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Story continued ...

When serendipity strikes

Meanwhile, Back in Ecum Secum...

       Nova Scotia, by any account, is generally regarded as a maritime jewel. Although the region had been visited by Europeans as early as the Vikings who knew the area as early as the first years of the first Millennium, the first real settlements began with King James the First's grant to Scottish nobleman, Sir William Alexander of Menstrie, Earl of Stirling, in 1621. The Royal Charter, like all official documents of the era, was written in Latin, giving the Earl of Sterling's new land the name it bears today -- Nova Scotia (New Scotland).

       Over the nearly 400 years since, the population has steadily grown, watching a fishing industry rise and decline to be supplanted by a burgeoning tourist trade the locals still struggle to come to terms with. Throughout it all, the rocky coasts, decorated with majestic spruces and firs, have enjoyed the first rays of sunlight to fall on the New World each day and the encrustations of sea salt the sea breezes bring ashore.

       That salt, coupled with the rock salt deposited on the region's roads each lengthy winter, continue to battle (and still enjoy the upper hand) the poster product of another export from the British Isles -- the Industrial Age. This emblem of "progress" is, of course, the automobile.

Dead Bolt
As good as it gets. A '74 3/4-ton Chevy abandoned on a farm on Prince Edward Island represents the cream of the crop for restorable trucks in the Maritimes.

       Nova Scotia weather is no respector of Industry or of history. Inarguably the greatest icon of the Maritimes, the Grand Banks schooner Bluenose, herself succumbed to Atlantic weather (albeit in the West Indies...) after beating it for more than 20 fishing seasons in some of the most treacherous reaches of the North Atlantic. So much less successful, most automobiles in the region fall victim to salt-induced cancer long before mechanicals fall to the onslaught of old age.

       Thus, when Nova Scotia Stovebolter Randy Jewers wanted to find a restorable Advance Design Chevrolet truck, his search was long, frustrating and ultimately, fruitless. Any pre-1990 trucks native to the area, it seemed, were "struggle buggies" -- mere rusted-to-paper-thin brown shadows of their former selves. One had about as much chance of finding the Earl of Sterling's family treasure among the rocks of Lunenburg Harbor as finding a decent restorable AD truck.

       I could hear the frustration, and the longing, in Randy's "voice" when he sent me an email detailing his successless search for a truck project in May 2006. He hoped he could find a decent project truck -- even one down in the "rebellious" colonies -- that he could bring home to his place in Nova Scotia. I empathized as I had been there myself. But I made a mental note of it and put the thought aside. Even as Editor of the Stovebolt Page, I didn't come across viable projects all that often. And when I did happen to chance upon one, other more eagle-eyed (e.g., predatory!) Stovebolters had already swooped in to grab them. Besides, my part of Dixie is the southern tier of the Rust Belt and good project trucks around here are about as bountiful as cod off a Halifax pier.

       Much to my own frustration at not being able to instantly help a buddy, sympathy was about as good as he was likely to get from me.

Of Macks, Petes, KW's Reo's and Stovebolts...       

       By Wednesday, May 24 2006, Henry and the rest of us had pretty much gotten Baltimore's Carroll Park ready for the invasion of antique iron. They had already started to arrive in force from such far away places as California and Massachusetts (more alike than either would care to admit...). With convoys backed up on Washington Boulevard even as early as 7 am, convention chairman John Vannatta zorched into our show official "encampment" with a big problem -- no one was assigned to work the gate! Without thinking, I was in motion. The words I would come to regret somewhat over the next long four days were out of my mouth before I knew it ...

       "I'm on it, Boss!" I answered, leaping into the Gator. Fellow Stovebolter Bill Marlow took shotgun.

       With Bill out in the street manning the "Outer Gate" and dealing with arriving trucks and the normal Baltimore commuter traffic (not always appreciative of antique iron blocking the streets), I had the "Inner Gate" and tried to sort out arriving show trucks, show workers, park workers, unloading vehicles and other assorted traffic. It was a hectic place.

       So when Henry took the phone call from Charley, looking for someone, anyone, who might be interested in adopting his father-and-son project, he immediately thought of me, the "Stovebolt Guy." Surely, he reasoned, if anyone would be interested in the truck it would be me. His thinking, and reasoning, proved to be a LOT clearer and and quicker than mine. Me? I was primarily interested, as was Bill Marlow, in not becoming a wheel chock for the next behemoth Kenworth to come through my gate. I could stand to shed a couple of pounds, but getting my guts squished all over Washington Boulevard wasn't high on my list of potential weight loss plans.

       So when Henry rolled up in his golf cart and yelled to me over the roar of Detroits, Cummins, Caterpillars and Thermodynes about a potential Stovebolt project some guy had in Laurel, the best I could do is yell back in my most brilliant and educated manner...

       "Huh?!"

       Mercifully, Henry wrote down the info for me and I squirreled it away in my pocket and immediately went back to preserving my life. I would get to it later, I promised myself.

       "Later" came about Tuesday, May 30th.

       I pulled out the note and gave the number a ring, thinking that if it was such a cool deal, it was probably already gone. Henry had said the guy was about to call the scrap man and suggested we could mount a rescue mission to retrieve the truck -- we could bring it back to his farm and figure out what to do with it later. Sounded like a plan!

       So I gave Charley a call...

       I figured I was setting wheels in motion. Looking back, I realize the wheels had been turning for some time and I was just jumping on a train that was well down the tracks already. Tracks that would lead to a few surprising places before reaching an inevitable destination.

To be continued ...

v. July 2007