1903 Grout Model J Drop-front Roadster

Bill Cooke and Sarah Moon have a car they call “Tilly”. The car is a 1903 Grout. 

Above, is the completely restored Grout, a Model J Drop-front Roadster, of today. 

VAE Presidents Restoration Award
Bill and Sarah were presented the 2021 VAE President’s Restoration Award for this beautiful steam car.
Bill Cooke and Sarah Moon’s 1903 Grout, sleeping in a New Hampshire garage in the 1940s 

The story from Bill and Sarah 

Tilly, our 1903 model-J drop-front Grout, joined the family in the summer of 1967 in a group-purchase that included an ’06 Franklin, a ’23 Ford pickup, a ’16 Oakland, and a ’46 Chevy hauler. The previous owner was Harry Hopewell, a real estate developer from New Hampshire. He had purchased the Grout from a family in Maine in 1941, it had been in a wood shed from 1905. The lady of the house had “inherited” it and had a particularly bad day of driving the car, topped off with running over the neighbors cat in the driveway. 

Harry stored it in his father’s garage for the duration of the war, eventually putting it on display in Glenn Gould’s Meredith, NH car museum. Gould was in the process of moving his museum to Wells, ME when Bill’s dad, Frank Cooke made the group-purchase. At the time of purchase, Tilly was thought to be the last surviving Grout. However, a Mr. J. Beun had been working at his model J restoration since 1955. 

1903 Grout Model J  bill sarah

Tilly was running again in 1968, needing only a few mechanical repairs and eventually a paint job. The next 3 decades were pretty sweet. Lots of meets, shows, and a few cameos in local TV. Tilly made 2 ½ London to Brighton runs, 1979-81, and met another Grout in 1981, who also thought they were the sole survivor. The car kept putting away in central Massachusetts with the local car clubs calling her the only running Grout. Then in 2005, a boiler replacement project revealed a sag in the wooden frame that was threatening to break the car in half. 

The full restoration was started in 2013. The woodwork was done by Mark Herman in CT. He replaced the frame, and repaired the body panels that could be saved. The wheels were rebuilt at Stutzman’s Wheel shop in PA. We did the prep work for the paint on the body, wheels and wooden fenders, which was completed by Randy Beaudoin and Kenny Jacobs in MA. 

The boiler and burner were made by Don Bourdon in Woodstock, he also got us in touch with the man who made the copper water tank. The leather is original to the car. All the plumbing and mechanical restoration was done by us. Sarah made the boots for the top and the era inspired costumes for us. 


Bill working on the boiler 
Sarah sanding the body

Tilly enjoyed a full debut season in 2021, participating in an annual steam car tour, and 3 large car shows including the V.A.E. Waterbury show and a couple best in pre-war awards. 

Mr. Beun’s car has made it to Australia and is now active in the car community there. We now know of a dozen Grout cars world wide, and though the company started and ended with internal combustion vehicles, only the steam powered cars survived. 

The New Year 2022

Here we are in a new year, 2022, and I am left wondering how I got here so fast. It seems like only a couple of years ago I was talking to Gary about how we were going to say 2001. Would it be two-thousand and one or twenty-01? And now it is twenty – twenty-two. Amazing! 

And now is the time some people are making or have already made a resolution for the coming year, taking stock of oneself and deciding what we should work on or, in a lot of cases, “work off”! I personally have made a few over the years of the “work off” kind but always seemed to start very motivated, and then think I could do it tomorrow or next week and, as it turned out, had the thought that it would be a good one for next year! 

I really admire those that can plan and stick to it, but guess I am not one of those. I have a friend (from childhood) that plans her eating and exercising every day and never veers away. While on one hand I think doing this is admirable, but my thought is that you will miss something 

wonderful in your quest to be perfect. We took her to a fabulous restaurant once, and we could tell it was almost painful for her to decide what she could eat. She chose eggs Benedict with meat and hollandaise sauce on the side (both left untouched), and she let Gary order her dessert and take it home. Gary was happy, two desserts! But have to say, “To each his own.” But also will add that is why she looks like a toothpick and I look like a bush! 

