Admiring the artistry of hood ornaments

Knowing that the Old Men of the Mountain have a sense of duty, so if on early Tuesday mornings their priorities are in line, appointments for that time should be adjusted to a later date, or time. While scheduling meetings or appointments when asked, “What time is good for you?” the OMOTM should reply, “Any day but Tuesday.”

The Tuesday of Oct. 29, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow. Pop’s Place has trucker-size portions.

Some of the OFs can handle this; however, for the real antiques of the group, it may be a little much for their stomachs to adjust to. Once OFs get into their eighties, most eat less.

Where once the OF could eat out and have dessert too, now eating out means the OF looks at senior menus because he is not able to deal with all the food on the regular menu.

At the barbeques of the OFs youth (and by youth I mean any age under 70), the OFs could eat a couple of hamburgers, and three hot dogs, and think nothing of it. Now, at 80, it might be a hot dog, nursed through the whole evening.

The conversations at one end of the table Tuesday morning were, as usual, trucks, cars, motorcycles, bulldozers, and tractors.

However, when talking about cars, the OFs started talking about car hood ornaments and how interesting they were. Not only were cars adorned with these works of art but so were trucks.

The Mack “Bulldog” was a classic and some are in the realm of collectables now. When Alfred Fellows Masury, Mack’s chief engineer, carved the first bulldog hood ornament out of a bar of soap while recuperating from a surgery, Masury applied for, and received, a patent for his design in 1932, and the Bulldog ornament has adorned Mack trucks ever since.

Sadly, Masury was killed in the crash of United States Navy airship Akron in 1933, but his mascot lives on and is marking its 87th year. One OF wondered where the castings were for the “Bulldog” and if they were still around.

Many of these ornaments were finely made. The detail was exceptional.

Packard had a few, the swan with its wings outstretched, and the Greek god Mercury with wings. One of Pontiac’s ornaments was the Indian Chief with the feathers on his headband flowing back in the wind. Jaguar had a leaping Jaguar on top and in back of the grill appearing to leap into space ahead of the car.

Some hood ornaments even had a little light in them. The OFs said, “We don’t see these anymore. They are gone along with small windows in the front that swung out, and soon the spare tire is going to be a thing of the past.”

There are a few vehicles that still carry the tradition of the hood ornament; Rolls-Royce is one of them. The Spirit of Ecstasy is the bonnet (hood) ornament sculpture on Rolls-Royce cars.

It is in the form of a woman leaning forwards with her arms outstretched behind and above her. Billowing cloth runs from her arms to her back, resembling wings. The OFs didn’t know about many of the other classier cars. Some might still have hood ornaments.

One OF said he was told the demise of the spare tire is to cut down on weight. Apparently it used too much gas to haul the spare tire around.

To which another OF replied, “That is a lot of malarkey. The manufacturers are too cheap to put them in, let alone design a place to hold them.”

Early voting

Some of the OFs have taken advantage of early voting; these OFs say there are no crowds. The voter is able to vote when the voter has nothing else going on.

This allows the voter not to worry about Election Day in case an emergency comes up, or the weather turn nasty on Nov. 5. On the 5th, the OF doesn’t have to leave the house to go vote — the OF already has and now his voice has been heard.

One OF wondered how they keep the early votes a secret. If he were running for an office, the OF said he would want to know how he was doing, win or lose. So can’t he go and just look at how the vote is going? Wouldn’t that affect the rest of the voting right up until election and keep many home because they figure Joe Blow was either going to win or lose.

Online worries

The computer age has gone beyond many of the OMOTM, especially where people now order so much “online.” The OFs still don’t trust this.

Some do go online and then tell stories of how screwed up it can get and that makes the other OFs more leery of getting into this “new” technology, especially when ordering parts to fix one thing or another.

It does save a lot of driving around. One OF mentioned, even if the first order is wrong, you are able to send it back and get the right one and it isn’t necessary to leave the house.

One OF mentioned he likes to see what he is buying, touch it, and make sure there are no flaws. This OF says the merchandise may look rugged in a picture but when it finally comes into your possession it might be some cheap thing that he would never even consider owning.

Another OF said he ordered parts via the computer that were supposed to be delivered in two days. Two days came and no parts showed up, so the OF contacted the parts store again and they said they would be delivered in two days.

Two days came and went and no parts. They should have told him two weeks. He finally did receive the parts. So much for that. Maybe next time he would be better off if he told the store he would pay up in two days.

The Old Men of The Mountain who made their way through the fog to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow without bumping into anything were: John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Marty Herzog, Wally Guest, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Paul Nelson, Rick LaGrange, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Mace Porter, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Jack Norray, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.