My Wheels — Chapter 27
1985 Mazda RX7

Details of timing are lacking for both this and the following My Wheels chapter. I think I’ve got the sequence right but I’m not even entirely certain of that. The two are connected by more than a lack of precision in dates but I don’t expect this chapter to explain things very well. Hopefully I’ll be able to make things clearer in the next chapter when all the pieces have been identified.

The subject of this chapter was my oldest son’s car. I cosigned the loan and he made all the payments on time and handled all other expenses, including insurance, right up until he needed it. At some point the financial load became a bit too much and he decided to sell it. No need to insure a car you’re going to sell. Right? As often happens, the decision to sell and the decision to drop insurance preceded the decision to stop driving and, pretty much on cue, there was an accident. It wasn’t a huge one and it was a single vehicle thing but it left him with something that could neither be driven or easily sold. What happened next was pretty much on cue, too. Dad the cosigner became sole owner of the undrivable, unsalable, uninsured, and unpaid for Mazda. That’s not the actual car in the photo but it’s a perfect match except for the sunroof.

I got the damage repaired and the car insured and I drove it for awhile. It was a rather a fun car to drive. The rotary engine seemed like it would accelerate — at least a little — forever. It was, however, a toy I really couldn’t afford at the time. As I said at the beginning, details of timing are lacking and some of the related details involve my second marriage and divorce. I know I had the car both before and after the short lived marriage but I’m understandably just not capable of fitting all the pieces together.

Either during or shortly after the marriage, my younger son bought the car. I’m fairly certain he did it for my benefit. He was in the Navy with no expenses. He also had no driver’s license. He hadn’t felt the need in high school and had entered the Navy on graduation. Plans were made for him to get his license then see a bunch of the country driving the Mazda to his assignment in San Diego. There was only time for one shot at a license and it was a miss. As I recall, the big dig was activating turn signals way too early but I’m guessing that a general nervousness contributed a lot. He flew to San Diego and the Mazda was parked in the garage to await his return.

Although he did eventually get his license (The Navy needed him to drive something.) he never took possession of the car. After a year or so he/I sold the car to a friend. I had let it sit idle for too long and it took some effort to get it running again. It became a daily driver for its new owner until a winter ice attack in traffic brought about its demise.

Swede Mysteries of Life

DNA testing has recently uncovered a family connection with seventeenth century Philadelphia area settlers from Sweden. An uncle, two cousins, and I are off to poke around a little though we sure don’t know enough to dig very deep. On the other hand, we actually know so little that it will be hard not to learn something. Even if we return home knowing no more than when we left, we are sure to enjoy looking into our nation’s earliest history. We have arrived in the big city and the first day is posted.

The trip journal is here. This entry is to let blog only subscribers know of the trip and provide a place for comments and questions.

Trip Peek #61
Trip #70
Some Lincoln Highway

This picture is from my 2008 Some Lincoln Highway trip. It was one of those cost cutter things I often tacked onto the end of work assignments. This assignment was near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the picture is of an abandoned bridge over Poquessing Creek northeast of the city. Built in 1805, it carried the early Lincoln Highway. It was where I started the personal part of the trip that would follow the Lincoln Highway west as far as Canton, Ohio. After visiting several roadside attractions along the way I spent the final day admiring classic cars at Canton’s Glenmoore Gathering. As I looked over the journal to prepare this entry, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw that the “66 the Hard Way” idea came from preliminary planning for this trip.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

The Birthplace of Carl Festival

I didn’t make it to last month’s Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in Missouri but I did make it to Saturday’s somewhat smaller Birthplace of Carl Festival in Indiana. Well, it wasn’t a festival exactly. It was the dedication of a new monument and by somewhat smaller I mean approximately 100 versus 53000 attendees. The monument dedication took place in the town of Greensburg and the Carl being celebrated was Carl Graham Fisher who was born there in 1874. Fisher was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and an instigator in the founding of both the Lincoln and Dixie Highway Associations. He got his start as a automobile dealer and owner of a company making automobile headlights.

With all those automotive connections it is only natural that many showed up at the dedication. There were some beauties including several Packards which was a brand Fisher drove.

The 1915 Packard that Fisher once owned and used to pace the 1915 and 1916 Indianapolis 500 races sat in front of the Decatur County Museum. The tarp covered monument was close by.

At 12:30 the crowd’s attention turned toward the museum’s front porch and a number of speakers. Among them was the mayor of Greensburg who proclaimed it Carl Fisher Day. The photos I’ve posted are of Allen and Nancy Strong, current owners of Carl Fisher’s Packard and Jerry Fisher, Carl’s great-nephew and author of the biography The Pacesetter.

