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On the Death of a Rescued Mastiff

By Alan Haskvitz, national teachers hall of fame

http://www.reacheverychild.com

For more resources and educational links

It was a very sad story.

A huge Mastiff wildly was running along a desert freeway in the scorching summer heat. A chain imbedded in his neck, ears filled with dirt, and teeth that were broken and shattered. His hearing impaired, his eyesight nearly gone, in desperation he blindly ran towards a road crowded with fast moving holiday traffic.

Only a person with great compassion would stop a car and offer a chance for safety to a huge drooling skeleton of a dog, even at 150 pounds. But, it happened. A local area veterinarian assistant pulled to the side of the freeway and coaxed the franticly fleeing animal into her car.

At the veterinarian’s office, the dog’s condition was examined in detail. Cleaning the dirt packed ears that had left him nearly deaf, revealed that the Mastiff had to dig under a fence to escape. But, first, he chewed through the rusted chain that held him prisoner. The now splintered teeth had to be cut away, making it impossible for him to hold his tongue in his mouth. After digging into his neck, the vet was able to cut the chain away, revealing a scar that would never heal due to the deep imbedding of the links.

Southern California Mastiff Rescue was called to help find him a new home once he was on the mend. In the safety of their care, they found that he had probably been used to bait fighting dogs and this constant teasing made him aggressive towards other canines. It would be a difficult placement for this aging, nearly sightless and deaf escapee.

A few years earlier in a quiet Los Angeles community, a family of our four bought and raised a female Mastiff. They named it Kitty. With typical Mastiff devotion, she spent all of her life tending to the needs of the family. Between sneaking on the couch and snoring so loudly no one could sleep, she served as a neutralizing agent. She tucked everyone in at night, guarded the property when she was awake, and arbitrated all arguments by placing a paw on the loudest participant. She treated everyone differently. To the teenage daughter she was a confidant. To the young male, she was a protector, and fetcher of errant Frisbees. To the mother, she was a comfort when alone at night. And, to the father she was a fellow unsuccessful gopher hunter.

In her tenth year, she developed an infection that could not be medicated and Kitty was put to sleep. There was a long period of mourning, the framing of pictures, and a poem written. Eventually, the family healed, but emptiness remained.

It was about two years after Kitty’s death when a call came from Mastiff Rescue. They had a dog. Sad case. Runway. Male. Blind. Would you like to meet him?

The husband took the call from rescue. “Okay, “he uttered almost despite himself.

He was unprepared for what happened next. The rescue van pulled up and out sauntered a large, reddish dog that immediately set to marking his new territory. The scars on the dog’s neck, the dead retinas, and missing teeth all made him question his decision. After the van disappeared, the two strangers sized each other up. The father was starting to regret his decision. This dog had absolutely no personality.

The husband walked the Mastiff into the back yard, gave him fresh water, and a doggie treat. The Mastiff refused all peace offerings.

When the wife returned home she looked out the window and said to her husband, “Why is there a dog in our backyard?” She knew the answer: gophers. She walked outside and the once sullen dog got up, licked her hand, and ate the dog cookie she offered. The Mastiff was polite and gentle. The couple starred at the strange dog with mixed feelings. He was nothing like Kitty.

And then, magic. The teenage son came home from school and spotted the dog. He rushed out the door and the Mastiff came alive. He jumped, pranced, fetched, and chased the son. The dog was transformed from a moody, sulky stranger into a friend and companion. The two became fast friends. A new leash, collar, dog food dish, and toys of all types were hurriedly purchased. The Mastiff quickly gained weight. He slept in the son’s bed and they battled over the covers and the pillow.

Five years have passed since the Mastiff found his new home. He is now completely blind and deaf. The scars on his neck are still visible. His tongue still hangs from his mouth. He moves slower and his guard duty is now largely symbolic. Gophers are ignored and only movement around the food dish generates earnest interest. In reality, he is retired from his job of reinvigorating a family and relishes the joy of being loved.

This dog, like thousands of others, has been saved by the noble efforts of volunteer rescue groups around the state. The animals that they treat and offer to potential owners bring joy to both the pet and new family.

Sadly, but after a few great years, Ender was put down when he could no longer walk. He ate one last hamburger, which he unwrapped with the great patience he had always shown, and rode in our station wagon to the vets. He died quietly with dignity. Ender was a credit to his breed and a loss to humanity.

A year later he was replaced with a female rescue we named Haiya. A small, brilliant mastiff, she was saved by the rescue services from death after being beaten and kicked by previous owners who couldn’t handle her intelligence. She was beautiful and full of issues due to her previous inhumane treatment. She overcame her horrible early start to be the star of every dog training session. