In the beginning...

Early on in my collecting signs an gas pumps days I was struggling to find contacts of people to buy things from and had reverted to my old ere internet ways of just driving around and sniffing out the cool stuff still left to be had by Junk Hunters like me.

I can’t remember exactly why but somehow my wife and I had made a trip up to Twin Falls ID to visit some dear friends from our College days that had introduced us by setting us up to go to a church meeting on a blind date. After all, it was just a church meeting and a little food after and the fact that my wife was engaged to her high school sweetheart who was at home in California working so they could afford to get married 2 months later, didn’t really apply to this kind of arrangement. Apparently, that’s another story for another day!

Anyway, we were at our friends the Parkhursts who had introduced us over 50 years before and were about to head home to Utah. In the meantime, I had heard of a sort of famous collector that lived somewhere around Blackfoot that I really wanted to meed as I had heard he really was an excellent source for Gas Pumps and Signs and Globes, which I didn’t collect at the time. Rody was the name I had but no last name. Then there was another guy who had done some gas pump restorations and sold a lot of gas pumps to collectors in Utah.

Of course, I decided to follow the leads down and take the back roads to Riverside ID to do it. That’s where the pump guy supposedly lived. Off we went! I heard some tall tales and even found a pump or two but nothing too exciting till we passed an old junkyard with some signs of some very cool old stuff. I got the name of the owners from their mom who lived in an old 50’s trailer house at the front of the junkyard.

She was the “junkyard dog” that kept the scavengers away I assumed, but they weren’t there at the, so we headed on to

Riverside. Upon arriving I could see that the town was small enough that I could just ask around and find the gas pump guy I was looking for. So it was, and so it happened. I got his name and saw where he lived and went there only to find him not a home? Of course? What would you expect? I decided to wait around as the neighbor told us about when he would be home from work. It is a cute little old town, so we wandered around and met neighbors, one of whom was quite interested in our collecting hobby himself. The family gathered around and told us stories and even told us about a standing Texaco sign in front of the original old gas/service station in a place about 40 miles North on the road to Arco in a little ghost town called Atomic City. We had time, and I figured I’d take my chances as I’d followed worse tales before. We got a somewhat decent description of where to go and how to go and headed out. The drive got more and more desolate the farther we drove, and no one lived out there, and no one was on the road going in either direction! We drove for what seemed like forever and just as we were about to give up on the directions we saw a sign pointing to go left to Atomic City.

Tags Petroliana Collector, Lakeside Storage and Museum, Self Storage, AAALakeside Storage, gas pumps, Passion for signs, Lakeside museum

Loose gravel and wheelchairs just don't mix...

The next day we headed up to Tijeras on dirt/gravel roads where we finally found the guy with the two signs on poles I had purchased. This was going to be very interesting with his loose gravel driveway and me in my, but with the help of his old 8N Ford Tractor, we eventually got them both loaded on my custom built trailer that had special racks on the inside and outside for comfortable carrying bit 18’ long signs on poles.

Of course, I had straps and a bunch of 2x4’s and long screws and my trust screw gun so I could screw and strap everything together as needed.

We left and headed for Joplin where I got more signs and pump parts for our gas pumps from Chuck. Then off to Nebraska where we stayed and went to Church and then me Matt and his wife sho took us down another gravel road for miles and mils until finally arriving at a big farm where they had a cool Yellow Sovereign sign on the 18’ pole. Of course my trailer and truck both have hoists on them for lifting signs and poles so with a little directing I showed Matt and his neighbor how to lift the sign up and set it in the outside rack on the trailer for the tip on to Des Moines.

It was all wonderful except the loose gravel which was hard for me to get around on my wheelchair but all in all we did pretty good!

Hanging from the Truck...

We made the long drive to Albuquerque. I had become so tired that upon stopping and parking in the lot just slipped out of the truck door as I held on the inside roof handle while completely forgetting that I was a cripple until my feet hit the ground and my legs had zero strength to hold my body up!

This was months after the accident, so I was healing but also completely atrophied so I could bear no weight at all! Fortunately, my reflexes still worked so I managed to catch myself and hold myself from crumbling on the drive while Jeannie ran and got the wheelchair loose from the trailer and brought it to catch me hanging from the door of the truck. That experience was quite eye-opening to begin the trip.

