Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


My photo
Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Stephen Shore, the Valiant

from Stephen Shore  Uncommon Place: The Complete Works. The book has powerful images from Shore's cross-country trips in the 1970s and 1980s. He has an eye for color and for the ragged, scattered edges of the American built environment.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

1975 Dodge 200 3/4 ton Club Cab

Always liked this era Dodge trucks. This is a 2WD, not a Power Wagon, but it looks very clean, and the seller claims 56k miles. Hard to beat the Slant Six for reliability. Find out more on B-A-T.  

Cambridge Safari & the Urban Land Rover

Cambridge is not a great habitat for old trucks. On the ride to school HBB did point out this nimble and neatly configured SWB Land Rover.  One of my favorites. Were you following AL a few years back when we were reporting from the Netherlands you might have noted our interest in the Dutch obsession with Land Rovers. L-R's play 2 different roles in the NL, from what we can tell. They are very high-status personal vehicles, which cost the owner a lot of euros in license tax before they're allowed on the road. Since commercial vehicles are taxed differently L-R's are also quite common as commercial/service vehicles, farm trucks, etc.  But was strange in such an urbanized, civilzed and densely populated corner of Europe to see so many L-R's rumbling about.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

1963 Land Rover Series IIA

The Land Rover had a frame-off restoration. It's for sale in Denver. Find out more at B-A-T.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

1959 Chevrolet Impala. 1966 Chevrolet Impala. California Blue Sky

2 Chevrolet ragtops in one day from Mike Moore, out on the freeways of the East Bay.  That blue sky looks pretty good from here but must be getting tiresome from a Californian point of view. 1959 was such an insane year for GM. My favorite car, ever, was the 1959 Pontiac Catalina.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Elizabeth Bishop on the bus, Nova Scotia to Boston

The Moose

For Grace Bulmer Bowers
From narrow provinces
of fish and bread and tea,
home of the long tides
where the bay leaves the sea
twice a day and takes
the herrings long rides,

where if the river
enters or retreats 
in a wall of brown foam
depends on if it meets
the bay coming in,
the bay not at home;

where, silted red,
sometimes the sun sets
facing a red sea,
and others, veins the flats’
lavender, rich mud
in burning rivulets;

on red, gravelly roads,
down rows of sugar maples,
past clapboard farmhouses
and neat, clapboard churches,
bleached, ridged as clamshells,
past twin silver birches,

through late afternoon
a bus journeys west,
the windshield flashing pink,
pink glancing off of metal,
brushing the dented flank
of blue, beat-up enamel;

down hollows, up rises,
and waits, patient, while
a lone traveller gives
kisses and embraces
to seven relatives
and a collie supervises.

Goodbye to the elms,
to the farm, to the dog.
The bus starts.  The light
grows richer; the fog,
shifting, salty, thin,
comes closing in.

Its cold, round crystals
form and slide and settle
in the white hens’ feathers,
in gray glazed cabbages,
on the cabbage roses
and lupins like apostles;

the sweet peas cling
to their wet white string
on the whitewashed fences;
bumblebees creep
inside the foxgloves,
and evening commences.

One stop at Bass River.
Then the Economies 
Lower, Middle, Upper;
Five Islands, Five Houses,
where a woman shakes a tablecloth
out after supper.

A pale flickering.  Gone.
The Tantramar marshes 
and the smell of salt hay.
An iron bridge trembles 
and a loose plank rattles
but doesn’t give way.

On the left, a red light
swims through the dark:
a ship’s port lantern.
Two rubber boots show,
illuminated, solemn.
A dog gives one bark.

A woman climbs in 
with two market bags,
brisk, freckled, elderly.
“A grand night.  Yes, sir,
all the way to Boston.”
She regards us amicably.

Moonlight as we enter 
the New Brunswick woods,
hairy, scratchy, splintery;
moonlight and mist
caught in them like lamb’s wool
on bushes in a pasture.

The passengers lie back.
Snores.  Some long sighs.
A dreamy divagation
begins in the night,
a gentle, auditory,
slow hallucination. . . .

In the creakings and noises,
an old conversation
--not concerning us,
but recognizable, somewhere,
back in the bus:
Grandparents’ voices

talking, in Eternity:
names being mentioned,
things cleared up finally;
what he said, what she said,
who got pensioned;

deaths, deaths and sicknesses;
the year he remarried;
the year (something) happened.
She died in childbirth.
That was the son lost
when the schooner foundered.

He took to drink. Yes.
She went to the bad.
When Amos began to pray
even in the store and
finally the family had
to put him away.

“Yes . . .” that peculiar
affirmative.  “Yes . . .”
A sharp, indrawn breath,
half groan, half acceptance,
that means “Life’s like that.
We know it (also death).”

Talking the way they talked 
in the old featherbed,
peacefully, on and on,
dim lamplight in the hall,
down in the kitchen, the dog
tucked in her shawl.

Now, it’s all right now
even to fall asleep
just as on all those nights.
--Suddenly the bus driver
stops with a jolt,
turns off his lights.

A moose has come out of 
the impenetrable wood
and stands there, looms, rather,
in the middle of the road.
It approaches; it sniffs at
the bus’s hot hood.

Towering, antlerless,
high as a church,
homely as a house
(or, safe as houses).
A man’s voice assures us
“Perfectly harmless. . . .”

Some of the passengers
exclaim in whispers,
childishly, softly,
“Sure are big creatures.”
“It’s awful plain.”
“Look! It’s a she!”

