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Wannaskan (Vroom-Vroom) Almanac for Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Two weeks ago, I shared an adventure story that included my middle child. At the time, he didn't appreciate the treasure to be found in fishing vintage Tarzan books from the Wannaskan recycle bins. But, he did have his eye on another prize.

You see, my son is crazy about cars. I'm not sure if this is a phase or a genuine lifelong love, but I can tell you that he spent the rest of the trip from Wannaska to the City of Great-Pronged Silverware composing an email for me filled with fun facts about cars for this very blog. (See below.)

Which made me wonder....

What is it about a boy and a car?

This unsolved mystery has followed me since childhood. My dad loved cars. He began his tinkering as young as 12 years old, as far as I can tell. This translated into side businesses. He also drag raced and built engines for race cars. His last race car was a 1962 Chevy Biscayne called Bisquick. (Which is why I may have been particularly enamored with the dog-themed book, The Art of Racing in the Rain.)
My dad as a boy.

Antique Classic Chassis was one of his businesses, where he restored antiques and classic muscle cars. The garage was a large, spacious building hemmed in with grubby white bricks and cloudy, glass block windows. Tools, parts, and other vehicular bric-a-brac littered the oil-stained concrete floor between the various restorations-in-progress. I have two distinct memories against this backdrop. First, I remember once standing near my dad while he was welding. I was chattering away a mile a minute when we both noticed a burning, melted plastic sort of smell. He had singed a hole into my red polyester pants just below the knee, large enough for me to insert my child-sized finger. The other memory I have of this place is sitting in his office, opening the phone book to the first page, resigned to the decision that I would memorize the entire phone book.

What I'm trying to say is that this love of cars seems to have skipped a generation and landed on my son.

Particularly the racing part. Since the visit to the Subaru dealership, he's been analyzing, trying to figure out how he can make a living as a race car driver when he grows up.

I witnessed this singular, lifelong passion for cars right up until my dad passed away unexpectedly in 2012, fittingly in the company of his Bisquick, after spending a weekend at the race track. Even though my son was only 6 years old at the time, was it possible he remembered something about this passion? About his grandfather?  Would my son be the same?

While I haven't seen him tinkering on any vehicles yet, here is what I have observed:

1970 Subaru 360
- His love of LEGOs is steadfast. He builds from the manual then creates new designs of boats, planes, cars and jail cells. (He has a big collection of City LEGOs)
- He flips through and studies the service manuals for our 1986 Jetta and our 1997 Subaru Legacy.
- For 4-H, he created a poster about cars he saw while in Czech Republic.
- When we travel by car, he watches the road, calling out cars he would like to own, shouting, "Beru!" (Which is Czech for, "I'll take it!" This is a game the kids invented two years ago while visiting their Czech grandparents.)
- He researches vehicles online.
- With the help of an accountant friend, he worked out the math, figuring out how much he would have to save monthly from now until his 25th birthday to purchase a brand new Mustang. (Answer: $123.61 a month, if said money is invested in a mutual fund that earns, on average, 11% annually.)
- Just this week he said, "I wish your dad was still alive. Then he could teach me about cars."

Me too, buddy. Me too. 

The Next Generation?

And now, on to our regularly scheduled program...

Kid-provided, Car-tuned Fun Facts

The 2017 Corvette Stingray touchscreen computer malfunctions every so often.
- The 2009 Corvette Stingray theme was used in one of the Transformers movies.
The 1997 Subaru Outback and Legacy look nearly identical.
The Bugatti Vision Grand Turismo costs nearly 10 million dollars.
- The Bugatti Veyron could drive 471 km/hr.
- It's been fifty years since Ford started making Mustangs.
- Police cars have models of cars with motors that are more capable of higher speeds.
- Corvettes are very rare in Czech Republic.
- Czech Republic is making their own type of Ford trucks.
- Škoda is not its own company anymore. It is owned by Volkswagen.
- The 2017 Škoda Octavia looks similar to the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta.

Random Fact - In 1854, a bunch of Czech immigrants settled in South MN and named their settlement New Prague. (Because you know, when you're traveling, random fun facts are prone to pop into your head.)

