Sunday, January 25, 2009

Let's Begin With a Memory or Three

As captioned in the NYT: Russo and Steele managed to get $49,000 for a 1961 Triumph TR3A.
I might not have read the article in the New York Times on collectible cars at auction (from whence the pic above was taken) had it not been for that TR-3 you see above. Well, that’s not entirely true… as I’ll read most anything automotive, most especially about sports cars, muscle cars, and other such automotive erotica. But I loves me some Triumphs!
I have a soft spot in my heart for TR-3s, as the second car I owned was a beautiful 1957 model TR… which differs slightly from the ‘61 pictured above. My father and I spent many a weekend working on my TR. I exaggerate more than slightly when I say “my father and I,” because it was HIM and one of his buddies who did the lion’s share of the work. I helped whenever I could, usually — always — on weekends when I wasn’t working and could catch a ride from Vandenberg AFB down to the ancestral home in El-Eh to help out. The car was finally finished and in reasonable condition (albeit without a heater, working or otherwise) sometime during the summer of 1965 when I took it “home” to Vandenberg. There are no surviving pictures of the car, alas.
(Side note: Here’s a GREAT pic of a 1957 TR-3. Mine was identical to this one, down to the mirrors on the front fenders and the pressed steel wheels… no “wires” for me. And mine wasn’t white/cream… it was painted 1964 Falcon Gold, a rather flashy color available on 1964 Ford Falcons that went quite well with the (stock) blue leather interior.
Apropos of something… Jay Leno owns one, too.)
I have lots of good…no, GREAT… memories of that car and two very bad ones. First the good: I met The First Mrs. Pennington while dragging Main Street (Ocean Avenue, actually) in Lompoc, California in that car. Briefly: I had an old desk phone sitting on the transmission tunnel in the car. One evening while a buddy of mine and I were “doing the cruise” I pulled up next to The First Mrs. Pennington and a gaggle of her friends at a red light, with the phone up to my ear. I looked over at her, took the phone away from my ear, held it out and said “it’s for you.” She took the receiver without thinking… not realizing (a) the phone didn’t work and (b) that was about as tacky a come-on line as there ever was. But it worked, Gentle Reader. The rest, as it’s said, is history. (Keep in mind… this was in 1965 when only the VERY rich had car phones. As a young airman with only two stripes on his sleeve I was barely in the “solvent” category, let alone rich.)
The bad: I threw the car off a 50-foot embankment one frosty morning in January of 1966 when I hit a sheet of ice on my way up the mountain to work. I rolled it three times, once laterally and twice end-over-end. The TR was totaled; I walked away with only a scratch on the little finger of my left hand… that from maintaining a death-grip on the steering wheel while flying through the air and down the embankment. Wrecking the car was bad enough… but having to call my father to tell him I’d wrecked it was probably worse, as he loved that car as much (if not more) than I did. He got over it, though… as did I. I walked for the next few months until The First Mrs. Pennington and I were married. But Dang! That car sure was fun… while it lasted.
Good news for us caffeine junkies coffee drinkers:
After controlling for numerous socioeconomic and health factors, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure, the scientists found that the subjects who had reported drinking three to five cups of coffee daily were 65 percent less likely to have developed dementia, compared with those who drank two cups or less. People who drank more than five cups a day also were at reduced risk of dementia, the researchers said, but there were not enough people in this group to draw statistically significant conclusions.
Dr. Miia Kivipelto, an associate professor of neurology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and lead author of the study, does not as yet advocate drinking coffee as a preventive health measure. “This is an observational study,” she said. “We have no evidence that for people who are not drinking coffee, taking up drinking will have a protective effect.”
Well, I suppose the news is sorta good, as there wasn’t a category for people who drink ten to 12 cups a day. That would be me, Gentle Reader. That’s been my habit for almost longer than I can remember… going back to at least 1964, when I first hit “the field” in the Air Force. I hope there’s no “excess” effect… but then again, is there such a thing as “excess” when it comes to coffee? I think not… not for YrHmblScrb, anyway.
Remember earlier this week I remarked on just how quickly the White House web site changed? And how a lot of people, myself included, wondered what happened to the “old” WhiteHouse-dot-gov? Wonder no more. You can access the old White House site through the George W. Bush Presidential Library site. There is a disclaimer, though:
To preserve the historical record of the George W. Bush administration's presence on the web, the White House took a "snapshot" of the web site. This is historical material, "frozen in time." The web site is no longer updated and links to external web sites and some internal pages will not work.
Well, yeah. We kinda figured that would be the case… but it IS nice to know the information has been preserved. And where to get it.


  1. Car memories. Sigh. I won't talk about my only serious car loss, but I'll point you to British convertible memory from my friend DBT:

  2. p.s. your anti-death grip must be amazing.

  3. Wow - only a scratch from that?! Miraculous.

    Cars - well they are a favorite subject for myself. Nothing quite as exotic as a Triumph - but the 1973 Cougar Convertible with the customer 351 Cleveland engine - was quite special for a 17 year old high school student.

  4. Phil: THANK you for that link! P.J. is one of my favorite auteurs, as well... but especially coz he's a Republican. And a very funny one.

    re: my death grip and that scratch. The scratch came from a ring I wore on my left hand that dug into my pinky... as a function of said death-grip. I would say the brief moments I spent airborne were the most terrifying of my life, but that's NOT true. It happened so damned fast it was over before I had a chance to get well and truly scared. But afterward? I had to scramble up the embankment on my hands and knees. My legs were too wobbly to stand upon.

    Kris: You were pretty fortunate as a 17 year old, weren't ya? ;-)

  5. I can see how your TR3 would be a woman-pleasin' car. Toby's 74 cream colored Camero had a bit to do with impressing me. Rolling your TR3 sounds horrifying - you seem to have some very powerful angels looking after you.

    As to the coffee stats, I love it. My dad and his coffee drinking buddies always seemed pretty sharp, so maybe it is true. But why is there not enough people who drink more than five cups a day to draw statistically significant conclusions? Makes it sound like the coffee killed them, but their minds were clear.

  6. I read about the coffee/reduced dementia link a while back. The article I read speculated that folks who drink that much coffee might be drinking it with other people, which means talking, engaging their brains, etc. Hence keeping them sharp. Speculation, as I said!

  7. Dang, Buck. Just to walk away from a triple-flip down an embankment is miracle enough, and then to have nothing more than a scratch from your ring? Wow.

    As for the caffeine intake, you can put me in the same class as you - but only on some days. I'd say I do about 6 on average.

  8. Lou sez: Rolling your TR3 sounds horrifying - you seem to have some very powerful angels looking after you.

    As to the coffee stats, I love it. My dad and his coffee drinking buddies always seemed pretty sharp, so maybe it is true.

    Agreed on the angels, Lou. Everyone at the scene of the accident, including the CHP officer, was amazed I walked away. The fact the car came to rest on its wheels, rather than upside down, had a LOT to do with that...

    I get the feeling your Dad was pretty danged sharp with or without coffee...

    Christina sez: The article I read speculated that folks who drink that much coffee might be drinking it with other people...

    I'm like George Thorogood in that I Drink Alone... ;-)

    Jim: Yeah... that accident was rather incredible. Life could well have been over before it had really begun...

  9. Buck - I was a very lucky girl. I had a dad that was a very serious motorhead; and his children would not be seen tooling around town in something not quite up to snuff. My brother's first car was a 1969 Barracuda.

    Daddy had a reputation to maintain!


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