Thursday, November 27, 2008

From Paul

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Paul's Letter to the Philippian believers, chapter four, verses six and seven.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It could have been Cuban…

The smell in the small room was not unpleasant because my dad smoked cigars on that rare occasion when someone would give him one for a child's birth or another celebration of some sort. I actually sort of liked the heavy odor and wondered what it would be like to smoke a stogie. Maybe sometime soon.

I can remember my dad in other bizarre ways too. The smell of bourbon and a dry-cleaned suit mixed together is something that reminds me of him. You probably think that's bad. Not so, my dad never abused any spirits, a cocktail was just part of the family routine before dinner was served. Funny how things cling to your brain after so many years.

The man behind the desk was a lot older than the salesman. Of course everybody looked older to me (they mostly were). You know sometimes I wish I had asked some of my teachers to tell me how old they were. I wonder now and there's no way to find out. Others have shared this dilemma with me and it is one of those mysteries that follows one around for life. I think I'm about forty-something in the blog picture, in case someone wonders. Anyway, hands were shook all around (even me) and we sat down. The man began to talk with Pop about the great new line-up of cars and how the costs had skyrocketed since so much improvement had been made. My father listened intently. I felt he should have been taking notes to help figure out what his new offer should be. How could anyone afford such technological superiority? After all of that, Dad said , "Here's the check for the car. It's all I have. Do you want to sell it?"

The sales manager read the check carefully and set it face down on the desk. "I can see that you're a man who knows his cars, Mr. Wilson. The only problem with this offer is that it is way below anything we could possibly take. It doesn't even cover our landing costs."

"Well it's the car I want, it's in the building, and that's what I'll give you"

"We can't do business, I'm sorry."

"OK, let's go Butch." That was the second time I had heard that. He continued, "That salesman said that this guy had the authority to sell the car."

"Now look, I've got to pay for the car and this building and commissions and service and delivery charges and there's no end to my expense. Surely, as a business man yourself, you can understand."

"I do, and I'm sorry. I also understand that you can cut your continuing losses on this car by getting rid of it. Out of inventory, off the insurance, get the spiffs from FMC, order another one. What do you want for it, anyway?"

The sales manager gave some price (I haven't any idea what he said), and my dad said, "You're kidding, I could get a Cadillac for a little more than that. Look, I'll add fifty bucks to this check, you can give it as commission to that young man out there, we'll take the car off your hands and you can rack up a sale. But that's as far as I can go. Really!"

"Why don't you and David wait here just a moment and I'll see if the general manager is in his office."

Twenty minutes went by. We were looking at all of the brochures and stuff that they had given us. They even brought in a couple of small Cokes and seemed very courteous. The man came back with another even older man in tow and hands were shook all around again. We all sat down and the oldest man began to use the crank adding machine. He had an official looking paper in his hand and he would carefully push certain keys, crank, push keys, crank, push, crank. The paper coming off the top was about six inches long. He must have found enough profit somewhere inside the machine because he turned to my Dad and said, "I think we're a lot closer than it seems. If you can afford just two hundred dollars more, you can drive her home".

Dad simply got up and we walked out the open door.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Appropriate Sidetrack…

Well, if it weren't for Henry and Kay nobody would have appeared in this picture. Therefore, it is appropriate to digress from our car buying narrative to present the Wilsons and a few Thompsons.

It is great to have everybody in one picture and most are looking good! I seem to be getting a little thick through the center, but that's probably because I am on the edge of the lens' optimal focus acuity. Or not.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Can a Forty-Two Year Old Man Drive This With Impunity?

In my last entry, Pop had sent the salesman to the back of the showroom to check on some feature or detail that the Ford man couldn't answer directly. Having found out earlier that the exact car he had planned on was, in fact, in stock, and since my dad had also found out from somewhere else just exactly what that car was selling for (MSRP), he got out his check book and wrote a check for the offer. I never knew just how he figured how much to take off the asking price (now you figure about 84-87% is the dealer's cost). Anyway, when the fellow came back, dad handed him the check and said "I'll take the chartreuse convertible, with the tan top and black interior. This is what I'll pay you for it and I'll take the car home right now." The salesman never saw the net surround him. He staggers, twists, looks at the check amount and his face turns white. "You can't get this car for that price. No way, not today, not tomorrow!"

