The End is Near

In my city, if a tree drops three leaves in the middle of summer when it shouldn’t drop leaves at all, a big truck and boom will be on it like drool on a baby by the next morning and down she goes. In the country, a few miles north of my town, stands this stately old beggar, not much to show for a summer’s growing season and maybe not much at all for the past few summers. And yet there she stands, waiting till the day nature sends some lighting and wind to lay her low. No farmer or municipal team has seen the need to hasten the inevitable. There is a dignity in that old skeleton. No birds’ nests any more, no children climbing to the top. But a life well lived and a monument to the beauty of Creation. Well done, good and faithful servant! May I see you in my travels another time or two. JH

The Oldtimers’ Lament

By Jim Hagarty

When I was young, I would get nervous if I was walking alone and I saw a group of young men walking my way on the sidewalk. Not sure why, but three of them, one of me, never know. Sometimes I would avoid them by turning into a store or crossing the street.

Now that I am getting old, I noticed something odd recently. I no longer fear groups of young men who, it seems, are pretty deferential to old guys. The guys I do fear now are other old guys.

This happened to me yesterday. I was strolling along a sidewalk on the way to a pharmacy when I saw an old fellow standing by the bank and looking around for maybe another old guy to talk to. Mean of me, I know, but I hastened my step, avoided eye contact and kept on moving. I did this because, to my annoyance, I have been caught in old guy conversations a few too many times.

I shouldn’t over generalize, I know, but the themes of these conversations are somewhat predictable. 1. The weather. 2. The good old days. 3. The health issues of my sudden conversation partner. 4. The sorry state of the world today. 5. The problem with the younger generations.

I was surprised, however, when standing in line at the grocery store the other day with a man 20 years my senior who opened up a conversation out of the blue about the Toronto Maple Leafs and their prospects for the upcoming hockey season. He didn’t just have general comments to make – he had facts, figures, names. Finally, an old guy living in the today and seemingly pretty happy to being doing so. I didn’t get many words in edgewise but at least there was no talk of bowel obstructions, wild kids, the wonders of yesteryear and how the world will probably end in 20 years or so.

I have been called eccentric and I am happy to own the title. How many old guys do you know who are terrified by the gangs of other old guys roaming the streets these days? I have a feeling your answer is “just one” and that one is the guy whose words you have just read.

For Sale: This 1949 Ford Two-Door Coupe

I was driving around the countryside outside of Stratford on Saturday night when I saw this lovely 1949 Ford two-door coupe at the end of a farmer’s laneway. The farmer, who owns a number of classic car, bought this one a couple of years ago and has done some work on it but is trying to pare back his collection. If anyone is interested in this vehicle, let me know and I will try to put you in touch with the owner. JH

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My Bottomless Jar of Wonder

By Jim Hagarty

I don’t believe in magic. Everything can be explained. With one exception.

My Magical Jar.

I wish it contained loonies and toonies or hundred dollar bills, but it doesn’t. It contains screwnails. It’s a one-litre peanut butter jar I cleaned out about 30 years ago and into which I tossed the few screws I had at the time. Since then, that jar has never run out of screws nor has it overflowed but it has almost always had just the screws I need for any project.

On Sunday, for example, I needed six weather-treated deck screws, exactly one-and-one-quarter inches long. I had no idea whether or not I had any deck screws in the jar, let alone that length. But I dumped all the screws out and went fishing. A few minutes later, in my hand, were the six screws I needed, exactly the right length. The funny thing is, there were no other screws like that in the jar.

This happens all the time. I go to that jar several times a week and remove some of its contents. But no matter how many screws I take out, the level of them in the jar, which is always about half full, never seems to change. A loaves and fishes kind of thing.

I might need two, one-inch brass woodscrews. There they are. Four, two-inch metal screws. Ditto.

I never consciously go to the store to buy screws to top up the jar. But I do buy new screws on occasion for a project and I guess the leftovers go into the jar. Also, I accumulate screws from various items we buy for the house and which seem to be unneeded. However the screwnails get into that jar, the jar is always forthcoming. Like a golden goose or a pot of gold. Maybe even a genie and a lamp. But that would be just my luck to waste one of my three wishes on six deck screws.

