (earlier I drilled out the old rivets) the tough black webbing that holds the alignment of the plates. Once that is done, the next step will be to glue on burlap and a thin foam pad, before gluing on the outer cover and finally the inner headliner. So I'll keep you informed from time to time.
However, my next agenda item is finishing a book review for a journal on the history of the automobile in California, entitled Wheels of Change, by Kevin Nelson. This is a great read and I will aim to give it a review that will encourage others to read this fine book.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mishari and His Cars -- A UD student "auto-biography" -- a Mitsubishi GT 3000 and far more!

Mishari Al-Abdullah
History 344
June 29, 2011
Professor Heitmann

My Different Experiences With Different Cars

Since I have been driving for fourteen years of my life, I’ve had different experiences with the different cars that I have purchased. The first car that I bought was a Mitsubishi GT 3000. It was a sport car with manual gear made from Japan. The color of my car was dark blue with white interior. That time only two of that color was available in Kuwait and I guess I was lucky to own one. Every body would give me compliments and I was very noticeable with my car. I loved to drive it because it was very soft in the road and you couldn’t feel any bumps while driving. Changing the gearshift was very smooth that you couldn’t feel or hear any noises. One day, my gear broke down and I was not able to order the part because the dealer stopped making this model and its parts. I had to wait to order the part from Japan or I had another option to wait for other damaged car with the same model of my car. In both cases I had to wait. After six months, someone had an accident with their car and I was able to have their car’s part. Even though, my car was fixed but other problems started to encounter. After a while, I decided to sale the car and buy a new one.
The second car that I purchased was a BMW 528 in 1997. I personally love all the German cars and this car was a comfortable car with a lot of different features. It had a built in T.V. , GPS, Phone and fax. It was not a sport car, it was an economy car with a six cylinder. In general in German cars, the air conditioner isn’t so great as Japanese and American cars especially if you live in a hot weather like in Kuwait. In three years of experience with this car the air conditioner was the only problem and I wanted to sale it just because I felt I need a new change in my life and I also got a good offer for my next car.
My third car was a Mercedes 500 CL. This car was my favorite car of the all cars that I’ve had. It was a sport car with two doors, and it had the same features as my BMW. It was a hydraulic to put the car in three levels to drive it in different places like deserts and roads. It also had an auto-pilot which if you use the cruse control mode that keeps your speed the same you don’t need to hit the breaks, the auto pilot does that automatically for you. The other feature that I liked about my car at that time was having able to not use any keys. I could use a small card to open the doors and the ignition was a button on the gear. This was a very new feature in the year of 2000. The seats had message, cooler and heater. I sold my car because I got a scholarship in United States of America, and I wanted to continue my studies there.
The first car that I bought In America was a Jaguar X type sport. It was a British car with black exterior and interior with shaded windows. It had heated seats, which was very helpful in the cold weather conditions in the United States. It had a sensor that helped me to park as I was getting close to the other cars. It was a four-wheel drive, which made it easy to drive in the ice. The parts were expensive to replace and not a lot of people had enough experience with fixing the Jaguar in Indiana. For instance, if I wanted to replace the rotor or the break pads, they charged me couple hundred dollars just to look at the car, therefore I decided to sale my Jaguar and try an American car for the first time.
I bought a Chrysler Sebring as my current car. I thought its better to have an American car while living in United States incase if encounter with any problems. The labor and the parts are much cheaper than any other cars. It is a convertible with six cylinders with any features except the heated seats. The bad side of this car is where its battery is designed. If you want to replace it, you have to remove the tire and the cover which it needs a special screw. This doesn’t help if you get stuck in the highway, and I don’t understand how people came up with where they located the battery. I was in a hurry to get a new car and this car was the first thing that was in my budget at that time. I don’t really like it but it takes me around from point A to B. I have other plans when I graduate but for now this car satisfies my needs. I am planning to buy my dream car when I go back home for good.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A UD Student from Kuwait writes his "Auto-Biography:": "Kitt" and others!