Immediately, Pop says to me, "Let's go Butch! They're not interested." We head for the front door. My dad's pace is hard to keep up with because he's nearly running for the door. The salesman, his fingers now touching because the check is gone, says nothing. Now before you think that we have been rude, I have to say that maybe my memory is not really accurate. Maybe dad said casually that he wants his check back, receives it, and then turns. I don't know because I'm as surprised as the salesman.

As the door begins to swing back closed after our exit, it's caught midway and the salesman says "Wait, Mr. Wilson!" Can't we talk about this? My dad says no and we continue across the sidewalk to our car, parked on Van Ness nearby. The salesman is soon accompanying us to the car and wondering what he could "do" to make this a happy day for everybody. Dad says simply, "Sell me the car!"

"I couldn't possibly do that, it's below our cost, no one buys for that these days."

"Well, I guess I thought you were in the car sales business"

"We want to see you in that car, but I just CAN'T do it that way!"

"OK" and dad opens the door on the driver's side of our car and I wait for him to unlock my side.

Somewhat pale, the salesman says "Can you wait a minute while I ask my boss?"

"I don't want to waste my time. There is another dealer down the peninsula and one in San Mateo who knows me. I thought you guys were competitive, I guess not. It's getting late and we have to get going."

"No wait. I think I heard that we had a deal going on this week end to help clear out a few cars. Let me check with the sales manager."

Dad closed his door, still standing in the street. I felt embarrassed at the loud conversation, but felt somehow that I wouldn't be going home in the same car we came in.

The salesman led us through the length of the showroom, up the stairs and down a hall. He knocked on the opaque glass door and opened it, asking whether whomsoever was inside had a moment. He did and we were ushered into an office with a huge desk and four chairs. The only thing on the desk was one of those crank operated adding machines and an ash tray.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How to make a grown man cry…

The first time my dad ever let me go with him to buy a new car was in 1950. I was twelve. It must have been a rite of passage thing. It seems to me that it was the first time that he had ever considered taking me along on a serious trip to accomplish a very important task.

We didn't go to  downtown San Mateo, oh no, we drove to San Francisco. Van Ness Avenue was "auto" row in those days and the buildings that the dealerships occupied were more like grand, multi-floored offices instead of the large, overcrowded lots we see today. There must have been someplace where the used cars were displayed. We never went there. All the salesmen were in suits, well fitted with sharp looking ties. They were all smoking, of course, gathered in the corner of the showroom probably doing rock, paper, scissors to see who got to talk to us (hah! a little salesman "ups" joke there). Did I mention that my dad was dressed up too, even though it was a Saturday. I had my best clothes on because we were in "the City". I'm trying to remember what the dealer's name was. Very famous and did a lot of advertising on the TV (when it came on around five in the afternoon, weekdays). The next "up" walked over to us and probably said something like, "they're really pretty THIS year and so much improved". My dad would be courteous and appear to be disinterested as if he had come in to wait out a rain shower or something. He would answer the salesman's initial words with something like "How could they have changed all that much in the last few years?" Of course the salesman would then take the bait and begin to explain all of the details about the new trim lines, colors, models and other "important" information. My dad already knew exactly what he was going to buy that afternoon. He also knew that if the car he wanted was in the building, it would be his in a few hours. I think he enjoyed "playing" the salesman like a trout in a shallow stream. The salesmen always thought that they were going to "catch" my dad. The truth of the matter is that he caught them.

After fifteen minutes or so of demonstrating Ford's new line of cars, the salesman began to think that no one could resist the urge to get whatever model came through the huge double doors in the back of the showroom. Pop would ask a more specific question which would make the salesman "go in the back" and find out. It could be about the model or a certain color availability, or even something like (gasp!), "do you have one ready to deliver today?"

Then Pop reached for the net.

A Partner for Life…

Sometimes, when I get excited about a subject, I forget to bring to light all of the important aspects of a story. That's what I've inadvertently done in the past few entries.

My mom.

Kathryn Elizabeth ("Cat") would have been one hundred years of age this year too. Her birthday is the twelfth of April, 1908. As I have related in earlier posts, my parents were married when they were nineteen. They both worked for the F.W. Woolworth Company in various locations around Texas and then off to the West - Yuma Arizona. That's another entry. The point I'm trying to make here is that my mom liked cars too. She didn't participate in the purchasing ceremony, but she contributed with her support of whatever my Dad came home in, well, most of the time. She looked good in the front seat. She NEVER drove when my Dad was available. As I think about it, that's pretty much the way Jeanie and I operate to this day as well. I'll tell you about the car that received the least support soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

About buying a car.

