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    Entries in Frank Foran (4)


    Gimme A Brake!

    This is something I wrote and published on October 13, 2006. I did make minor edits, but it pretty much remains intact:

    My father was always a very good auto mechanic. He used to help fix seemingly unfixable problems on stock cars that would run the modified NASCAR circuit. Back in the seventies, he owned a front-end alignment shop in Flemington, New Jersey. It didn’t take long for him to gain the reputation as having the best one in the area. People from all over would bring their cars to him. There was another guy in town who had been in the same business years longer; however, there were plenty of potholes around to keep them both busy. As a matter of fact, the two liked each other. One day, the other guy suffered a terrible accident on the job and went to the biggest and best alignment shop in the sky. That really bothered my father. 


    I remember when I was 18, way back in 1970, I bought a 1965 Mustang. With air conditioning and an 8-Track cassette. AM-FM stereo, to boot. I was the man! FM had come into vogue by then, but most cars from 1965 and earlier era only had AM. With a loaded Mustang, it gave me enough confidence to go after a genuine girlfriend; one I had been eyeballing. Oh yes, she was a real knockout, I mean to tell ya! Unfortunately, Mustangs were not known for having big back seats. Oh, TMI.

    The following summer, the car needed new front shocks. I had never technically worked on a car up to that point and never planned to, not with a father who knew pretty much everything about cars. And after riding bikes most of my life, cars were still relatively new to me. Oh, he used to let me “help” him when I was a young boy, just to make me feel good, I suppose, but I never really did anything because I really didn’t help much at all.

    One day, I called him and asked if he would put new front shocks in for me. Sure, go over to Carver’s Auto Parts, get what you need and come by Saturday morning. OK, great! I was tired of getting seasick every time I went over a bump in the road. So was my girlfriend. That Saturday morning, I stopped by, parts in hand…

    “See those tools over there? They are all you’re going to need to replace those bad shocks.” 

    “What do you mean?” I protested. “I thought you were going to put them in for me!” 

    “No, you’re going to have to learn how to work on a car and this is a good place to start.”

    When he told me that, I began to dislike him for thinking I was ready to work on my own vehicle. I wasn’t, and I’m certain he sensed it when I called. Had he told me beforehand that I was going to do the work, I’d simply continue to drive on bad shocks.

    “I’m going to be right here to give you all the advice you need, so don’t panic.” 

    One thing about my father’s tools was that you could eat off them. They were neatly arranged, too. AND YOU’D BETTER RETURN THEM THAT WAY! Oh, he didn’t expect me to remember where they all went, but they’d better be clean.

    “No one wants to reach into a toolbox and grab a dirty, greasy wrench.” He was right. He was right about something else, too. I learned how to work on my own cars and I must have saved tens of thousands of dollars over the years because of it. 


    Sometime in the mid-seventies, my very close and personal friend, Frank Foran, had a little Japanese import. I think it was a Subaru. Frank sold industrial coatings for Dupont back then and needed a small, fuel-efficient car that was very dependable. Because of all the driving he did, the rear brakes finally needed to be replaced. Front brakes wear out three times as quickly and those he kept in good working order. After tens of thousands of miles, it was time.

    I called my father and asked if I could use his shop on Saturday to work on Frank’s car. He normally didn’t work weekends so that wasn’t an issue. These were drum type brakes and the shoes were what needed to be replaced. Frank wasn’t as mechanically inclined as me when it came to working on cars, so I took him to the parts store with me, to show him how to shop talk automobile language. (He did know what a turbo encabulator was, but never worked on one.)

    When we left the store, he followed me to my father’s alignment shop. Inside the bay was a rack you’d drive up onto. In other words, it wasn’t a hydraulic lift. It was high enough, though, that you could stand under it.

    “OK, Frank. Slowly drive up the ramp and I’ll tell you when to stop.”

