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Bangin' Gears & Bustin' Heads

Bangin' Gears & Bustin' Heads

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Bangin' Gears & Bustin' Heads

219 página
3 horas
Lançado em:
Jul 11, 2013


Wanna read some car stories set in the 1960’s?

Wanna know how it really was back then? Wanna know what ‘61 409’s, ’62 406 Fords ran like off the showroom floor? Wanna read about illegal street races, fist-fights, sock hops, real cruising and Premium gasoline? Wanna know how most of us spent our weekends?

If you do...“Bangin’ Gears & Bustin’ Heads” will, at least, help most of you relive YOUR youth...and I know you had one! Here’s an excerpt as a tease:

I slammed the three-speed into second, hauled the steering wheel right and floored the gas pedal. Rocks and gravel flew, the car slid around the corner, dust kicked up. I was going to lose Dave right now!

The Merc’s tail slid left. I corrected, straightened her out and caught a glimpse of red reflectors. Dead ahead of me -- a stake bed truck -- no way to miss it. Going to be bad when the glass quits tinkling, dust clears and the car stops! I yelled “hold on.” Bobby screamed. I hit it.

The yelling quit, the sound of rushing wind ended, the exhausts quieted, the music from WLS-AM just...went...away. Every trace of noise stopped... deathly quiet. The car hurtled forward in slow motion.

I furiously worked the clutch, gas pedal, and the wheel. The side mirror went, vent window shattered, metal crunched. The cab of the truck loomed. We were still moving. I stomped the gas, turned the wheel and missed the majority of the cab.

I realized, as I rounded the last corner of the driveway on the way out, that I’d side-swiped the truck...Dave’s headlights disappeared. I poured the Merc around the corner, bounced onto the gravel road and didn’t look back. I shoved the gas pedal almost thru the floorboard, didn’t want to stick around to see what kind of damage the truck took. Certainly didn’t want to see what I did to Dad’s Merc. No doubt now -- Dad will have my ass big time tomorrow!

“Bangin’ Gears & Bustin’ Heads”...is a commentary on the early to mid 1960’s...a series of 26 episodes, with each episode explained, between the stories.

Lançado em:
Jul 11, 2013

Sobre o autor

The AUTHOR: R.A. Jetter is a monthly columnist for GoodGuy’s Gazette, for almost ten years; former Editor of an International Auto Club magazine; published author of fictional short stories and is currently re-writing two full length fictional novels set in the Denver area. In addition to writing, he illustrates automotive art for T-shirts, dove-tailing nicely with his lifelong passion for building and driving hot rods and fifties cars, going to as many local rod runs/events as possible. He moved from the Midwest to Aurora, Colorado in 1966.

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Bangin' Gears & Bustin' Heads - Roger Jetter

Bangin’ Gears & Bustin’ Heads

Roger A. Jetter

Copyright 2004 by Roger A. Jetter

Smashwords Edition

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase and additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords. com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

For my sisters, Kathy and Arlene,and brother, Dan.

For my son, Chris, and daughter, Melissa and for car guys everywhere.


The first time I ever read one of Roger’s stories I instantly heard a voice I had been waiting all my life to hear. I had been deeply interested in the lifestyle of hot rodder’s which pre-date me for as long as I can remember since I did not grow up in the same era. This desire to hear from a true voice comes from being a child of the seventies when reflections of the fifties and sixties were told in distorted and inaccurate Hollywood movies and television programs. Examples of these warped memories are Happy Days and Grease.

What these mass media tales lacked has always been the genuine cool factor and excitement of what it was like to be a young rodder, without any fear of mortality or real responsibilities, which set in all too soon in young adulthood. The rare examples of these tales being told a bit more accurately are classics -- Rebel Without a Cause and American Graffiti.

And where exactly did I hear these inspiring tales of wild youth, unbridled horsepower and adolescent passion? The Internet of course! Yes, the one place I never thought I would find the true heart of hot rodding was discovered while cruising the never-ending main drag of cyber space. The spot I most enjoy hanging out -- a side street of The Jalopy Journal known as the H.A.M.B. (Hokey Ass Message Board). Despite the goofy name, the H.A.M.B. is by far the most active Internet site devoted to traditional hot rods and kustoms to be found. I consider this one site to be the best barometer in the world of traditional rodding and always up to the minute of what’s goin’ on all around the entire globe.

