Having fun with cars was, is, and should always be what our hobby is all about. But for some, "they" will always find a way to take our hobby too seriously. For those of us within the magazine biz of our hobby, confusing career with life is something we too are often guilty of. But, I guess that's what it's all about, finding balance.
For starters, my editorials over the past few months have sparked lively debate, well, at least a goodly number of e-mails. The content of many an editorial has been about taking our hobby too seriously. The range of subjects has included, but not been limited to, awards not awarded, pro-built against homebuilt, and steel versus fiberglass; all of which still mystify me. But, I have learned one thing that can unite all street rodders, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, and that's that deep down inside we all believe that we're above average street rodders. Am I right? Good, we now have something to base everything else upon.
Think of me as "Lucy" from the Peanuts cartoon strip as I hang out my "Doctor's In" sign. (I grew up reading the daily whit of Charles Shultz and took to heart the wisdom he so cleverly inked into each panel. To this day I find uncanny insight within.) Think of me as a facilitator of automotive psychiatric help for gearheads who just may take all the motor oil and burnt rubber, lawn chairs and power parking, mile-deep paint and feather dusters, just a bit too seriously.
In an attempt to find balance I have learned a lesson that has repeated itself during many of life's unique twists and turns. (Makes you wonder if I really am that slow of a learner?) My balance was learned while in college from a wise and wisdom giving communications professor.
Pop quizzes where my downfall in school. In order to do well one must pay attention to the daily lectures. (Not so, for my attention and dexterity were applied to the dog-eared pages of car magazines, not textbooks.)
Okay, back to my professor and the pop quiz. There was once a question that went something like this, "What's the first name of the young man who cleans the hallways outside of this classroom? You see him several times a week." I got a chuckle out of the question but I answered it. However, it doesn't end there.
Before any of us left the room a classmate of mine asked the professor if he was serious about that particular question. The professor's response was immediate and to the point. "Absolutely. In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care even if all you do is smile and say, 'hello.'"
Wow, that was really kool. I've never forgotten that lesson. As for the fellow cleaning the hallways--his name was Dain Gingerelli. He and I worked together at Disneyland as sweepers, went to school together, and later worked together during the earliest days of Tom McMullen's fledgling publishing company--the very company that brought and still brings you STREET RODDER. (Dain is now a freelance writer and to this day contributes to SRM.)
As for the remainder of that pop quiz, it went like all the others before and after, not so well. I did graduate but I believe the university did so more as a culling exercise rather than to provide the world with a finely tuned and productive member of society. I would ask that you take the following automotive pop quiz to see just what side of the line you fall on between just enjoying the hobby and having a mental illness.
1. Name three influential street rod builders.
2. Name the last three Ridler award winners.
3. Name the last three AMBR winners.
4. Name the last three rodders who have won the STREET RODDER Street Rod of the Year.
5. Name the last three Road Tour cars.
6. Name the last three recipients of the Editor's Choice Award handed out at the SEMA Show during the SRMA banquet hosted by STREET RODDER and presented by yours truly.
Don't fret if you couldn't answer the questions. I was involved in nearly all of the above-asked questions and I couldn't remember. However, maybe, just maybe, you are beginning to understand. The point is...it's tough to recall so-called heroes of the past. Yet each car and/or person mentioned above has achieved a worthwhile goal within our hobby, something to be justifiably proud of. At some point in time we have recognized the above achievements as the best in our hobby. If I may quote, "But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners."
Bear with me and let's see how you do on the next pop quiz.
1. Name three teachers who influenced you.
2. Name three friends who have helped you.
3. Name three people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Name three people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Name three people you enjoy spending time with. (Okay, this one was tough for me.)
6. Name three people whose stories have inspired you.
Is it clear? The rodders or non-car types who make a difference in our lives aren't the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. You don't care if they drive steel or 'glass, have a pro-built or homebuilt rod, nor do you measure them by any other parameter. They're the ones who care about us. Remember, it truly is about the people and not about the cars. If you understand that, you will have much more fun with your car.