So am I making a New Year’s resolution? Not really, but I will try to be kinder, happier, smile more, and not always passing on dessert might just be the answer. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

1929 70A Willys Knight Sedan

Tammy and Charlie Thompson, (Daughter and Dad), are on their way to a parade in this beautiful 1929 Willys Knight Sedan.

1929 Willys Knight Sedan hood ornament

Tammy’s 70A Willys Knight is a sight to be seen! The lines are great, it was built during the height of the factory’s output (140,000 were built that year), and the engineering quality is among the best.

One other small detail is the type of engine that hauls this beauty around. The gent who developed this unique engine is Charles Knight. One requirement of his, if you wanted to use his engine, is that his name had to be added to the vehicle name: thus “Willys Knight”. The Knight engine does not use the normal valves we are use to. When he was thirty-two years-old, Mr. Knight purchased a vehicle in 1901 and was very annoyed by the sound of the slapping valve. He found financial backing and developed an engine that was added to a new automobile in 1906, called the “Silent Knight”. His cure for all that noise was to dump the old valves and add two sleeves inside each cylinder. Each sleeve had built-in holes and when certain holes lined up, the exhaust was allowed to leave. Another set of holes would be lined up when the gas/air mixture needed to get into the cylinder. Tammy’s Willys Knight model was built from 1914 through 1933.

Tammy purchased her Sedan about six years ago from a gent in Connecticut. She was influenced, in a small way, from her dad, Charlie Thompson, who has a Whippet, built by the same company; Willys-Overland. She fell in love with the brand while joining her dad to a national Willys-Overland gathering. Her car came up for sale and with the help of her dad and other WOKR Club members, she bought it. Beside the brand, the condition and the car’s history; there was one other important reason for her purchase….it was red, her favorite color.

1929 Willys Knight 70A Sedan

Tammy has become use to the 200-to-300-mile tours that happen when their WOKR club gets together. Asked about the longest distance she has traveled, driving her car, she said the trip from Marietta, Georgia to Jasper, Indiana was the longest. Her son, Ethan, and her dad, Charlie, joined her in the 800-mile round-trip. Except for a small emergency about a half hour at the start the trip, all went very well. The emergency was a fire from a dragging right-rear brake, which happens to be just inches from the gas tank. Ethan could smell smoke and it took a while to convince his mother it was coming from “her” car. A squirt or two from a fire extinguisher, a short wait for everything to cool down and a small adjustment to matched that mechanical brake to the other three, and they were on their way again.

She said her Willys Knight loves to cruise at 43 MPH. The Knight engines are noted for burning oil, and some, putting out lots of tail-pipe smoke while driving down the highway. You can see from the front page, as Tammy was gearing up to entering the highway, that her engine is not a smoker.

The only other mishap was when she had entered a rally race with her Willys Knight. Her navigator had to cancel at the last minute, so she decided to go anyway. All was going very well as she followed a competitor in his speedy little sports car; until “the corner”. She said the car requires strong arm steering, and while the little sports car sped around the corner, she went straight. She was very proud that she did not do a “wheelie” like she had done a few years earlier with her dad’s Whippet. She recovered and came in sixth place. (Tammy’s definition of a wheelie, in a car, is to have the two tires on the left or the right, off the ground.)

1929 70A Willys Knight Sedan interior

Tammy’s next project is a Vermont Willys Knight. A 1928 Model 56 Sport Coupe that had belonged to Gael Boardman from the mid-50s. There is a WOKR gathering in Huntsville, Georgia next June and she hopes to be driving it.

That “Coupe” has lots of VAE club history going back to when Gael was a young man and Pevey Peake was having his old-car adventures. If you do a little Wheel Tracks research, you can find Gael-stories about the coupe. One story he wrote is called “Takes a Licking, Keeps on Smoking”, where he mentions driving the car over 100,000 miles while he had it. This coupe now has a new life with Tammy and ready to make much more history.
Ain’t this old-car stuff fantastic?

Good luck in your travels Tammy. You don’t need to be told to have a good time, you have that part exactly right.

