My friend Jerry Falls, in getting his Reston, Virginia home ready for sale in the late 80s, was cleaning his garage of a ten year accumulation of junk.
At the bottom was an old diesel Cadillac that had stopped running years before. Local mechanic had said at the time that it had something to do with lifters and would cost thousands to fix.
It was a hand me down from his sister, so Jerry figured to junk it. He called the city and arrangements were made to haul it away.
Some other good stuff he found in the garage was overbought wood flooring for an old finished basement project. Too much to throw away so he advertised it in the Washington paper.
A very personable lady called, said she lived in a nearby suburb and was interest in the flooring.
They arranged to meet at Jerry’s house one Friday afternoon.
Something she said suggested she was single and Jerry sensed opportunity.
The sweet little thing turned out to be a very tough looking Marine soldier, however, in uniform. As she walked into Jerry’s yard that Friday her steady gaze said, do not cross me or I’ll deck you, which destroyed Jerry’s romantic notions.
The lady saw the flooring, made an offer which Jerry accepted and they started moving the flooring to her truck. She noticed the diesel Cadillac and said something like, “Ah, that’s a sweet diesel.”
Jerry explained that the car didn’t run, something to do with expensive loafers in the engine.
She said in a questioning way, “Lifters?” and Jerry said, “Yea, yea, yea, that’s the word.”
“No way” she said. “Daddy and Mommy run a diesel repair shop and I don’t think it’s a lifter problem.”
Jerry, not having a clue about anything mechanical, just nodded his head. The lady looked at Jerry and for the life of him, he couldn’t think of a thing to say, so he just kept nodding his head.
The lady then started nodding her head and after a while said, “I’ll call Momma and ask to be sure.”
Jerry said “You mean your father?”
“No” said the lady Marine, “I mean Momma, she’s the mechanic, Daddy runs the office.”
Jerry smiled and said, “O.K.”
And the lady went into the house to use Jerry’s telephone. When she came back out she said, “Yeap, Momma said it weren’t no lifters for sure, probably something else. That’s a damn good model diesel engine. Not many miles on it either.”
Jerry ask if he and a buddy could pull the old Cadillac to her Momma’s shop early the next morning maybe she could work on it over the weekend.
The lady Marine looked back at Jerry in a funny way that made him think that he was being put on and he said, “Ah, so your Momma ain’t no diesel mechanic!”
“Yes she is,” the Marine said, “but she lives in Alabama.”