My Mentors


When I was growing up I got interested in cars when I was about twelve years old. It happened because I asked my Dad how an internal combustion engine worked one night when he came upstairs to say goodnight to me. Parents used to do that sort of thing when I was young. I asked him about it and he spent about half an hour explaining to me how the engine worked. When he was done I totally understood it, or at least what he told me. Amazing!  Dad had a good way of expressing himself like that. So that got me off and running as a gear head. Then I discovered Hot Rod Magazine up at the Drug Store in Willamette. For a princely sum of $.35 cents you could buy a magazine that was full of either green tone or black and white pictures of drag racing, Bonneville Salt Flat machines and street rods and customs. Yeah all of these vehicles featured monthly within the covers of the best car magazine in the world at the time. Sorry I can’t say that about Hot Rod Magazine any longer. So I used to take my allowance which was twenty five cents every two weeks and save it up and buy one of two copies of Hot Rod Magazine up at the drug Store. The nice lady behind the counter started pulling one copy of HRM for me and keeping it in what also used be the town post office. That way I had a sort of pay as you go subscription.

     Later on when I grew up some more, and became friends with lots of other folks that liked cars as much as I did, I was introduced to more people. Car people just sort of snow ball that away. One of my oldest friends Greg Rice’s Brother Ron was another gear head. He and Dennis McFall (my next door neighborhood hot rod maniac) used to pal around together a little. Dennis was a bit unstable because of his home life situation but was a damn good mechanic and I learned a ton about the basics of pulling transmissions from him. My association with Ron Rice produced my introduction to the Weldon’s in Oregon City. Ron used to speak of the Weldon’s with great reverence as if they were car gods. Actually they were.  I have to laugh here but I can’t really argue the point at all. Everybody that built hot rods knew who the Weldon’s were. At least everyone in Oregon City did.  Both of them used to work at Publisher’s Paper Company in Oregon City, and so did Mike Hagadorn who used to drive around a 426 wedge powered 64 Sport Fury.

     The first time I spoke to Verle was from a phone call. I got his telephone number from Ron Rice. I remember his wife answered the phone. When I asked for him the timbre in her voice got this steely coldness to it and she said, “Well I’ll see if he’s even here.” I don’t know what this was all about, was none of my business and still isn’t. Verle answered the phone so I introduced myself to him. He told me that Ron had told him I was gonna call so I felt better about the call. I asked him about a four speed transmission for one of my tri five cars. I don’t’ remember whether it was for my 55 or my 56. He said he had a few lying around, said he had a close ratio Muncie, a couple of Saginaw wide ratios. When I asked him if they were the aluminum case models he said “Well sure!” Stupid question Dave! He didn’t take offense at the question either. He told me he wanted $120.00 for any of them. Brand new parts inside, he’d rebuilt them all. I had no qualms about any of them either. So I drive up to his house up on the hill in Oregon City. He told me he’d be downstairs. He had a shop underneath his house. I had a sidekick with me at the time. Don’t remember who it was either, might have even been Sonny Tiedeman. The light comes on and this guy about 5’8” tall with curly dark hair comes out with a smile on his face showing off a set of perfect teeth. Verle has these piercing green eyes that sparkle with all sorts of intellect behind them. Looking at this guy you can tell you are about 1 click away from meeting the Albert Einstein of the car world. No doubting his smarts here. He is a soft spoken man with a perpetual smile on his face. The best part of being in the audience of Verle Weldon was asking him a question pertaining to something technical about Chevrolets. He’d start one of his lectures about some camshaft profile and who developed it, complete with the GM part number attached to it which usually contained seven digits. Verle must spend his time when he’s not working at Publisher’s reading old GM parts manuals that he rescued from Weiler Chevrolet methinks. He’d go on about how something affected everything else in an engine. The best part was that it was not boring in the least!  What should have taken a hour round trip to complete often turned into a classroom session in Verle’s basement. That’s no kidding either. Little wonder Mrs. Weldon was pissed. Once Verle was done with his dissertation, back came the smile again. He had the ability to make you want to talk with him. A virtual fountain of information and wisdom about hot rods of almost any make. He didn’t charge for it either. Asking him another question and Verle’s eyebrows would sort of tilt upward kinda like a guitar player reaching for a note. This would trip some sort of information file in Verle’s mind and you almost had to be sitting down when he dumped it on you. I had to back him up several times to comprehend what he was saying. I think Verle is German by ancestry. He looked it to a t.  The quintessential Werner Von Braun of the hot rod world. Seriously.

