Friday, August 8, 2008

Uncle Rand'

My Little Brother

This is a picture of my little brother, Randy. He was born just 2 weeks and 2 days short of being two full years younger than me. He was the cutest little boy you ever saw in your life, with shiny light brown hair and long black eye lashes. He was always quiet and trusting, easily led into mischief by a far more devious older sister.

I took this photo the day he came to help me with my new Harley. I bought the bike from a retired public servant, either a fireman or a sheriff - memory fails. It had forward controls installed on it, and I was afraid I would not be able to handle riding a strange new bike and manage the forward controls, too. (Forward controls are the rear brake control and the shifter moved far forward on the bike, so a person with long legs can sit more comfortably when they ride.) Also, Rand' is a great mechanic, so he would be able to hear or spot anything wrong with the bike. He came over 200 miles (one way) to help me just because I asked.

Randy has always known what he wanted to do in life. He always wanted to be a mechanic, and he is a good one. He has worked on cars, trucks, motorcycles and small engines. For most of his adult life he has worked on the big machines, caterpillars and road graders and earth movers. He has box end wrenches in his toolbox that are so huge I can hardly pick them up. He was born broad shouldered and strong as an ox, and that strength has never failed him.

He grew up and joined the Navy during the Vietnam war. When he returned home, he bought a Shelby Mustang someone had turned into a hobby stock race car. With his own money and doing his own work, he raced on the dirt tracks in northern Kansas. He was number 88. I happened to be in the pits the night of his maiden race. About the third lap, the drive shaft broke and stabbed into the dirt track, lifting the back of the car off the ground! As my contribution to his racing career, I paid for the drive shaft to be welded that week. The drive shaft never broke again.

I also painted Mustang Sally on the hood. I used a centerfold from an old Playboy magazine as the model, and painted in a big racing slick at her feet. I put all my love and thoughts of protection into that painting, so my brother would be safe when he was out there with those other maniacs racing in the dust. When Number 88 was sold, my brother cut Mustang Sally out of the hood and she hangs in his garage, still sexy in her high heels and big mane of brown hair.

It was fun going to the races with him, hauling that old jalopy around in the hot summer nights, drinking cold beer after the races. We commiserated with him when he broke down or crashed or was edged over the high bank by an aggressive driver. When he would place, we were all ecstatic, as if he had won the Indianapolis 500. Our baby brother, Mark, was in on this racing venture as well. But it was Rand's idea, his money, his mechanic work, his courage to get out there and drive. Mark and I were just enthusiastic supporters and beer drinkers.

My brother is the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. He's too nice, always willing to take second best, or second place, or do without so someone else can do with. Sometimes it is hard to see how that kind of behavior brings its own reward. Every so often, it does reward my humble brother.

One day at a convenience store close to where he works, Rand' was in line behind some guy who wanted to buy a scratch-off lottery ticket. The clerk tried to sell a ticket that had already been torn from the roll. The guy refused that ticket, a bit rudely maybe, and demanded the next one from the roll. My brother spoke up and said he would buy the loose ticket. That ticket turned out to be a $20,000 winner. Yep, and ol' Rand rode that $20,000 around in the form of a new Harley for about 12 years!

He's a pretty good guy, all told.

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