I had been hangin’ around the H.A.M.B. for about a year when Roger started making a few posts. I don’t think I immediately picked up on what Roger had to say, but once I saw his postings receive a bunch of attention and racking up many responses, I figured I’d better investigate. From the minute I started reading I hoped his stories would never end. FINALLY somebody had written about exactly what I wanted to read. By the end of the first story I read, I was hooked. I did a search and found a couple others, posted previously. Those, too, were quickly devoured.

What I found myself wrapped up in, while reading these tales, were the vivid descriptions that put me right in the moment, along with the story. I felt like I was riding shotgun, as Roger’s words would relay exactly what was happening. I could tell what season it was, what the temperature might be, how fast the car was going as it sped through another adventure and much more.

For a while I would wait patiently like everyone else for the next installment of The Friday Nite Read, as Roger called them. Then it hit me! Why not ask this guy to write for me! You see, I am the Editor of the GoodGuys Rod & Custom Association’s magazine, the GoodGuys Goodtimes Gazette. This magazine spreads the word about GoodGuys’ 20-plus rod and custom events throughout the country to some 60,000 members. I thought if I enjoyed Roger’s stories so much there’s a pretty good chance a bunch of my readers would like them as well. So I contacted Roger to see what his feelings would be. At first he seemed not to believe me. A few e-mails back and forth and he was ready to give it a shot!

In my magazine, columns usually run 800 to 1000 words, but most of Roger’s stories were at least twice that long. What do we do? Split them in half and make the reader wait, run the risk of people only getting the first part or the last half of the story? No, that wouldn’t do. It was decided that with some slight editing we would run the stories in their entirety and increase the size of this one specific column. Then I had Roger put together some of the stories he had posted on the H.A.M.B. and I went through them making only very limited edits. It was really starting to get exciting for me because, soon, I would be sharing this great voice with all the Gazette readers monthly.

The gazettes went out with Roger’s first story and the response was an immediate hit! This is especially hard to gauge, because in the publishing world, people NEVER take the time to tell you when something is good, but they will hop up out of a deathbed to tell you when you’ve done something they don’t like. I’ve had people from the newest member all the way to the founder of the GoodGuys Rod & Custom Association: Gary GoodGuy Meadors himself raving about Roger’s stories!

I am very proud to have shared some of these stories with my friends and readers, and I am very happy that they will be going to a whole new group of readers with the publication of this book. I hope you will enjoy these tales as much as I have.

Jim Aust, Editor, GoodGuy’s Gazette


Growing up in the Midwest -- Iowa -- is something I’ve never regretted. There’s so much to be said about living in a small town, much more to be said about the quality of life…and truckloads to be said about the naiveté surrounding small town life.

My Dad was a mechanic…a body-man…and a truck driver…a jack-of-all-trades…and a home-builder. His guidance through my early life shaped who I am. Although I didn’t understand everything he taught me every day, most of it stuck. He was a guiding light in the darkness and I’ve missed him since his death…caused by rheumatic fever…of heart failure at the young age of 52. I was 23 years old.

After we’d buried Dad, I decided I wanted out of small town life…with Mom’s support, I finished commercial art school in Omaha, NE, sent queries to Denver ad agencies, got promising replies and moved to Colorado. Once there, it took less than two days to land a job in a small ad agency…best part they handled advertising for Colorado’s premiere drag racing strip: Continental Divide Raceways…can you say perfect?

It took several years of living the wild life in Denver before finally settling down…met who I thought was the right girl and got married. As a result, I got two great kids out of the deal…unfortunately, old cars coursed thru my veins and, in a round-about way, contributed to a divorce. I still have rust and old cars in my veins…the disease has gotten worse…old cars have been my life...I build them and play with them constantly… twice on Sundays…probably will ‘til the day I die.

The following stories are about the hellion I was. Episodes-- because they were episodes…events that happened in my life, and in turn, happened to my parents. I don’t know how I came to be a miscreant…perhaps it was peer pressure… needless to say, I was a PITA to both my parents, and most times, my siblings.

Dad and I went ‘round and ‘round many times after I turned 16 and got my driver’s license. Even though we had some raise-the-roof arguments, he never once laid a hand on me, nor did our arguments ever come to fisticuffs and there was more than once I thought I’d wake up in a hospital bed. Suffice to say, each of us got an education, most times, the hard way.

