Bland Theft Auto – Part 2

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Not the actual car that I helped steal, but you get the idea.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve stolen two cars in my life. The first one was a ’60s vintage pink Rambler. The second was a late model Ford — possibly a T-Bird or one of Ford’s other land yachts.

To be honest, I didn’t really get a good look at the car. It was dark, and I didn’t actually take the car. I was just an accomplice.

One summer night, I was walking down West Ninth Street in downtown Cleveland, headed to work at the lakefront docks. A guy sitting in a car with the hood up got my attention He told me he was stranded and asked if I knew how to hot-wire a Ford starter solenoid. I told him I did and he handed me a screwdriver.

I laid the blade of the screwdriver across the posts on the solenoid, which was mounted on the inside of the fender well. The engine turned over and started.

I handed him the screwdriver through the passenger side window. He asked if I needed a ride.

“No thanks,” I said. “I’m just headed down the hill.”

Then I noticed the ignition switch dangling from the steering column.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


See other stories in my series, “Autobiography – My Life in Vehicles.”


Bland Theft Auto

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 21.21.24I’ve stolen two cars in my life. One was a pink Rambler.

So much for street creds.

The Rambler belonged to a co-worker. A former co-worker.

We worked together at a sheet-metal stamping plant on the West Side of Cleveland. One Friday, after we cashed our paychecks, he invited me to come along on a road trip to Tennessee. He often drove there on weekends to visit family.

His only relative in Cleveland was his father, a seedy old bisexual. I knew that because he hit on me in the men’s room at the plant. I doubted that his son knew.

By the time we reached dead man’s curve on I-71 — the one out by the airport — the check oil light came on. We pulled over and raised the hood. The engine was so hot it glowed.

“It uses a lot of oil,” he said.

We got off at the next exit and bought four one-gallon cans of bulk oil.

It took forever to get to Tennessee, stopping every fifty miles to refill the crankcase.

We had an OK time with the relatives. They treated me like family and fed us well. And we drank prodigious amounts of whiskey.

Come Sunday night, he announced that he wasn’t going back to Cleveland.

“Fuck that,” I said, and grabbed the car keys.

As far as I know, he never returned to Cleveland. I kept the car and ran it into the ground, which took all of a month.

The other car? Another story for another time.


This is another installment in my Autobiography series. In case you hadn’t guessed.





mayab&wQuiet moment. Saturday morning lap time.

To think that just a month ago, with tears in my eyes, I held Maya in my lap, dreading that it would be the last time. We found her in the bathroom, unresponsive.

She had been diagnosed with a brain tumor or a stroke — probably the latter. But she has come around and seems to be doing OK.

Treasure those quiet moments.

We Got Our Kicks on Route 6


At right, the ’62 Ranch Wagon at our East Harbor campsite. That’s my godmother, Aunt Doris, laboring away.

U.S. 6 is the longest highway in the country, stretching from Massachusetts to California. For me, the part of it between Cleveland and Sandusky was the highway to heaven.

That was the route we took every summer for our two-week vacations at East Harbor State Park on Lake Erie’s West Basin. For many of those years we made the trip in Ford Ranch Wagons. Dad had three — all company cars — a ’59, ’62 and ’65.

Those vacations offered a respite from city life. They were relatively inexpensive vacations. Campsite fees and boat rental were cheap. Even the day we spent at Cedar Point was affordable, thanks to promotion sponsored by one of the local bread companies. As I recall, admission was $5 a person on bread days. (It might have been Laub’s bread.)

Everything about our vacations was magical to me — nonstop fishing, pickup baseball games, moments of solitude when I’d slip out in the mornings and explore the woods and waterfront.

Because of those experiences, I resolved to one day live where other people vacation.

Mission accomplished.


This is part of my series Autobiography – My Life in Vehicles.