Doggie Doors

I’ve had a house full of family members visiting this fall, and with all these people came 4 dogs. Now, I must say all the dogs, along with my old dog, got along really well. One thing that helped was the fact that I have a doggie door next to the back door. Unfortunately, 2 visiting dogs never figured out how to use it. I have forgotten what it is like to have to open the door whenever a dog wanted to go out or in. What a nuisance. We originally installed the door for a dog we had many years ago. We were both working and the dog, Phoebe, was afraid of thunderstorms. The doggie door allowed her to go in the house when the weather got bad.

A few years ago, I came down in the morning to find a sweet little beagle sleeping on the couch. I had never seen this dog before. After making a few phone calls, I put her in the car and drove around the neighborhood, but no one knew who she belonged to. I finally found a family that just moved into a house down the road; the dog was theirs. She came back to visit several times after that. Sweet dog.

We had a cat that used the doggie door too. Steve Dana gave us a cat many years ago named Rosie. Rose liked chipmunks, live ones. We had it down to a good system. Rosie would bring a chipmunk in the house, drop it, I would quickly barricade doors, open the back door, get a broom, put Rosie in another room, and chase the chipmunk out the back door.

There are also the times in warm weather when the windows are open at night that our dog (or dogs) would hear something outside and run out the doggie door only to bark and bark and bark, waking everyone up. This is when I would get the dogs inside and put the sliding panel in that closes the door, not letting anyone out.

A neighbor has a huge St. Bernard, and this dog has a doggie door that a bear cub could walk through. It has never happened, but I have heard stories about raccoons using doggie doors, and if a racoon can, a skunk can too! Not a pretty thought.

Our dog, Dixie, likes to walk down the hill to the neighbors’ house to go swimming in their pond. They love Dixie. Everyone loves Dixie. She has a wonderful smile and is very fond of dog biscuits. After her swim, she uses their doggie door to go inside to visit and maybe look for a treat before walking back up the hill.

Sadly, Dixie is getting too old to do that anymore. She would rather just nap in the house now.

The other day some of the visiting family finally left and took with them their 2 dogs. We are now left with just 2 visiting dogs plus our own. Unfortunately, one of the dogs is one that doesn’t know how to use the doggie door. Good grief!

1957 Nash Ambassador

Richard and Mary Lou Hurd’s Nash Ambassador

Richard Hurd… “Why do I like Nashautomobiles, you ask?”

“One good reason is that I do not meet many of them when I am driving mine down the road!”

Richard Hurd and his 1957 Nash Ambassador

Richard was working in his Springfield, Vermont shop the morning that I called him. He was working on a boat seat; you see, he has been an upholsterer for over 60 years. This shop is where he has made his living the past 57 years. Asked if he has a specialty and he said he basically does it all, boats, cars, buggies, furniture, and on.

Lately though, he tries to only work from his bench. He has done many auto interiors and other than one problem, he could do them today. The problem, he says with a laugh, is that getting “into” the vehicle is no problem, but then, because “he is getting up there”, he can not get back out! We both laughed about having his wife, Mary Lou, bring him his supper to some vehicle he can not get out of.

Richard is 79 years old and was doing upholstery when he was in high school. I said, by this time he must know his trade and he calmly replied, “Well, I do have some people fooled”.

He has a small stable of antique cars. His first antique car, from many years ago, was a 1937 Ford Tudor that is in fine working shape and sits along side a 1957 Nash Metropolitan that he restored by using two to make one. He also has a 1930 Nash. I found one online and put the pictured left, so you have an idea of what it looks like, this is not Richard’s ‘30 Nash, but one that is similar.

Then there is his ‘57 Nash Ambassador pictured on the front page. Only 1800 pounds heavier than his Metropolitan (3640 lbs. vs 1850 lbs.), and only five feet longer (209 inches vs 1850). The Ambassador also has 327 HP compared to the 50 HP that the Metro packs. To the question about why Nash’s, beside his comment on the front page, Richard said it just makes it easier if they are all one brand. A very good lesson for beginners in this hobby.

