Bill and Kathy Atkeison

I’m the middle child in our family. I was born in Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, VA, a long time ago. At the time, our family home was in Spotsylvania Courthouse (County seat of Spotsylvania County) a few miles west of Fredericksburg, near Chancellorsville Battlefield. Across the street from our house was a large Confederate Cemetery. But I can’t tell about that because it is now not politically correct or some such. Anyway, we left there and moved to Alabama when I was about three months old.

After spending a little time in Alabama, Indiana, Mexico (Old Mexico), Texas and Mississippi, I got back to Virginia in 1959 and stayed until I moved to Mobile, January 1, 1986, except for the time I spent in the Army. When I joined the Army in September, 1967, I was employed as an auto mechanic for Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, a Virginia-wide Bell system company. After my first tour with the Army I reported back to the phone company and was assigned to Lynchburg, VA. One of my coworkers was Claude “Willie” Williams, an auto restorer who was a member of AACA. He had a Model A he had showed until he won 1st place, senior, at Hershey and had to stop showing it for competition so he sold it and bought a Terraplane which he later traded for a 1933 Studebaker Sport Roadster (one of five known to exist) which I had the pleasure of helping him with. He took that one to Hershey and won first place and sold it to buy a 1957 Thunderbird  and restored it for his wife’s birthday. I moved to Richmond VA and over the years lost touch with Willie and that’s the extent of my experience in restoring. I have rebuilt a couple but did not try to restore them: a 1947 Ford ½ ton with a 1948 Ford sedan engine; a 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster; a 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix.

My first car, when I was in the ninth grade of school, was a 1951 Pontiac Chieftain with a straight-eight flathead engine which kept me busy learning how to keep it running. After graduation I went to Danville, VA, for two years of technical school before going to work for the telephone company. And joining the Army.

 I went to Vietnam in 1968 and just after coming back in 1969 I got married and I went for a long time without a car to play with. That marriage ended in divorce after ten years and during the ensuing 15 years before marrying my current (LAST) wife in 1994 I changed career fields from auto mechanic to gas pump mechanic. I installed and repaired gasoline pumping equipment and control systems. Living in apartments was not conducive to building cars.

Finally, I quit working; the Wife quit working and we went home to enjoy ‘retirement’ although neither of us actually retired – we just quit. Our money situation improved slowly over the years and, after a few harrowing experiences in the stock market, we got things pretty well leveled out and I found a few extra dollars so I bought a truck – a 1970 Chevrolet C-10.

1970 Chevrolet C-10

This is how it looked when I bought it …

This is what it looks like now …

 

I had seen the truck sitting off the road with a ‘for sale’ sign on it so I stopped one day and checked it out. We were planning a week away and I told Kathy that if the truck was there when we got back I would buy it. She, of course, didn’t understand but she went along and soon, I was the owner.

I bought it from a man who had started it then he discovered he needed money more than he needed the truck so I bought his project. And a load of parts. The truck had a few scrapes and scratches but nothing critical. The rocker panels and rear cab corners were rusted, and the bottoms of the doors, but nothing unexpected. A few days cutting and replacing metal took care of that part. Then I found heavy rust along the bottom of the radiator support and the inner front fender on the right side; this was under the battery and a combination of battery acid and rain caused those areas to rust away. I had to fabricate a couple of patches to take care of that.

The engine is a 327 ci with a two-barrel carburetor. All I have to do there is replace the GM 2-jet with a good Holley unit. It was running good when I drove it into the carport and took it apart.

I hope it will look like this, eventually …  Three Shades of Grey …

 

If I can remember how to put it all back together, I think I’ll have a nice pickup truck. I don’t get to work on it as much as I want to; I have a house and an acre of land to take care of and there’s always something to do.

1998 GMC Sierra 1500

 

Meanwhile, my daily driver is a 1998 GMC Sierra 1500. Possibly the best-looking 1998 GMC 1500 in Mobile. It’s powered by a fuel injected 348 with an automatic transmission.   (OK – it’s called 5.7L with TBI but 348 sounds better and 5.7L is 348.27 cubic inches, so ….)