The story below was submitted as part of the Collecting Cars, Collecting Memories contest
Editor’s note: As a way to celebrate Father’s Day, we posted every story we received as part of our Collecting Cars, Collecting Memories contest. Thank you to all who submitted.
My love for cars started when I was very young.
My parents had started their life farming in Clarkson, Nebraska, but after a five-year drought, they had no option but to sell the farm and the equipment and move to Omaha, Nebraska.
My father, being a farmer, had to do almost all of the repairs himself. No one had money laying around for repairs to any of the farm equipment and, if they did hire for the job, it could sometimes takes weeks to get the parts.
My father was an aircraft sheet metal specialist in World War II so fabricating parts was natural for him.
I was maybe 4 years old when we moved to Omaha but I always remembered the joy my father took in repairing our car or a tractor at farms owned by my grandparents or other relatives.
When dad was working on anything, I was always right there with him, learning what tools to use and, very importantly, how to maintain them and to always finish what I started.
My dad always said, “David, in life there are no shortcuts! If you take 10 minutes off of a repair, you run the risk of disabling something that you need.”
Dad said the risk will always win and he learned that working on warplanes, when an unfinished 10-minute repair could easily cost a life.
As I grew up, my dad and I were always working together on something — sharing, caring and loving what we did.
My first muscle car was a very much used 1969 Chevelle SS 396. My father told me not to fear the challenge, but embrace it and you will appreciate it forever.
He was right.
We grew up extremely poor, so after high school I wanted to go and learn the art of auto body repair and refinishing. I had to sell my Chevelle to pay for my education.
Willingly and happily, I learned my trade and became very successful at it. Eventually, I also started teaching collision repair through I-CAR.
I did eventually find another true 1969 Chevelle SS and restored it from the ground up fulfilling a promise I made to my father.
Now my pride and joy will be handed down to my son so the legacy will continue through my children. My father passed away in 2000 but I can feel his presence all the time and he is proud.
I would have to surmise this story as the best and most knowledgeable teacher I ever had wasn’t some overpaid college professor! The best teacher I ever had was a poor Nebraska farmer who taught me more in life and about life than I could ever tell.
This one is for my father, my mentor and my hero.
-David Lee Dolezal from Omaha, Nebraska