Richard purchased his Ambassador when the Nash club had a meet in Massachusetts, about ten years ago. The gent he bought it from had a trailer full of club documents that was being towed by the car, and the Nash had to go home to unhitch the trailer before Richard could take possession. The Nash’s home was a thousand miles away in Illinois. Richard and a friend flew out and drove the car home to Vermont.

I am wondering if some of us have missed something while deciding what old car to collect. Maybe we should have thought more about the Nash brand! My math adds up to four one-thousand mile trips for this Nash, two of them with a trailer attached, before it arrived to its new home in Vermont.

My next question, seems a little silly now, but I asked him what kind of problems he has had with the car in the ten years he has owned it. There was only silence on the phone, Richard was trying to think of some. He finally said he had the engine rebuilt about four years ago after spinning a bearing. Even though the car only needed the bearing fixed, he thought he would play it safe and go through the rest of the engine. He said he has missed only one “Slow Spoke Tour” since it started and many of them have been in his Ambassador. Maybe the Nash advertising slogan was correct in 1927… “Nash leads the World in Motor Car Value”

Richard did tell about his Metropolitan letting him down once. He noticed a “different” noise one time, kind of a grinding sound. He soon found the reason when the front spindle broke and his wheel fell off. Seems to be more excitement with his smaller car!

Thank you Richard for teaching us a little about the Nash brand of automobile.

This from the Nash history books……

The Nash Ambassador is a luxury automobile that was produced by Nash Motors from 1927 until 1957. For the first five years it was a top trim level, then from 1932 on a standalone model. Ambassadors were lavishly equipped and beautifully constructed, earning them the nickname “the Kenosha Duesenberg”. The bodies of the 1952 to 1957 Ambassadors were designed by Italian auto designer Pinin Farina.

For the period between 1929-1934 when Nash produced a line of seven-passenger saloons and limousines, the Ambassador series was the maker’s “flagship”, and remained so following the Nash-Hudson merger in 1954.

From 1958 until 1965, the cars were named Rambler Ambassador, then from 1966 to 1974, as the AMC Ambassador. The continued use the Ambassador model name made it “one of the longest-lived automobile nameplates in automotive history.”

Big Shoes to Fill

As you all, I’m sure, are aware by now, Gary Fiske a number of months ago sent word to the Board of Directors that he had made the big decision to step down as Editor of Wheel Tracks after publication of the October 2021 edition. He did not come to this lightly and let the board know that he needed to slow things down in his life and felt now was the right time to pass the job on to another person (though how can he slow down when he’s now the new president of the VAE and, as we saw in the recent October Wheel Tracks, his wife, Sharon, surprised him with an anniversary gift in the form of an antique GMC fire truck that needs A LOT of work?!)

Gary put out the call for a new editor, and after not hearing from anyone who wanted to take over, he embarked upon an ingenious way to break up the 12 pages of the magazine with 3 editors each taking four pages, and so far he has found two people (yours truly and the duo of Nancy & Ken Gypson). Unfortunately he’s still looking for that special third person but will continue editing pages himself (fortunately for us), until that time comes. So Nancy & Ken and I have agreed to become editors of eight pages. It’s a monumental task for us as neither Ken & Nancy nor I have any experience with MS Publisher. Gary has spent countless hours giving us a crash course on the software, even driving from his home in Enosburg to Colchester where I live not once, but twice, and driving to Poestenkill, New York, and staying overnight with Ken & Nancy to get them up to speed. So please be patient with us as we climb this steep learning curve to deliver to you the quality you’ve become so accustomed to.

Now back to Gary……..

Do you realize that at the end of this year he will have been editor for 11 years?!? That’s 11 years of gathering stories and photos and ideas from anyone and everywhere he could to compile 121 +/- monthly editions. And that’s month after month after month………for 11 years! Every month we’ve looked forward to seeingwhat he’s gathered, what submissions he’s received, what pictures he himself has taken, and every month Gary puts together a magazine as slick as any you might find from an association like ours.

