On driving

I may have to change the name of this blog to The Rusty Blog, I’ve left it idle for so long. Not that anyone has noticed except me.

I did gather quite a bit of material from Dad over Christmas. He was at my house and just kept spewing vernacular pearls almost faster than I could write them down. I know I didn’t catch them all, but there are enough for a few posts.

My family had the good fortune to have a cottage on a lake in northern Wisconsin, to which we would repair every Friday after work. My mom would spend the day packing up food, clothes, towels and whatever else we needed for the weekend. She would have us five kids all ready to go the minute Dad came in the door from the office. He would change his clothes and we would all pile into the Olds 98 for the hour and a half ride. Mom, Dad and I would sit in the front seat, with the dog curled up at my mother’s feet. I got the front because of carsickness tendencies. The other four kids rode in the back, and nobody made a peep the whole way. If any of us did start whining or pestering another, the standard threat was to “stop the car and whip the whole lot of you.” He never did. Dad drove like a bat out of hell the whole way. He “poured the cobs to ‘er.” I understand that machines are always female, but cobs? Corn cobs? For fuel? Not sure about that phrase.  Dad was an excellent driver, but fast and aggressive. So, we passed everybody on the road. Every time he passed someone he would holler, “Give ‘im the rack!” I would welcome any ideas as to what “the rack” might have referred. Or, he might declare, “Be gone, Satan!” Once Dad had overtaken all vehicles in his path, he would relax in his seat and smugly assert that we had “sucked them all up the exhaust pipe.” Even though he specialized in “sneaky back ways” and shortcuts, we did occasionally have to stop at a stop sign. Upon accelerating away from a stop, Dad would  pronounce, “Proceed, American ambulance!” He thinks that this saying comes from World War I. We all use it, even my kids.

I challenge the family to come up with some more vernacular about driving and automobiles. I feel like there has to be more, especially since Dad was into restoring old cars at one time, his dad owned a Ford garage way back when, and he’s always been a little “gas happy.” Leave a comment if you think of anything else, please.

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4 thoughts on “On driving

  1. I think that one is actually something that your dad says. What I remember my dad saying is, “Keep ‘er between the fence posts” or “Keep ‘er between the ditches.”

  2. I did finally remember to ask Dad about his threatening command, “Give ‘im the rack!” Turns out it is something that his old buddy Zirk Kilcheski used to say. Zirk was a Kentuck that drove a big log jammer in the northwoods of Wisconsin for many years. Full of pulp logs, the rack on the jammer was a sight to behold and rather unwieldy to manage when the truck was barreling full steam down the highway. If another motorist pulled out in front of him, Zirk would pass him, blast the air horn and yell, “Give ‘im the rack!” Dad was invited to ride along with Zirk on occasion and picked up that expression along with many others. Dad often remarks about the “ear” for language that the old Kentucks possessed and how he could spend hours just listening to them.

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