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.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Makinen Bros. Lobsterboat


Maynard Bray photos. 34’ lobsterboat, built in 1961 by Makinen Brothers 1961 South Thomaston, Maine. Here's a piece in the Island Journal about Maine lobstering today.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

1942 Ford One-and-a-Half Ton


From Reid Cunningham: "This one I know much more about, since it was mine up until yesterday. Originally a Pepsi delivery truck in Rochester NY, then sold to a farm in Pittsford NY where it was used for decades to haul potatoes from the fields each harvest season. I bought it around 2000 as a non-running parts truck for my '42 pickup I have owned since high school. I literally bought I because it had two unbroken Ford scripts on the hood. They were only made briefly for the 1942 trucks before the US entered the war. To save materials all later trucks had the Ford name stamped in the hood. I played around with the flathead V8 and got it running. Then I no longer thought of it as a parts truck. I have moved it among the 3 houses we owned in Pittsford with the hopes of restoring my pickup and then this larger truck.
With a change of jobs and a relocation to New Hampshire long delayed because of the pandemic, it was time to let some things go. I couldn't bear to give up on my pickup yet (it is completely disassembled for restoration) but the big truck has been passed along. I kept the hood but posted this for free on a Facebook group that is for fans of these 1942-47 Ford trucks. The new owner already had the engine turning over and is hoping to have it running soon. When it left for another upstate NY town east of Rochester, it was the first time since new that the truck has been out of Monroe County NY. I was sad to see it go, but grateful to have it in the hands of someone that wants to bring it back to life and avoid the scrap yard. Life moves on..."
AL: Speaking of wartime wheels, how about this 1941 Heavy Chevy (Special Deluxe)?

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Regarding Chainsaws


      Regarding Chainsaws

The first chainsaw I owned was years ago,
an old yellow McCulloch that wouldn't start.
Bo Bremmer give it to me that was my friend,
though I've had enemies couldn't of done
no worse. I took it to Ward's over to Morrisville,
and no doubt they tinkered it as best they could,
but it still wouldn't start. One time later
I took it down to the last bolt and gasket
and put it together again, hoping somehow
I'd do something accidental-like that would
make it go, and then I yanked on it
450 times, as I figured afterwards,
and give myself a bursitis in the elbow
that went five years even after
Doc Arrowsmith shot it full of cortisone
and near killed me when he hit a nerve
dead on. Old Stan wanted that saw, wanted it bad.
Figured I was a greenhorn that didn't know
nothing and he could fix it. Well, I was,
you could say, being only forty at the time,
but a fair hand at tinkering. "Stan," I said,
"you're a neighbor. I like you. I wouldn't
sell that thing to nobody, except maybe
Vice-President Nixon." But Stan persisted.
He always did. One time we was loafing and
gabbing in his front dooryard, and he spied
that saw in the back of my pickup. He run
quick inside, then come out and stuck a double
sawbuck in my shirt pocket, and he grabbed
that saw and lugged it off. Next day, when I
drove past, I seen he had it snugged down tight
with a tow-chain on the bed of his old Dodge
Powerwagon, and he was yanking on it
with both hands. Two or three days after,
I asked him, "How you getting along with that
McCulloch, Stan?" "Well," he says, "I tooken
it down to scrap, and I buried it in three
separate places yonder on the upper side
of the potato piece. You can't be too careful,"
he says, "when you're disposing of a hex."
The next saw I had was a godawful ancient
Homelite that I give Dry Dryden thirty bucks for,
temperamental as a ram too, but I liked it.
It used to remind me of Dry and how he'd
clap that saw a couple times with the flat
of his double-blade axe to make it go
and how he honed the chain with a worn-down
file stuck in an old baseball. I worked
that saw for years. I put up forty-five
run them days each summer and fall to keep
my stoves het through the winter. I couldn't now.
It'd kill me. Of course they got these here
modern Swedish saws now that can take
all the worry out of it. What's the good
of that? Takes all the fun out too, don't it?
Why, I reckon. I mind when Gilles Boivin snagged
an old sap spout buried in a chunk of maple
and it tore up his mouth so bad he couldn't play
"Tea for Two" on his cornet in the town band
no more, and then when Toby Fox was holding
a beech limb that Rob Bowen was bucking up
and the saw skidded crossways and nipped off
one of Toby's fingers. Ain't that more like it?
Makes you know you're living. But mostly they wan't
dangerous, and the only thing they broke was your
back. Old Stan, he was a buller and a jammer
in his time, no two ways about that, but he
never sawed himself. Stan had the sugar
all his life, and he wan't always too careful
about his diet and the injections. He lost
all the feeling in his legs from the knees down.
One time he started up his Powerwagon
out in the barn, and his foot slipped off the clutch,
and she jumped forwards right through the wall
and into the manure pit. He just set there,
swearing like you could of heard it in St.
Johnsbury, till his wife come out and said,
"Stan, what's got into you?" "Missus," he says
"ain't nothing got into me. Can't you see?
It's me that's got into this here pile of shit."
Not much later they took away one of his
legs, and six months after that they took
the other and left him setting in his old chair
with a tank of oxygen to sip at whenever
he felt himself sinking. I remember that chair.
Stan reupholstered it with an old bearskin
that must of come down from his great-great-
grandfather and had grit in it left over
from the Civil War and a bullet-hole as big
as a yawning cat. Stan latched the pieces together
with rawhide, cross fashion, but the stitches was
always breaking and coming undone. About then
I quit stopping by to see old Stan, and I
don't feel so good about that neither. But my mother
was having her strokes then. I figured
one person coming apart was as much
as a man can stand. Then Stan was taken away
to the nursing home, and then he died. I always
remember how he planted them pieces of spooked
McCulloch up above the potatoes. One time
I went up and dug, and I took the old
sprocket, all pitted and et away, and set it
on the windowsill right there next to the
butter mold. But I'm damned if I know why.
                                                    -Hayden Carruth
                                                    from Toward the Distant Islands: New & Selected Poems (2006)

