"We are not owners - we are custodians...." - Would love to know first person referenced with this....
I have used that in connection with several of my hobbies which involve preserving some historical.And i got it from others.And when it is time to part with something,like say my steam engines,I put getting them a good home above sqeezing thd last nickel out of the buyer.And I did get an excellent home for my portable and my traction engine.
I don't even remember when, but Stan Howe once posted the following on this forum. I was editor of the St. Louis club's newsletter at the time and emailed Stan to ask if I could use it. He said I could, and I ran it several times in the newsletter during the time I was editor.
On a serious note, we are all just stewards of these cars. Somebody owned them before we did, somebody will own them after we are gone. The money that we pay for them or the money that we take for them is just a way to determine who will steward what car and for how long. It is our obligation to steward not only the physical Model T, but also the knowledge, the folklore, and the spirit of the cars to pass to the next generation of owners. We need to be telling the stories as well as the knowledge of how to set the spark and adjust the gas.”
True then, true now...
Henry Austin Clark used the phrase frequently. I don't know if he coined the concept but he certainly popularized it during his tenure at Old Cars Weekly.
PLEASE note that I would take exceedingly great care of an 09 or any early T should I ever get the opportunity. While tongue in cheek somewhat there, I do agree it's important to preserve as much as possible. I have always hated personalizing anything because each item is only original once.
One time I came home from visiting Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa had told me some stories about the family, and I typed them up. I thought that was a good idea and afterwards did it for many other things. Note that he's gone, it's a great resource and I hope the family appreciates it as much as I did.
Anyone can stop the history of an item and that's why the older stuff is special - because with someone's help it has survived.
I am custodian of a few pieces that have come down thru the family, caretaker of my land and house (even if it's just a city lot) and everything else I own till I sell it.
I am not convinced that "personalizing" or changing something is necessarily a bad thing.
I think we all know of cases where this is true, but over time I have come to see some of
these alterations along the way as being part and parcel with the overall history of a given
I have seen people go to great lengths to "restore" the history right out of a car and sterilize
it of all it's accumulated years of character. I see a balance of original and individual history
as being better than one or the other.
As long as I own it I'm, well, I'm the owner. My concern is not for the next owners enjoyment but my own. That's usually reason I make a purchase like this to begin with. Something like a T. A basically unnecessary indulgence to satisfy a personal want. It's also mine to do with as I please also without regard for the next guy. Of course if you, for instance, paint a T orange with violet fenders you need to realize the next guy might not want it so a kind of balance or restraint exists when you say "to do with as I please".
I agree they are only original once. Mine was far from original when I took her custody - as many (most?) are by now.. I totally respect (and perhaps envy) the pure olde thing – They are a sight to see. But having taken custody of a slightly modified ’14, I kind of like the modifications: Rockys, blinkers , ‘20 (or so) engine with ’14 serial number ( perhaps a factory replacement?) with starter and alt. and, yes she is green (came that way) – tho I intend two toned (black fenders / running boards). BUT no matter pure or not - it is such an educational tool when I run her out to a restaurant and park with the Lamborghinis!.. It seems where ever I go the valets love to leave them out front! Everyone smiles when they see these reflections. So many folks give thumbs up. Rare is the glare for not being fast enough in traffic…. Whether “personalized” or that nice original, we all share that pride in “custodialship”... That is why I really like the reference - that we are just custodians… Keep them on the road. Keep as original as we can (want?) and pass them along better than when we found them – Keep them moving forward for all to enjoy – and have a lots of fun and frustration doing it! Now, knowing the reference goes back at least to Mr. Clark (1917-1991) (thanks Royce!) is gravy!
I tried that approach with Scarlett Johansson....
It didn't get me anywhere ....
In fact - she moved to France ....
Somebody owned my T before I bought it, somebody will own it after I am gone.
BUt I OWN. iT NOW!
If it is a common car or assembly of parts like nearly all of mine have been,what difference does it make?BUT,i am aware of an original family owned(one of the relatives rescued it from a ww2 scrapgdrive grand parents gave it to)big,uncommon iron era touring and what is befalling it.The current caretaker,and he does own it is putting an 80s vintage inline six,an automatic and matching truck rear end under it.It will keep the stock disc wheels.This is all being done without the consent or knowledge of the other family members.So a cousin of the caretaker tells me.I would like to be a bird in a nice,safe tree watching what goes on at their spring reunion.They take pictures and drive it aroud..If this would have happenrd back when the old WW1 and WW2 men were alive or knew what was going on,there would have been one hell of a fight.
Jim, she's a major sweetie and if you indeed chased her to another continent I'll be more than slightly annoyed!
Have heard it used in context of important violins
Back when I was young and dumber. I had the good fortune of working at Harrah's Automobile Collection.
I was 24 at the time and remember one day Mr Harrah was talking to Sterling Moss. I overhead their conversation when he said "We are only the temporary custodians of these historical artifacts"
I thought to myself, Who is he kidding , He OWNS the largest auto collection in the world. Little did I realize how true. His collection was sold after his death as many other collections have been over time.