Taking her time,
she looks the bus over,
grand, otherworldly.
Why, why do we feel
(we all feel) this sweet
sensation of joy?

“Curious creatures,"
says our quiet driver,
rolling his r‘s.
“Look at that, would you.”
Then he shifts gears.
For a moment longer,

by craning backward,
the moose can be seen
on the moonlit macadam;
then there’s a dim
smell of moose, an acrid
smell of gasoline.
                                       -Elizabeth Bishop

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Love, Inertia And The Perfect Stance, an update

These from Michael Moore are the latest photos of Shawn Hibma-Cronin's Love, Inertia, And Perfect Stance van project, which we have been tracking for a couple of years.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Eleanor Roosevelt's road trip to Quebec

"It was the summer of 1933; the Great Depression was hitting North America with full force. To escape the heat of the American capital, two independent-minded Washington women hit the road and travelled north to Canada. For three weeks in July, they drove a brand-new Plymouth roadster convertible through Vermont to Quebec, New Brunswick and back...."
Read Andy Caddell's story in the Montreal Gazette

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

1933 Chevrolet Pickup in South China

For sale in South China (Maine). An older restoration. Photo must have been taken around the second or third week of April. I love that bare, leafless light of early Spring in Maine.

Monday, September 21, 2015

1951 White COE

from Alex Emond: "This truck is some kind of ugly . If you were to adapt a small (Bambi) Airstream trailer onto the frame and spend a small fortune on it ... you would have the perfect getaway vehicle . I really like the look of this creature . I wonder what the original grille looks like . It's not that big..."-AE
It's for sale in Eureka, Montana. It's up on Hemmings:
1951 WHITE COE truck. Very little rust. It's exterior skin rust, east to fix. Title. Rolls and steers. No engine or transmission. Short wheelbase. Mostly complete but passenger seat frame is gone. Nice grill available. The front was sanded by me, because it had filler I wanted to sand off to be sure there wasn't rust there. No other filler. Solid, rare, coe project. Decoliner clone?
Price: $5,000 firm

Another White COE posted from Sedgwick Maine.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Delta Colorado Drive-by

 from Mike Moore, on the Western Slope: "Always seems to be the same array."

Checker Wagon

It was for sale at Motorland in Arundel, Maine. Something about it makes me think of those Soviet limos of the 1960s--wasn't there a Zil?  Or maybe it's more like a much bigger version of a British Austin of that era. That battleship grey --that was an Austin Cambridge color, along with red leather seats. Checkers were dependable. I remember when they dominated the taxi fleet in NYC. 
  Jalopnik thinks they ought to return to NYC. Te hell with the Prius, he says.
Going by those black Calif. plates, this seems to be a 1969-at-the-latest car.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

American Houses: Avon Hill, Cambridge, Mass.

Avon Hill is one of those sections of Cambridge that could be a neighborhood in a much smaller New England town.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Boston Truck Language

Over the years I have noticed there is a particular and old-fashioned style of lettering and pin-striping used on many commercial trucks in eastern Massachusetts. This may be an exalted example of the genre. How to describe the style? I will be gathering more examples to make my point but you do see some of the elements here, notably the traditional font. with letters shadowed in a 3-D script and often in gilt. Pin-striping often frames the door, or whichever body panel is lettered--though you don't see that here. I've never read about Mass. truck lettering or seen it investigated. I'm not aware of another city or state with its own style of truck decoration, but the subject is of some fascination to Autoliterate, and we shall be investigating further. The Sullivan truck is a beauty. Pickup trucks just look better without an extended cab. What's interesting is that the lettering gives no clue as to what business, if any, M.A. Sullivan is engaged in. Perhaps he just wanted to have his name and the Suilleabhean coat of arms on his truck.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

from Alex Emond, in southern Saskatchewan: "Here are some images from Eastend (see Wallace Stegner's Wolf Willow) and just a little north-west along the Frenchman River . 
I poked my nose into the semi-ghost town of Ravenscrag . No stores , no services but tons of history and so damn beautiful .
This Fargo truck is not really that far gone ... compared to a lot of "restoration " projects ... the body is really nice . As for these other relics, from the mid-30's... they look fine just where they are .
Jack's Cafe is still going strong ... newer Greek owners but the interior still has that wrap around folk art mural with the history of the S.W. shown , from Buffalo Jump to windmills , tractors and schools. A la Grandma Moses .
There is a tiny Anglican Church tucked away on a residential street that has a lot going for it but it needs some work and soon. Hope they can scrape up a few dollars and get busy. Cheers"--

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Paddy's Lunch. Cambridge MA

On Walden St., Cambridge. Since 1934. There's a lot of faux Irish bars just about everywhere. They are way too jolly. Paddy's embodies the authentic, almost monastic spirit of the real Irish drinking hole. Artisanal beer, or Bud in a shamrock?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

1961 Dodge

from Vincent Stanley, in New York--"in a gallery window"
We posted a Canadian '61 Dodge last spring. And another from Chimayo, NM.

Monday, September 14, 2015

1952 Kaiser, Cambridge MA

 The last thing I expected to see in Harvard Square on a misty September morning was a...Kaiser. This town is tough on cars but the Kaiser was wearing CA plates. I wonder if it made the trip cross-country under power, or aboard a trailer. I've rarely encountered these cars, so this one was startling. I'm guessing the year, you can correct me. Compared to almost everything else of its American era, this K-car has a sleek, uncluttered beauty.