Friday, May 28, 2021

1972 Chevrolet Nova SS

Saw this car in South China, Maine. Very cool and clean.  Caught another Nova in Freeport, Maine. Something about these Chevys is just about perfect. Here's one from the Back Bay, Boston. A Chevy II and a Nova caught in California a while back.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Chevrolet Loadmaster, Outstanding In Its Field.


from Alex Emond in Saskatchewan: "This truck has turned up on the edge of Ponteix since I was last here. Outstanding in its field. I took a few shots of it then sat in my truck and did a sketch. Comfortable set up as long as the dog stays in the back seat. I'm sure this truck still runs."

AL caught another L'master in Kansas a while back.. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

RHD Land Rover Denver


From Markus Anstadt: "RHD Land Rover Defender in unrestored condition. This is in a Denver neighborhood. These are being factory-restored in the UK."
AL: A few of our favourite Series Land Rovers are on the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts:
1) this short-wheelbase unit: call it a two-seater.  
2) A 110 not far away.
3) another 110 very close to home.
4) Another RHD Series L-R in Portland, Maine
5) Couple more tough units in Portland.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Raglan Road Or Near Enough

Raglan Road or Near Enough

I always meant to write a song for you
on Raglan Road. Then winter came, with its long
johns and bold cats and forty proof. I entertained
almost unidentifiable feelings in the basement’s
blackout. It would have been better if I had left
some feelings unidentified, but that was never
my style, or rather lack of it: everybody knows
I’ve got no game. Anyhow, if I did, what would
we ever laugh about? I don’t believe everyone
loves a winner, but I do believe we all crack
up sooner or later for a dirty joke, a groaner —
everyone loves a class clown, at least once,
at least briefly, because everyone loves a punchline
or a punching bag; everyone’s punch-drunk, one time.
On Raglan Road, your hair started to go grey,
I want to say prematurely, except we weren’t
so young. Mature is a polite word for it; but you
might say we skipped that part, headed straight
to rotten. I skulked around those mold-drowned
rooms in your rotten longjohns and felt a love
for you so perfect it was indistinguishable from
mourning. My love was so much more impeccable
than any human man, you may as well have died.
One imagines how it felt, in the crosshairs.