Maitham Asadallah

Dr. Heitmann

HST 344

June. 28, 2011

My “Auto” Biography

From my childhood back in the early 1980’s I used to buy and collect car toys, during my play

with them, I loved how I used my imagination to create different scenarios like chasing other car

or let my car to jump over another one. My relationship with cars started when I saw my Father

and my mother driving their cars while I used to set in the back seat, thinking how they can

control this amazing transportation machine, looking at the road sidewalk bricks asking myself

how fast it is running, how can the key turn on this fabulous machine. At that time car to me was

the enjoyment, fun, independence and spectacular machine. In fact at that time I preferred to get

into my father’s car for a ride as it was a light blue 500 SEL Mercedes Benz, I loved the way my

father used to drive it with high speed, I liked the smell of its internal leather, I liked its emblem

which is mounted in the front of the engine hood, I liked the sound of the engine whenever he

used to speed up. I used to get really sad whenever the engine temp shoots up, and my Father had

to pull aside and turn off the engine and wait till it cools down, later on I understood that at that

time the Mercedes Benz cars are not designed to be used in a very hot climate like back home in

Kuwait when the temperature in summer used to reach 120 F, to fix this problem they used to

modify the engine cooler size or install one more cooling fan. There are many factors made me

very engaged with cars.

One of the main reasons which made me very attracted to sport cars is a TV series called Knight

Rider, and I do remember the actor who played as Michael Knight who used to drive the black

Pontiac trans am, from this series I realized how can a car would make me a powerful man who

Chases bad guys. The idea of making the car as a talking machine, making it as a car with soul

was something fabulous, and it was named as Kate, I used to wait for every episode to enjoy the

show. What made me to like this car is the options, abilities and the output of it.

The climate back home in Kuwait is very hot and dusty which makes cars get dirty so fast, but

this was an advantage to me Because I used to ask my parents if they would allow me to wash

their cars during their nap time after the lunch, and they have never refused to do so, till one day

my father realized that after when I am done from cleaning the cars, I used to set behind the

wheel, start the engine and I take a drive in our neighborhood, it was one of the most happiest

moments in my life. Defiantly after that my father decided not to hand over the key to me and I

had to wash and clean cars only from outside, however, I was still enjoying washing them.

On 1990 during the Iraqi invasion to Kuwait, we had a problem with disposing the house trashes,

Even our neighborhood families faced the same problem, because at that time all government

ministries inside Kuwait seized working, so nobody was there to take care of trashes business.

It came to our notice that other neighborhoods started collecting trashes in a remote

Non residential area and they have started firing it up to get rid of the smell and flying insects,

At That time I was 13 years old, so my father decided to give me this task to collect all our

neighborhood trashes and do the rest, at that time my father finally gave me the permission to

drive a 1990 Daihatsu Rocky jeep to perform the job, but there was a problem , it is a manual

transition car, it was my first time to drive a MT car, the interesting part is my older brother gave

me only a 15 minutes training on how to drive a MT car, then I started my job, I was really

happy because it was the first time to serve my country during very tough time, helping my

neighborhood and the most important thing enjoying the MT car driving because I used to let the

engine pressure gauge marker to reach the red zone before I transfer to the next gear level. trying

to get the Formula 1 cars sound ! but it never happened. I know maybe it sounds stupid but it was

a FUN.

On 1995 I graduated from high school in Kuwait, it a was a time to get a driving license, once I

got it my brother gave me his 1994 Jeep Cherokee and my father got him a V12 convertible

Jaguar, It was my brother idea “what a smart move !” I hated him at that time, however, I

enjoyed driving the jeep, it was a limited one with full options or a loaded one, I enjoyed driving

it on road and on the desert. when I got my job as field operator in a petrochemical company, I

made my choice and I got a new silver 1996 Yukon, it was an amazing car. Very smooth on road

and on desert. I got very engaged with Yukon because it was really reliable, therefore, on 2002 I

have traded in the 1996 one and got a new 2002 black Yukon, the design has changed

completely however, still I liked the style and it was designed to be more smooth on road.