I was just too young and wet behind the ears to understand the truth of that statement, now an old man, I understand.
What's up with this getting old sh!t, anyway ?
Dick, thank you for remembering that. I think that was reprinted dozens of times in various club newsletters and on other blogs of one kind and another. I have somewhere a file of letters from many places around the world related to that and some other things I wrote back then.
I still think that so much of the lore of the cars and the era is what has been lost and more is lost every day. I know you read at least one of my books with Model T insights and info in which I attempted to give a feel for the times and way the cars were thought of then. I used to write some of those things on the forum but found that -- like a lot of things -- many people are just interested in telling any author that he is wrong in his perceptions and picking apart any small detail they can find to show their superior knowledge of any and everything related to the subject.
So I seldom write anything like that anymore, I just go work on carburetors and let the experts tell it like it really is.
I started on Model T's in 1952 when I was ten, only 25 years after the last T rolled off the line, in very rural eastern Montana where only 1 farm in 20 or so had electricity or running water, where nearly every farm still had at least one team of horses and a bobsled for winter travel, several still cut all their hay with horses and ground drive mowers and where several of our neighbors still had a Model T that was their only transportation other than a team and wagon or saddle horse.
Our TT truck was our only truck until I was 5 in 1947, my dad won a 34 Chevy truck in a poker game and we had a "new" truck in addition to the TT that we hauled water for the sheep to our school section with. We had that truck until I was 12, he lost it back to the guy he had won it from in another poker game but he always said he got 7 years of free use out of it before he lost it back to Kermit.
We got electricity when I was 3, running water when I was 5 and an indoor toilet when I was 10. Neighbors came to see it work and see where we put it in the house. Without running water they couldn't have indoor plumbing, without electricity running water was difficult and without the money to pay for all of that none of our neighbors had indoor plumbing until I was in high school. Some never did. A couple years ago we had an auction for the estate of the man I was best friends with when I was a child. He lived all his life in the house he was born in, they got electricity when I was in high school but they never had running water or indoor plumbing, the water bucket and dipper sat in the same place in the house when we went in to start setting up the auction as it had when we visited their nearly every week when I was in grade and high school. They filled the bucket at the pump, brought it in and set it on the wash stand, carried the slop bucket out and dumped it along the fence and carried the dish rinse water out where there was a trough for the chickens to get a drink. The soapy water went in another bucket to be used in the chamber pot if needed. All the same as they did in homestead days.
But now, nobody cares about the stories I can tell about how we mined our own coal, how we got to school in the several years of terrible winters we had in the 50's, how we drug Model T's up out of the draws where they had been pushed in or fields where they had been left abandoned to the ages.
Time goes on. Every person who had a Model T for their only transportation when I was a child is long gone, their houses that I remember as places of fresh bread and canned pickles, card parties, birthday cakes and making home made noodles with my aunt Barbara kneeling on the table rolling them out with the rolling pin are now piles of fallen down lumber if there is anything left at all there. All we have left of most of what we ever knew is the memory of it and a few relics, like Westly Young's Model T Sedan -- which is still owned by a collector in Miles City and still driven occasionally in the parades. Very few people but me remember that it was Westly and Minnie's Ford and when they -- and I -- are gone that memory will be gone, too.
I have always hated that saying,sounds to PC for me. I agree with Aaron. After all time, work and funds I have put into my cars, I own them. The way things are now, The next "caretaker" will more than likely be some idiot that will hack it up which is happening big time with the V8 Fords.
Stan, I like your reminisce, a real window into the era of our cars. When I bought my first T in 1975, my father and I went back to the farm he grew up on to see if we could find the T his father had bought new and eventually pushed into a gully after it had been cut down into a truck. Unfortunately it was long gone. When my grandfather bought it new, my aunt was going with a local Ford salesman. The dealership had four 24 tourings at the time, the salesman had driven all f our of them and told my grandfather the one he got was the best of the bunch. There were differences in them even when they were new. The body on the one I just finished was dug out of a field in Kansas with only surface rust.
Stan,What the hell makes you think nobody cares about the stories you tell???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????? Bud.
Interesting, and actually sad, to see how some people think.
Stan, I loved your story.
I remember my grandfather talking about model T's. He died when I was 20-21. Long before I could afford one myself. I wish he was around to see mine and help out in the shop. Can you imagine the wealth of knowledge?
Keep the stories coming. I'm only 48 but our family was poor as church mice and we lived that way many times growing up. Cutting wood for heat , pumping water for washing , bathing , and saving wash water for other things as not to waste anything. As late as 83 we were living in a house with water to kitchen sink only. Those stories need to be told today so people know how good we have it now. I am the 1st to graduate high school in my family . I am not rich but my house is paid for with a lot of sweat . My grandmother never fixed a meal on anything but a wood cook stove and never had running water in the house. I look back on my childhood and think how rich it was to have that experience . I have all the family keepsakes and pictures . Not worth anything monitarily but worth a fortune in memories and history. I've told stories of past experiences of wiping frost off the outhouse seat in the winter to do the deed and pumping water twice a week before school so mother could do washing . Wringer washer and double rinse tubs hold a lot of water. Carry in wood every day and cutting and splitting in any free time. I think my work ethic comes from those days. I could go on but I have to get started at work for the day. Everyone should tell these stories and experiences , I love to hear them and others do also
Drive safe and often
Yesterday morning found me touring a lifelong collection of old cars, memories , and dreams.
