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    Entries in MGB-GT (2)



    For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of the ”Empress of Soul” and I think her powerful rendition of the National Anthem at the recent Super Bowl (LIII) stole the entire show — before the game ever began. Gladys Knight, to me, is a national treasure and seeing her Sunday evening reminded me of an interesting experience I had years ago.

    This is a Weiner King story. Kind of. Sort of. But not really. Jack opened one at an old Burger Chef in Warminster, PA, in the mid-70s or so. I worked with him to set the place up and hire employees. When it opened, I managed it until it was franchised. I’m pretty sure I lived in Sergeantsville, NJ, in those days and was still heavily into my MGB-GT phase. A few years earlier, I had purchased a beautiful red 1971 and totaled it some time later. Fortunately, I was able to keep it at a local body shop, where my father had a front-end alignment business. Eventually, I found a dull-colored, silver-gray, 1969 model that had a tired engine in dire need of a wiring harness. Hey, the price was right and I worked on my own cars back then. With MGs, you had to. In due time, everything came together. I took the perfect engine out of the wreck and put it in the ‘69. I found a harness at a garage that came out of a 1970 model. Unfortunately, those silly British changed their wiring schematic diagram color codes every single year and it took Stew Bacheler and me three days to get the alternator connected correctly. It sat in his garage in Three Bridges until we got it right. Meanwhile, before I did anything at all, that car was my daily driver and, of course, some of the gauges didn’t work. Because of that, I never knew how much gas was in the tank, so I topped it off quite often. Well, most of the time.

    One fateful morning, I cruised over the Delaware River, probably across the Washington Crossing Bridge, which would have been one of my alternate routes, but I’m not sure why. Stockton or Lambertville would have been more convenient, especially the 202 bridge, except it was toll. About a half mile, maybe less, into Bucks County, PA, the car decided to spit, sputter, and roll to a stop directly in front of a mansion-like house. Oh, great, I thought, whoever lives there is going to take one look at my car and tell me to get help somewhere else.

    I remember parking as close to the edge of the road as possible. Trees lined the front yard. There were mounds of snow on the ground from a storm long gone, left in the chilled shadows of those trees. Pockets of dirty snow were scattered everywhere I drove, but I don’t remember it being bitterly cold.

    I walked up the long driveway and knocked on the huge door, not knowing what to expect, other than a person with money. The door swung open and there stood a tall man, whisking eggs in a big bowl.

    “Can I help you with something,” he asked, with a slight look of apprehension.

    “Yes, my car ran out of gas.” I pointed to the car, which was almost unnoticeable between the snow and trees. “Could I please use your phone? I’ll pay you.”

    It took a few seconds. “Ahhh, yes! An MGB-GT.” That broke the ice, so to speak. “I’ve owned one or two. Come on in…” MG owners were part of a club. I followed him to the kitchen. What a beautiful house! “I’m making a vegetable omelet. Would you like some? There’s plenty.”

    I declined. “Thank you, but you eat.” It was nice enough of him to invite me into his home and I certainly didn’t intend to interrupt him. While he prepped, cooked, and ate his breakfast, we made small talk. He asked me about the car. He asked me about my job. I told him about Flemington and Warminster. I asked him if he had ever heard of the Weiner King. I asked him about his job.

    When he finished eating, we got down to business. We went outside and he opened the garage door. There sat a beautiful Jaguar sedan. He put a 5 gallon metal gas can in the trunk, pulled out the car and told me to hop in.

    “There’s a station across the river. I’ll give you a ride there and you can walk back. Just put the can in front of the garage when you’re finished.” I knew he had things to do and I needed to get to work. Halfway across the bridge, he said, “Look, it’s too cold out. I’ll give you a ride back.”

    I filled the can and carefully placed it in the trunk. We got back to his place and off he went. I couldn’t thank him enough. When I finished pouring the gas in the tank, I placed the can in front of the garage door and headed on down the road.

    I never forgot that day, nor the gracious man who helped me, and from that day forward, I developed a stronger appreciation for Gladys Knight and her music. Despite never seeing her in concert, it was on that particular morning that I got to know one of her Pips.




    I Can't Get It Out Of My Head

    I’ve owned a lot of MGB-GTs over the years. If I could ever love a car like a woman, that would be it. In the early 70s, I owned a red MG like the one in the above picture, wire wheels and all. Late one night, I was cruising home — well above the speed limit — on a winding country road. I was as sober as a judge. Suddenly, I lost control. The car swerved left, flew up an embankment, and flipped several times before coming to a rest in an upright position in a cow pasture. Why none of the wooden fenceposts I took out came through the windshield is beyond me. I saw them, and I distinctly remember watching the windshield pop away, with the open field of dirt and grass coming perilously close to my face as the car rolled. My skull banged into the unpadded headliner like a soccer ball bouncing wildly inside an old Whirlpool dryer. 

    When it was over, I climbed out of the now demolished vehicle and hobbled over to the single-lane road, hoping someone would come. It was probably close to midnight. Within minutes, I heard an approaching vehicle and as it neared me, I could see I was, quite literally, drenched in blood all the way down to my knees. With my feet planted firmly on the paved road, I stood my ground, waving my arms in the air. There was no way I was going to let that car get around me. Thank God, they stopped.

    Did I think I was going to die? No, I don’t think so. Did I wonder if I was more injured than I felt? The thought probably crossed my mind. What I do know, though, is that I never lost consciousness and I never panicked or overreacted. 

    When I got to the hospital, I remember getting a head x-ray at some point. In what order, I can’t say, but it wasn’t until the emergency room doctor examined me that it was discovered what the source of all the blood was — a quarter-inch cut just above my right temple. I may have looked like I was near death, but I wasn’t. Of course, the doctor pulled a few shards of glass out of my scalp and I continued to do so for weeks and weeks after the accident. I was banged up quite a bit, but overall, I was in good shape. No concussion or any significant damage to speak of.

    Oh, what I’d give to own another red MGB-GT…

    But that’s not my point. I think it’s obvious to everyone that any type of cut to the head will produce a lot of blood, and in most cases, it looks worse than it usually is. That’s my point, and it’s the way I feel about George Zimmerman’s injuries the night of the shooting. He looked worse than he was and it wasn’t even close to how awful I looked the night of my wreck, and to be perfectly honest, the fear of death never crossed my mind. It did the next day, after I saw what was left of my car and I realized how close I came. Luck or God or something was on my side that fateful night and, to this very day, the experience is still quite vivid in my mind.

    — § —

    Below are a series of photographs of George Zimmerman taken inside the Sanford Police Department the night of the shooting. While I agree there was some sort of scuffle, I do not feel it ever reached a level where it was life-threatening for anyone until the gun was introduced. At the same time, I understand that we all have different pain tolerances. There is also a problem with when to say when. By that, I mean I wouldn’t expect Zimmerman to be beaten to a bloody pulp before retaliating. However, at what point should a person say enough is enough? When is the line drawn?

    Does this look like a man with a broken nose? Does the back of his scalp reflect someone whose head was bashed into a sidewalk over a dozen times, as he told Sean Hannity? Is this the face of a man who, moments earlier, was teetering on the edge of death?

    These are some of the questions that will arise during the ‘Stand Your Ground’ hearing. While I don’t see the types of injuries Zimmerman said he sustained, what do you think? In my opinion, these pictures reflect what any normal person in Trayvon’s situation would have done on that night. He would have STOOD HIS GROUND and fought for his life. De hombre a hombre. Until the gun was fired.