Tuesday, August 24, 2021

My 53

The Lord has blessed me in many ways over the years, but the gift I've enjoyed the most is my 1953 Chevy. He gave her to me in 2003 when she was 50 years young. For the next 18 years we saw a lot of country together and weathered a lot of storms. Without a doubt, my 53 has helped make me the man I am today.

Bryce and his truck.

I moved to Helena Montana in 1998 after high school graduation and drove tow truck for my uncle. For years I drove by this beauty, standing like soldier begging for someone to rescue her from retirement. That day come in January of 2003. Just weeks before, I had ran back home because Grandma S. was dying. On my way, I was praying the Rosary for her and I figure it was about then that she died. The funeral was beautiful, as she lived a holy life and left a lasting legacy. What was interesting, was on my way back to Montana, for no good reason at all, the idea of this truck was burning in my heart. The next day I had to make a run out by her so I stopped, hopped the fence, and checked her out. After a few phone calls I figured out that she belonged to Fred Bell in Jefferson City, and with little convincing, he agreed to sell her to me for $800. My life was about to change forever. Thanks Grandma.

She really only needed minor repairs: fix a broken leaf spring, complete fuel system over haul, and rebuilt every brake cylinder on her.

I put the greatest detail into the flatbed and stock racks. This bed was handcrafted in Manhattan MT by Fisher Body Shop. I was in awe at the quality of their work. Working on it took me back to another time, when life was simple and people took pride in their work. We sandblasted the oak stock racks and they came out looking ready for another 50 years.

The mission from the get-go that year was to get her all up and running, drive her the 375 miles back home on the 4th of July and trail some cows with the family, then haul a horse back to the house. Mission accomplished. 

Her work was far from over. While still in Montana I drove her everywhere and hauled just about everything. The 216 straight six never gave me a lick of trouble. Once I entered seminary, she became especially useful when I was home and needed a truck to bust around in. The Coors cooler came from an old family friend. I often put my welder on her and turned every pipeliner's head when we went to town.

In the spring of 2015 I had the inspiration to drive her back to seminary in Denver. That ended up becoming one of the funnest road trips in my life. That's also when I learned that it was more peaceful to be the one getting passed than the one doing all the passing. 

Once school got out that year, we grazed the long pasture home.

That loop around the perimeter of Wyoming culminated on the Upper Nowood Road for a cousin's wedding during one of the wettest springs in memory. I couldn't think of a better way to top off a road trip than sliding sideways through some of the most beautiful country known to man.

We had so much fun that we just continued the journey up to Montana for the summer where I was ordained a transitional deacon.

That summer we put on 10,000 miles together. 

A major change for all of us came in the winter of 2015. I was pretty far up in my head that Christmas break because of my desire to be a priest in Wyoming but my felt obligation to Montana. When I can't figure life out, I turn to the shop. My ol girl suffered the blunt of this time of confusion. I guess it was better than sitting in the bar, but from this day forward our relationship would never be the same. 

We did the best job we could to return her to showroom state, but her rusty patina told her story. It's what gave her character. 

My loyal side kick was there to make sure no corners were cut.

We painted her with the original Juniper Green that she came with. I do love that color.

In the end, I was pleased with the paint job. But as for me and my 53, life was changed forever. Because of her sacrifice I was able to figure out my Wyoming/Montana struggles. While it's good to be home, I still miss my rusty green eyed girl.

It's now time to be on to the next one. Today I handed the title of this 1953 work of art to Big Iron auction sales. I truly believe that there is someone out there that she wants to bring as much joy to as she did me. If that person is you, log on to
and check her out.

God can bring good out of all things. Painting my old truck left me with a lot of regret, but over the years the Lord has totally redeemed that experience. Today my heart is filled with gratitude to God for the many miles we spent in this truck. I also smile when I think of Grandma S. She's always made sure I stayed a kid. Wonder what's in store for us next. Thanks for everything Grandma. I love you.

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