       It’s one thing to talk a good line and completely another to put your hands where your mouth is. I got a chance to see that for myself on a trip up to Vern’s house on the very top of Oregon City. Verle and Vern had built this MG drag car. Okay all you purists can stop reading now because you don’t want to know what they did to the running gear of this classic British sports car. Yeah it was gone. Everything that had anything to do with the steering, suspension, drive train all gone. I think this car has an Olds rear end under it. This was before the days of nine inch Ford in everything. It sat hooked onto a pair of semi elliptical springs (don’t ask me to explain this here). All the engineering and fabrication on this car looked like something that rolled right out of some famous southern California speed shop. Indeed it was an impressive car. I remember it had a 327 Chev small block in it with an Isky 550 Super LeGerra roller in it. Just about the wildest small block Chev roller cam for the day. They had built a set of what looked like tuned headers for the car that terminated into an oval shaped collector. It had a pair of dual quads on the motor on a dual plane manifold. Were no such things as single planes in those days. They rolled this thing out of Vern’s garage onto the concrete pad in front. It had a nose high attitude to it because of the straight axle under the front end. Nothing too high, the Weldon’s were blessed with about the same amount of common sense as their IQ’s which were considerable. In fact I felt like an idiot around these guys but they had a way of making you feel like you were smart too.  

    So Verle gets inside the car and I hear this ticking of an electric fuel pump and then the cranking of a Chevrolet starter motor. The motor cranks over a few times and erupts into this 1250 rpm super rough idle, then promptly dies. Verle hits the starter again after goosing both carbs several times. The car fires back up and shoots a bit of black smoke out the collectors. Verle holds the throttle up off idle and the motor is clearing it’s self out at about 2000 rpm. Right out of the headers, music to any gear head. God I remember that moment like it was yesterday. Small block Chev’s sound so good with lots of camshaft in them and straight exhaust. The rear end of the car was shod with a pair of M & H Racemaster slicks that stuck out of the naturally radiused fenderwells a couple of inches. The wheels were probably some sort of Oldsmobile variety that got replaced by some American Racing Torque Thrust D’s of the day later on. The car was a cream white color if I remember correctly.

    Verle revved it up a few times which on a small block Chev is akin to hearing a small explosion nearby. Its sort like turning the switch on and off on an electric motor. You can’t hear the motor ramp up and down in rpm. It just goes up instantly and back down again to where ever the cam and carbs want it to idle. An amazing little engine by anyone’s standards. The Weldon’s did magical stuff with these things. I’d like to see what they could do with big block Chevs.

     I watched this car run down at Woodburn Drag strip a long time ago and it was really fun. Bob and Clarence Rohrs had their 57 D/Gas Chev down there too. Weldon’s MG had a B & M hydromatic in it. The Rohrs brother’s gasser had a four speed. Bob is big enough to row that four speed car down the track. You have never heard anyone shift a four speed car like Bob Rohrs, I guarantee this. Loved watching both cars go down the track. Verle used to do double duty between his drag cars, (there was more than one) and a little tuning on Bob’s 57 too. Verle is never too busy to help anyone. Always willing to spread himself to the point of transparency if need be. Perhaps that was a failing on his part but I never saw it like that. I admired him for it. He makes all the “Shell Answer Men” that I’ve met who stand around with their arms crossed in front of them with a shitty attitude look like the morons they really are. So I have always patterned myself after Verle Weldon, and one of my other mentor Guy Mitchell.

    I have to say a few words here about Guy Mitchell. Guy possesses a lot of the same characteristics as the Weldon’s. He’s a well of information about Chevrolets and just about any other engine on the planet. He has even more knowledge of racing than the Weldon’s. He also has lots of the same personality traits too. He’s never too busy to talk with someone that’s willing to listen, who doesn’t argue with his answers. He’s also soft spoken, has an engaging smile and a great sense of humor. I remember one night Guy took the time to drive out to my house from where he lives in Oak Grove to look at a suspension problem I was having on my 55 race car. Never charged me for it and spent the better part of a couple of hours underneath the car, and bringing me up to speed on what he thought the car needed. Far be it from me to argue with him. I always figured Guy knew a hell of a lot more than I did about any of this stuff. So my best advice around these people is to shut up and listen to them when they are talking. You might not like what they tell you because it’s not really validating what you wanted to do. So unless you really do know more than the Weldon’s or the Mitchell’s listen to them, be respectful and don’t argue. If you ask a question then argue with the answer why bother posing the question in the first place? It’s one thing to ask them to explain their answer a little further so you really “Get” what they are telling you, but it’s rude and disrespectful to just denounce their answer and go on about your business. Their information in most circles should have a dollar value attached to it. They learned this information from doing it.

