The Lights of Taber Are Out Tonight
We used to sit outside on those hot summer nights, Holegate’s silent traffic, no cars cruzing the street, it’s a street that goes nowhere important in the twilight hours. Just the old timers drive that road after the sun goes down, it won’t take anyone to the Speck, the TicToc is in the other direction; it’s a nowhere boulevard in the quiet side of town.
On the corner of 66th and Holegate, we would watch the cruzers weaving around the roads that take them to the top of Mt. Taber, dots of red and white beneath the street lamps glow, lovers looking for the stars, and the man in the moon. No submarine races up there, a gig for the Beach Boys or Jan & Dean to sing about, it’s no place for the lonely heart to beat; even in a memory.
Ah but we grew, the coming of age, we would drive there too; to be free, a teenage wish. We too looked at the stars and the moon, the lights of the city, after we left the passion pits where the celluloid stars of Hollywood played.
Soon, we learned from the wisdom keepers, how to channel, and section bodies. The fine art of cutting coils, and how to make lowering blocks. How to paint, and how to pinstripe after a cruzer had been shaved and decked.
We learned how to tear Detroit Steel a part, looking for lost factory horses. We listened to venerable Wrenches, they showed us the need for throaty carbs and tuned exhaust; 3/4 race cams and magnetos.
After the nights of knuckle busting, late hours between dates, school and work, it wasn’t the Taber lights that were beckoning, it was the Broadway lights; red, yellow and green. A block long drag strip at times, light to light, but mostly it was a Show and Shine moment in history. Cruze with your girl at your side, the windows down low, the Delco radio kicking out tunes, Jan and Dean, Beach Boys, “She’s real fine my 409.” 4-speed nights, the rap of glasspacks, blue dots.
I would leave the area one day, my stallions changed little, my gears were meshed in the BW-T10, second gear in the range of 90, a ticket gained, a Futura night that soon took me to Bel-Air, minus the Fresh Prince; a stately ivory over maroon hardtop.
Longing for the low life, a mock 500 GT, that Ford never built, became my signature thought process, take something no one wanted; and make it kool. Torino that went from Grand to sled, suede, shaved and lowered; no, it’s not a Cougar, no Merc, not even close.
Time changes, the lights dim, years later I went back, to show my children where we went and what we did back then; Taber is closed to cars all the way to the top. Broadway is dead, bike lanes, mass transit lanes; no Street Rods, no Hot Rods, no honest cruzers. Even the Speck and the car hops are gone, some would say it’s progress; but deep down, it don’t feel like progress.
What caused the change was the disrespect of what people had, what they could do, what they could build with their own two hands; but along with the changes, came a huge lack of freedom from new laws.
For the thoughts here, it’s not vexation of spirit; not in the Biblical sense. Life is, after all, a learning curve.
“And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.”
Life is truly living learning and teaching, I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do if I didn’t have those mentors in my life that cared to take the time with me when I was young. I wouldn’t know what I know if I hadn’t taken the time to learn, be it cars or society. The sorrow, the knowledge that not to many people honestly care these days; it’s like society is living on an unlimited credit card. And when the lights go dim, for the way that we are living; the tab will be more than our lofty society can pay. All because we didn’t take the time, to respect what we have, or listen to honest wisdom, that’s life today; ain’t it grand.