In the light of what's happening in the automotive industry, I thought I'd explain over the next couple of days how my dad would buy a car. His method and his successful bartering skills are some of my fondest memories.
First of all, you have to understand that cars were an important part of my dad's life. The ritual of the "Sunday Drive" was real to me as I grew up, no matter where we lived. If someone visited, we all got into the car and drove them around town, or around the county or even around the state a bit, as time allowed. Our cars were generally no more than two years old. It was important that we had a new car every couple of years - "to keep up with changes". Looking back, it seems that we were neither a "GM" nor "Ford" family particularly. Why, I remember that the first car I ever drove was actually a Chrysler! A 1947 Chrysler New Yorker, four doors, of course and the prettiest dark blue you could imagine. It was always clean (I could have embraced that concept better) and it was always in the garage or in use on the road.
I'm happy to say that there were never any accidents, nor were there many speeding tickets issued or any pretentious motives associated with my dad's automotive choices. He chose cars on the basis of some decision he had made talking with friends, reading an advertisement or having seen that "perfect set of wheels" he had to have. These days, it seems like electronic stuff has replaced the automobile in my life. That is, as far as getting new models of things goes. I've had one car for nearly forty four years and our other car is a '99 model. I have somehow come to embrace the "axis powers" - one German and the other Japanese.
I digress. Tomorrow I'll get back on the subject of actually how to buy a brand new car, the Henry Wilson way.
Happy Birthday Pop, we all miss you!

A Very Special Day!

Today is my dad's one hundredth birthday. I cannot begin to tell the story of how much he means to me. How many times did I disappoint him? How many time did I make him happy? Hopefully, over the next few days, I'll be able to share with you (whomsoevers) the joy I feel in having a father like Henry Ramsey Wilson. As many as can be gathered are eating at the local Cambodian joint in Scotts Valley tonight. He would have liked the beef kabob and jasmine rice. A small amount of scotch could be served as well.
It's funny, but it looks like Braden Ramsey Wilson is riding on my dad's shoulders back in 1940. It's probably me, not him.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Election

A lot of folks woke up excited Wednesday morning. Some were excited about winning, others about losing. I woke up knowing that no matter which of the mainstream presidential candidates had been allowed to win, I was a winner.

I voted for Chuck Baldwin. So did Jeanie (or so she says). Who is that? Sez you (click on the title of this installment). He's a good man among men and I share convictions with him about how these United States ought to, by law, be run. What makes me a winner is that there are several hundred thousand others who share the same dream. There are several of us "whackos" who live in the County of Santa Cruz. Upon chance meetings, we honk and wave and take energy from the encounter.

There are other "whackos" who honk and wave and somehow refer to themselves as being number one by elevating their middle finger in salute. Friendly.

One person had the audacity to declare to Jeanie that they were glad she "wasted" her vote. Wasted her vote.

Jeanie voted her belief that the word marriage means a covenant before God entered into by a man and a woman. A covenant designed to give the ultimate in satisfaction and comfort, companionship and sexual expression, procreation and nurture. It is something that God has ordained and blesses as people seek His guidance.

Jeanie voted her conviction that children ought not to be allowed to have abortions without informing parents. Children having abortions, sounds funny doesn't it? That's what is happening in our sex-crazed, television driven society. Parents divorced or both working, allowing "People" magazine or worse, to set the moral standard in the home. Actually, this is according to plan (more about that at a later date). Pastors have abrogated their responsibility to inform their congregations that abortion is murder. Premeditated at that. They have been frightened by men. They should be frightened of God.

Jeanie and I voted our convictions. We voted according to our world view. We have not made a pack with the devil and we are not responsible for what will happen in these United States in the next few years.

In 2012, should the Lord tarry, there will be a million more people who will have learned to vote their God-given convictions. There will be candidates who might even be allowed to talk about the issues. There will be churches whose leadership is not emasculated by the IRS.

It takes time.