I have many of my Dad’s handtools and shovels, rakes etc., which I will pass on to my son and daughter someday. I don’t know who will get the screwnail jar.

Maybe they’ll have to flip a coin from my coin jar which, alas, is always running on empty.

The Best of Friends

By Jim Hagarty

So Donald Trump has an imaginary friend named Jim. He’s often referred to Jim when he is trying to make a case about something. For example, Jim used to go to Paris a lot with his wife but now considers it a hell hole because of all the Muslims that have been let in these past few years so now he steers clear.

No one has been able to get a precise bead on who exactly this Jim is and last week, some resourceful newshounds went through whole lists of people named Jim with whom Trump is associated. None of the Jims on the big long list fit the bill. Not even close. One Jim that might have made the grade isn’t married so could not have gone to Paris with his wife.

Apparently, making up friends is sort of a family tradition, as Papa Fred Trump did the same. He used to also pass himself off as someone other than who he really was, a little trick Donald adopted too, phoning news outlets posing as John Barron or John Miller and delivering the latest most amazing news about Donald Trump and the fantastic success he was having on the financial and romantic fronts.

Well, this is all fine and dandy, but I am here to burst the bubble. For, you see, I am the real Jim. The Donald and I go way back and are lifelong besties. He is right that I have not been to Paris in a while but he was wrong to say it was because of the Muslims who live there. The real impediment to my goals of strolling the wonderful streets of Paris is my lack of financial stability. To explain, I am a graduate of Trump University and that little venture cut into my assets.

However, I have forgiven my buddy Don and support him a hundred per cent. And I appreciate his continued support of me.

Don and Jim Forever!

When Thunderbird Was All Car

I was waiting for my car at a muffler shop in Stratford on Saturday when I spied this magnificent 1966 Thunderbird. The owner Rick, shown here in one of the photos, gave me permission to photograph his prize and he told me the background. He had been searching for such a car and found it in Pennsylvania. It was not in the best of shape when he got it and it has taken him and his daughter years to restore it. The work is not yet done, but they have done most of it themselves including installing a completely rebuilt engine. Rick recently took his car to a Thunderbird show where a journalist was so impressed he has featured the car in an upcoming Thunderbird magazine. I wish I could remember more of the details Rick gave me but he did say that this was the last year the car had this sort of design. Starting with the next model year, it was more rounded and lost many of its distinctive features. JH

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I Spy With My Little Eye …

By Jim Hagarty

The other day, I was in a big mall parking lot, when I spotted a brown car. Not just any brown car, but the brown car I have been waiting all summer to take a photo of. For some time, I have wanted to write a little story about how you don’t see brown cars any more. As soon as I came up with that idea, I saw brown cars everywhere, of course. But not the quality of brown I was seeking.

My theory about the scarcity of brown cars goes back to an article I read years ago which anaylzed car accidents by the colour of the vehicle. Yes, someone had done a study which showed certain colours of cars are more apt to be in accidents because other drivers can’t see them well enough on the roads. Brown was a big offender. It blends too well into the surrounding scenery. Same for certain shades of grey.

So I was preparing to write this very important treatise all summer but needed a photo of the right colour of brown to go with it. And there it was. All I had to do is pull out my smartphone and snap some pics.

But just as I was about to do that, way on the other side of the parking lot, a woman carrying several shopping bags emerged from a big box store. And she was sort of heading in my direction but I knew it would not be possible that she would be the owner of the brown car. There were, that day, 1,002 cars parked in that lot. She had 1,001 other cars to choose from. Still she kept heading my way.

Now this only mattered because I was shy to be taking photos of the brown car if the owner was anywhere about. I had a feeling said owner might find it sort of strange that a stranger was photographing his or her car, emphasis on the her.

So, you know the rest of this story. There were hardly any other people in the parking lot. They were all inside the big box stores scooping up bargains. And still this woman was heading towards me like some sort of laser-guided missile. And yes, she went to the brown car, loaded up her bags and drove away. I hope she made it home without getting into an accident.

So, please forgive me, but I am unable to complete my story at this time. I climbed back into my non-brown car and drove away.