On This Day

Historic Automotive Highlights
Robert Kearns

1927 - Robert Kearns, who patented a design for a type of windshield wiper and later won multi-million dollar judgments against Chrysler and Ford for using his concept without permission, was born on March 10, 1927, in Gary, Indiana. Kearns´ invention, the intermittent windshield wiper, enabled wipers to move at timed intervals, rather than constantly swiping back and forth. Kearns´ real-life David versus Goliath story about taking on the auto giants was made into a movie entitled Flash of Genius that opened in 2008 and starred Greg Kinnear. Kearns died at the age of 77 from cancer on February 9, 2005, in Maryland.

1948 - Detroit Tigers pitcher Art Houtteman is critically injured in an auto accident, but recovers to win 15 games in 1949.

And I know this isn't on my day, but I had to share because it was just way too exciting not to:

03-13-1969 - "The Love Bug" opened in theaters

On this day in 1969, The Love Bug, a Walt Disney movie about the adventures of a Volkswagen Beetle named Herbie, opened in theaters across the United States. The film, which was based on a 1961 book called, Car, Boy, Girl, by Gordon Buford, centered around down-on-his-luck auto racer Jim (played by Dean Jones) who goes on a winning streak after teaming up with Herbie. The Love Bug was released just as VW Beetles, whose history dates back to 1930s Germany, were gaining widespread popularity in the United States.

For your viewing pleasure: 11 lovable facts about Herbie the Love Bug

For more automotive history, visit this museum online or in person:  America On Wheels

Automotive Trivia: When Were Cars Invented?

A: The 1901 Mercedes, designed by Wilhelm Maybach for Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, deserves credit for being the first modern motorcar in all essentials. Learn more here.

Historic Highlights
1862 - The first issue of U.S. government paper money occurred as $5, $10 and $20 bills began circulation.

1880 - The Salvation Army was founded in the United States. The social service organization was first founded in England by William Booth and operates today in 90 countries.

1903 - b. Politician and playwright Claire Boothe Luce (1903-1987) was born in New York City. She served in the House of Representatives from 1943 to 1947 and then became the first woman appointed as U.S. ambassador to a major country (Italy).
Claire Boothe Luce

Famous Divorces?
1927 - American author and journalist "The Old man and the Sea" Enerest Hemingway divorces first wife, Elizabeth Hadley Richardson. (This one caught my eye, not only because I've read Hemingway, but also because I've read two novels about his relationships with his wives. The first, is the popular and well-known, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and perhaps a lesser-known, but equally wonderful, book fictionalizing Hemingway's relationships with all four of his wives, Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood.

Happy #STEMfem Birthday to You!🎶 

A belated #STEMfem* Happy Birthday to the following lady pioneers and firsts in their field born on March 3rd!

Bonnie Dunbar
3/3/1949 — b. Bonnie Dunbar, American astronaut, biomedical engineer, adventure speaker. Logged 41.5 days in outer space over four space missions; former President & CEO of the Museum of Flight, current Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

3/3/1928 — b. Jane Hastings, American architect. Her architecture firm designed 500+ buildings in greater Seattle. Prominent member of International Union of Women Architects; first female chancellor for American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows (1992)

3/3/1917 — b. Sameera Moussa, Egyptian nuclear scientist, professor. Nuclear treatment research for medical purposes; the first Egyptian nuclear researcher. Organized the International Atomic Energy for Peace Conference; first woman at Cairo University to hold a university post. Egyptian television featured a program titled The Immortal dramatizing her biography

And to my Kindergartner who turned 6 yesterday, Friday, March 9th!

May my Wannaskan Almanac peeps forgive me for tapping into a few non- March 10th dates,


*STEMfem is a gem of a Twitter Feed celebrating women's accomplishments and contributions in STEM fields. Unfortunately our posting timelines don't coincide, so we celebrate last week's Saturday shout-outs and birthdays today.


  1. Kim, you are welcome to throw in any other dates you please. Hint, my birthday is March 26. I expect to be in Massachusetts, celebrating with my siblings.
    That was a very nice story about your dad.
    One question: where is the City of Great-Pronged Silverware? Google was no help. It must be within driving distance of your home. You had left Warroad and stopped at the dumpster in Wannaska. Drawing a line from there I come to Strathcona, Strandquist, Stephen and the Red River. Which one is it? Thanks.

    1. Joe, What a coincidence, my son is also March 26, so I will be sure to give you a proper shout-out.

      The City of Great-Pronged Silverware = Grand Forks. ;)


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