Doctors permission..... I didn't ask

Fortunately I was not in a lot of pain and only took ibuprofen after the first days in the hospital. No hurt no cure and I don’t do pain med’s! While all this was going on I was now preparing for the long trip to Des Moines and doing so by hunting and buying signs from my Picker friends along the way as I had previously done.

This time I had some bought on poles in Tijeras New Mexico and then more in Joplin from Chuck and then a beautiful Sovereign Sign in Nebraska on a pole and then several others from Joh Anderson in Iowa.

No I hadn’t asked for the Drs permission to drive my truck but yes I had informed the PA of our plans as she winced thinking about it.

On the Homefront...

We had rebuilt the house so we came in the downstairs with a ramp and had custom made the bathroom so I could get in and out of the tub and off and on the toilet from a narrow wheel chair we had rented. At that time I had four wheel chairs for different things making life a bit easier. One electric, one lightweight, for ease of getting in and out of the trunk and one for the house and another for the trip we were about to take so it could be put on a special box on the back of the trailer to enable motto get me in and out of the truck.

Of course the truck was tall so I could easily slide down from it to the wheel chair but getting front he chair back up into the truck was trickier and required that I lift myself up as Jeannie slid board after board. under me to elevate me the extra 12” to be able to slide back into the truck without putting ANY weight at all on either foot or leg.

All upper body lifting every time. No problem I thought and we soon became adjusted to the new restrictions and challenge of being crippled.

Trucks, Trailers, Transfer boards and Wheel Chairs and we are off...

I got really creative and figured out how to transfer in to my Bobcat where I could drill holes for sign footing, which I spent days of my recuperating doing. Since I was not able to move around easily we could only drill and pour 3-4 footings in a whole day and had about 20 we needed poured for signs I already had bought.

Those days were long but I wasn’t worthless! It was during this recovery period that I decided that we could manage the trip back to Iowa Gas and we would take the truck and trailer and two wheel chairs so I could get anywhere and do about anything with a little help from mom who was very patient with my recovery.

sparky at the re-hab

A transfer board and a Jazzy put me right back to work...

Eventually I was able to get in a wheel chair and finally Julie and mom went to Salt Lake and bought me a couple wheel chairs, because if one if good than why not two. Great I was now versatile. One was a light weight chair that mom could easily lift to get in and out of the car and the other was an electric Jazzy that I could cruise around on.

Of course they let me use ta transfer board to get from my bed to the wheel chair to use the toilet after several days of being stuck in bed! By now I had devised longer transfer boards and after I got out of the care Gulag had Jeannie take me to Home Depot and bought some boards to get creative so I could be productive while being a full time cripple!

I made some long transfer boards so I could get in and out of the car. Then I figured out how to get from my Jazzy which let me get back to work.

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Blood Clots vrs Bleeding to Death?

I said, “Nice laugh” to the nurse as I tried to chuckle with her but wasn't feeling all that great and couldn’t get my legs wide enough apart just to feel some air after those many days in the hospital!

I was finally released to go to the long term care facility which turned out to be more like a nightmare to me. It was a horrible recovery and I was clearly told: NO WEIGHT on either leg or foot for FOUR months! No airplanes as I was a huge risk for throwing a clot and they didn’t dare give me thinners due to my history of bleeding! I had a 90% chance of internal bleeding if they put me on blood thinners and only 60% chance of throwing clots if they didn’t. Nice odds I thought!

re-hab

Balls the size of melons and Pitch Black to boot!

After arriving to the hospital I was cut apart and had 7 bolts and stainless steel plate across my pelvis to pull me back together and hold me firm again. Of course I now have a matching scar to match mom where she had her two c- sections.

When I was awakening from the surgery they asked the same questions they always ask and I gave the same wrong answers I always give until we were all tired and I was awake again. The next few days were awful! My Balls were so big and so black that every nurse in the huge hospital had heard about the freak show up in room 419 and had to come and take a peek…

It was so bad that finally a very old seasoned nurse came on shift and confessed that I had become famous in the hospital and then as she gently lifted my gown almost fell over laughing as she gasped in disbelief! She said, “They told me you were huge but didn’t tell me you were pitch black!!!!”

gpa in hospital

"The Mother Ship"...