So this is our inaugural issue. I know the Gypsons will agree with me that we have big shoes to fill. We’re up for the task, but please be patient with us as we learn how to make text boxes, insert pictures, line up headers, align, arrange, clip, cut & paste, change fonts, colors, scream, holler, and call Gary for help when you’ve just spent a couple hours on a page and it all of a sudden moves right by six inches seemingly on its own!

(Really, I didn’t do anything, and that’s a true story and I’m sticking to it.) He is ever so patient and calm in the midst of hysteria, even nine o’clock at night at the other end of the phone. Thank you, Gary, for giving all the VAE members a truly wonderful magazine delivered to their door each month. Ken & Nancy and I will hopefully do you proud!

Saying Goodbye

I have written a couple of times about my precious kitty, Willy, and how he came into our lives, along with his history or what was the last 7 years of his life with us.


Well, his time has come to an end, and we have had to say goodbye. We were fortunate to have about 2 weeks to know he was living his last and to try and pamper him and love him even more than usual, if that was possible.
It just amazes me that an animal can work his way into our hearts, even when he wasn’t a perfect kitty by any means. At times, he seemed to love me as much as Gary but then he would run at me and bite and run away. Then he would just stare at me, his face looking like, ‘what are you going to do about that?’ Gary did get bit a few times but never with the frequency of me. He always laid in Gary’s lap but never mine. The closest was him settling himself on the arm of my chair.


He slept at our feet and usually tried to sleep on mine. Doing this he became like a lead weight, and it proved extremely difficult to get him off. Most days he was up at 6 AM and would cry until one of us got up and fed him. By the time he had us up, he would go back to bed for a few hours – so no making the bed until after 10.
He had long hair which was scattered through out the house.


He loved treats and would sit by the dishwasher and cry until you accommodated him, even when he had exceeded the package recommendation of ‘no more than 8 pieces a day’.


He hated going to the Vet and would hide when it was time to corral him into his carrier. I have had to cancel appointments because we couldn’t find him in the house. This behavior led to a long list of tricks, which would never work twice. But, even with all the annoyances, and ‘bad kitty’ behavior, we loved this guy and wept for him when his time came. We still miss him, and I am sure I can hear him in the night coming into our room and jumping on the bed.


My advice to anyone out there considering adopting a pet, whether it be a dog, cat or another animal, know that…..

  1. They probably won’t be perfect
  2. There will be times you will think, ‘why me’ and you will try to think of any place that would take them.
  3. But know, in the end you will have a broken heart for awhile and wish them back no matter how they acted, but you will come to the realization that it was all worth it.

Gary’s 1927 GMC Firetruck

L to R… Gary Olney, Gary F., Judy Boardman, Bill Erskine & Wendell Noble

There are two “innocents” in these pictures, and four “connivers”. Dixie the dog is one innocent, can you guess who is the second?

How do you match the joy of a young child tearing into a surprise birthday gift and discovering that it is just what he’s always wanted?

Well, how about seeing a fellow who’s er, well into adulthood, discover that the surprise anniversary gift from his wife is the rusty relic of a 1927 GMC firetruck that he has been lusting for?


So it has come to pass for VAE folks who took part in making this happen for Gary Fiske. The feature truck had been tucked away in Gael Boardman’s shed behind his tractor and some other machinery and under some other miscellaneous goods that simply needed a place to be. Following Gael’s passing, Judy Boardman sought to dispose of some of his memorabilia stuff into appreciative hands.

L to R… Judy Boardman, Gary & Sharon Fiske


This was accomplished with a very successful VAE auction in July. The firetruck remained, seen but not spoken for.
Sharon Fiske somehow sensed that Gary would like to own it and discretely let it be known to a few friends that she would like to surprise him with it as an anniversary gift. A plan was hatched, a ruse was devised and some bald-faced lies were told to get the surprise underway. It was so well executed that Gary unwittingly took part himself, by lending his trailer and helping to load it, thinking that Bill Erskine would be the happy new owner.


The tires held air, at least for the day, the wheels turned freely and the relic rolled onto Gary’s trailer. Once the truck was loaded for transport, Sharon was cleverly able to dispatch Gary on a wild goose chase while the conspirators trucked it to Gary’s yard. The surprise was total and joyous to witness. Gary just happened to have room under cover for his new treasure along with all the other vehicles that he’ll get to someday.


