“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – Old Wilber – That’s My Man

Old Wilber – That’s My Man

Old Wilber, my old buddy it’s hard to remember when I first met him. I was just a kid; it was the early 1940’s in old Britton, S.D. Old Carl Wicher was going to take his son Hersy out to the hills to work on road construction. He asked me if I would like to go along and keep him company on the trip home. Besides Carl had fixed a lot of old tires and enter tubes up. This would be a good chance to sell them on our trip home. But that could be a story by its self. Old Wilber is tall, slim and has black hair and over six feet tall. He wears overalls most of the time. Wilber was in the Anny in World War II. So he has a lot of old Army clothes, which he wears at times. He has been farmer all his life. He has a nice old farm up in the hills of western South Dakota. His dad left him this farm, which he homesteaded. Wilber has two old girl friends, Ruthie and Evelyn, who never married. He never got married. Old Wilber makes some of the most powerful beer in the world. He has two good friends Alfred and Albert; he has known these guys since childhood. They have a farm three or four miles down the road. They make homemade beer also, which they always say, “Mine I is much better than yours”. All three make powerful white lighting.

Old Wilber - That's My ManAll three ride motorcycles and always have. Their dad also road bike’s. Wilber’s dad had lots of old motorcycles, an Indian Chief and old JD-Harley (1926 model). I have one all restored and it’s been on display at our store in Seattle for years. Wilber rides the Indian 1974 sidecar most of the time. When he can’t ride those old bikes, he drives his old 1930 Model A-Ford pickup. Old Wither keeps all his equipment in top condition. All his farm buildings appear to be run-down. His motorcycles and cars and trucks always look like they are ready for the scrap pile. But boy do they run good. He has a big repair shed. All the tools and machine tools they have in the big cities. Wilber and his two friends can fix anything. They all can design and build all kinds of equipment. All read a lot even when TV came in, they didn’t pay much attention to it. They get their education from books. So they read in all their spare time.

Wilber had been reading about nuclear energy. He wanted to know more. They read in the papers about this big government surplus sale in Minneapolis, MN. He had not been to a big city in a long time. He gassed up his old Indian with the sidecar and headed for the Twin Cities. He found the big sale. Boy what bargains he purchased. So many, he had to buy an old trailer and hitch it to his sidecar. His old Indian had one heck of a time pulling that big load. He should have had a big Kenworth truck Cars would pass him on the freeway. People would look at him and just shake their heads. Most probably thought who’s that old hay seed. He got home in good shape. He put all the stuff he bought into the sheds on his farm.

He was tired and all worn out. Those big cities will do that to you. He rested and started drinking his homemade beer. He’d picked up some good books in the city. So he read every night for a while. He read about how to build a nuclear engine. He spent the next three months building the engine. He wanted it to be small so it would fit into one of his old motorcycles. He had the engine built, but no fuel. Now what?

He had worked after World War II in Eastern Washington. He read about the big nuclear plant in Hanford. He said to himself, I’m going west. See if I can get some of that fuel. He road his old Indian with the sidecar west. He got a good job on a very large farm driving a tractor.

He was working out in the fields one day and he ran out of fuel. So he walked the three miles back to the farm and got a five-gallon can of fuel and a large funnel. He was tired, but knew he had to keep working. He poured the fuel in the tractor. He started the tractor and went back to work. He had forgotten to take the bug funnel out. Old Wilber was beginning to get forgetful; after all, he was getting older. He drove the tractor again till he ran out of fuel. It was getting late. So he left the tractor and walked back to the farm. He had a good meal and went to bed. It rained real hard all night. Next morning he had a fellow worker drive hi out to the field with some gas. He was about to fill the tank but noticed he had left the funnel in all night. He wondered if the tractor would ever run. He looked into the tank and noticed it was full. He shock his head and could not believe he could have been so forgetful as to leave the funnel in all night when it rained so hard. So he thought the tank was full of water. He got on the tractor and tried to start it. It ran beautiful. So he worked in the fields all day stopping only to relieve himself and eat his lunch. He said, “I have got to check the fuel.” He looked into the tank, it was almost full. He just could not believe what was going on.

Wilber told no one about what was going on with the tractor. He read his book each night about nuclear engines. He was lying in bed one night and it all came to him. He knew just what was going on and knew now why so many people in Eastern Washington died early of cancer, lost their hair and so much more.

He thought it was time to go home. It was late fall and it would be real cold going through the mountains. First he wanted to take 50 gallons drums of that “Special Rain Water” with him. His old Indian could only pull two 50-gallon drums home. So he bid his boss good-bye and told him it was nice working with him. His boss hated to see him leave. He knew he could never find a better worker. Old Wilber had found a new lifetime friend, one he would never forget. He made it home in good shape and the old Indian ran beautiful all the 900 miles. He almost froze in the mountains, but had plenty of his special home brew along to keep him warm.

