I am Selling a Lot of Stuff

May 1979

I had an awful lot of, mostly junk, for sale in the back of my rusted pickup truck. I had no idea how, or even if, anyone was going to want to buy any of it. I needn’t have worried, because at my very first stop in Mexico, I pulled into the town square, lowered the back tailgate, and started putting things out. I was almost instantly mobbed with towns people wanting to know what this strange long-hared gringo was selling.

The buying crowd just kept getting bigger & bigger.

After several hundred dollars in sales I was beginning to get nervous. The crowd was getting larger by the minute, and now a local policeman was making serious inquiries as to how much a broken can opener cost! He really wanted that can opener! With great difficulty, I closed up shop, and moved on to the next small pueblo.

That’s me happy as a…….?

This time I was more careful. I did not bring everything out at the same time. It worked, and in no time at all I had made another few hundred dollars. Getting more bold, I went to a local machine shop to see if they were interested in any of the broken tools that I had brought. To my surprise the owner wanted to buy the whole lot. Once again, I only sold him a few items, and then moved on. You see, at this point I really had no idea what anything was worth so my idea was to move slowly until I had a better feel.

Soon I had almost everything sold, but, because of laws, I could not sell the pickup in Mexico. For that last sale, I had to go down to Guatemala where the restrictions were much, well, non existent. I met a nice family, whose daughter I briefly dated. Then another family approached me with an offer to buy the pickup. The price was much less than I was hoping for, but they were so sweet that I made the cash deal anyway.

My new girl friend Maria’s family

With over $3500 in cash I took a bus north to Guadalajara, Mexico. With my new found wealth I now had to decide just what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. You guessed it. I now need another PLAN!

I needed a new PLAN!

Chicago, a Job and a NEW PLAN

Chicago, IL
March 1979

My family was great to me. First I stayed at Mom and Dad’s–later I moved over to my brother Wayne’s house. I was still sleep walking through the days. All my experiences seemed to be coming at me out of a fog that I just couldn’t seem to shake out off.

It was all gone! I now had no more the $10 from the $100 that had I left Guatemala with. If I was to ever get out of here I needed to make some money. I needed a new PLAN, and fast.

Blackhawk Molding made plastic milk handles. Lot’s and lot’s of them!

My job opportunities at that point were limited. It was the middle of winter, I had no car, and no job prospects. Who would hire an ol’ hippie architect who had been out of the job market for over 6 years? At this point Wayne offered to try to get me a job with him down at the machine shop. I would be able to drive with him until I got my own car. It sounded like just what I needed, only I thought to myself, what do I know about machines? I needn’t have worried though, because Blackhawk Molding turned out to be run so inefficiently that everyone said it must just be a write off for the wealthy owner. He really didn’t seem care how many plastic milk carton handles we turned out.

We had great fun workin” and laughin’ in the Blackhawk Molding toolroom.

The job turned out to be kind of fun. It was nice hanging around with Wayne, and although the pay was not much, I had, by the end of a few weeks begun to accumulate a few – bucks. Now I started to hatch my PLAN. I would buy a truck, fill it with all kinds of junk, and take it all back to Mexico, sell it and live happily ever after on the proceeds. As luck would have it, as soon as I told Wayne about it he told me about this guy name Jim the Welder. Apparently he had a pickup for sale. “It runs great,” Wayne added. “But, ” I protested, “I don’t have very much money saved.” Wayne said that it didn’t hurt to look at it. “Besides,” he countered, “I know the guy real well and maybe he will accept payments?”
The next day after work we drove the short distance to Tom’s shop. “Sure, Tom said, “I’ve got a great truck for sale. It was running super. That is until the snow plow came along.”

“It hit it?” I asked.

“Hell, no. They had the back alley posted with a sign telling everyone to move their vehicles. I guess so that the snow plow could come through. I was working and hadn’t bothered. Hell, comon’ I’ll show you. It’s right out back.”

We three walked out back. “Where is it? I don’t see nothing but piles of snow.”

“That’s it over there. That really big pile. It’s in there. I guess the plow guy got pissed or somethin’ at me ’cause he must have worked real hard to put that much snow on my truck. Just when I think I can get it out, it’ll snow again and this guy plows this here alley again and he gives it another good dump.”

When we reached the largest pile he said that this was it a 1971 Ford F100 pickup. I lamely asked, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything else to say, what color it was. “Here,” he said, “I’ll show you,” He started to dig straight through the packed snow. When he hit something solid he said, “Here! Look through here”

I peered through the 8 inch diameter hole he had made, and saw a lime green fender and a part of what I guessed was a side mirror. “It’s got real nice side mirrors,” he added as if reading my thoughts, “On both sides.”
“Do you think it will run? I mean come on guys. Do you really think it will run after I dig it out?”

“Oh you can’t dig it out. It’d take you a month of Sundays the way that snows packed in there. Besides we’ve had a couple of thaws and then freezes. It’s a solid block of ice.”
“Well then, if I do buy the truck, how do I get it out?”

“Why, you’ll have to wait until it thaws out. That should be, the way the winters about ending, in about another month or so.”

Again I asked the $64 question, “Do you think it will run. And if it does, then why are you willing to sell it so cheap for $400?”

So ugly only I could love the freedom that it would soon bring to me.

“Oh, that’s easy. “Cause that truck will be so rusted and ugly ’bout time we get it out of there. There won’t be any one crazy enough to buy it.”

I thought to myself, “Except me,” but instead I said, “I think we got a deal.” And we shook on it. As Wayne had suggested, Tom the Welder was willing to accept payments, seeing as I was a relative of a friend and all.
In the month that followed I continued to save as much money as I could. I also started to collect a pretty good stash a goods that I hoped to take with me for sale in Mexico and Guatemala. Every week or so we would go back over to Tom’s to see how the truck was defrosting. By about the third week it was starting to get real exciting. We could almost see one half of it.

“Know something, Peter. Your a dreamer!”