Story & Photos by Scott W. Block

Way back in the day, much of the work done on our own cars/street rods was performed in the backyard under a shade tree. There were two places where we did this and so we were either a backyard mechanic or a shade tree mechanic.

The Backyard Mechanic, if you’re not familiar with the term, is a term used to describe people like us who have been around Chevy 350 small blocks for Ford 302’s all their lives. We rebuilt our first lawn mower at age ten and then graduated to the V-8 shortly thereafter. Trouble is, we always seem to smell like axle grease.

In those times, much of the work done was in the backyard because we couldn’t afford to have someone else work on our rides. We grabbed our wrenches and socket sets and went to the side yard on the side of the house because there were not enough garages. If not on the side of the house, then we performed our magic under the shade tree in the back yard. In general, nowadays we have three stall garages attached to our homes. Some may have an additional one or two-car garage built on their property. In addition, if you are one of the lucky ones, you may have an outbuilding called “The Shop.” The Shop can be a wonder! They are filled with tool boxes and conversation from the “help” or the “audience”, TV’s, stereos, screen doors, air conditioning, furnaces, refrigerators, beer meisters and a car lift.

The only audience the back yard shade tree mechanic had was a droopy-eared dog who liked to watch from the backyard porch. I am hoping that at this moment you are remembering those times so long ago. Maybe you are thinking about the Jim Croce hit “Time in a bottle” and right now you are wondering where it went. Unfortunately, no one knows. Yet it remains stuck in time in our minds like a photograph or a short movie.

Back in the day, cars were a lot easier to work on. You could actually find the spark plugs, spark plug wires and distributors. They weren’t tucked away someplace or hidden by a giant chunk of plastic. The fuel filters were easy to spot and out in the open making them easy to reach/repair/replace. Newer rides have become more sophisticated, the available working space has become less and less with every available square inch under the hood is taken up, well, with something unidentifiable. Many times, today, simply changing the spark plugs
or oil requires the car to be on a lift in The Shop.

Times have changed have they not?! Open up the car hood and you can almost bet that everything under there is computer related. Many things are covered by plastic with wire harnesses and plug-in connectors. The backyard mechanic used to be able to make adjustments for a smoother idle, changing the oil was easy, and a brake job was possible.

Times have indeed changed. We have changed as we have grown older. Our country has changed, the world has changed, cars have changed, and technology has changed. It seems as if everything has changed!

Everything that is, except God.

In the midst of so many changes, God is unchanging. In the midst of change, God is there. This can be good comfort for our hearts and minds, especially during times of heartache and distress. We have hurricanes, riots, and violence. Yet God persists in loving us, caring for us, and going to the cross for us.

Blessings to you today. May God grant you perseverance to continue to run in spite of the changes. May you always be in the shade, whether by a tree or a garage. May you grasp God’s gracious love, mercy, and forgiveness for you. May you enjoy turning the wrench, twisting the socket, and draining the oil all the way to the end. Take care everyone, it can get rough out there. Keep cruising’. Keep on keeping on.





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