Oh, President elect Obama has used his time like we thought he would. Here's a short news item from today's AP…

"CHICAGO – Barack Obama is signaling a shift in tactics and temperament as he moves from candidate to president-elect, picking sharp-elbowed Washington insiders for top posts. His choice Thursday for White House chief of staff — Rahm Emanuel, a fiery partisan who doesn't mind breaking glass and hurting feelings — is a significant departure from the soft-spoken, low-key aides that "No-Drama Obama" surrounded himself with during his campaign. And transition chief John Podesta, like Emanuel, is a former top aide to Bill Clinton and a tough partisan infighter, though less bombastic than the new chief of staff.
The selections are telling for Obama, who campaigned as a nontraditional, almost "post-partisan" newcomer…"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Remember the Little Red Hen?

I suspect that when the story started she wasn't "a red hen" but the more the time passed, the more she became truly "red". Anyway, the story goes something like this.

She called all of her neighbors together and said, 'If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?'

'Not I,' said the cow.
'Not I,' said the duck.
'Not I,' said the pig.
'Not I,' said the goose.
'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen, and so she did. The wheat grew very tall and ripened into golden grain.
'Who will help me reap my wheat?' asked the little red hen.
'Not I,' said the duck..
'Out of my classification,' said the pig.
'I'd lose my seniority,' said the cow.
'I'd lose my unemployment compensation,' said the goose.
'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen, and so she did.
At last it came time to bake the bread.
'Who will help me bake the bread?' asked the little red hen.
'That would be overtime for me,' said the cow.
'I'd lose my welfare benefits,' said the duck.
'I'm a dropout and never learned how,' said the pig.
'If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination,' said the goose.
'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen.
She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, 'No, I shall eat all five loaves.'
'Excess profits!' cried the cow.
'Capitalist leech!' screamed the duck.
'I demand equal rights!' yelled the goose.
The pig just grunted in disdain.
And they all painted 'Unfair!' picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.
Then the farmer came. He said to the little red hen, 'You must not be so greedy.'
'But I earned the bread,' said the little red hen.
'Exactly,' said the farmer. 'That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are lazy and idle.'
And they all lived happily ever after, including the little red hen who smiled and clucked, 'I am grateful, for now I truly understand.'
But her neighbors became quite disappointed in her. She never again baked bread because she joined the 'party' and got her bread free. And all the Democrats smiled. 'Fairness' had been established.
Individual initiative had died, but nobody noticed; perhaps no one long as there was free bread that 'the rich' were paying for.

But the rich had other plans. They created off-shore accounts and held their assets away from the probing eyes of the IRS. The bread continued to decline in quality and quantity. Some even say that it began to taste like sawdust. Some patriots began to plant wheat again and sell it on the black market. The hen called the farmer and gave away the locations of the markets and their times of doing business. When the national police arrived to confiscate the wheat, they were taken by its quality and decided to join the resistance. The bread was sweet to the taste. It was especially good with Chicken Cacciatore.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What We Need NOW!

"Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him". This is one of Dr. Charles Stanley's "life principles". It is a principle that we have forgotten as a nation and in many cases, as individuals.

As election day draws close, we find ourselves talking about two candidates, both having compromised their stated convictions. Each man is willing to forsake his standing before God to pander to the demands of popular opinion. Their motivation is pure lust, lust for power.

First, Senator McCain would give amnesty to illegal immigrants. These lawbreakers would be given a fast-track to citizenship. These people, no matter where they are from, have no desire to serve or sacrifice for this country. They would be citizens in name only. They would be living in a country which, in their mind, only serves to underwrite the expense of their existence. This is a slap in the face of natural-born citizens who have given their time, fortune and blood to defend the Constitution of these United States. It is perhaps even more offending to those millions who have obeyed the laws and completed the procedure which has led them to citizenship.

Senator Obama will stand before God some day and be asked why he supported the murderous agenda of the abortionists. He has set at naught the lives of the 40,000,000 children killed in the name of "freedom of choice". Freedom from the consequences of ungodly, immoral licentiousness.

We need leaders who live by the convictions they proclaim. They will take an oath of office and swear before almighty God to defend and preserve the laws of this Nation. Dr. Stanley's website offers this wisdom:

"Your convictions define who you are. They guide your decisions and determine your character. People who live by their convictions are not swayed by their personal preferences or popular opinions."

Convictions are beliefs we hold to be true, no matter what. In today's world we need to base our standards upon the tested and proven tenets of Biblical truth. Please consider going to (a link is provided at the top of this page) and watch the sermon entitled "The Convictions We Live By". At the very least avail yourself of the free "Life Principles Notes" on the same site.

We need to change the direction of this Nation. God will not be mocked.