A Slick ’60’s Kind of MLB Opening Day 2012   Leave a comment

Folks that know me know that I’m a sports nut – football, hockey, motorsports of all kinds, and obscure stuff like Olympic biathlon. I even like soccer until I can’t put up with the flopping anymore. But of all sports the one above all others is baseball. Jim Bouton summed it up best in his classic book Ball Four, “You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.” I could go on for hours talking about the finer points of the game but that’s not what this is post is really about.

For the past several years it has been my annual tradition to take off from work on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. This usually consists of waking up a little later, laying in my recliner with a soft drink at hand, and eating various snacks as I watch as many baseball games as I can find on television. But this year had a welcome addition to the normal flow of the day. The afternoon before, Dad called to ask if I wanted to go look at a Slick after work. It might have some parts I need for JP. Knowing I had the next day off and that my baseball festivities wouldn’t start until around noon, I suggested going the next morning instead and so we set a time.

I picked Dad up mid-morning and we made the short drive to where the Slick was supposed to be. Except I didn’t see a Slick. Dad told me to turn down a little gravel driveway and drive up and around to the back of a house on the property. Soon the gravel disappeared but Dad told me to keep driving so I did until we rounded a corner in the field and there he sat.

Now I knew why Dad told me to wear long pants and boots instead of my normal Chuck Taylor’s. And this shot doesn’t even show the briar bushes we had to walk through to get to this point. Some 28 years ago, so the story goes and as apparently verified by the 1983 license plate, the owner had backed his 1965 custom cab into this spot and left it. The Slick had fared better than the building that was apparently near it. You can see the remains on the right side of the picture.

Here’s a shot of Dad as we start to make our way over to the truck.

I asked Dad what he was doing with that rake and he said, “Snakes.” Not a bad idea for springtime in Alabama but I couldn’t help wishing it was a .45. The next picture shows Dad raking the leaves and pine needles out of the floorboard. He may have been getting rid of the leaves and trash but I was looking for movement.

Believe it or not, there is still carpet under that trash. We couldn’t see rust and I wasn’t about to crawl under the truck but I would bet dollars to doughnuts the floor pans are gone. The next picture shows what happens after 28 years under trees when the driver’s window is partially rolled down and the passenger’s side window is halfway broken out.

I noticed a few things in the cab. First was the original steering wheel and horn ring that I need. Some cleaning, paint and polishing and it can be good as new. The trim pieces on the door and dashboard can be used on JP.  The turn signal lever cam felt tight and working as opposed to JP’s which is worn out and needs replacing. Even the gauge cluster looked in pretty good shape.  We’re having trouble with JP’s fuel and temperature gauges so we can swap those out to see if that fixes the problem.  It also had the vent hole covers in the cab in front of the doors (not seen in the picture). I need those, too. We carefully eased the back of the seat forward, again looking for movement first, and the gas tank looked to be in good condition on the outside. It’s probably got some varnish in it from the old gas but it didn’t look rusty. Finally, check out the 8-track tape player mounted below the dash. It can be seen through the steering wheel. I could almost hear Bachman-Turner Overdrive playing.

I then went to check out the bed.

I was expecting the worst in the floor of the bed because of all the leaves and pine straw. The bed must have already been rusted out because the owner had previously put plywood down in the floor. It was rotted too as you can imagine.  I reminded myself that the truck was already almost 20 years old when it was parked. I did have a little hope at the back end because I noticed while the tailgate was down, as in the second picture above, the top edge of the tailgate was in better shape than JP’s. If you’ve looked at my To-Do List you know that I’ve got some holes to patch on the outside of the tailgate. If this truck’s tailgate was in good shape it would almost be worth the cost of the truck by itself. Here’s what I found when I lifted it up.

So much for that. Next up I looked at the cab corners, or at least the one I could get to easily. These are notorious for rusting on old Slicks. Here’s what I found which believe it or not is not that bad.

JP’s weren’t that good. Next up, I wanted to take a look at the motor. Here’s what I found.

I apologize for the quality of the first photo but I’m a little hit and miss with the iPhone. You can see it’s the classic inline six cylinder that came in no telling how many of these Slicks. According to the data plate it’s a 240 C.I. You can see the original oil bath air cleaner in the bottom left corner of the first picture. The second picture shows what I remember from the ’65 we had when I was growing up. Look at all the real estate in the engine bay with that little motor. I can remember Dad sitting on the fender wells under the hood as he worked on ours (I mean his). As I said earlier, the owner said he backed the truck into this spot when he abandoned it so I hope the motor isn’t seized up from the years of sitting. It would make a good little motor for someone else’s project.

Here’s a closer picture of the front.

The hood isn’t actually bowed like it shows in this picture. We got our “snake killer” wedged between it and the cowl so it didn’t shut all the way. From this shot you can really get a feel for the “patina” that is so popular with the rat rod crowd today. I call it rust but to each his own. You can see a dent in the fender that shouldn’t be too hard to fix for someone who knows what they’re doing. The grill, headlight doors, and trim work are in pretty fair shape. I think they can be brought back to life with some buffing and polishing. The bumper is also in good shape and as an added bonus has this on it:

A George Wallace bumper sticker. I haven’t seen one of those in a while.

This last shot was supposed to be of the other side of the truck but I was afraid to get over there too far because of nails and such (which you can actually see sticking up out of the wood at the bottom center of the photo). I didn’t really want to have to go to the emergency room for a tetanus shot. Or snake bite antivenom.

The picture actually wound up being more about Dad and his willingness to crawl in, over, and under just about anything to find out what he wants to know. If it hadn’t been so dangerous, it would have been funny if a green snake had fallen out of the sagging headliner on him to see what would happen. I don’t know who would have gotten hurt worse – Dad or me when he ran me run over.

And really, that’s what this post is about (Dad, not the snake). Whether I pull the trigger and buy this truck or not I got to spend some time with Dad tromping around an old home place looking at an aged truck that reminds me of my childhood. If Jim Bouton had been a gear head instead of a baseball player, he might have written something about the memories of an old truck he drove instead of a piece of horsehide. Opening Day 2012 was a good day and it had nothing to do with baseball.


Posted April 9, 2012 by jglee920 in General

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