These stories are true for the most part…and there are enhancements to some episodes, sort of like retro-fitting memories… but this is the way I remember it happening…these episodes then, are my Rites of Passage, my celebration of life lived, after the fact.

One other thing: I’m a spelling whiz, something I pride myself on, in all probability the only thing I’m good at. That alone, allows me license to misspell words in each episode…I tend to shorten nite, blak, thot (thought), enuff (enough), etc. and etc., each is quite intentional and adds mystique to Midwestern slang.

I have no idea what prompted my behavior in the following episodes…it certainly wasn’t something planned …but it happened…all in the name of fun. A small town like Denison definitely lacked things to do…and all we were trying to do was make our own fun…at least, it was fun at the time.

While growing, and learning how to live life, from age 14 to 24, several lessons have offered themselves…allow me to point them out as these episodes unfold.

My young adult life started innocently enough, turn the page and take the journey with me.


The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. Where shall I begin, please your Majesty? he asked. Begin at the beginning, the King said, very gravely, and go on till you come to the end; then stop.

Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

Episode 1


I was on the way home from school one winter Iowa day…taking a short cut thru this dirty little trailer park in our small town, something the owner of the trailer park didn’t want us kids to do. He was certain every one of us 15 year-olds were nothing but Hoods…and he didn’t want to have to foot the bill for all the broken windshields the trailer dwellers of the park had been getting. He accused us! He’d even gone so far as to build an eight foot fence around the block square property and put up a gate…’cept, none of the trailer parkees ever closed the gate…and someone had already busted a hole in the fence at the back of the property for the short cut.

Juvenile delinquency, at least in our small town, didn’t exist in 1958…pranksters did, but I didn’t know anyone that would bust out windshields for grins. My Dad taught me respect, busting up someone else’s property was just wrong and if I was ever involved in that kind of stuff I’d get a good busting up…from him.

I spotted a 1940 Ford pick-up sitting alongside one trailer home, it looked to be in good shape. I checked under the hood…the engine was still there…and the carb…and the radiator…hell, it was complete…should run.

Did I know anything about making it run? Nope! I just knew what those parts looked like and they were on the engine. The body was good, all the fenders were different colors and the bed looked like someone had splattered different colors of paint all over it, for what reason I didn’t know, but it wasn’t rusted or dented. The interior wore one of those dull, woven, plaid, paper seat covers in red, green, blue and orange colors and the stock rubber mats were all but worn out on the driver’s side. The glass was good and it even had a radio! I need this truck! Looked like it hadn’t moved in weeks, maybe months.

At just fifteen, my social skills hadn’t yet been developed, I was still playing Cowboys and Indians with my younger brother in the thick woods behind our house, two blocks from the river. But, there were urgings, something about that old truck tugged at them and in less than twelve months I’d be eligible for a driver’s license.

Big Deal! Dad won’t teach me to drive. But, there’s those urgings…and I was beginning to notice…gulp…uhm…girls. Those urgings were…strange…made other parts of my body do strange things! I needed…I needed…I needed -- 1) someone to teach me how to drive, 2) a driver’s license, 3) a car (or…why not? A truk!), 4) a girlfriend, 5) money! I didn’t have any of that…I needed it…bad! I could feel it.

I watched the pickup for weeks…from the start of school thru to spring break…the tires went flat, someone broke out the windshield, then all the windows…my pickup was slowly being destroyed.

Did I have the guts to knock on the trailer door and ask the old man if he wanted to sell the now beat up old truck? Are you kidding? Did I have any money? Are you kidding? When the front bumper came up missing toward the end of the school year that spring, I got pissed. I beat on the door of that trailer one Friday afternoon determined I was going to own that truck.

I smashed my piggy bank…yeah, you read that right...a pink one…had it for a long time. Twenty-seven bucks saved …odd jobs, allowance, nothing regular… stuffed it in my jeans. In Iowa, you COULDN’T work until you were sixteen (child labor laws and all)…and you couldn’t own a car until you were twenty-one…nor drink…nor buy liquor…nor vote…nor…! By virtue of my adolescence, I was under-age and semi-wealthy all at the same time…and 27 bucks was one hell of a lot of money in 1959. My Dad was a mechanic…earned $95.00 a week, more if he put in overtime. I had one third of that stuffed in both jeans pockets.

Took four days, after school, of banging on that door before some fat slob, holding a long neck bottle, answered.