I missed you, daily, in plain sight, on Raglan
Road with the lost leaves of January shuddering
above your head in its permanent cowl of smoke,
and the unimpeachable soprano winter light sifting
through the wind’s tin whistle, and the holes in your
socks, and in your shoes, and in that thing I called oh my
heart. The sky was a series of holes closely woven
as a sieve. I saw you straining through the winter’s pores
into piebald tomorrow, halfdead with the life of it,
and your greys like the fuzz on stale bread or a
butterfly’s wing, your woolen foureyed glare
all bergamot and black ice and brandy exhale,
and the smell of the numb, simmering earth and your
coat coated in cedar dust undusted and your safflower
skin, and I could see myself, as if from a treebranch
or a crow’s nest or a copcar peeling past
on Raglan Road or near enough, at the edge of the
frame whistling “Raglan Road” out of key, fading.
                                                                     -Eva H.D.
Raglan road or Near Enough first appeared in Typishly. 
Reprinted here with author's permission.

E H.D. possibly referencing P. Kavanagh's Raglan Road.

Monday, May 24, 2021

1972 Ford F-100

From Alex Emond: "Here's a classic-looking truck with some muscle. Manual stick. Close to Medicine Hat, Alberta. It probably loves gasoline, so expensive to do a lot of travel in ... unless you really need to carry stuff regularly. Still, it has style, and for 50 years old, it's in good shape."

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Roadside Toolkit...

O Small Sad Ecstasy of Love

I like being with you all night with closed eyes.
What luck—here you are
along the stars!
I did a road trip
all over my mind and heart
there you were
kneeling by the roadside
with your little toolkit
fixing something.

Give me a world, you have taken the world I was
                                                                                 -Anne Carson

Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 10, 2020, by the
 Academy of American Poets and posted here by permission of the author

1974 MGB and The Smell of Smoke

from Reid Cunningham: "These used to be so common, so it was a nice surprise to find this one in Bedford, NH. The collector market has shot up during the pandemic, but these remain relatively cheap. I suspect many people who would have picked up an old MGB are driving a Miata instead. My dad had a 1980, the last year sold in the USA, while I was in college in the late 80's. It made his previous Fiat seem reliable. A couple times a month something broke, my favorite failure was when the exhaust manifold split. How do you manufacture a hunk of cast iron so poorly it fails? All that said, my dad loved his and I thought it was a fun car when he let me borrow it."

AL: here's a 1968 MGB we caught in Portland, Maine. And Bruce Willard's MG poem. And an MGB-GT we found on a cold day in Holland. Then there's the "white sports car" referenced in this Peter Behrens short story, The Smell of Smoke, which was, in fact, a 1964 MGB.


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Reorganized Reo


From Alex Emond: This truck was parked in a fenced , private lot so I just took this shot . Just east of Medicine Hat, Alberta. The wheels make me assume that there's more going on than I can see. Mighty fine .... here's some Saskatchewan landscape ... down in the Grasslands .

Thursday, May 20, 2021

1980 Jeep J-10 4WD


from Reid Cunningham: "Pittstown, NY. I think this is at least the third Jeep J-10 pickup I have found in the last year or so. The last registration was 2015, so not a runner but certainly less rust than the still operating Jeep I found at a sugar house. I do miss two tone trucks, the Jeep lines were made for the extra color."

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Technologies and infrastructure: Earth and Mars

Astounding, when ya think of it, that a civilization that can fly a helicopter on Mars gets a significant portion of its earth-bound energy and communications delivered through sagging networks of wooden poles and wire strung above city streets.