While Car Show attendance is great, putting a wrench in a kid’s hand is better.
Every year on the second weekend of September in the small town of Brigham City, Utah there is a huge car show. The Peach Days Picnic started off as one of those traditional small town shows that happens in conjunction with the city’s annual fruit, vegetable, or other locally produced product celebration; in this case Peach Days. Since its origins back in the early 80s however the show has grown to be one of, it not the largest, free to show and free to see car shows west of the Mississippi and the largest show, paid or free, in Utah. The show is a huge under taking each year with the last few years marking some of the number of cars nearing the 1000 mark but is surprisingly pulled off by only a small number of people. The club behind the show is the Bonnevills Rod & Custom Car Club and members of my family have been there not only from the beginning but also all along the way in many capacities. Three of my uncle’s and one of my aunts have been President for one or more 2 year terms with each also serving as everything from Treasurer to Show Committee Chair to general committee member.
I guess what I’m saying is its in my blood and its not going anywhere.
When I was a kid my father had Henry who was a 1955 Ford F100. My mom tells stories of driving the truck around and how poorly the defrost worked for more than a little 4″ square spot right over the vent. As a kid I don’t actually have any memories of the truck running and driving nor do I know what it was like to ride in him from back then. However I do recall going to Peach Days every year and other car shows along the way. (I also remember having a ‘hut’ under the truck and his empty engine bay when he was hardly more than a shell on the side of the house.)
I’m not a gearhead because I went to car shows, I’m a gearhead because my dad ‘built’ me into one.
Let me explain that a bit. There is a great movement called Take a Kid to a Car Show that is trying to encourage show hosting body’s to make events more kid friendly and gearhead parents to bring their kids to car shows with the proposed out come of growing the gearheads of the future. Let me first say this, this is a great idea and I support the movement fully, however I don’t think that is enough to spark the gearhead spirit in a child and it might be the least of the things you can do to grow that future generation of wrench monkeys.
A few years ago I got an itch to build my son a hot rod wagon. Through the local classifieds and Craigslist I was able to find an old lady that was selling a vintage wagon she’d been using as flower pot holder in her yard. For 40 bucks, some square tubing, a bottle of rust converter, and some bearing loaded rubber wheels from Harbor Freight I built this:
Its not the most ‘out there’ wagon but he loved it! We took the wagon to a few car shows and I hoped that having him in the wagon would give him a better experience and he would have more fun and he did. Let me also say this, my son is still very young so I don’t expect him to start spouting off historical automotive facts anytime soon however I’m trying to lay a foundation with actual building and wrenching.
“When you fix something with your hands it gives you a sense of accomplishment and a sense of self worth.” – Jay Leno
My father was a busy man when I was kid. Because of how career driven my dad was Henry languished in his unfinished state for a long time, eventually to be sold to my dad’s brother-in-law in the early 90s. As happens with everyone, I got older, and around 1997 or 1998 my dad bought Henry back from my uncle. We drove to Salt Lake City, where my uncle lived, and hauled the truck, which hadn’t been touched since we let him go to, our home and started the build. Henry was finished in time to haul me and my date to Senior Prom and then my father for thousands of miles as a daily driver. Henry represents some of my finest memories of working with my dad and also the first automotive project I ever did.
But even the car shows and Henry aren’t why I’m a gearhead.
As a kid I watched my father build stuff he was in need of. I watched my mother paint a room instead of hire someone. We are D.I.Y.’ers. There was one time that all my friends were getting new bicycles and I wanted one too, like kids often do. I don’t know if we couldn’t afford a new one or if my father saw a chance to teach me about work and effort, I like to think the latter, but instead of buying me whatever I wanted he convinced me to tear my bike apart, clean it up, paint it, and build it in to something new. I remember the day my mom helped me put the bar pads on the bike that she had surprised me with and I rolled out of the garage with a bike that made all my friends with their fancy new ones jealous. On another occasion I remember when something as small as a match box car, a Lamborghini as I recall, had chipped paint. My mom handed me some sand paper and promised to paint it any color I wanted when it was sanded and when it was done I had the sweetest Lambo in the neighborhood. On a third occasion my father pulled a radio out of his beater red Toyota pickup and gave it to me with some screw drivers while he put a new unit in the truck. When he was done he came to look at what I had done, what he told me (whether true or not) was something I remember to this day. My dad looked down at me with a smile on his face and told me I had found the problem with the radio and that I could fix it if I wanted to. Again, that may or may not have been true but the idea that I had ‘found the problem’ or that I could have fixed it was powerful. What that taught me was that in spite of fact that I knew that I knew nothing about something, I could still use logic and courage to press forward to a solution.
These three stories, only a few from my life, taught me that the two most powerful things a person can have is logic and the courage to try.
That is how my father ‘built’ me into a gearhead. My parents taught me though doing, through action, through experience how to see the potential of something, how to visualize the process to actualizing what I saw, and showed me that a small amount of courage goes along way.
“Just get in there. It ain’t gonna blow up” – Unknown
So when you are taking your kids to a car show consider also taking them into the garage and giving them a task, who knows maybe one day you’ll find your kid underneath a Cozy Coupe with a wrench!