We arrived with me semi aware of what was going on and by now in a lot of pain. Of course they called for a pelvis specialist which there is only one of in Utah Valley. Surprise he was in on vacation in Hawaii! Nice I thought, right when I need him. They somehow managed to Catheter me which I was later told I made a lot of complaint about, and then did a procedure to stop the internal bleeding and finally loaded me up in another ambulance and sent me off to the huge new hospital in Salt Lake City they refer to as “The Mother Ship”.

ambulance ride to Murry Hospital

My Pelvis is What???

Fortunately the horse didn’t step on me nor kick me to make it worse. I hit the dirt and rolled and when they got to me I was unable to get on my feet? I paused for a few seconds and asked for help getting up but was unable to put any weight on my legs at all.

Somehow I managed to get across the street to Tims lawn with a lot of help and denied to rest a while and try and get my strength back. With help of both of them supporting my weight we managed to get me across and lay on the lawn for about an hour while the professional horse trainer proceeded to saddle and bridal the horse and soon saw that this was a very spirited horse that needed a lot of work to be any good at all and would test you every time you mounted him. NOT GOOD!

Obviously Tim sent him back and didn’t buy him. Finally the attention came back tome and without much convincing I agreed to let them haul me to the Hospital to check me out. No I wasn’t going to let them call an ambulance which they first suggested. Waste of money and I didn’t need an ambulance!

We arrived and soon got a Dr and x Rays which clearly showed the bad news! My Pelvis had bed split in half and was separated about 3 “ apart and my bladder had been torn loose and I was bleeding internally…

With that information they doped me up and loaded me in an ambulance and hauled me off to Utah Valley Hospital where the specialist there could “fix” me, or so they thought….

A Beautiful Buckskin Gelding that had a very calm demeanour or so I thought...

Every serious Collector dreams about going to the most famous of all Gas/Oil shows that is held annually in the early Fall in Des Moines Iowa. Since we are usually still in Hawaii at that exact time we can never make it. As luck would have it, I pulled off another very stupid move last Summer while visiting our eldest son and checking out a new horse he was looking at buying. It was a beautiful 10 year old Buckskin Gelding that had a very calm demeanor. While we were waiting for his appointment of a professional horse trainer to arrive I decided that since I had owned a lot of horses for many years we ought to just try the guy out ourselves.

He didn’t have his saddle or bridle handy but we were in a small 1 acre plot of land and he had a halter on the horse so I didn’t think much about it and convinced him to get on the horse while I led them around the pasture. When the were done the horse just stood quietly beside us in a very friendly manner until I could resist no longer. Of course I am old and fat and a lot less spry than I was 30 years ago when I sold my last horse but I hadn’t lost my eye for a good horse and proceeded to climb the fence next to the horse so I could get my old overweight carcass up on him. It seemed like a pretty nice fit as he was tall and slender with high withers which I sat behind. My son reversed the procedure and he led the horse across the pasture with me on it this time. The new horse was calm and perfectly calm as we walked across the grass so I told him to hand me the single rope halter and walk back to be in the shade under the trees with my his mom. So he did. Within minutes he found a totally different critter under my old body and this guy decided to test me out as he began to crow hop and side buck which sent me bouncing right up on those tall withers where he quickly proceeded to bounce me until I could feel my own Balls gettin crushed with my weight and the banging of the withers under me!

Not good at all and I could quickly see I was in serious trouble as I felt my internal parts begin tearing apart inside me. I began yelling for my son Tim to help but before he could get to me I was in such pain and trouble I decided to take my chances and just roll off the horse and take my chances with the ground, which I did!

The horse that gpa jumped off

The Bathroom Is Occupied...

We continued on to Laramie and got a room in a dilapidated old motel form the 40’s that was a total rip off but did have a very nice new memory foam mattress on the bed. One inch air gaps under the door, old curtains and no elevator. We of course were upstairs, still used keys not cars on the doors, hard to find parking for the truck and trailer and after all that the price was $80 a night.

