One of those spring days with stuff coming down, snow, rain, indeterminate crap. With a sculpture opening deadline looming and not many pieces done yet, the ones in my head look pretty good but actually finding and welding the right pieces are a long way from something to show. I'd be out in the shop's open doorway now, but the drifting stuff is coming in there, so the pups and me are stuck indoors. They're having a rare quiet moment, gathering their considerable energies in sleep, so they can throw themselves at me. Freddie says I'm supposed to be pack leader, not one of them. The latter is more fun.
That classic looking Buick, main picture above, is a 1957 or 1958 Century convertible, and I ran across it while thinking back to my (tossed) salad days as a field engineer for a paving company in Omaha, right out of art school. That car, or one very like it, was my company car, believe that or not. It was a hand-me-down, having been the company owner's wife's car.
When asked if it was my car by a visiting college chum, I said no it was a company car. He said, who do you work for, Playboy? So I had it okay back then, especially on sunny top-down days. It lasted me about a year, but it wasn't suited for the off-roading I had to do on paving projects, and the transmission went. Old beat up pickups were my mode for the remainder of my time with Cornhusker Paving Company.
And dump trucks, during snow removal. Winter is an off-season for concrete paving so, when I wasn't balancing the books between Cornhusker and Ready-Mix Concrete, I was picking up snow loads in the parking lots of hotels and other places that contracted with us. A pint of Schanpps, a faulty heater at two a.m., looking for a place to dump a load of snow. Far cry from a luxury convertible with the top down on a sunny day.
I remember one such hot day when another field man and I were working out at the airport. He went into acting. I went into advertising. His name was Terry Kiser, and to prepare for an upcoming play at the Omaha Playhouse he and I would read his lines for Mutiny on the Bounty, he from memory, me holding the script. It must have looked odd, all our gesturing and shouting out there in the swirling dust of a construction area. It was great fun. The Playhouse had spawned some fine actors like Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, Nick Nolte. Nolte was currently playing in The Deep, with Jacqueline Bisset. And now Terry was giving it his try.
He wasn't so much interested in films as in legitimate theater, so he went to New York and did well. Now and then he'd appear on TV as a character actor in Barney Miller and other popular shows. He was known as "the actor's actor" in New York, and wrote a method book for other actors. He did "Weekend at Bernie's" and said, "I get a movie and what's my part? A dead guy."
Well, the snow has stopped, so it looks like I have to pull myself out of this pleasant reverie and get some welding done. That day, with the yellow Buick parked, top down, under the blue Omaha sky; Terry and me shouting parts from Mutiny, it seemed there was all the time in the world and then some. The time between then and now is a blur, a head-snapping minute or two. Some dreams materialized, others hit the rocks far from the mark. Not complaining. But I would like a day or two back then through the lens of now, to savor a few moments, not hurry on to the next thing.
That next thing is upon me. I hope to see you at the opening, May 4th, the Hilliard Gallery at 1820 McGee, First Friday at the Crossroads, KC.