Monday, May 13, 2013

I Am Honored

I am honored in the restoration process of Mabel to have had a mentor who was a resource better than any book.

Peter Bouwma.

Pete entered the US Army in 1943.  He went to Europe in 1944, and landed over the shores of Normandy.  He was attached to a mechanical unit on the 1st infantry division and it was his job to make sure that the big trucks (1 ton and over) made it to where they were needed both by insuring they were running and by driving them there.

When Pete came over and first saw Mabel he was like a kid in a candy store.  His eyes twinkled and I could tell he was remembering the good old days.  He immediately began looking her over and asking questions (most of which I had no idea how to answer).  And after his initial inspection he stood back and put his hands on his hips and grinned a grin I would come to know well and said.  "I've seen worse."
That would be the beginning of a long education on a great many things.  Over the next two years I would get to know Pete very well as he would show me how to repair this, or maintain that.  We would stop and he would tell me stories about his time in Europe (which were harrowing to say the least.)  To sum those up I will say only this for right now.  If he wasn't getting himself into trouble he was trying to get himself out of trouble (usually induced by the Nazis).

Pete taught me how to rebuild an engine, bleed brakes, adjust carburetors, time an engine, listen to the idle, replace axles, transmissions, u-joints, etc. etc. etc.  I honestly never knew I could learn so much.  But the most important thing is he taught me.  He would stand by and offer advice while I did the work.  And, although it may often result in more work for a frustrated Troy, it was sound advice. He was patient when I wasn't, and stubborn when I needed it.  This is perhaps the most important thing he taught me.

Now Pete and I will ride through the Lynden Farmers Day Parade this June in a well restored Mabel. He will be very happy and proud and I am glad I could give back to him something of value for what he gave me.

Mabel made me a new friend, she bridged a couple of generations and illustrated that it is common experience that binds people.  I hope that Mabel will be an experience for many more to share in the coming decades.

Thank you Pete for making that possible.

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