We whined and left the next am and headed for home. Stopped in beautiful Rock Springs for lunch at Cafe Rio ( my stomach was back on track and I could eat)I had drunk a lot of Diet Coke and needed a bathroom but it was in use and I couldn't wait so headed for the parking lot to sneak like my grandson Porter by the trailer. Unfortunately I was too much in the open and while trying to hide managed to pee all over myself, but I got relief.

Going back into Cafe Rio with wet pants wasn’t fooling anyone who bothered to look but I was in a cowboy country so who cared anyway? We ate and it was good and headed home for an uneventful remaining trip. Home looked very very welcoming and beautiful as we drove in the driveway and watched and listened as the loose concrete bumped and clumped as we traveled over it with our heavy load, but we were home at last!

Lost glasses and Good Friends...

I was to meet Jon Anderson who had a couple of signs I had bought and also had to meet the guy coming from Hannibal who had the missing SOC sign I had bought months before. I met Jon at 8am and we loaded up his signs and I headed back to the hotel to await the arrival of Mark who had the SOC.

He finally arrived and we easily loaded it up after a quick trip to Harbor Freight to buy some more clams and to Home Depot for a couple of 2x4’s.

I am always amazed at how complicated Siri can make a simple trip become. She doesn’t use the right off ramps and winds us all over town just making a simple trip to the store? Amazing!

We finally got everything loaded and left for Omaha to go to Gas Pump Heaven to see Andy and Diane before heading home. Of course they were out of Red Indian globes, which is what I wanted, but we got a very nice visit with two wonderful friends before heading off for Laramie.

With the big load we were now getting about 8 mile to the gallon but still able to travel at 75-80 MPH down the road. WE stopped at Round top where we had spent the night the year before on the side of the road in a blizzard that closed I-80 and mom lost her glasses. I was determined to find them as I knew exactly where we had parked!

Unfortunately is was dark but I had a flash light and we searched and searched but think that the mower had likely thrown them far into the weeds during the year. It was a long shot at best but worth a try and I had not forgotten the event at all. Time didn’t diminish the intensity of the event even after a year!

gas pump heaven

Who is the "real" Picker?

Turns out when I got to the ”Pickers” house he only had one of the signs as the other one had never been delivered to him as promised, YIKES! Months of planning and promises and it wasn't going together! I made my panic texts to the guy from Hannibal Missouri who was suppose to have dropped it off at the Dixie meet so it would be there for me but someone had dropped the ball and it didn't happen.

I stopped and got the one sign but Rusty Carpenter just left it on the front porch as he had to go to a daughters ball game and couldn’t meet me. Sad as he’s a famous guy in the hobby and I wanted to meet him. He had a big Sinclair sign I wanted to buy but had other people waiting along the route and couldn’t be late. We got the sign and headed for the next stop in Orrick, Mo.

Orric is in the middle of nowhere on dirt/gravel roads to pick up a rare COOP sign pole I had found on eBay months before. I had saved a special place on the trailer rack to load it as I knew it might be tricky getting it loaded. We finally met the seller and he had a little tractor and we got it loaded right on the gravel road with no problems whew, and headed off to Counsil Bluffs Iowa.

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Just a couple of Gypsies...

We finally got done and headed out for Branson. We booked a very nice hotel just out of the center of town that was on a huge sprawling property with beautiful grounds and a wonderful spa which I immediately jumped in to so I could get relaxed before an evening show to see SIX, (the Knudsen Brothers). They were great! We unhooked our trailer in the parking lot, but not before getting quizzed by the Security Officer who was concerned that we were gypsies looking to haul anything off of value.

I confess that as hard as I try to make things look good on the trailer, the wrapping of cardboard and blankets does make for a visual of gypsies by about anyone that sees us go past. We stayed the night and all day Saturday and managed to get a couple more shows in as well as seeing Serena Williams get beaten in the US Open by a new and wonderful Japanese player.

