In 2004, my uncle had just gone through some severe health problems and was recovering. I took my then 12-year old daughter with me to visit him and take him to the Super Chevy Show in Gainesville, FL. My daughters (I have four) had always heard about his '69 Camaro SS 396 (he bought it new), but had never riden in it. Due to my uncle's health, the car had sat without running for a while and was needing some TLC. Upon return from the Super Chevy Show, I began to work on it. Charged the battery, checked the plugs, wires, and points, and checked all the fluids. Fired it up after charging the battery and adjusted the carb and timing. It was running fine. The next morning, my daughter and I got up early and headed into his small town for breakfast and to wash the car. My uncle's street was a long, straight, South Georgia country road. After driving for a few miles and determing the car was in good shape, we came to a 4-way stop. I proceeded across the intersection and then stomped the accelerator at about 20 MPH. The tires lit up and I shifted at 5,800 RPM through the first three gears. We were up to over 100 MPH in no time. I had not warned my 12-year old of what was about to happen. When I lifted off the gas and she was no longer plastered to the seat, she let out a "HOLY COW! WOW! and THAT WAS AWESOME!!!! She was ecstatic and thrilled. But, this was just first part of her excitement for the morning.
While in the restaurant, a county deputy sheriff came and stood at our table after he checked out. "Who are you and what are you doing driving James Cook's Camaro?" was his question to me. I told him I was his nephew and that his grand niece and I were taking care of it for him while he recovered. The deputy promptly sat down in the booth beside my daughter and wanted to know all about my uncle's health problems. He assured me that he and the other deputies would stop by, look in on him, and make sure the Camaro was safe. No sooner had he left, another gentleman stood at our table and asked, "Who are you and what are you doing driving James Cook's Camaro?" After I told him who I was, he promptly sat down in the booth beside my daughter. He asked me if I was the nephew that used to come by the Gulf station there in town when my uncle worked there in the late 60's and early70's. I told him yes and he said he used to own that station. He wanted to know about my uncle's health and I told him. He said he would stop by once or twice per week to check on him.
My daughter got to experiece the ride of her life and the small town atmosphere where everyone the Camaro belonged to my uncle and was concerned about his health. My daughter talked about this experience with her mom and other sisters when we got, she told the story to my mom (my uncle's sister) and dad, my sister, and all her firends. Her mom did ask her how fast we got up to and I was sold out. No trouble though, the wife knows I can handle a hot car.
As we fast forward, sadly, that Camaro is now in my garage. My uncle passed away in 2009. The car is a family treasure. It has never been restored and my mom has decreed that it is staying the family. In fact, my daughters have already discussed who gets it next, even though I plan to live at least another 30 years. This 1969 Camaro, bought new by uncle, is the lasting link to him and the other family members that have passed on and the memories that go with them. I cannot look at that car and not be 11-years old again and going for my first ride in it.