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Shortly after marrying, my wife and I took a trip from Tucson, where we were going to school, to California. In-between Los Angeles and San Diego our little car started to overheat. Pulling into a rest-area and lifting the hood, I discovered that one of the brackets holding a pulley on the accessory belt had broken. While still attached to the frame, the pulley was no longer putting tension on the belt. Being a newlywed husband with only moderate skills at anything and no tools to speak of, I used a pair of nylon stockings to tie the bracket back to its anchor point (I think I got the idea from an old Cary Grant movie, “Operation Petticoat”). This was insufficient, of course, but it was enough for us to limp into Carlsbad, California, where I purchased a set of pliers and some bailing wire which I used to wire the bracket to its mount. The repair was good enough to get us home. (We wound up spending the day in Carlsbad and the next day in San Diego and we had a great time. Never mind that the car was broken.)
Back home, I mentioned the broken bracket to a friend from church. He referred me to his father, I’ll call him Jim, a retiree who had a mechanic shop in his garage. Jim re-welded the broken part for me for peanuts. Over the next few months he taught me how to fix a few other things on the car that needed to be repaired. During one of our first sessions he told me to remove a part from the front-end (I can’t remember which one) and it was like he was speaking Greek. I was embarrassed, but he calmly showed me what needed to be done.
I am grateful to Jim for teaching me “how to fish” and for helping me to become a passable mechanic. His example has been a motivation for me to help when I have been asked to offer similar service. We moved a year after this incident and I’ve lost track of Jim and his son. Someday I will get to tell him the fruit his efforts have born.Published in