    So I say thank you to Verle Weldon and his bro Vern whom I never knew well at all and to Guy Mitchell for being my mentors all these years.

    Someone needs to speak up about these milestones in my life so I did.

Dave

The Joker, The Thief, and The Princess


It is said there is an enchanted forest near
That keeps giant ferns and strange deer.
Upon whose butterflies with ten foot wings
That land upon flowers that spring.

Thirty feet into the air
That shoot pollen in multicolored flares.
And I came upon a large caterpillar.
Whose dark glasses made him look consular.

And he asked me “Who are you?”
Heart-shaped smoke rings towards me he blew.
And he held in one of his many feet a hookah pipe
Made of Lapis Lazuli and azure with gold stripes.


His smoke rings around me broke

And once again he spoke.
“Only two times I ask who are you?”
His dark glasses became lop-sided and skewed.

 

“My name is David if it’s any of your concern”
“And I care not for you inquisition nor yearn.”
“To know my identity and allow my passage”
“To some refugee worm from the Palace Eremitage.”


And with that the caterpillar vanished

Into some other dimension my words banished.
Him and his blue smoke rings
To a land of Funky Kings and Slinky Springs.


I heard a joker and a thief talking

Around a giant mushroom they were walking.
“There must be some way out of here”
His words of strange timbre rang queer.


Say the Joker to the Thief

Whose eyes sparkled like gold leaf.
“I need some relief.”
The Thief nodded and said he believed.


So they asked if they could walk with me.

Saying that they didn’t like what they could see.
We came to the top of a mountain peak.
At its summit a Watch Tower, windswept and bleak.


In its top-most turrets a princess so fair.

With pale white skin and blood red hair.
That streamed back in the mountain air.
That passed thru her with a green flare.

 

But she kept her view.
And her words to the wind were true.
And she said to the wind.
“Why am I here,” for I have not sinned?”

 

“Tis your fate for you are the princess of the Watch Tower.”
To her the wind spoke in this late hour.
And tears filled her pretty green eyes.
And I watched her as she trembled and sighed.

 

“For I have been here since time immemorial”
“Holding the North Star in polar equatorial.”
The wind embraced the princess with a green glow.
Around the tower circled large birds and crows.

 

Her lamenting was be stilled and she began to sing.
And the valley and hills began to ring.
With a strange melody not of this earth.
Whose tongue could not be understood even unto Firth?

 

 A floating Cheshire Cat said to me
“Her singing keeps the universe in balance you see.”
So I said to the cat, “ I cannot understand her.”
He said to me, “She sings in the tongue of Mimsy my fine sir”

 

And the Thief finally spoke
“Some of us here feel that life is a joke.”
And the caterpillar appeared and asked him “who? who?”
 I told the caterpillar, “if you ask again my wrath you will rue!”

 

So the worm vanished from sight.
Past the watchtower we came to a white Knight.
And he was talking backwards into night.
A fine trick of the tongue it’s words smite.


I asked the Knight to repeat what he had just said.

And he looked at me thru a visor his eyes filled with dread.
“If you ask a question I can speak in forward verse.”
“But first I must speak the words spoken in reverse.”


Seilf nogard rof gnikool m’i

Ssarg llat eht ni peels taht.
Seldeen gninrad otni meht ekam I.
Ssa ruoy ni meht kcits dna


“I’m looking for dragon flies”

“That sleep in the tall grass.”
“I make them into darning needles “
“And stick them in your ass.”

 I laughed at the white knight as he rambled on.
His eyes held no light and his mind was surely gone.
Then we came upon Alice who stood at ten feet tall.
Looking over the Watch Tower’s wall. 


So I said to Alice, “How’s the weather up there?”

She said to me, “I’ll tell you when I let down my hair.”
And I said to her “Tell me child how did you get so tall?”
“I think it was the magic mushrooms and this here magic doll.”


