Thursday, August 23, 2012
My Dad, The Man Who Could Make It Better
There is a plaque on the wall at the Talladega Motorsports Museum, it's in the Alabama Racing Pioneers Room. My Dad's name is on it.
William Frank "Bill" Patton always wanted to get us together for a Racing Pioneers event and he finally did. It was the Hall of Fame awards banquet. He was being inducted, posthumously, and my brother Richard, A Human Being, would receive the award on his behalf. This was only fitting because Richard was almost born in the floorboard of a '55 Chevy Bel Air Sports Coupe as our Dad raced our Mother to the hospital. He has been over and under cars ever since.
Bill Patton could make things better. If it was a slow car, he could make it faster, if it was a radio, he could make it reach farther, if it was a heater, he could make it hotter.
When my Dad was stationed in Texas when he was in the military he talked about how cold it was. The heaters for the soldiers' tents were built out of 55 gallon drums and my Dad had re-designed the one in his tent to burn hotter- by dripping avgas on it. His superiors saw it and reported it to their Commander. The Commander came into my Dad's tent- did a walk around inspection of the heater, looked at my Dad and said, "Could you build one like that for my tent?"
My Dad was a life long learner. He studied for and obtained his Blasters License at 70 years of age before copd started keeping him close to the house.
He never got to blow anything up but if he did he could have done it legally.
My Dad lived until the day he died. We buried him on his 74th birthday.
The man who could make it better finally rests, as the rest of us, take our chance.