My Life So Far

I was born and raised in Canton, South Dakota, a town of about 2000 people, located 20 or so miles southeast of Sioux Falls. Growing up in a small town like that, not only do you know everybody in your grade, you know everybody in the whole school. My Father was a CPA until his retirement in 2000.  Upon retiring he moved from Sioux Falls to Las Vegas. My mother had enough to do at home, raising my 3 sisters and a brother as well as me. My grandparents ran the Chevrolet/ Pontiac dealership in town and while I probably would have been a car fanatic without them, they made me a GM fan for life.  I loved to pick up and study the new car sales brochures even as an early teen. I remember getting caught in class, drawing or tracing the pictures out of those brochures. My dad always drove Chevrolets or Pontiacs since I was born, with the exception of an occasional Cadillac and one 1973 Chrysler LeBaron Imperial.

My first car was a 1969 Camaro equipped with a freshly rebuilt 327. It didn’t last long as I totaled the car, flipping it end over end about three times. Not only did I demolish the car, I almost ended my life at 15. I ended up spending four months in the hospital with a broken back, pelvis and right wrist.  I also had more internal damage than you could shake a stick at. It changed my life forever, as my father said it would. I remember getting tons of cards and letters every day, but it was never enough.                                        

                                                   

The next vehicle was a 1974 Chevelle Malibu. This would be, in various stages, my transportation for the next eight years or so. Upon graduation from high school, I moved to Ankeny, Iowa to attend Faith Baptist Bible College. It was my mother’s wish that I attend a Christian college for at least a year and I obliged her. After living in the Des Moines metro area, working in the food service field for three years, I moved back to Canton taking a job in Sioux Falls. My Chevelle, upon its sale, looked like Cale Yarborough’s stock car in the stance department. I had put G50-14 tires on the front with N50-15’s on the back. All my friends kidded me about my "Roundy Rounder" car.

I sold the Chevelle and purchased a Datsun 260Z, putting a clutch then a paint job on it. This little car was traded for my first Trans Am. It was a rebuilt (and I use the term loosely) 1978 gold edition. After driving this for a few years, enhancing it here and there, I decided to try a fiberglass sports car and traded my T/A for a red ‘73 Corvette. I also found a 1968 Impala to use as a winter beater, which I dubbed, "THE green". Corvettes, you know, are not driven in the winter, especially the harsh ones of South Dakota.

78T-A & Bims.jpg (374756 bytes)                   corvette.jpg (83854 bytes)                      the green.jpg (142810 bytes) 

After switching jobs a few times, I got a job offer in Denver, Colorado to be an assistant manager of a small record store. Because money was scarce to me, I sold the ‘Vette to my dad and loaded all my things into "The Green" and moved west. The car barely made it to Denver, breaking the transmission cross member on the way. A ‘73 LeMans sport coupe was my next car, replacing the completely worn out Impala. I kept a few mementos from it before the salvage yard’s tow truck hauled it away.

                                                                     

After trying to survive in Denver for only three months, my LeMans and I moved to Phoenix, AZ to take a job at a very large auto body shop. Because of the increased earnings that I made at Warren’s Auto Body, I sold my LeMans to a future ex-girlfriend and bought my Corvette back from my father. My father had spent a lot of money on it, fixing it completely. He had even had it repainted. As there was nothing to fix or "enhance" on the car, I sold it to the same (now) ex-girlfriend. An ‘80 Chevy Monza was next. This was repainted, driven for a few months and then sold to my sister. A 1975 Trans Am was purchased next. I had hoped to get a rust free Arizona car, only to find a transplanted Iowa cancer victim. At least it gave me something to enhance.

                                       

After about 3 years in Phoenix, I moved back to South Dakota to work as a manager and computer entry person for a projection report company that my dad was trying to start. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it did not get off the ground and I found a part time job at a little print and framing gallery in the mall called, "Art Plus".

Shortly after moving back to Sioux Falls, my step mom, Laurie brought over a present for me. It was a white-silver tipped Persian cat named Tiki. It seemed that they had become intolerant of his messing up the landing of the stairs. Teek, as he was called, lived to be 17 before he had to put to sleep.

While advancing from part-time to full time to assistant manager there, I traded my tired Trans Am for an ‘84 Z-28 Camaro. This was a fun car and not only did I repaint it, like everything else I owned, but I for the first time did some engine work on it. I did a valve job on the heads, and found the increase in performance quite astounding. The Z-28 ended when a Pontiac 6000 turned in front of me. The insurance check made possible the purchase of the 1988 GTA Trans Am that I kept for many years.

                                       

In October of 1989, I moved to Davenport, Iowa to manage the new Art Plus location in SouthPark mall. It was through the store that I met Gene Scheer and the rest of the Blackhawk chapter of the Pontiac Oakland Club. It was also through the store that I met my lovely, loving, and very tolerant wife, Chris. Since the buy-out of my partners and a name change to "the Art Place", Chris and I added a second store in NorthPark mall in Davenport, Iowa. In January of 2002 we closed both the mall locations and moved to the historic "District of Rock Island."

We added another cat to the family in the mid 90's, a white and black domestic named Andy, for short we call him Andrew, don’t ask me to explain. Chris couldn't stand to only have one cat, and replaced Tiki with another "smoky" gray, named Sebastian. He is really quite the lap cat, and should probably be called, "L.C."  Little Sally a pure black cat just ended up on our doorstep recently and we were too soft hearted to let her go to the pound.  Our little house is full, so don't try and give us any more cats, dogs, birds or even fish.

Cars have come and gone.  My desire for a convertible ended with the purchase of a '69 Olds Cutlass.  That was rebuilt and sold.  While I was looking for parts for that, I found a whole 1972 Cutlass and rebuilt that too, as there's no such thing as a scrap convertible!  Chris wanted a 1979 "Bandit edition" Trans Am. I found a couple of them and made one nice car out of the pair.  In 1994 I bought my only brand new car (pretty odd for the grandson of an ex-Pontiac dealer). This car was a 25th Anniversary Trans Am. The search for a manual transmission ended in Chicago.

                                             

It was because of this car at the Trans Am Nationals that I met Jim Mattison, president of Pontiac historic services. In February of 1998, a trade was made with him for my currently favorite car. It’s a 1995 "Comp T/A" Trans Am. 164 of these cars were built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Goodrich Comp T/A tire. I hope that I’ll never have to sell it.  In the last 10 years, not only have I enjoyed the Cutlass/442’s from Oldsmobile, I've become a Toronado Trofeo lover as well.  My first Trofeo was a dark blue 1990.  As I'm hoping to have one of these 25 years from now, I’ve bought two more of them.  While the dark blue one has been sold, I still have a pearl white ’91 and a bright red ’90 now.  Call me “stuck in the past” but I love the cars that much. 

                        

I have also bought a future project, to be started "someday. It's a 1971 Oldsmobile 442 convertible. I'm still gathering parts for it, but it'll be a fun car when it's done.

Some of my other hobbies are drawing and designing T-shirts and radio announcing, as I have played at college radio stations since 1981. I’ve also been doing video work with the pinnacle of my achievements being a documentary on Arnie Beswick that Gene Scheer did the script for. Volume two is in the works. Make sure to look for some great new footage that's never been seen by most.  Who knows what the future holds for Chris and myself, but it’s been pretty good so far.  

                                             D-no                                            

 


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