Monday, January 05, 2015

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 138

The Time Mookie Rode In His Dad's Truck And Squirted People

I was reminded of this story by my youngest son this past week while he was playing with his Legos. He had made a car of some kind and had rigged it so it had a gun on the front. As he was explaining how he could shoot bullets out the front and I was trying to decide if this sort of gun talk was alarming in itself, my mind suddenly recalled an event from my youth. I hadn't thought about this thing in years and I couldn't stop laughing about it for a few minutes afterwards.

When I was a kid, my Dad had a red and white 1966 Ford F-150 truck that he affectionately named "Clara." I think Dad bought it from my maternal grandfather at some point after my Mom and Dad got married, and it served my Dad well for many years as he drove it to/from work every day.  As far back as I can remember, Clara was the definition of a rattle trap piece of junk.  I'll never forget the times when the tie-rods were in disrepair, and upon hitting the bridge/road joiner at the Dudgeon bridge the truck would shake and shimmy to an almost uncontrollable state while my Dad wrangled it back into control. As a child it was terrifying and exciting all at the same time. This thing had so much rust on it by the time my Dad got rid of it in the late 1980's, it was a wonder it didn't crumble to pieces after hitting a pothole or something. Due to Clara's seemingly constant state of needing some sort of repair, my Dad could often be found tinkering or fixing something on her on a given weekend. While he made many modifications and repairs over the years, there is one modification that clearly still sticks out in my mind to this day: the time he fixed the washer fluid squirter pump.  This may seem like a mundane and trivial repair, but trust me - it ended up being a most glorious enhancement.

This is what Clara looked like minus the roof lights,
the chrome wheels, and if you added about 100 lbs of rust.
Nowadays when you want to spray washer fluid on your windshield, most cars have this capability by pulling or pushing the wiper control arm back or forward. In the 1966 Ford F-150, there was a push button control on the driver's left side dash that you pushed and held in to squirt the fluid while you also ran the windshield wipers. As these two actions were independent of one another, my father decided to take full advantage of this situation.

Somewhere along the way he got the bright idea to unhook the hose that delivered the washer fluid from the pump to the windshield sprayers, and direct it towards the front grill of the truck.  There on the front grill he had discreetly mounted (electrical tape) a disassembled ink pen with the little hole in the end facing outward. He hooked the hose to the ink pen part, and viola.....he had made his truck into a mobile squirt gun.  The only downside was that the washer fluid reservoir had a leak in it, so if he wanted to use his squirt gun he had to be sure that he had recently topped off the tank. Also because of said leak, he only used water instead of washer fluid.

I can recall numerous times we would be tooling around town together when he would spray the car in front of us at a stop light.  The stream was at an angle where he could easily shoot it up onto the rear window of a car and get a distance of probably six or seven feet.  I would laugh until I cried every time he did it, and even though I was afraid we'd get in trouble (I was a kid) I'd still ask him to do it again and again. I don't recall him ever spraying it at actual people, but I have to expect he probably did when I wasn't with him.  I also remember my Mom's expression whenever I told her of our antics. She would always gave us the classic look and resulting eye roll that only a confused mom can give.

The all-time best shot he ever did though was one day we were pulling through town and came up to a four-way intersection. The car in front of us had been in a fender-bender of some kind, so the trunk lid was strapped down and the key hole in the trunk lid had been punched out. My Dad must have seen it coming as we pulled up behind it, because as he slowed to a stop he hit the button and started squirting at the wrecked car. Dad pulled up and stopped right at the point where the stream was going DIRECTLY into the punched out key hole.  It was classic stuff, and while he never said as much - you could tell Dad was pretty proud of himself with his mobile-squirt gun marksmanship.

The only thing that would have made this squirt gun totally epic was if he had added a direction control on it so he could move it right/left/up/down as needed instead of a static stream.  If the technology would have been cheaply available then, I'm pretty sure he would have done it.

Not long after this though, old Clara's vitals took a turn for the worse and Dad declared her unsafe at any speed - even just sitting in our driveway.  Dad ended up selling her to some guy who claimed he was going to fix her up, even though my Dad advised numerous times it probably wasn't safe to even sit in.  Thankfully Clara didn't breakdown as they pulled away, and we never saw her again.  Hopefully the guy didn't die driving home either.

People always say: "They don't make them like they used to." and they are 100% correct.  Ever since Clara left I have yet to see a car that has it's own built-in squirt gun system.  I think this needs to happen as I'm sure it would definitely be a popular selling option.  I'd buy one.

(*) - Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent

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