Thank you for visiting our farm. Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman,
and I are always glad to see you ---
--- even more so now since we opened our new humble
Farmer Bed & Breakfast. I'm different from a lot of professional
entertainers because I know I'm not going to want to fly around the
country giving talks forever. My wife is 55 and not getting any younger. So
I figured that now would be a good time to set ourselves up in some small,
fun, people-oriented business that would pay the
taxes on our 80 acres here on the salt water.
You've got a minute. Jump up here into the
Model T with me and we'll run up to see the one room school and the church while Marsha
makes our blueberry pancakes.
This Model T has played a very important part in my life.
Without it, I would be an entirely different person today.
Here's how it came about.
Those of us who have driven our Model Ts for over 50 years have had it happen many times, but every time it happens we still laugh and shake our heads.
You've seen my 1919 white topless station wagon out front of my yellow house in St. George on Route 131 (now 785 River Road) and at every Owls Head Transportation Museum show every summer. For the record, I bought it in 1951 from Aunt Grace's son, Wis Kinney, who lived on Mechanic Street in Rockland. The price was $10, and because I didn't have $10, I borrowed it from Clayton Bitler. It was my second car.
Ever since I could remember it had been sinking into the ground out back of Aunt Grace's house, about 1,000 feet to the south'ard of where it sits out by the road or in my garage today. We used to play on it when I was little. The top had blown off in the hurricane of 1938. Aunt Grace called the remains Orphan Annie. The back fenders might have been taken off to run a sawing machine. Or I might have torn them off. I was an awful kid and I don't know how Aunt Grace put up with me. She might have felt partially responsible, because mother said I would have choked to death if Aunt Grace hadn't slapped my back when she delivered me.
When I was in grade school at Wiley's Corner, we had a scrap metal pile, to help defeat the Axis, out front in the schoolyard. (I'm talking about the good old days when Clayton Bitler would pay ten cents for a useless automobile tire. You're right --- low-life didn't throw tires on your back lot in those days.) And Sylvanus Polky tried to get his great-uncle Wis to donate Orphan Annie to our school scrap pile.
Had he done so, I certainly wouldn't be The humble Farmer today, because it was that Model T and not my looks or personality that picked up my first wife in 1964. She had sailed up to Tenants Harbor from Greenwich, Connecticut on the family yacht.
I was with David Lowell in Lowell Brothers garage, messing with that 5/8 brass nut that holds the gas line to the carburetor --- trying to get some garlock packing in --- when we saw three girls and a little boy walk by. Wham. You never see a Model T back together and running, leak be damned, in such time. When they came back --- Tenants Harbor is only so big and I knew they'd have to come back --- the Model T was blocking the path.
"Don't get too close --- she might explode."
Yes. That's what I said to those three girls and the little boy. And, my young friend, don't think you're going to pick up your beautiful, Shipley and Vassar-educated, wife-to-be off a yacht from Greenwich, Connecticut with a line like that if you're in a street rod, or one of those '50-something things with fish tail fins or even a completely restored 32 Caddy touring car.
But --- pay attention here, my young friend. Once the Model T has delivered them up into your hands, you're on your own. I must confess, for the record, that five years later, as an editor of Down East Magazine, my dear wife wrote an article titled, "Ossie Beal, Maine's Most Active Lobsterman," and after totally immersing herself in her topic, married him. How fitting that I returned her back to the sea.
During my 20 years as an old bach, my Model T continued to guide the course of my existence. On warm summer mornings I'd park it out front of the house like a great big white skunk trap, and by early afternoon it was likely to have snared a lovely picture-taking refugee. At some point, during a leisurely afternoon of back-road Model T touring, (and I don't mean this hair-raising 35-mph stuff that my friends in the Model T club call touring) one would learn that she was looking for a nice bed and breakfast with a beautiful view. I lived on rolled oats but some would settle for two out of three.
No, don't you even think such things. My wife Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, and I are very happy, and I only leave it out there today to advertise our new B&B.
But I started out reminding you how you and I laugh every time we see a Model T do it, and it happens because every Model T has its own personality. And the personality constantly changes. The other day I didn't get this car in out of the rain in time, the coils and the switch got wet, and I had a dangerous, unfamiliar animal on my hands. When I finally got her back to almost four cylinders, I put some garlock packing under that top round brass nut on the carburetor, (my carb is on the side of the manifold) so she wouldn't be sucking so much air.
And within a few days, that brand new Lowell Spicer engine was running as intended and I learned that she'd start after two flips with the choke and one without.
But the other day I wound her and I wound her and she wouldn't even cough. So I opened the hood, and she started.
© 2009 Robert Skoglund