    He got out and climbed down. After removing the tires, I unbolted the wheel drums. After they’ve been on a car for a long time and subjected to the elements, they can be really tough to remove. They were. After finally getting them off, I started to disassemble the brakes, beginning with the driver’s side. I compared the old parts with the new, to make sure everything matched up. Everything was going well. I installed all of the new parts. I checked and checked again to make sure everything was correct. Check! Everything looked perfect. except…

    I tried to slide the brake drum back onto the first wheel cylinder to finish the driver’s side. No way. It wouldn’t fit. The brake padding was too thick. I thought of everything. I looked again to make sure my work was correct. It was. I compared the old parts with the new. Everything was on right, yet, those drums would not go back on. No way, no how. I even thought about sanding them down. I must have spent what seemed like hours trying to figure the mess out. Of course, Frank didn’t have a clue. Finally, I was officially stumped, so I phoned my father and explained the dilemma.

    “Are you sure everything is right?” he asked me. I told him yes. Absolutely positive.

    “Could you PLEASE come down and take a look? I mean, I’ve tried everything.” Reluctantly, he said yes. Frank and I waited impatiently, but we had no other choice. When good ol’ Dad pulled up and got out of his car, he looked over the exposed wheel assembly. Then, he walked up to us and looked into our eyes. Clearly, he could see our frustration. Then, we saw his. Turning away, he opened the driver’s door, reached in, and disengaged the emergency brake. Huh? What the..? Frank, you yanked on the emergency brake handle?

    “You think you two dodos can finish the job by yourselves?”

    I told you Frank didn’t know much about cars. Apparently, I didn’t either.


    Merry Christmas from Marinade Dave

    This video is a combination of my work and cakefilm out of The Netherlands. The scenes of the hunter are cake’s work. The music and build-up after the final shot are my work. And the credits, of course. My friend Frank Foran sent it to me and I couldn’t resist.


    Walter E. and Anne Foran

    The image below was a pencil sketch I did of the late Senator Walter E. Foran and his wife, Anne, in the early 1980s. The senator died of lung cancer in 1986. I did this portrait for my close friend, Frank, the senator’s son, who faithfully visits his mother in a care facility each and every week. I just returned from New Jersey and spent my last night at his home, where the picture hangs in his dining room. 30 years of sunlight have taken a toll, but it’s still in pretty good shape.

    Walter’s brother Dick was a Hollywood actor who starred in, predominantly, westerns. He was considered one of Hollywood’s singing cowboys during the 30s and 40s. Frank and I have been close friends for nearly 40-years.

    The actual drawing is larger and not cropped like this one, but this was the one that had the least reflection on the glass.


    Pie in the sky?

    The term “pie in the sky” originally meant to be a promise of heaven while continuing to suffer through living in the material world. It was coined by Joe Hill in a song written by him in 1911. Joe was a Swedish-born itinerant laborer who migrated to the United States in 1902. The Web site The Phrase Finder described his songs as radical as he fought for labor organizations. “The phrase appeared first in Hill’s ‘The Preacher and the Slave’, which parodied the Salvation Army hymn ‘In the Sweet Bye and Bye’. The song, which criticized the Army’s theology and philosophy, specifically their concentration on the salvation of souls rather than the feeding of the hungry, was popular when first recorded and remained so for some years.”

    You will eat, bye and bye,
    In that glorious land above the sky;
    Work and pray, live on hay,
    You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.

    Today, pie in the sky can allude to many things, such as asking for more than you end up with or expect, for that matter. You may ask for the sky and end up with pie, which is better than nothing. It reminds me of an experience I had while selling advertising for a newspaper many years ago. Ed Mack, now gone, was the editor. He was also a member of the Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce and very active in the Hunterdon County YMCA, volunteering many hours of his personal time.

    Ed and I got along great. A wall about 7 feet high is all that separated the editorial department from advertising and my desk sat closest to the line of demarcation. The ceiling was high, so we could hear each other as one side got stories and the other sold ads.

    One afternoon, Ed came over to my side with an idea. Bear in mind, in the world of newspapers, in particular, a common argument prevailed and it probably still does to this very day. The Advertising Department pays the salaries, we’d cry, while the Editorial Department would adamantly point out that its news that sells a newspaper and without news, there would be no newspaper. In the end, those key points were muted by the mere fact that, either way, we had jobs, and that’s what mattered most. Today, it’s not so easy.