What the hell you want? he asked, peering thru the holey screen door…looked like he hadn’t shaved in days, smelled bad, his pants hung down below his great belly, dragged on the ground and his undershirt was stained yellow.

H-H-How much you want for the pickup there?

Who sez I want to sell it?

It’s getting destroyed sitting there, I offered.

How do you know it’s not me doing it? He stepped off the landing, cutting a big fart on the way down. I’m selling a few parts off it…you want the whole thing?

Well, yeah. I’ve got some money saved…I’d like to have it.

How much you got? What you want that piece of shit for?

I answered the wrong question first. Twenty-seven dollars, I offered, followed by, I want to build a hot rod out of it.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. But I was young, dumb and naïve, didn’t know anything about the art of negotiation.

Ain’t enuff, he belched. I need thirty-five.

I was short…eight dollars short…mite just as well have been eight hundred…where was I going to get eight more dollars? I saw my dream truck fading…my hot rod going away.

How about payments? I asked.

I never heard a laff so loud, it shook every trailer house in the compound, the ‘40 pickup and hurt my ears. Then he grinned at me.

Tell you what. You give me your 27 bucks, I’ll hold the truk. When you get the balance, you come back, see me and haul the damned thing out of here.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. But as I said -- young, dumb and naïve, and knew very well Dad would skin me alive if he ever found out I bought a vehicle…and too late and too stupid to back out of a deal I initiated, but, I’d own a truk…a hot rod, and I could leave it rite there…and maybe work on it… Dad didn’t need to know. You’ll give me a receipt?

He scribbled something on a piece of yellow Big Chief tablet…I think it’s a receipt…still can’t read it and I still have it to this day.

Eventually other things in my life took precedence…girls, a driver’s license, girls, sock hops, girls, something relatively new called rock n’ roll, girls…pal-ing around with older guys that had a driver’s license and a car…girls…hot rod magazines and more girls!!!

I never worked on the truk. I never did get the rest of the money and I grew afraid of the big, vulgar, ugly man becuz I couldn’t come up with any more money. I quit taking the short cut...I didn’t want him to see me nor talk to me. Desire for a hot rod faded.

Over the years I wondered what ever happened to my truk…one day it was gone, disappeared…guess old fatty knew I wasn’t coming back and sold it again. I knew what happened to my 27 dollars…he drank it.

One afternoon, I walked by the Ford dealer’s used car lot on the way home from school…there sat this gorgeous blak ’34 Ford four-door. It looked exactly like the one Dad had when I was a tyke…and they wanted only $125.00 dollars for it. I told Dad about it, we went down to look at it and he had told me he’d help me buy a car if I used the 27 bucks I’d saved in my piggy bank…that only leaves 98 more dollars you need to come up with. If you’ll stop by on your way home from school, you can do odd jobs for me at work. Ulp! Think I’m in trouble here!

Episode One Thots

I really don’t know how my interest in cars, or anything automotive got started…and I really can’t say exactly when it started. I seem to recall sometime during the 14th year of my life, noticing all things automotive, especially a relatively new thing called hot rods and customs, via the magazine rack in our local soda shop –The Candy Kitchen. I’d assume it must have all started through Dad’s everyday job and interests…he was a consummate gear-head, loved anything mechanical although he never really had any toys. Being a gear-head was just his way of making a living and providing for his family.

Mom told me my first word was ‘motorcycle’…and that’s understandable since Dad rode an Indian motorcycle back and forth to work for many years, until shortly after my younger sister was born. His primary job was as a mechanic…one of the best in our small Midwestern town of 4,500. That’s how he earned money for his family…six of us…two sisters, a younger brother, me, Mom and Dad. He didn’t believe in buying anyone’s services either (a professional—plumber, electrician, etc.) …if he couldn’t do it…it just plain didn’t get done or we didn’t need it.

Each and every one of his brothers were the same…we always went to their homes to help them do something. On hot summer weekends, it became a picnic with cousins and relatives. Dad’s brothers always lived in big Midwestern houses with huge lots, trees and lawns. Garages got built. Roofs replaced. Bathrooms were installed, kitchens modified. Plumbing was handled. Most times in the course of one weekend. If it didn’t get done then, there was always the next weekend. On Dad’s side of the family, there never was a lack of things to be done.

Automobiles were a big part of Dad’s life…and each of his brother’s. If it wasn’t working

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