And she held up her Raggedy Anne doll.

And its dead black button eyes began to bawl.
That rained down tears of sour notes.
In the key of Z flat that spoke in misquotes.


Then at length the doll began to speak.

And it’s queer mouth formed into a Raven’s beak.
It sounded of metallic croaking’s.
And it’s words were loathing and cloaking.


The doll began to swear and use all manner of expletives.

Its words became hurtful and corrosive.
“Tell me child who gave you a doll so mean?”
 Alice said, “Why I believe she calls herself the Red Queen?”


So I said to Alice, “You need to get rid of that abomination.”

So she threw the doll into a large Carnation.
Which snapped the doll up with voracious pink teeth.
Then slid back into its jewel encrusted black leather sheath.


Then Alice shrunk back down to her normal size.

And I saw more little-girl wonderment in her eyes.
And the Joker said to her” Have no fear”
“For the Joker and the Thief are here.”


“And no harm will befall one so fair.”

“As long as you are in our care.”
A smile pursed Alice’s lips and became wide.
And the three of them walked hand in hand side by side.


All along the Watchtower the princess kept her vigilance.

The wind circled her and did glow in green luminescence.
And so the princess sang her heart out.
Thus saving the universe throughout.


In my company the Thief, Joker, Alice and the Cheshire cat.

Who upon my right shoulder sat.
And this made Alice laugh.
That sounded like music in time and a half.


And two riders were approaching now.

And the wind began to howl.
Upon the horses mounted were two playing cards.
Riding up they viewed us in high regard.


One a Joker of Clubs the other an Ace of Spades

“You will accompany us for we are the Red Queen’s Aides.”
I said” we are going nowhere with a pair of cards.”
“I care not even if you are the Red Queen’s Guards.”


This angered the Ace of spades.

He dismounted his horse waving a cardboard blade.
So I struck a match and said “I’ll burn your Ace up.”
His cardboard eyes widened, and became pale as a Death’s Cup.


“He was only kidding” said the Joker to the Joker.

“Well David will turn your Ace into a smoker.”
So said the Joker to the Joker.
The Joker said with a sheepish grin” we are all nonsmokers!”


The Joker of Clubs spoke

“If I don’t get some shelter”“I’m going to fade away.”
And the color in his clubs turned from black to gray.
And the look in his eyes went all helter skelter.


“The Red Queens calling us we must be on our way”

I heard the Ace of Spades say.
And the two riders vanished into the twilight.
In a flash of light blinding and bright.


“I got nasty habits, I take tea at three.”

The Red Queen said as she looked at me.
Her image filled the sky to the east.
“You are invited to my castle to feast.”


“No thank you your majesty we must be on our way.”

“For in this place we cannot stay.”
“Oh but I insist”
“You cannot simply desist.”


The Red Queen’s demanding reply.

Her image fading in the eastern sky.
Suddenly I’m awakened by my dog licking my face.
Then I realize I’m no longer in that place.


So I sit up on the edge of my bed.

Upon the floor in front of me something small and red.
I look down upon the Queen of Hearts lying on the floor.
She winks at me with smiling eyes that implore.


To visit her in the land of nevermore.

She’s just a playing card and nothing more.
Lying upon my bedroom floor.
Who gave Alice a doll that swore.


My cell phone rings playing All Along the Watchtower.

Saying “A call from the Red Queen” to me at this hour.
So I said “hello?” to the phone.
“David I’ll see you tomorrow night” in a voice cold as stone.

Dave Proffitt
5/10/2013
1:01 pm.

Out of The Blue


I just finished watching a movie on Netflix streaming video called Out of the Blue. It’s a documentary on UFOs. It also shows what asses our government has made of themselves playing down all the UFO sightings. All the agencies from the CIA to the Air Force have lied to us about UFO’s from the get go. Believe this!  I’m just now finding out that the Rosewell incident is based more in fact than the Air Force’s bullshit story of a weather balloon!. Gimme a break here!

   When the folks in the MIR Space Station are seeing UFO’s then the Air Force’s horseshit excuses such as swamp gas and weather balloons are invalid. I don’t think much swamp gas makes it into space or weather balloons.

