I have yet to meet anyone who was so obsessed with one make, model and year of automobile as my brother. Oh, he enjoyed other types and styles of old cars, too. However, if the subject of 1957 Chevrolet BelAir cars came up, he was all aglow. It seems like whenever he’d be in conversation, somehow the topic would eventually drift towards 1957 Chevys.
Mark had 1957 Chevy posters, books, magazines, tee shirts, parts and had been the owner of several 1957 project heaps throughout his life. In case you missed this vital fact about him, his email address began with “hotrod_1957@…” for several years. His first car was grampa J’s 1957 BelAir four door hardtop sedan.
I know he was looking forward to today. If he was living, now he would be celebrating birthday number 57. Today would have begun his halcycon year, his time of bliss and peace.
My little brother, Mark, was born 57 years ago today in Wakefield, Nebraska. From the time mom and dad brought him home, we were pals. I’d already grown through the sibling rivalry pangs with my little sister. Mark and I were inseparable. Some of my little friends who also had younger siblings often complained about their kid brothers. I didn’t relate to that attitude at all. Mark was my best friend as well as my brother.
We had to be pals. Dad regularly moved to job assignments in different towns. By the time us kids had acquainted ourselves with neighbors, it was time to move to a new town.
It was just natural for us two brothers to also be best friends. In fact, I can’t think of anyone else, friend or family, who mutually shared so much with one another.
I don’t mean to paint a sappy, maudlin picture of our relationship. Mark and I had several fierce sibling fights. The arguments never became physical or violent. By at least, late in the evenings, we always apologized to one another and were on reasonably good terms again.
Since Mark was the “baby” of the family, he could get away with more mischief than big brother. When the family lived in Lincoln, Nebraska, us brothers loved to explore the town. We spent a couple of summers riding our bicycles from one end of the city to the other. For instance, if I wanted to ride from our home in extreme Southwest Lincoln to Cornhusker Highway in the far Northeast part of town, Mark would egg me on to go another couple of miles beyond there. In effect, we were partners in crime.
Later, it was Mark who first started smoking cigarettes. He had been smoking for over a year until he dared me to try tobacco myself. It was the same thing with beer. I wasn’t too keen on drinking then and I still am not. The few beers I had as a youth were drank just to keep face with my bro.
Mark and I shared an artistic bent. He followed in my path of drawing and sketching. His interests developed into a love of the form of high performance, vintage automobiles. He had the ambition to become a commercial artist. He later took commercial art courses as an adult. He never quite realized his dream, though.
He seemed happy enough in his various jobs doing physical, manual labor. These jobs helped sharpen those skills required when working on his hobby cars, the 1957 Chevrolets.
Mark was generous to a fault and considerate of other people’s feelings. He was quite concerned with how he appeared to others, as well. There was always a laugh and a friendly greeting for whoever was near.
This is the second of his birthdays since his death on January 3, 2011. But he won’t be forgotten. Especially on birthday number 57.
The Blue Jay of Happiness remembers with trepidation, Mark’s cat, “Buddy”.