My Uncle was a lifetime GM Parts Manager – Chevrolet dealerships. When I was just out of High School I bought my 69 Camaro with his guidance. He was my mentor and build buddy. She was in rough shape but we pulled her together and got her on the road as my daily driver.
Henry taught me how to set the engine timing. He listened and felt her idle, listened some more under different throttle settings, making little adjustments of the dizzy all the time reevaluating her changing sound. I kept expecting him to go and look at the analyzer and check the dwell but he never did. He did it all by sight and sound, all those years of experience he knew what it should sound like. His tools were his ears and fingers, and the prerequisite lit cigarette hanging from his lip. I was amazed, but was it right I asked? He used the timing light just to check his work. It was spot on.
A few years after his passing in early fall I pulled into my Mom’s garage and she somehow locked up in first gear. I left the car expecting my other Uncle and I would get her free on Thanksgiving. We tried but couldn’t get her out of gear. She sat there for the better part of two decades as life pulled me different places and priorities. When I assumed ownership of the house I figured I would get her going again sometime, but other house projects always won my time.
Then I started smelling the faint sent of cigarette smoke in the garage. No one besides my Uncle Henry ever smoked in the garage. We are all non-smokers. The smell became stronger and more frequent. I took it as a sign and started getting her back on the road. After several months of refurbishing systems, the morning of the restart arrived. When she fired up I was excited. At the end of the day as I was cleaning up the garage I was overpowered by the smell of cigarette smoke and then it was gone. Henry was there all along. My memories of him will always be tied to my Camaro. Henry's always along for the ride.