He started work on his special engine and worked at it day and night. He took one of the old motorcycles and removed the engine. He welded new mounts on so he could install his big secret, his nuclear engine. All fit nice. Looked odd, but that’s what he wanted. He took some of the fuel from the two 50 gallon drums, put it into the gas tank and started the engine. It ran beautiful almost from the start. Once Wilber built something, it always worked good right from the start. He was a very good craftsman, better than most Germans, and they are good. He told no one about his latest project. Alfred and Albert were beginning to worry about Wilber working day and night, never coming to the tavern.

One-day-old Wilber said, “I’m bored. I’m going to town.” So he took his old cycle and thought to himself that he needed to have some real fun. He put his sunglasses on, he seldom wore a helmet, started the old cycle and road over to his buddies house. No one was home. So he left and road to town to drink some beer shoot some pool and tease the girls and have some fun. He was running around 75-80 mph and looked in his rear view mirror only to see those big red lights coming at him. He said he wasn’t going to get any more tickets; he had already given the state enough money. So he opened the throttle, cranked that old bike up to 130 mph and was really flying high. Old Wilber was a really good rider, not many younger men could stay with him. He got to the city limits, slowed down, pulled up to the tavern and went inside. He started drinking beer and shooting pool. He was having a real good time and about 20-25 minutes had passed and a patrol car pulled up in front and he could see the cop was his old foe, Jimmy DeVell. He had been a cop for years. Jimmy walked over to Wilber with intentions of arresting him. Wilber asked Jimmy, his old buddy, “what for?” Old Jimmy said, “You know darn well what for.” Old Wilber said to John the bar tender, “How long have I been here?” John replied, “25-30 minutes.” Jimmy knew it was only 12-15 miles from the tavern to the farm and its impossible to ride that fast. Wilber and his buddies had been playing pool at least 25-30 minutes.

Old Jimmy knew he couldn’t do anything. Before he left, he asked Wilber how fast that old bike would go. Old Wilber said, “I think I could get it to go 60-70 mph.” Of course at that speed it would probably blow up. The bike was over 50 years old and it looked it. Old Jim looked at Wilber and said, “I don’t know how you beat me to town by 25-30 minutes, but! do know it was you I was after. I’ll get you yet.” Wilber said, “Remember Alfred and Albert have motorcycles also, maybe it was one of them.” Old Jim said, “There cycles are in worse shape than yours.” Old Jim and no one else ever knew about Wilber and his buddy’s fast cycles, they would really fly. They only looked like they were all worn out and that’s the way Wilber wanted it. The nuclear powered cycle was Wilber’s; Alfred and Albert’s was powered by special homemade beer. John the bar tender told Jim, Alfred and Albert had left for the big city of Rapid, to get parts for their tractor three or four hours ago.

Old Wilber was really feeling good. I’m going to really have some fun with Jim. One day he saw Jim’s patrol car, a Ford V8 out behind the tavern. Wilber pulled up behind the tavern. He took the gas cap off Jim’s car, poured some of that special brew into the tank. He put the gas cap back on and got out of there fast. He went around to the front of the tavern and went inside and started drinking beer and shooting pool. Jim looked over at Wilber and said, “What are you up to today?” Wilber said, “I thought I’d stop and have a beer, then go home. I have to fix the fence on the north 40. Old man Johnson said my Cow’s were getting into his corn. Johnson said he was going to shoot the cows if! didn’t get them out of his corn field.”

Jim left and as he was walking out he said, “You be good now.” Wilber was laughing to himself Jim started his car and pulled out onto the highway and was moving right along when he came upon a car going really fast. He could see the car was one of those German high-powered cars Jim had read about in Motor Trend. He knew the car had to be from some other area, he had never seen one like this around here. He thought to himself that his old ford could never catch that BMW He looked down at the speedometer and it was buried. He kept after the BMW. Finally pulled him over and said to the man, “What the hell are you trying to do? Just how fast were you going?” The city-dud said, “Man, I had the pedal to the medal, 156 mph.” He said to Jim, “How fast will that old Ford go? And how did you get it to go that fast.” Old Jim said, “I wish I knew.” Jim was really a nice guy just doing his job. Later that day be stopped by the tavern and he was talking to John and how he had chased a BMW and pulled him over at 156 mph. All the old regulars were in the tavern and they all knew Jim’s old Ford wouldn’t do over 85 mph. Jim said, “Maybe not before today, but she really fly’s now.” All the men just laughed, they made a fool out of old Jim.

Little did Jim know his Ford would never go that fast again. Wilber knew what made that old Ford go. This would be his secret forever. Wilber pulled many more tricks on Jim, which will be told in other stories.

Stay tuned. Turn your radio on AM and stay up some night and listen to the world’s best talk show host, Art Bell out of Nevada. You’ll get a real education from Art and his guests.

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