At 17, in 1973, I really wanted a car. My dad told me I could have one, but he was not going to pay for it. So I got a job, saved up $600.00 and bought a 1958 MGA for $600.00. Since it broke all the time and I had no more money to pay to have it repaired, I registered at my local technical school and took a night class in "Foreign Car Mechanics" so I could learn to fix it myself. My teacher was Tom. We have remained friends ever since and have really become family.
Fast forward a few years. I was a United Methodist Missionary in Nigeria with the assignment of creating a school of vocational education and teaching auto mechanics. One afternoon at the workshop, one of my students, JJ, asked me who taught me mechanics. I told him all about Tom. JJ asked me if I still kept in touch with him and I said "yes." He wanted Tom's address so he could write him a letter. He informed Tom that he had now become JJ's grandfather because he taught me and I taught JJ. JJ said it was as if Tom was the trunk of the tree and I was a branch connected to the trunk and JJ was a branch connected to my branch. Tom was quite honored to be JJ's grandfather. No telling how many young Nigerian men JJ has now taught. I've been away from there for many years now, but isn't it great fun to realize that cars not only provide all kinds of good things in our lives, but they, in some ways, connect us as if we're family, and just maybe we are.
What a wonderful story, thank you for sharing! It is amazing to see how automobile repair is such a universal language, it really does make us one family!
You're quite welcome Sajeev. Yes it is really good, especially these days, with so much that tends to divide us, that something as simple as working on old cars provides a wonderful community and can include people that we never would have thought about, like my students in Nigeria.
I couldn't decide which of these comments to reply to so I randomly choose this one. Continuing the sayings about one pebble in a pond and those ripples it makes upon the sea, like just one single grain of sand, it takes many to make a beach.
It takes a world full of car guys to keep this hobby going. Even at my age, I continue bench racing with old high school friends from years ago.
Hey, ModelT, you've got the right idea. We can't always agree 100% on everything, nor should we, but we have to continue to pull together in the general continuation of "car culture". Show people, racers (straight-aheads, roundy-rounders, and twisty-turners), tuners, drifters, rodders, cruisers, restorers, collectors, wrenchers, and all of the other related classifications one can think of - we all want this love to continue.
I've had a bit of a hiatus from it due to the whole pandemic thing, but whenever possible, I also meet with both old and new buds pretty regularly and we talk not only about the "old days" of cars, but of what's new and what's yet to come. And when we can't meet in person, an Email string makes a decent substitute.
In fact, I notice who's frequently posting on this forum (like you) and think, "That's the way to keep involved - engage with folks from all aspects of the hobby (and employment) and air out the subjects".
A lot of us know the old saying, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
It is amazing that HE knows who, what, when, to put in our lives that help us help others. Of course, we know it is all part of the plan. Thank you for an inspiring story.