Garageology, Pt. 1
For those following along at home, you’ll remember that we recently sold our old SUV. And yes, we did replace it with a new car.
Now ideally, a new car should live in a garage, of course. But here’s the thing: since the vehicle we got rid of was 14 years old and the one we still have is 11-going-on-rust-bucket, keeping one of them – much less both of them – in the garage hasn’t been a priority for years.
And because nature abhors a vacuum, when there isn’t a car in the garage other things just naturally fill in the space. In the case of our garage, all of those things brought their relatives. And friends. So, before our new car came to live with us, my wife and I had to undertake what turned out to be nothing less than an archeological dig – right there in our garage. But before I regale you with details, I should explain why garages hold such a special place in my heart.
Growing up in my childhood home near Two Strike Park, my second-favorite place in our house was the garage – first favorite was my bedroom with its entire ceiling painted as a giant American flag. (Don’t ask; it seemed like a good idea at the time.)
The garage was where Dad and a brother or two always had some fascinating project in progress, from welding a dune buggy out of VW parts to creating a Frankenstein 4×4 from a mishmash of other vehicles; building a hovercraft junior high science project and even rebuilding an honest-to-goodness Piper Cub airplane from rudder to propeller. All in our La Crescenta garage! I learned how to use and maintain tools of every kind in that garage, from wood and metal lathes to drill presses, band saws, grinders, welding torches and enough power and hand tools to stock a hardware store.
We organized camping gear and food packets for our many backpacking trips on the floor of that garage. Besides being neater and cleaner than most homes – my Dad painted the garage floor with a shiny epoxy coating so that it could be easily swept clear of any and all debris, and oils, fuels or other liquids wiped up without a trace. I’ve been in kitchens less sanitary.
That same garage was also where my band – truly a “garage band” – rehearsed as often as possible, which meant rehearsals were preferably scheduled when Dad was gone and had to be wrapped up before he returned. (“Jim, loudness is not goodness!) I remember playing for hours with the garage door down and when we finally took a break and swung the heavy, wooden door open, there was a small crowd of neighborhood kids in our driveway who had come by to see what all the racket was about. Once there was an L.A. County Sheriff’s car parked there, but that’s a story for another time.
Dad’s garage was more organized than the Library of Congress. I spent many a weekend day in that garage doing a list of chores as long as my arm in order to earn allowance money or simply free time. One summer in particular, those chores included sorting through many thousands of nuts, bolts, washers and other fasteners and separating them into their own coffee cans (remember those?) by size and type: ¼-inch vs. 10 mm, slotted vs. Phillips, carriage bolt vs. lag screw, Allen vs. hex head, star washer vs. lock washer, ad nauseam. That task took the better part of an entire summer, but it earned me a new backpack for our scheduled hike of the John Muir Trail a month later.
So, having been raised to appreciate the merits of a neat, clean and well-organized garage, you might logically ask how my own garage became the largest, most cluttered time capsule of all time? We’ll sort through that mess next week.
I’ll see you ’round town.