When I got the scholarship to get a chemical engineering degree in the US, my wife got pregnant

with twins and we had already two boys, so the most convenient car for us is a minivan, so we

decided to go for and 2006 Uplander, it is really comfortable vehicle and very smooth, we have

travelled to Niagara falls, NY , Pittsburg and Chicago, I do prefer road trips in the united states

because of the nice weather and the well contracted roads. now my 4 boys are enjoying

watching TV in the back, the TV makes them very quiet otherwise they will not stop fighting and

I will get crazy.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Auto-Biography:" Owen Elger -- Hot Wheels and a 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

Owen Elger

Professor Heitmann

History 344

29 June 2011


Ever since the dawn of my existence, I have been a tinkerer, an aristocrat of all things that needed built or fixed. I grew up the son of a handyman, and the grandson of a handyman, and so on and so forth. As a child I could often times be found out in the garage at my father’s workbench playing with tools and exploring things that looked fascinating to me. This sometimes turned out to be a negative thing whenever I would take something apart and forget how to put it back together, and have to embarrassingly show it to my dad and ask him to put it back correctly. I differed greatly in this sense, and still do to this day, from my two brothers, who are not very mechanically inclined at all. The weekends in my house were spent doing home repairs and improvements, and I was always by my dad’s side ready and willing to help. I fully attribute my interest in pursuing an engineering career to my passion for all things that require fixing or assembly. As I type this paper, I have a propane grill which is only partially assembled in my parent’s living room that I am giving to my eldest brother as a wedding gift. The day I bought it I began putting it together, only to realize that once fully put together, it would never fit in the car to take to my brother’s house. So there it sits on the floor, mocking me every time I pass it because it knows I can’t wait till I get the chance to assemble it completely.

Elger 2

About the time I was in the third grade, my parents bought me a model car for Christmas because they knew I had a passion to put things together, and see how they worked. I never knew this incident was going to precede a strong passion not only for cars in general, but for the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona. That’s right, my first model car turned out to drive a strong passion for this old car. I have purchased over a dozen model cars of all makes and models in my lifetime, but my favorite is still that Dodge Charger. Unfortunately, that’s where the dream meets reality. And the reality is that this particular car is very rare, and very expensive, not to mention I’ve only ever seen pictures of the thing. I don’t know what it is about the car, if it’s the color, the huge spoiler on the back, or the fact that it is just an American muscle car with a lot of horsepower, but all I know is that I can’t die happy until I own one.

Unfortunately neither of my parents knew much about the inner workings of cars, and they were always too expensive for me to take apart and risk messing something up, so my knowledge about cars is minimal. That was always one thing I wanted to learn more about, but never had the time due to school and sports. I’m usually the guy nodding his head when someone is talking about gear ratios and complicated things like that. To this day that same model car sits on my desk and I take it with me to school in the fall as well.

For now my focus isn’t on owning one of these magnificent cars, but to just get through college and make some money that may one day contribute to the purchase of this vehicle. That dream may have to wait another 40 or so years until I am ready to retire. Every fast and furious movie, or any racing movie in that case, has featured at least one muscle car, which has only heightened my love and appreciation for them. Seeing the car shake as the enormous engine

Elger 3

rumbles, almost makes me want to own one even more. I definitely think that American muscle cars are growing even scarcer as the years go on, as new cars roll onto the market. No doubt there are people who not only share my passion for this vehicle(s), but go to greater levels to ensure their ownership of a car that gets increasingly rare as the years march on. A car like this in pristine condition will run easily over $175k. So unfortunately for me, unless I hit the lottery, it looks like I might not be getting my dream car after all. Maybe I’ll get the chance to at least drive one later in life.

As for now, I’ll just have to stick to my model of that orange beauty, and wonder what might be. It’s amazing that one little children’s model of an old muscle car could spark such a huge interest and passion inside of me for this automobile. I am stricken with envy of every person that has the privilege to own such a machine. As a quick side note, I’m greatly looking forward to this class and learning about how cars and technology changed history. It’s not every day that one of our professors has such a deep passion for cars and has as many fun and interesting stories as you have so far in just three days. I am definitely looking forward to learning a lot from this class and I hope to take away a wealth of knowledge.