There is still much to be learned about the fire engine’s origin and history. Therein lies the joy of owning it. Is it a candidate for restoration? If so, to what? In the mean time, Gary can go out and sit in it and imagine that he’s responding to a fire, at 35 MPH, tops.


From the editor & the proud recipient of this little GMC firetruck

I want to thank everyone for this really nice gift, especially my wife Sharon. I kind of pride myself for being “plugged in” when it comes to things around me. I have to admit, I was totally off the grid in this case. When people ask how many project vehicles I need, most of the time I say that I need two more and they will take me to 120 years old. I think I am there.


Now to the fun part that Wendell spoke about. First to find the history on this truck and second to find exactly what I have here. Of course, working on it is the frosting on the cake.


As to the history, the first person I contacted was Gary Irish. Gary lives near the Boardman’s and I was hoping Gael might have mentioned the truck to him. Gary had nothing to offer except an apology; you see he is also one of those ’plugged-in’ folks. Gael’s wife, Judy, can only remember that it appeared one day. So, to all you friends and neighbors of Gael Boardman’s homestead, I would like to hear from you if you have some information.


Next is to find what I have. Dodge Brothers and Franklins are a bit where I come from, I know very little about GMCs. A book by the name of “The First Century of GMC Trucks by Donald Meyer claims there were 12,918 GMC trucks sold in 1927. The beginning for GMC started in 1900 with a single cylinder, chain-drive vehicle with a top speed of 10 MPH and a capacity of one ton.


It goes on to tell how ‘27 was the first year of the GMC T-trucks, the T-20, the T40 and the T50s. The T-50 was a 2-ton truck and had a worm drive rear-end…definitely not mine. The T-40 was a 2-ton truck with a bevel gear rear axle. I will have to look in the pumpkin, but I don’t think this is it either. The T20 is a 1-ton truck and that might be mine.


But wait, later in 1927, GMC started building a new model called a T-10 which was a half-ton delivery truck called a “Speed Wagon”. But no, Meyer claims the T-10s had a Pontiac engine and all the others have Buick engines. My engine is a Buick.


The Buick engine is a valve-in-head L6. The T-20 had a 207 cid engine and the T-40 and T-50 both had 274 cid engines. How can you tell the difference?


My dash plaque claims top vehicle speed is 35 MPH. I bet when I get done tweaking and peaking I will squeeze at least 36MPH out of her, but first I have to un-seize the engine with Gael’s favorite stuff called “Kroil”…….yes!
Can you imagine any more fun than this? I can not.

1966 Ford Fairlane GTA

“I had just about given up, then I remembered my parents had a 1966 or 67 Fairlane. It was a nice car with a 289 and auto transmission. I found this good looking 1966 GTA S-code 2-door in Lynn, Mass.” 

Dave Carpenter, Addison, Vermont

I really enjoy reading articles, be it from Wheel Tracks, Hemmings Muscle Car Magazine or other publications about the men and women that have their first car. 

I am not one of them, although parts of that first ride are still with me, we shall get back to that later. 

It was the 2014 Stowe Show that got us to where we are today in the ownership of our 1966 Fairlane GTA. At the time, I was the Automotive Instructional Aide at Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury . The instructor was not able to use the tickets he had received from the Golden Wrench Award so he asked if I could use them. Not one to pass up a freebee I said: sure. When August rolled around, I said to my wife Mary, let’s go to the Stowe Car Show, I have free tickets. We made a day of it, going for lunch, site seeing and attending the show Friday afternoon. 

As we were getting ready to leave, she asked what was my first car? I responded, “a 1967 Chevelle Convertible”. Then she asked, “what does one look like”? Have you ever been to a car show and seen less than a dozen of that vintage? Well, wrong place and wrong time, as none were to be found, but fortunately I did spot a 1966 Hardtop as we were getting close to the parking lot, on our way out. To my great surprise, she stated, “if you really want to get another one, its OK with me”. Wow, what an offer! I thought I knew pricing on that vintage. Wrong! Want’s are one thing, but I did not need a car that badly to pay what asking prices were. 