    You also don’t need to be a scientist to understand that we aren’t the only form of life in the universe. Why our government thinks we need to believe this poppy cock is beyond me. All you have to do is read a few books on astronomy and you can start to get the picture of what a vast space we exist in, it’s filled with stars, galaxies, and solar systems. How big? Well let’s use our own Milky Way Galaxy as a yardstick. First of all I’d better define some measurements or galactic yardsticks if you like that term. Because the distances are so great astronomers use light speed as a yardstick. Most of us not living under rocks have heard the term “light year”?  It’s the distance light will travel in a vacuum (which is what space is essentially). Consider that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second that’s hauling the mail real good. The next thing up on our space ruler is the parsec. This is 3.3 light years. I like parsecs. They make comprehending distance easier to me at least. Like other multiples of measurement we also have the kiloparsec. (1000 parsecs). Megaparsec (one million parsecs) and Gigaparsecs. See how this goes? Not much use in going past kilo here actually. Okay back to home and the Milky Way. Our own home galaxy is 31-37 kiloparsecs in diameter. Whoa that’s way big!  It’s estimated to contain no less than 100-400 billion stars. Now to say that none of these stars supports a solar system to ours is rather boorish. Look at it like this in terms of odds; there is a 1 /400,000,000,000 chance that there’s no other life sustaining solar systems in our galaxy. Not too good of odds on that side wouldn’t you say?  This is just ONE galaxy in the universe! Our nearest galactic neighbor is the Andromeda Galaxy. It’s even larger than ours. Now we have two star systems and over double the amount of stars! This gets exponentially insane in a hurry.

   You would be more accurate to say “I believe there is life in the universe other than ours.” as opposed to saying there is no other life in the universe. I will go one better and say “I believe there is life in the universe other than ours, and lots of other types and kinds of life as well.”

   It just makes me want to puke when I hear some asshole from the government telling the media that some UFO report was the result of someone seeing the planet Venus! When was the last time the planet Venus did aerobatic manuvers then vanished? If you have ever seen Venus in the sky it just looks like a bright star, it’s impossible to mistake it for a UFO, unless you think stars look like a UFO? Or that it was a “Sun Dog” or swamp gas or a frickin weather balloon? In fact I dont’ think the weather people are even using the damn balloons anymore, they get most of their data from weather satellites I think. The press is just as bad trying to make people who are just as sane as you and I look like some “gyro Gearloose ” types, like their off their rockers because they had the balls to speak up about something they saw and can’t explain. We’ve had airplanes around for a long  long time. Everyone on the planet knows what the hell they are. We can tell the difference between hot air balloons, weather balloons, and kids birthday balloons, helicopters, large birds, and pterodactyles. Jesus! I don’t live in any areas that produce “swamp gas” either. Where did they come up with this crap? These people dishing out this shit, are in my opinion, way more “looney tunes” than the folks that are reporting the sightings.

   How long is the government gonna sit on this information? It’s so damn stupid of them anyway. Most people believe we have captured UFO’s in some obscure hanger in Area 51 any damn way right? Tell me I’m wrong? So what if they came out and said “yeah we lied we have reverse engineered a UFO .” Most people I know would just say “Far out man!” What do they think is gonna happen anyway? Everyone shoot themselves in the head? Mass histeria? Riots in the street? Hell we already had lots of that shit with the Rodney King deal. Old news.  Americans  are more than ready to hear something like this. I sure as hell am.

    Now you are probably mulling the idea around in your head,”Well I suppose Dave has seen a UFO then?”  Yeah I did, ask me about it sometime, I wasn’t the only one either, there were four of us that all saw the same damn thing one summer night, and you’ll know all the rest of the observers too. None of us will deny what we saw either. We even stopped the vehicle and shut it off and heard NOTHING. I don’t know what we saw and neither do my friends. I’ve never seen anything like it in the sky before I can tell you that. I’m not gonna get into anymore of this adventure, suffice to say I have no doubt that other people are seeing things like this. Honest, hard working people, trust worthy folks not prone to spin yarns and peddle bullshit. Most of the reports on UFOs are of this caliber too. I got this from more than a couple sources.

    Consider the numbers folks, that’s all I’m asking here. Use your head, there’s just too damn many stars out there to coun,t too many solar systems and galaxies for there NOT TO Be OTHER life.  As for swamp gas,well the only swap gas from the people peddling this horseshit is the type that comes out of them and we all know what that’s like.

Dave