Body and Fender
I was transported back to my childhood while doing the body work on my horse trailer last week. My uncle owned an auto body shop down the road from our house when I was a lad. His shop was on my kid loop.
Kids are a lot like dogs and cats. When you let them out they usually go around to the same places to check things out. My wife calls it perambulating the parameter. I like that.
As a kid I had a circuit that I’d do to check out things of interest to me like the stream that went under the railroad by the ford dealer just to see the frogs jump in the water when they saw me looking at them from the bridge. I’d check out the exposed rocks in the quarry area behind the bean field. I had a dozen or so places to go, but one place I often checked out was my uncle’s body shop.
In a previous life his shop was an American Motors dealership. They moved further down the road and he bought the two-bay shop from them and turned it into a body shop. It was a simple building like an old service station. As stated it had two bays with glass garage doors. There was a tool room and an office. Behind the office was another room that was larger than the office. There was nothing in this room other than pin-up of bare breasted women from magazine centerfolds and calendars. I never did ask why he had this, for lack of a better term, ”gallery.” Actually I don’t even want to know.
Anyway, it was the smell of the body repair material that transported me back to his shop. It was the smell of the fiberglass. It was the smell of the body filler. It was the sound of the angle grinder and the sanders. It was the flakes of dried body filler that I pealed away with the cheese grader. It was mostly the smell of it all that took me back.
As a kid I didn’t go there to see how they repaired things. I was more interested in seeing the crashed cars that were in the Q to be repaired. Every car had a story, but to hear the stories I had to be in the work room where they worked with fiberglass and Bondo. The smells permeated my very being where if I smell them today I can become 10 years old again.
As I applied and removed things from the surface of the fenders, I could see myself dressed in baggy gray pants with a matching gray shirt with my name embroidered above the pocket. It is a career I’m glad I had not chosen, but the moment allowed this momentary fantasy.