I had just about given up, then I remembered my parents had a 1966 or 67 Fairlane. It was a nice car with a 289 and auto transmission. A few minutes on Craigslist and I found a good looking 1966 GTA S code 2-door in Lynn, Mass. We had already planned a trip to see our grandkids who at the time lived in Saugus, only minutes from the car. An appointment was set. We looked at the car, made an offer and two weeks later, Dave Welch and I picked the car up and returned home. 

What impressed me about this car is how complete it was. Sure, it needed a complete once over but it was basically rust free, all trim, emblems and interior original. Mary wanted a complete car, not a project car that would probably never see the road. Always listen to your wife! 

What we have done since 2015 is: a complete suspension rebuild including brakes, springs, shocks and new front end components. The rear end and drive shaft has been rebuilt with new bearings and gears. The engine has had head work done, a new cam and intake manifold. The transmission was totally rebuilt. 

Next on the agenda for 2022 will be new interior pieces such as seat covers and door panels. It will never be a show car but neither was that 67 Chevelle, just a fun car to drive and get an occasional ice cream in. And speaking of that first car, I do have the Motorola 8 track player that was once in the Chevelle. It now resides in the Fairlane, in great working order. So I guess in a small way, I still do have that first car, at least a small piece of it and a fond memory every time I play those 8 tapes ( the one I am listening to at the moment is by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band). 

Flowers – Pruning & Blooming

I have recently come to the realization that I’m not a very good gardener. When we first moved to Underhill, being very young and having started accumulating kids, we moved into a wonderful old house that once belonged to Gael’s grandparents. Gael’s Grandma Bessie was an amazing gardener and she started her flower beds in the late 1920’s. When we moved in, in 1961, there were well established beds. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember what flower was what, so I would have to invite Grandma Bessie’s friends over to, once again, tell me the names of the flowers. 

Fast forward a few years and we bought the old farm up the road and eventually built a house there. When we got around to sell our old house, I had to bring some of Grandma Bessie’s flowers with us. It was pretty much a clean slate at the new place, so we dug some beds to put the flowers (temporarily?) in. I moved as many plants as I could. Because there were a number of stones left over from the house, I started a big rock garden. By this time, we started having goats, pigs, ponies, a dog and cat or two. 

My time was limited, but I was young and had grand ideas. I moved phlox, hollyhocks, iris, lilies and probably some flowers that I couldn’t remember the names of. Some did really well and others didn’t. To this day I can’t get a hollyhock to last more than one season. The goats we had were “flying-goats” and could jump over or crawl under any fence we built and 

they loved to eat (prune?) my flowers. It was an ongoing battle for years. They were really fond of the first daffodils that bloomed in the spring. 

But the flower beds did really well considering the fact that I had lots going on and couldn’t tend to them properly. I would read articles about perennial flower beds and the need to separate or divide things. I just didn’t have the time! But the plants bloomed anyway. 

I don’t know why but friends were always bringing me plants and because my flower beds were getting a bit cramped for space, I would stick these gifts wherever I could. I also had a rock problem, I couldn’t dig a hole without uncovering rocks. Everywhere!!! 

There was one summer when oldest daughter worked at a landscape nursery. In the fall, they were going to toss the perennials out, so she brought home all she could fit in her car, not once but many times. Gael tilled up yet another bed to put them all in (temporarily). 

Well, time flies and here we are in 2021. The flower beds are a mess, crowded and diseased. It starts with little green worms on my azaleas. Then. spider mites appear and soon after the powdery mildew. So, I spray everything with whatever I have on hand and hope for the best. Then there are the weather extremes, hot/cold, dry/wet and so on. I’m overwhelmed. It is much easier to mow the lawn, just sit and steer, than to tackle the perennial flower problems. 

Flowers still bloom, sort of, and not everything makes it through the winter, but I can’t do much about it anymore. I just enjoy the flowers and weeds that do bloom, and that’s about all I can do. A gardener like Chris Sears, I’m not.