08 January 2012

Passing the Torch

New Year and new beginnings may also mean old endings. Such is the case here. If you will, rewind to the year 2001; the Fuzzies were living in Scotland and our dear friend Jim Robertson suggested that we might enjoy attending a nearby antique car show at Scone Palace near Perth. Jim never steered us wrong on anything, so off we went, not anticipating the  path we would follow subsequently.

Mind you, these were all classic cars and all from United Kingdom manufacturers. The Fuzzies were overwhelmed, having never seen most of these types of cars or so much as heard their names: British Small Arms, Riley, Hillman, Humber, Reliant Robin, Wolseley, Morris Minor and other marques . There were relatively few MGs (except for some pre-war models that were to die for), Minis, Triumphs, Spitfires, Sprites, Jags, Austin Healeys or other familiar names. My goodness, there were some real beauties there on those ancient grounds. Mrs. Fuzzy realized that Mr. Magoo's car had been an English Austin Six. Mr. Fuzzy was obsessed with the Morgan Super Sport, a three wheeled car from 1932... and he still dreams of  them. We stayed until nearly closing, seeking to educate our ignorant selves about these venerable automobiles.

As we drove home, our heads were swimming with the formerly unfamiliar and beautiful shapes and colours of those cars. It was striking how many were markedly smaller than American cars but nonetheless had comfortable interiors, were very petrol efficient and reportedly were very responsive on the road. Oh, and they were gorgeous... at least some of them. Probably the Austin Six was leading the pack in our minds.

This may seem like a digression but it is not: On fair weather Sundays, the Fuzzies often hiked the old drove road between their toon and the village of Ceres, working off the calories they expected to acquire at their favourite pub, the 1721 Ceres Inn (Ceres has the oldest Scottish Games in Scotland, dating to 1314). Often on a seat at the end of the bar was a distinguished older gentleman, Andrew, always of good cheer but parsimonious. He heard us discussing the Austin Six one Sunday and in the typical, gentle, indirect Scottish manner, saved us from making a terrible decision - purchasing one. He had owned one and his hair-raising tales of motoring in one (especially regarding the braking system - the pedal worked only the front wheels - to engage the rear wheels, you had to pull on the parking brake). Thank you Andrew (he died of cancer within a few months of dispensing his sage advice, bless him).

Our ignorance was revealed and we know not where to turn, given its depth. Divine providence brought us Harry Topping, a braw Geordie brother Mason with more experience in the mechanical arts than most could acquire in two life times. Harry had recently restored a Morris Minor shooting brake to a glory greater than the factory could have dreamt. He took Mr. Fuzzy for a drive in the hills of Fife and, well, the rest is history. The Fuzzies began a  quest for a Morris and as there are so many still road-worthy, soon found one in marginal condition but within their budget. Morag had probably lived all of her life in Dundee, beginning with her delivery in 1968 and had not been treated kindly of recent. She needed some serious surgery but came through with flying colours.

Morag delighted the Fuzzies in her straightforward simplicity and service. She motored them about Fife with ease and dignity and great petrol economy. They loved her so much, that a couple of years later, they discovered her sister, Flora, in Canterbury - but that's another tale. Both came back to the states in the same container as the household goods; as antique vehicles, there were no import issues whatsoever.

Flora was towed to Stratheden Farm behind the Penske truck driven by Mr. Fuzzy and Miss Lily (alright, technically, Miss Lily cannot drive as she can neither reach the pedals nor see over the dashboard...) but poor Morag was stranded in a friend's garage for three years whilst Mr. Fuzzy sought an inexpensive option to transport her to Stratheden. In the end, time ran out and a rather expensive professional auto transport delivered her here - but a month ago. Ah, it was good to have Morag and Flora back together again.

If history was linear and straightforward, there would be little need to study it. For better or worse, the interactions and seeming chance coincidences, weave and warp events into complex and unpredictable mats which may never be totally understandable. Even in one human life in one year, the realized events are almost impossible to even list, no less analyze. Such is the case here. ever since our friend Bluebird directed us to the Blue Ridge Folk Life Festival at Ferrum College, Mr. Fuzzy has been smitten by the aesthetics of American automobiles between c. 1927-1940 (once the war began, the availability of material and labor dictated car design, not beauty and function. 1941 was the end of much the was wonderful in the world, including many lives). You have seen posts on this very blog featuring those wonders of American design and craft observed at Ferrum...

Mr. Fuzzy had his eye out for a good U.S. car of that vintage but not many were known in Virginia. The Fuzzies examined the stock of two major classic car dealers in Charlotte, but learned that anything they really fancied was beyond their means. The search broadened and perhaps due to Divine Providence once more, Betty Boop came into the fold.

The Fuzzies had always thought that the Morris Minors would always be a part of their lives, but with the purchase of Betty Boop, monies needed to be raised. The Minors would, with great reluctance, be placed on the sale block. Mr. Fuzzy deeply believes in Divine Providence as there is little other explanation for much of his life and once more, the Creator clearly intervened. Morag rolled off of the auto transport truck at the mechanic's shop; having not been driven in almost precisely three years, a professional examination was in order. As she dejectedly sat there, away from her owners and Flora, a lovely lady saw her, and, exactly like the Fuzzies, fell in love at first sight. As this story has rambled on for far too many words already, let it be said she has found another loving and devoted owner as of 3:30 p.m. today.

Mr. Fuzzy cannot adequately express his relief that she has gone to such a good home, hopefully to be loved and treasured for decades. Good-bye, dear Morag, we will never forget you.

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