Automotive Centerpiece….#169 (80’s)


69 Chevy with a tractor Ansel cab window.

The acquisition of the 1979 Chrysler New Yorker for Jan wasn’t without adversity,  its disposition wasn’t always amiable for transporting the many boxes containing her ceramic endeavors to the sales events. The 1950 Dodge Pickup having been christened to assist as a means of transportation which was satisfactory until the weather turned detrimental with a forecast of rain.  Gary coming to the conclusion that a search for a more applicable transportation was in order, the beckoning being answered by his friend,  Ron Zahtner who just happened to acquired a 1969 Chevy Cargo Van from his younger brother Chad in lieu of payment for a financial allowance.  Ron having no need for the Van was more than willing to part with it.   The two coming to a conditional agreement, Gary offering Ron $250 for the van but the transaction would have to wait until he could sell the Dodge.   Gary’s  trust in Ron was absolute,  having no reason to doubt his pronouncement of the soundness of van.   The Chevy was  powered by a 327 cubic inch large-bore, shorter stroke V8,  a mainstay for the Corvette in years past,  the endowed engine occupying a cab placement between two bucket front seats,  no other seating prevailing in the van’s shell encasement.   Its inner appearance causing some apprehension, Ron not noted for his attentiveness to neatness,  the cargo area of the transport sporting several old tires and wheels along with miscellaneous used car parts, Ron volunteering that they were in the van when his brother parked it.

Dan Luthi & 50 Dodge

The Dodges new home

With the agreement to buy van concluded, Gary placed a for sale notice in the rear window of the Dodge stationed curbside at the Service Company and within an hour Dan Luthi approached Gary inquiring about the sale of the van. Dan in the wheat and cattle business, his farm on the old Gerlane Rd north and west of Hazelton making a declaration, the old Dodge pickup was just what he needed for running fences.  Gary having given little thought to a price for the Dodge, keeping in mind Ron’s asking $250 for the van, a wild supplication came to mind,  how about $500  and to his amazement Dan reached for his checkbook addressing a check for the $500.  A testament of value to the 50 Dodge,  still having a life finding a secure home with a new owner.   Gary somewhat sadden to see the dodge go, he would miss it’s reliability.

A 2 seat cargo van now a 8 person passenger van with blue carpet, wood paneling and a picture window

 Gary was impressed with the 60 Chevy van, the 327 engine was everything Ron had said it was, but the new owner realized he had his work cut out for him having already pictured what was planned.  His first order of business was a journey to Alva Oklahoma auto salvage, finding two thee passenger  front bench seats from two antiquated cars.  With the seats fastened to the floor in the rear of the van, the two person vehicle was  now an eight passenger convenience and still having an ample rear storage area. The enclosed Chevy with its windowless double side doors was not very desirable from the two rear seated passengers point of view.  Gary evaluating a windows application for his recently acquired van applying an innovative idea to provide enlightenment, it needed a window for those seated in the rear two seats.   On the west side of the Jack’s Ford building was an area over grown with weeds and was dissuaded with old tractor remnants, amongst the rusted remains was the relics of some Ansel cabs.  Ansel a well-known add-on windowed cab manufacturer for the older open-air  tractors included the John Deere 10 and 20 series tractors.  The inward opening Ansel cab window and frame bolted to the cab, Gary finding the framed and window easily removed.   A metal-cutting blade saber saw finding use on  the driver-side panel of the van rendering an opening for the Ansel produced window.  Bolting and sealing the frame with its safety glass window in place, the provisional application ready to provide a panoramic view for those seated.    A further enhancement to the van also decided upon,  a visit to Hood Lumber Company,  the acquisition of wood paneling to address the interior walls with metal screws adhering the panels to the inside structuring metal joist.  Gary questioning Dale Hood if he had any old carpet remnants that he could use for the Chevy’s floor,  Dale once discovering the purpose of the paneling and the carpet relinquished a blue remnant at no cost. The weeks of resounding labor fruitful, the once quotient van now a formidable centerpiece of accomplishment, a final added crowning achievement,  Gary installing a used AM-FM radio, mounting a six speaker sound system.

A Merry Christmas compliments of Steve Miller

Unbeknownst to many in the community,  Gary had come to recognize that Steve Miller in many respects was accommodating and generous to his employees,  one being,  allowing them to purchase the company merchandise at cost and with a retail mark-up of 40% it was a benefit.   The Christmas season having arrived,  Steve funding a holiday company party for the employee’s and their family and besides a token Christmas bonus check each was provided both a turkey and a ham.   Gary never giving much thought to how the seasonal bonus check amounts were determined assuming that the sales and service departments were the real income generating source and were rewarded as such. This was Gary’s first Christmas in a managerial position,  the acknowledgement of a Merry Christmas being accorded by Steve distributing  Christmas cards containing a bonus check.   Opening the envelope expecting a token $35 check as in the past, Gary was thunderstruck not expecting what he found, a $500 Christmas bonus check,  it would be a Merry Christmas.

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