Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crosley People

Getting back on a year ago now I got an email from a guy I barely knew. Bob Price is in the Crosley Club and I'd spoken with him on a couple of occasions- I knew him best because I once missed buying a nice Crosley wagon that he had for sale by a couple of hours! He got hold of me because he still had a spare Crosley engine in his garage that wasn't much use now that the car was gone, and he wondered if I might be interested in it. Bob had had the engine rebuilt, but the crank got damaged before the engine was put back together, so the motor had never been fired. The top end was still brand new.Last year I was BROKE. Liv and I had been publishing a local magazine for about two years, and had lost money every step of the way. (Wow, can you spend a lot of money putting out a magazine about local arts and culture in the middle of an economic downturn!) We were doing it as a labor of love, so some loss was OK, but when it was losing almost as much as I was making at my day job it really started to hurt. So, when Bob offered the engine at a ridiculously low price (a fraction of the machine work cost) at first I said no, saying I didn't know when I'd be able to pay. Bob graciously offered to hold the engine, and I promised to pay when I got my tax return.

A few months went by, I got my taxes back and Bob and I started playing email tag about picking up the engine. First he was going overseas on vacation, and then when he got back I was going on my trip to Bonneville. As emails went back and forth, he kept finding more stuff in the garage and throwing it in the deal. By the time I left on my vacation he was holding the engine, the back seat for a wagon and a box of assorted Crosley bits.
When I got back from Bonneville I was so busy tinkering with my '62 Plymouth daily driver I didn't follow up right away- I just flat forgot. A couple of months went by and Bob sent an email saying that if I didn't want the motor he'd be OK to sell it to someone else- I was so mortified that I asked him to at least let me send the $ so he wasn't waiting for the cash! I sent a check and we coordinated a pick up. Now mind you, Bob is only about two and a half hours away, but at this point we'd failed to connect for about seven months.
Cut to about a month ago. Bob found me on Facebook (I finally got an account in December) and we ogled each other's pictures of vehicles- including a great shot of Bob in a VespaCar circa 1962. Commenting on one another's FB pages it somehow or another came up that Bob had never cashed the check I'd sent! Given the depressing state of my bank account, I check it as infrequently as possible, so I'd never noticed. At this point I felt so embarrassed I was ready to drive to San Leandro that second to get the parts. Bob wouldn't hear of it. "I haven't been to the Sacramento Railroad Museum in a long time- I'll drop the motor off on the way."
So, long story short, Bob and family stopped by my house a few days later with a couple hundred pounds of Crosley parts in the back of their car. Bob wouldn't take any gas money, nor accept my offer to take the whole bunch to lunch. They helped me unload the engine, seat, box of parts and even a stray radiator, poked around my messy garage and looked at all my decaying Crosley projects and then headed on their way. Bob did at least let me direct them to the best (and cheapest!) Mexican food in a 200 mile radius. For all I know he still hasn't cashed that check.

The weird thing is, that's how it always is with Crosley people.

I've been involved with Crosleys for almost 15 years now, and it has been one continuous stream of interesting, thoughtful, and almost perversely helpful folks from day one. Scott Schultz, the first Crosley nut I ever met, answered my want ad with offers to sell me a car or help me find one, and never stopped offering whatever help he could- without ever wanting anything other than camaraderie. When his health finally made it too difficult for him to work on cars, he called and said, "I got two sheds of used Crosley stuff- come get it." It was over a ton of parts, and he wouldn't take a dime for them. Scott also put me in touch with Gordon Becher, another great guy who couldn't do enough to help me out. When I had trouble finding a Crosley to buy he not only clued me in to secret stashes of Crosleys that only he knew about, but even went and looked at them with me since I really had no idea what I was looking at at that point. And that's just the first two guys I met! I could come up with 50 more people like that and still not mention half the great people I've met through Crosleys.

There's an old joke: How do you tell a Porsche from a porcupine? With a porcupine the pricks are on the outside! You could never tell that joke about Crosleys. There is something about wanting to drive a ridiculously underpowered and inarguably funny-looking half-century old car that seems to attract the best folks- or perhaps just repels the assholes. Whatever it is, I cherish it, and Bob Price is just the latest of the fine folks I've met through Powel Crosley's 'Fine Car'.
Bob Price and his wife Rube


d a v i d e said...

this is such an interesting point of view.
it's kinda if... when something doesn't universally makes you look cool, it kinda cuts off the jerks.

I better bear that in mind.

d a v i d e said...

blimey. I better get some English lessons. that last comment was awfully writte.
my apologies.

Ol' Man Foster said...

Davide- you speak two languages quite well- a few stumbles here and there only serve to make it charming instead of annoying, right?

What you are saying is quite true though... it's not that a cool person can't own a corvette (or a Les Paul for that matter) but the stereotypical 'cool' stuff automatically draws a lot of people who are all about their 'cool' self-image. make something expensive AND 'cool' and you will have a 90+% asshat rate.