As a rule, I don't like to admit it, but in what most people would probably call a normal neighborhood I'd likely be the guy the neighbors all love to hate. For readers who live out in the country, this might seem a little hard to understand, so please bear in mind I live smack in the middle of suburban Orange County, California. I'm sure there are a lot of valid minor ones, but no doubt one of the big reasons might be all of the lowered old trucks I usually have parked out in front of my house. In the late '70s when I first moved to OC from the San Gabriel Valley, it was unusual to see more than two cars parked in any tract home driveway. For the first 10 or so years my original neighbors had no idea how many old cars and trucks I owned. I did a pretty good job of making it look like I only had a couple of choices. Thanks to the 3,000-square-foot building I had my automotive business in, I was able to keep all the other clunkers stored out of sight. The only real clue anyone might have had things weren't quite right were the semi-unusual vehicles I drove home from work each night. I'd switch back and forth between a '56 Ford Courier (sedan-delivery), a '65 F-250, or my trusty old rigid-framed Harley-Davidson.
Then one day I sold my business and had to move my cars and trucks to the house. Fortunately for me, during the '80s there was a massive demographic shift in our neighborhood's ethnic composition, with the newer families coming from countries where it wasn't unusual to have three or four different generations living under one roof. This foreign influence translated into a lot more automobiles parked in the driveway and out on the street. Today our cul-de-sac looks like all the other overcrowded neighborhoods in north Orange County-there are cars parked everywhere.
Respect, along with an unwritten law that you can raise all the hell you want and no one will ever say anything as long as you keep your mouth shut when it's their turn, seems to keep the peace in our neighborhood. For a while there was a large Cambodian family who lived on the corner. They used to lay dead fish out on the roof of their house to cure. The smell could knock a buzzard off a manure spreader, but that was OK. I knew that if I wanted to, I could light the tires up on my truck every night for a month and they would never say anything. Of course, out of respect I'd only fry my tires every once in a while. Any time I had to move one of my trucks that wouldn't start out of the way for street-sweeping, three to four of the Cambodian guys would run across the street and help me push without asking.
I'm not the only gearhead who lives on my street; in fact, there're almost as many houses with a 4-post lift in the backyard as there are built-in swimming pools. My friend down at the end of the street specializes in lowrider '59 Chevy Impala convertibles. He has a guy on one side of him building a '64 Chevelle and two more neighbors on the other side building a Mopar dragster and a vintage kit car. There are a few more guys I could mention, but I'm running out of room to write.
I'm grateful things are good in our neighborhood and everyone gets along. It seems like almost every night on the TV news there's a story about neighbors killing each other over a shared trash can or one idiot giving another idiot a bad look. Maybe what they need are some lowered old trucks parked in front of their houses. If you would like to help, please ship all your old trucks to Custom Classic Trucks in Placentia, California, and we'll make sure they get them. I thank you, and the neighborhoods thank you.