I was picking up a model T touring from a country home and I lingered.
I do that quite a lot - I love to listen and linger.
We are all Custodians ....
Of cars and of memories.
In the sharing of that we form community.
Stan - thank you.
So does this statement apply to the over-restored and restored again cars at Pebble Beach?
Stan, THANK YOU for posting your feeling on this topic.
I recently bought a 1924 T Touring, heavily accessorized with some store bought items but also some interesting homemade items. The person I bought the car from owned it for 51 years and had no idea of the history of the car. After I published a picture on this forum, Erik Johnson stepped up and shared all the information he kept for years about my car. I now know who "built" the car, creating the character of it. I will assemble as much history of this car as I can and preserve and protect it . This will stay with the car for the eventual next owner/caretaker.
Picture from 1959 with car creator/caretaker Louis Seekon.
Actually the phrase reminds me of the "I will build a car for the masses" line that some spin doctor attributed to HF. It's pretentious and high falutin' or PC as we say today. Don't know how far back it goes but I'll lay you $5 whoever it was had more $ than they knew what to do with. Just sounds that way.
Yes, and it even applies to the One of none Bugatti that you see at Pebble Beach where the only original part is a lug nut.
Royce - Not to start an argument - but it will. With in the past year "The Classic Motor Cycle" carried an article about how a significant bike can be three significant bikes. A replica is constructed using the frame, the motor, and the transmission. Now that is passing on stewardship to the masses.
It has unfortunately become commonplace to see complete fabricated from scratch early Ferrari's, Bugatti Type 57's, and Stanley steamers, and J / SJ Duesenbergs. The Classic Car Club of America even has a special designation for these type cars, the idea being, if someone wants to do this we want to have it documented and protect a future buyer if that buyer does his due diligence.
Reading these posts, I was reminded what E. B. White wrote in Farewell, My Lovely.
"There was this about the Model T; the purchaser never regarded his purchase as a complete, finished product. When you bought a Ford, you figured you had a start - a vibrant, spirited framework to which could be screwed an almost limitless assortment of decorative and functional hardware. Driving away from the agency, hugging the new wheel between your knees, you were already full of creative worry. A Ford was born naked as a baby, and a flourishing industry grew up out of correcting its rare deficiencies and combating its fascinating diseases." In the next paragraph he goes on to list various accessories you could buy for your Ford.
"We are not owners - we are custodians...." Similar words were spoken to me 30 years ago when I was contacting a master Japanese woodworker who had written an article about sharpening woodworking tools with water stones. I was looking for information on rust removal and sharpening of a Samurai sword left to me by my father-in-law after he captured it in WWII on Okinawa. The master warned me that just because I owned it I didn't have the right to harm it as it had come down through history because previous owners knew how to care for it and pass it on in the same or better condition than they received it in. I later learned with my sword that had been going on since 1681! I've since learned what I'm qualified to do when restoring swords and what is better left to experts. To understand where the Master's mind set was coming from, when he was very young apprentice in Japan his first pay was spent on an antique plane made by a Master and he was sure his sensei would be very impressed but instead was shocked to have it taken away from him because he hadn't yet learned enough to properly use or care for such a fine item. Harsh, yes but I better understood what he was trying to instill in me before I made the wrong decision on my newly inherited antique sword.
Stan, your relation here of "the old ways" is what I live for. Thanks for sharing. I always
gravitated to oldsters and old places, even when I was very young. Not sure why, but it
has led to a life wasted chasing old fence lines, barns, forgotten byways, rusty things, and
the deeper meaning and history behind them all.
I would not have it any other way.
Howard - As you say, "we are not owners - we are custodians". Interesting that those words remind me that actually, those words, as I get older, reflect what our attitude should be about everything in this world,....that we are really just "stewards" of everything in this life, and what is really important is yet to come. Took me the better part of a lifetime to even begin to understand that,.......harold
I'm 33, own several collector cars, and have always considered myself their caretaker and custodian, never their owner. I now have a 7 month old daughter and I now know that it is her I'm taking care of them for. Whether she wants them or not, they will help provide a bit of security / investment potential for her when she gets them, and I can enjoy them on the road every chance I get until then... can't drive a share of stock!
Peter Adey - Just realized that I should have credited you with starting this thread with "those words",..."we are not owners - we are custodians".
Somebody the other day said to me,...."Don't sweat the small stuff". I've heard that all my life, but the older I get, the more I realize that in this world, it's all "small stuff"!