Transitions are almost never easy, and leaving TTAC and Curbside Classics is downright painful. But for a number of reasons, that’s what needs to happen right now. Two of them are in the picture above.
That’s my younger son Will, who recently turned eighteen, with his just acquired ’02 Ranger. He and I are going to fix up this wreck of a 110 year-old empty former farm house that we’ve owned for years, just down the street from our place . It needs to be either saved now or be lost to the elements forever. And it’s no small undertaking. To start with, we’re going to move it (not with the Fords) forty feet, and then turn it ninety degrees, because right now it’s sitting across the line of two lots. Talk about the ultimate Curbside Classic.
I spent several years doing this kind of thing, saving houses from the wrecking ball, having them moved, and turning them into a whole little fleet of rentals. I like to photograph and write about old cars, but collecting old houses is a properly-paying proposition, unlike collecting old cars (or writing about them). Four years ago, I was ready to give it a break, and I started writing for TTAC. And for those that were around then, they may remember that I stopped for the first two summers, to keep up on maintenance and enjoy the outdoors.
Than a little over a year ago, I started Curbside Classics on a whim. It started out as a once-a-week habit, escalated to twice a week, and I never stopped last summer, despite the fact that there was no pay at all back then, and I was neglecting things at home. It had become an addiction, to find and record the old cars still on the streets of Eugene. And since my rate of finding them was much greater than the rate of writing them up and posting them, the addiction eventually became a six-times a week habit. Time to go cold turkey.
After older son Edward took over at TTAC last fall, I offered to help in any way I could, and stepped it up with a new title and writing all kinds of other articles; everything from taking apart gas pedals to histories that interested me and hopefully you. It was my dream job, and I’ve had as much or more enthusiasm about it than anything I’ve ever done; way too many late nights and weekends.
TTAC is now on solid footing, and I need to switch gears, completely. I can’t split my energy two ways; I need to focus on one main project at a time. And this is going to be a big one (close to 3000 sq.ft. with a new daylight basement under it). We’re planning to make it a model of environmentally-responsible building techniques: recycling the basic structure, turning it east-west for maximum passive solar gain, putting in new south-facing dormers and windows upstairs, making it energy efficient by sheathing it completely in foil-faced foam insulation, solar panels, a new metal roof, rain water catchment, etc..
And when it’s been moved on to the back lot, there will be room for another house on the front lot. And Will has an option to buy all of it from me. I’ve shown him how the numbers pan out so he can live in the daylight basement apartment for free and pay the mortgage out of the rent he collects from the five/six-bedroom house above him. He was very ambivalent about starting college anyway: this will be the hands-on home-schooling alternative version. And if it works out like planned, I won’t have to ever help him find (or pay) for an apartment or house to rent (Landlords hate to pay other landlords rent).
The hard part is leaving my unwritten Curbside Classics as well as you, dear readers. I have over a thousand cars shot. And your support, encouragement and comments have been the single biggest factor in feeding my CC addiction. I can’t thank you all enough!
It’s hard for me to imagine leaving them unfinished for too long. If the past is a reliable predictor of the future, I will be back. But it’s too early to say if and when with certainty. Right now, summer’s sunshine is calling me outside. Let’s see what happens when it gets cold and dreary. In the meantime, you’ll have to be content with summer reruns from Curbside Classics Central and Automotive Histories Central. I tried to leave them well stocked. Farewell, until we meet again!
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