    Ed knew that I was a member of the now defunct Flemington Area Jaycees. On this particular afternoon, he wanted to know if I could get a band of fellow Jaycees together to man phones at the telephone company, which had already given its permission to do so. It was a simple request. The intent was to ask for donations from members of the Y and the general population in order to build the first installment of a large complex that was in the works, an Olympic-sized swimming pool to the tune of $150,000. He knew I was an officer of the club and, with mild coaxing, that I could easily table the idea at our next meeting. Sure thing, I said, and to fast forward, about 8 or 9 of us showed up to sit in open booths at the phone company the following month. Ed was the man in charge and he gave us stacks of 3” x 5” filing cards with the names, addresses and phone numbers of potential donors. My close friend, Frank Foran, was and still is a top-notch sales rep, and he was in fitting form for the occasion.

    Of course, we all focused on the cards we had. Initially, I called people and introduced myself as a member of the Flemington Jaycees and that we were proudly supporting the YMCA in their effort to bring our area a large and highly professional educational and recreational sports facility. We all know the Y. All of Hunterdon County would shine because of it. Perhaps you saw it written up in the newspaper? Oh, yes, of course you did. Well, the first leg is the swimming pool and we need to raise $150,000. Could you please help out by donating $50 toward our goal? No? How about $25? No? Yes, I understand times are tough. [Gee, that was back in the late 70s.] OK, well, thank you, and if you can ever help, please call me at the newspaper and I will make sure you are contacted by the right people. That meant Ed, whose office was a mere stone’s throw away from my desk.

    After about a half-dozen disappointing phone calls begging for money, I got zero results and I thought about it. I had to change my tune or I would end up a major flop to the man who was directly under the publisher, my employer. This wouldn’t sit well with Bengt Gaterud, the sales manager, either. I rewrote some of the lyrics. I had my eye in the sky for pie in the sky.

    Hi, I said, as I gave the same opening spiel with the hundred-and-fifty grand price tag. There was no need to change that, but when they asked me how much I was expecting them to give, it wasn’t $25 or $50 I requested. Instead, I asked for $2,000. Yes, $2,000 would be great. Of course, they exploded with raw emotion.

    “Two thousand dollars?!!! You gotta be nuts! I can’t afford anything like that!”

    “OK, how about a thousand?”

    “You gotta be kidding me?”

    “No, I’m serious. How about fifty?

    “Fifty, you got it.”

    And with that change in tactics - the rapid-fire subtle suggestions, I ended up making the second-most money of the night and it was a huge success. Of course, Frank made the most, and no one expected less from him. He’s that good.

    The next morning, Ed and I purposely crossed paths. He thanked me and the fellow Jaycees. I asked him how well we did. He said it was huge, a lot more than he figured. He told me one other thing.

    “I don’t know what you did, Dave, but I gave you a list of deadbeats. I didn’t expect you to make any money at all, but you came in second. I gave you that list because you are a salesperson for this newspaper. I wanted to see what you had in you. You really surprised me.”

    OK, now you may think I’m strutting my stuff, but I’m not. As long as I’ve known Frank, he’s encouraged me to go into sales. When he’s 95-years-old and I’m 90, I can hear him in his decrepid, soft and gravelly voice, “Dave, you need to go into sales.”

    I never will. I’ve found my niche; it’s writing, and there’s a point to my story - the case against Casey. I constantly hear from people who think she deserves the death penalty, but won’t get it. Some people think she should get life without parole so she can live out her days in prison, wallowing in the memories of her precious daughter and what she, herself, could have become in life. Some people don’t think she’s guilty of murder, but none of that is my point. To use the old cliché and cut to the chase, the state has requested the death penalty. Does the state seriously intend to execute her? You bet, or it wouldn’t have been placed on the table to begin with. This ain’t no dress rehearsal, as my old friend Tom Corkhill always said. This is the real deal, only there is a ‘what if’ formula here, just in case. Because of the death penalty, the jury must be made up of people willing to sentence a person to death. It doesn’t automatically mean they will, but means they might be more prone to finding her guilty. The odds increase exponentially with a death qualified jury and the state knows it. There’s the sky, but will the aim be too high?

    In the end, the defense is going to put on a much better show than originally anticipated by us, the general public. Perhaps, in all their seasoned wisdom, the state knew that as time went on in the sweet by and by, things would get tougher. Today, with the recent addition of several more well-seasoned defense attorneys, please allow me one more cliché. I think that, from now on, this is not going to be a piece of cake for the state.