When the time came for the unveiling, Jerry and his wife Josie moved to the monument and pulled back the tarp. The monument’s text can be read here.

Following the ceremony, I walked to the nearby courthouse where a plaque honoring Fisher was erected in 2014. The sign’s text can be read here and here.

 

Aside from being the birthplace of Carl Fisher, Greensburg is known for the tree growing from its courthouse tower. Some extensive renovation is underway but the tree, not quite visible in the photo, is still there. The last two photos have even less to do with Carl Fisher than the tree topped tower. Greensburg is the only town I know of with an even number of Oddfellows buildings on the town square. Strange.

Positively Pike Street

Last Sunday, a website I follow (Cincinnati Refined) posted an article about a free walking tour in nearby Covington, KY. It sounded promising and my interest level climbed a little more when the information was shared to the Dixie Highway Facebook group. The connection came from the fact that the walking tour was on Covington’s Pike Street and Pike Street once carried the Dixie Highway. On Wednesday I took part in the weekly tour. The picture at right was taken at the end of the tour so I’ll cover it at the end of this post.

The tour start point was at the Kenton County Library on Scott Street just a short distance north of Pike’s eastern end. The Dixie Highway followed Scott and Pike through the intersection. A life sized Abe Lincoln stands at the entrance to the library’s parking lot. Beardless Lincoln’s aren’t as rare as they used to be or maybe they never were as rare as I thought they were. Few, however, show a Lincoln as young as the Matt Langford sculpture unveiled in 2004. That’s one good looking dude.

We met inside the library then walked past Abe to where Pike Street Ts into Scott. There our guide Krysta gave us an overview of the tour and some background on Pike Street. The street takes its name from the Covington and Lexington Turnpike that was chartered by the state in 1834. The street really was something of a commercial and transportation center with railroad freight and passenger terminals being built beside it.

Pike Street jogs south at Madison Avenue then slants off to the southwest. These buildings are in the obtuse angle on the north side of the street. I’ve driven through this intersection countless times and walked through it a few but never thought about how the buildings fit into it until another tour member mentioned it. They are, as the overhead from Google Maps shows, literally wedged in.

As we walked west on Pike we stopped frequently as Krysta told us about specific buildings and people associated with them. Two of the buildings in the preceding photo were included. The short white building in the center was most recently the home of Bronko’s Chili. It is currently being renovated for some unknown purpose. The fancy mosaic arch was added to the building next door in 1929. That’s the year that Casse’ Frocks, the name embedded in the arch, opened several stores in what was intended to be a nationwide chain. October’s stock market crash brought the effort to an abrupt end but no one has seen fit to replace the classy facade in all the years since. An identical storefront still stands on Main Street in Cincinnati.

Frank Duveneck was born in Covington and a statue of the famous artist stands in a small triangle park formed by Pike, 7th, and Washington Streets. We didn’t actually enter the park but we learned a lot about Duveneck’s life with the statue in view. We are standing on Washington Street with Pike then 7th crossing in front of us. Back in the day, Washington was something of a dividing line with stores, restaurants, and taverns to the east and grittier enterprises such as livery stables, distilleries, and mortuaries to the west.

We walked beyond Washington to the middle of the block. The brick building farthest away in the picture is the former passenger terminal. The fence next to us encloses an area where several buildings, including a former distillery where a friend operated a bar back in the 1970s, stood until earlier this summer. Bricks falling from one of the buildings last fall left one person with permanent injuries and sent three others to the hospital temporarily. Safety was a big factor in the decision to demolish the buildings.

It was here that the tour officially ended and most people headed back toward the library. I used some of the time on the walk back to raise the subject of the Dixie Highway. Neither the article where I’d learned of the tour nor the library’s online description gave me any reason to expect the Dixie to be mentioned but, as a fan of the old road, I sort of hoped it would be. Krysta’s answer to my query was simply that they had not spent any time learning about the Dixie Highway. That matched what I was seeing. The focus of the tour and of the guides’ ongoing research was the individual buildings along the street. The beginning comments about the turnpike era were pretty much taken from a marker in that park with Duveneck’s statue. The Dixie Highway thing is minor and somewhat esoteric. The tour’s purpose was to inform participants about the buildings and it did that quite nicely.

Now for that opening picture. I noticed the moon on the walk west but merely gave it a glance. With a fortune teller in the background and without my attention being directed elsewhere, it hooked me solidly on the way back. Swami! How I love you, how I love you!