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My Old Hubcap

My Old Hub Cap

This old hubcap is one of my most prized possessions. It’s from a Ford truck; I think around 1938 or 1939.

The late 1930’s were difficult because the nation was still struggling in the grips of the Great Depression, and people were not spending money for new vehicles. In spite of this, Ford was able to create new, innovative and very rugged trucks while keeping prices within reach of the consumer.

These hub caps are described as “dog dish” style due to their shape, they measure roughly 12 inches in diameter, and are unique in that the number 8 in the center does not overlap the “V” as is most common, but nests inside the letterform.

None of this mattered one bit to me in 1966.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon my sister’s boy friend Bill took me over to his parents home so I could meet their new litter of Beagles. I was 7 years old, and those puppies were as happy to see me as I was them. They were in dog pens behind the garage, and I played with them as long as their protective mom would let me.

On the way back to the house Bill motioned me over to the garage to meet his father.

Clyde, a co-worker of my fathers down at the local steel mill was working under a 1951 Chevy, and I was introduced to his lower legs.

I heard a voice from below this great beast of a car say “Hello David!” and he scooted out from under it on a creeper. I shook his hand and it was like my dads, calloused and firm. He smiled, swept out his arm and said “Welcome to my shop!”

It was a single car garage with a flat panel door that swung up on a pair of hinges. I took in all the shelves of nuts and bolts, the tools hung from the walls, many out of date calendars featuring women is scant swim ware, and then on the side wall a collection of license plates and hub caps hanging on nails.

Within about dozen hubcaps from different makes and models of cars that he had collected over the years was this one from the 1930s.

It was the coolest thing I ever saw. And Clyde knew it.

So I left there that day with new friends, covered in puppy spit, carrying an old hubcap that would ride with me for the rest of my journey.

It has hung in my room all my kid life and college life, and in my studios all my professional life. There is something about the type, the shape, the history of the actual piece that pleases me. And it warms me knowing how and by whom I came to have it.

I am not sure how many miles Henry Ford expected out of this truck model and it’s parts, but I know that this particular hubcap is still working hard every day.

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