I had looked up Church locations in Branson and found the two local wards. We spent 1 1/2 hours trying to find the building and finally did when the meeting was part over. We were lucky enough to get to see the children Primary Program. We have never seen anything like it! Every kid had their chest puffed out and head up and sang out like a superstar waiting to be discovered! Amazing what it’s like to see kids who aspire to be in the entertainment business from their youth!

Very different than what we see at home. Ben Dutton’s sister was the violinist for the kids along with a primary kid. When it was over we went back to the hotel and loaded up the trailer, changed clothes and headed for Kansas City where I was to pick up two signs at a “Pickers” house.

Just a couple of gypsies
six Knudsen brothers

My Good Friend Chuck

My good friend Chuck Dudley in Joplin had a conflict with my timing and he had to be at the Dixie swap meet that was on the same week end so he had made arrangements with his step father to help me load the signs I had bought from him. These were not just sings alone. They were all pole signs and big 18’ long heavy and hard to load signs.

My trailer is designed to haul this kind of sign but they are always tricky to load. Especially by people who don’t have experience in loading. We left the motel and managed to find our way to Chucks place but went down the wrong driveway, of course, and found ourselves in a tricky part of the yard but soon figured out how to get to a better spot to load.

It was hot and humid but fortunately overcast from the impending hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas. I managed to find the hidden keys to the tractor and eventually George showed up to “help” me load up.

I’ve never met anyone like George before. He was 10 years my junior and looked pretty old. He has the thickest southern accent I have ever heard and has an incessant need to talk. He is a singer at his church and all he can do is talk and sing. He has a gym for every sign and any and every subject. He has more never ending stories than Uncle Remus and none of it fit with my schedule of getting loaded and getting off to Branson so mom could get a show in before the day was over. I have five big pole signs to load and needed a lot less praises and a lot more lifting and loading. I also had a couple of other signs that friends had dropped off and stored at Chucks for me to pick up as well as some long awaited skins for a rare gas pump that Chuck had found a guy to make for us. I was thrilled to get those skins as our local guys wanted $1000 plus to make a set and these were only $320. It took over four hours to finally get it all loaded up and strapped down as George watched, stood and sang to check my patience level. I survived but it wasn’t easy.

George (Chuck Dudleys Step Father)

Not Going to make a Deal

We then went to see another collector named Sam, who also has a reputation but who asked me to take him a Carter sign to trade for something he had. I brought the sign with no real expectations as I knew it might get tricky. He had a beautiful place in Broken Arrow with about 50 signs on poles on a hill top. Very impressive and not even the best of their collection which is in Tulsa however, I could see he wasn’t going to make a deal so we visited and left for Joplin about two hours away for the night.

Broken Arrow Hillside

How long does it take to count 20 Pills?

Upon getting to the pharmacy we found that we only had the RX for the nausea and not the one for pain? I had the pharmacy call the hospital in Amarillo to see what had happened but of course no one knew anything and the Dr I saw was now off and wouldn’t be back until 9pm.

Nice I thought! I tried everything I could think of but it is very tricky with class 2 pain pills so no luck! Finally after another couple of hours driving I noticed a small piece of paper in the center console of the truck and check it out. Oops again… It was the lost prescription that mom had put there and forgot. We stopped again and got it filled just in case! It took forever to fill but we had no choice except to wait. Finally I lost my patience and went up to the counter and asked how long does it take to count out 20 pills? She checked and the prescription had been waiting but no one called our name. Par!

Just In Case...

A couple of other guys dropped off signs with Scott for me as well so it was very convenient and saved a lot of time and driving. Once loaded up I go back on the phone with Chris Deprez who lives in Dallas and tried again to talk him in to selling me his 5 foot SSP Red Indian Sign Ive been after for about two years now. I could just see it at Lakeside Storage up on a pole for all to appreciate. Unfortunately he didn’t answer the phone so we had to just drive right on past and head for our next pick up spot in Tulsa. I had hoped to see another collector while in town but the one wasn't there that I really wanted to see. I did pick up the signs I had bought a month or so ago from Joe Phillips who got them to Tulsa for me to pick up since he lives a couple of hours away the wrong way for us. While traveling I stopped to get the prescriptions filled that the Doctor gave me in the hospital. Just in case…