Alban opened the garage door to be hit in the face with the smell of dead worms. Wrinkling his nose Alban thought, “I’m glad the rain is over, this worm smell is gross.” With the garage door now open Alban stepped over the dead worms on the floor to take a look at the clear blue early morning summer sky. Aloud Alban said, “Not a cloud in the sky.”
With the happiness of the blue sky, Alban turned on his heel and bounced to his jade green 1969 Chevy Chevelle. With a flip of the wrist he opened the door to then slide in on the cool green vinyl seats. After three pumps of the accelerator Alban turned the key to produce a throaty V-eight engine roar. Once the black and blue exhaust smoke cleared away, Alban slipped the Hurst shifter to the left then up into reverse.
While first gear wined Alban double clutched and shifted in to second gear to then drive at a leisurely 25 mile per hour up his street to school. With the weather finally warm, Alban rolled down his driver’s side window to place his elbow partially out the window on the door.
Not looking at the passing scenery, it suddenly occurred to Alban that he had only 4 weeks left of high school before graduation. Alban thought, “Wow, time sure goes fast. Before you know it I’ll be 53 years old.”
Yet still only 18, Alban a class of 76 senior was happy that the last semester of his high school year was mostly just blow off classes. The morning consisted of first period off, then second and third period were Auto Mechanics. His fourth period was his favorite period which was lunch followed by Speech and English Classes.
The Auto Mechanics classroom was a 3 bay detached garage out past the football stadium made of gray cinder blocks with a flat roof. The building had once been a maintenance facility for the district’s busses. The district had contracted the busses to a private company and no longer needed the facility. Not wanting the garage or the tools inside to go to waste the district made the facility into an Auto Mechanics shop.
Alban slid his car into a parking spot in front of the Auto Shop’s gray granite gravel drive way 2 minutes after the tardy bell. The teacher Mr. Rapp who loosely ruled over the classroom was still in his office on the phone. Alban sat in his assigned seat, a gray folding chair with a bent seat and a back rest with greasy finger prints.
Inhaling the shop’s grease and oil smell Alban noticed a new smell. A gust of wind blew the familiar smell towards Mr. Rapp’s office prompting him to stumble out of his office to proclaimed loudly, “Who’s smoking?” A chorus of not me met his plea. After scanning the room Mr. Rapp walked out of the open garage door looking for the smoker outside. As he stepped outside Alban listened to his best friend Von sing, “Everybody knows that smoking ain’t allowed in school.”
Mr. Rapp for once had the whole classes’ attention as he walked outside to only find Fred the janitor finishing a smoke before he came in the shop to empty the trash that was supposed to have been empty the night before.
The class slowly turned around to face the podium disappointed in not getting to see a fellow student get in trouble.
After asking how Fred’s family was Mr. Rapp walked to the front of the class to call out names for roll call. All 14 students were in attendance that day even Cliff who was absent most of the time after enlisting in the Marines.
Finished with the roll Mr. Rapp said, “Now class, today we are going to discuss the basic fuel system. The fuel system is really critical to the engines operation.” For the next 20 minutes Mr. Rapp droned on lecturing to the class about the purpose and parts of a fuel system to finish with, “Do you have any questions? None? Then let’s go to work.”
With those words the class woke up out of their stupor to walk out to their cars parked in the drive way. Mr. Rapp took his 2 favorite students with him over to work on a World War II era 6x6 truck the district bought surplus to use to haul desks from the present high school to the new high school building that was scheduled to open the next year. Placing his attention on the truck Mr. Rapp left the remainder of the class to their own devices.
Gradually students checked their car’s oil and looked at their engine to then meander over to John McCabes primer gray and blue 55 Chevy. He had the car’s tilt front end open reviling a freshly rebuilt bored .60 over 454 Chevy rat engine.
Bored, Alban walked over to John’s car and asked, “What are you doing?” John replied, “I put this Tunnel Ram intake on last night and the linkage to the 2 Holley 650 Carbs keeps sticking.” As John worked the throttle linkage back and forth Alban said, “Should the main rod be as such an angle? John replied, “It has to be to not hit the distributer.” After a pause of concentration Alban said, “I’m sure that angled throttle rod is your problem.” Without looking at Alban John said, “I don’t think so. I think if I just oil the carb levers it will be OK.”
John took a black oil can and depressed the bottom to put a drop of oil on each lever connector. Finished John placed the oil can on the tire of his car to then work the throttle linkage back and forth several more times. Satisfied, he shouted to his friend Marty, who was sitting in the driver’s seat listening to WLS on the radio, “Start her up Marty! Let’s see how she runs now.”
Marty cranked over the engine to a wine, then a cough through the twin carburetors. John yelled, “Pump it.” Marty pumped the throttle 3 times before turning on the starter.
While the class looked in on the starting effort of the 55 it made a violent growl to life. To everyone’s horror the throttle was stuck wide open allowing the engine to scream with an ear piercing roar. Franticly, John tried to close the throttle by hand but it would not move. While John yanked at the linkage Mr. Rapp appeared to pull the coil wire off the distributor to kill the rampaging engine.
Everyone stared at the 55’s engine as it sat smoking in silence.
Breaking the silence, Mr. Rapp said, “What the hell did you do?”
As John explained his debacle, Alban and the class heard the ending bell ring releasing them to lunch.
As Alban and Von walked to the main campus they could hear John start up his engine. Von said, “Do you hear that knocking?” Alban replied, “Yea, I bet John threw a rod. What a shame, that motor being new and all.” “Yea a shame,” Von ventured. The two walked a few steps. Von said, “I hope they have hamburgers today for lunch. “ Alban said, “I hate that mystery meat they make the patties with.
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