Friday, July 8, 2011

One of the best "Auto-Biographies" ever -- Alexis Diglio and her Florida Roadtrip Gone Bad -- and Lessons Learned!

Alexis Diglio
Professor Heitmann
June 30, 2011
“Auto” Biography

Family Vacation

Every year, on Christmas night, my entire family packs up and leaves for a vacation to Orlando. All the cousins squeeze into two cars, and we drive through the night. The ride gets pretty uncomfortable because eleven people go, plus our entire luggage. The third year we went was a road trip that I would never forget. After what felt like two days of riding, we were about an hour out of Florida. I had finally managed to fall asleep in the very back seat at about six in the morning. An hour later, I was jolted awake and heard nothing but screaming. Apparently, we had gone through construction and blew a tire, and my grandma could not gain control of the Expedition. The last thing I remember was my older cousin in the middle seat reaching forward trying to help my grandma. When I woke up, I was lying outside the car and could hear everyone screaming each other’s names. I looked to my left and realized my arms and legs were both stuck under the car, and the entire Expedition was lying on its side.
While I was lying there trying to make sense of the situation, my cousin was working on getting my grandma, grandpa, and two other cousins out of the car. The car in front of us had my parents, siblings, and aunt and uncle. When they realized we weren’t behind them anymore, four teenagers weren’t answering their cell phones, and they heard all kinds of sirens, they immediately turned around and in the process, my dad caused a fender bender behind them. After everyone was out of the car, my cousin came and laid beside me. I remember looking at her and asking if I was going to have an arm after this. She felt up under the car and assured me my arm was still there. While she was lying there holding my hand, I remember saying something about how painful it was, and we both nervously laughed as if I wasn’t stating the obvious. Once the ambulance and fire trucks arrived, I remember seeing my grandma sobbing and my dad pacing back and forth while they were both being held back. A number of other people who had saw the accident were just standing around staring, not really knowing what to do. The rescue workers started putting things under the car to make sure it wouldn’t roll back over, and the fireman pointed a hose towards me because it smelled like gasoline, and the car could potentially catch on fire with me under it. I asked one of the rescue workers if I was going to be okay, and he told me they were going to get me out of there. I heard my dad call out that everything was going to be fine, and he loved me. After they finally got a device to lift the car, I felt a small amount of pressure come off of my arm, which at this point, was one of the best feelings. After about fifteen minutes, they got the car lifted up enough to remove my arm, and they put a stretcher under me, and when I rolled back over, I felt bones crack in my back.
My grandpa and I were both rushed to the hospital. The area that had taken the main part of the roll of the car was above my grandpa, and it had scraped off the top part of his scalp. He was treated and released, but the family could tell it had taken a toll on his body. I was the only one who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, so everyone else had walked away from the wreck with only a couple bruises. When I was in the emergency room, my cousin, who had taken care of me, came in to see me, and she was covered in blood. She told me later that I was disgusted by all the blood and wondered where it came from and was surprised to find out it was all mine! After getting countless x-rays and MRI’s, we found out I needed staples in my head, I had fractures in my back, and my pelvis had broken in the front and back. I didn't break any of the bones in my arm, but my arm was swollen so much that it didn't even look like an arm. However, I was very lucky.
Soon after being admitted into the hospital, there were countless tornado warnings, and we had to spend the night out in the hallway with all of the other patients. It seemed like nothing could go right. My little brother had to spend his 9th birthday in a hotel and a hospital instead of at Disney World. During one of the days, the rescue worker that took care of me in the ambulance came into the hospital to see how I was doing. He told my family that when they first arrived on the scene, they were expecting people to not have survived. I ended up spending a miserable, long week in a hospital in Tifton, Georgia. Three people were required to get me out of bed, and once out of bed, the only thing I could do was sit in a wheelchair.
After seven days, it was finally time to travel back to Ohio, which I was scared to death to do. After a number of nurses helped me into the car, they tried sedating me with all different kinds of medication to help ease the anxiety. However, I was so nervous, I was wide awake the entire time, and I’m sure my dad got annoyed with my back seat driving. We finally made it home. I ended up being in a wheelchair for two months, and unable to gain full movement back in my arm until about six months later. Today, I only have a scar on the back of my head, some scars on my left arm, and some scars on my back, which is a miracle.
This was the second time I had gotten in a wreck on the highway. When I was sixteen, I totaled my car and hadn’t driven on the highway since then. This accident made it impossible for me to even ride on the highway. I go an hour out of my way when traveling home from school just to avoid the highway, and when riding with others, I’m constantly telling them to slow down or brake. We took a year off from traveling to Florida, but the next year we set out on another adventure. We made it there safely, but it was a stressful drive for me. Despite all of the negatives that came out of the situation, I took away a number of good lessons from this accident. It brought my family a lot closer together, and I appreciate everything they do for me after seeing how well they took care of me for two months when I could do nothing. Most importantly, I learned never to take off my seat belt, no matter what.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The "Red Rocket:" Keith Nerderman's 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix

Hi folks -- one in what is now a string of HST 344 student "auto-biographies." Thank you Keith, for your story from the Heartland!

Keith Nerderman
Professor Heitmann
June 29, 2011
Autobiography-“The Red Rocket”
A first car is something that people will carry with them their entire life. Your first car gives you independence and freedom to go where you want when you want. Driving came at a young age for me because I came from a small town and worked on my friend’s family farm at the age of 12. I got to drive farming equipment and trucks on the roads and in the fields which was very exciting for me. It was the end of summer when I finished my driver’s ed classes and then had to wait until December to get my license. It felt as if the time to get my license would never come, but on that cold December morning my Dad and I woke early in the morning and we drove to Sidney, Oh to take my license test. I was the first person scheduled that morning to complete the driving test. I passed the test with flying colors not missing a single point. I finally had my freedom and Independence in the palm of my hand. I couldn’t wait to get home because what was waiting for me in the driveway was the car that I would be driving for the first time that I could call my own.
The car that was waiting for me was a 1997 cherry red grand prix that I gave the name “the red rocket”. It was first bought when my sister received her license, so when she graduated it was passed down to me. I couldn’t be happier because this car had good performance and had a sporty car look to it. When we got home I immediately called up a couple of my closest friends and picked them up and we took off speeding onto the back country roads. We drove around listening to our favorite tunes at the time and felt like we were on top of the world and no one could touch us. With it being December and there being snow on the ground you can probably guess what we did next. We found a nice parking lot on the outside of town and began doing donut after donut. We were having the time of our lives until an unexpecting visitor decided to stop by. The town cop pulled up next to us and began telling us how reckless doing donuts were and proceeds to ask me for my license and registration. As I handed him my license that I had received less than 24 hours ago he glanced at my name and asked me if I was the son of Peach Nerderman, which peach is a nickname my dad received back in High School. I said yes sir I am and then he told me something that I couldn’t believe was coming out of his mouth. He said, “Mr. Nerderman you have a good night and do not let me catch you out here doing donuts again.” My friends and I were so relieved that we were not in any trouble and we left the parking lot and then I dropped them off at their homes and went home and ended up going to bed because it was getting late. The next morning I woke to my Dad yelling for me to get downstairs because he needed to talk to me. Well it turns out that my dad has coffee every morning with the cop that pulled me over and he told my Dad about the fun me and my friends were having in the parking lot the night before. I guess the cop knew my dad well enough that he knew I would get punished in some way and that is why I think he let me go. In the end my Dad grounded me from driving for two weeks, which I thought was pretty harsh.
This experience marked the beginning of a long relationship that I had with my grand prix that I called the red rocket. I am glad to say that I still have the grand prix and it has not let me down in the entire time that I have been driving it. It has a few more miles on it now, but it still gets me from point A to point B. The experiences that I have had with this car will never be forgotten. I do not know what I will do when I have to get rid of it because I have been attached to it since the age of sixteen, but when the time comes for us to part our ways I only hope that my next car can live up to the red rocket.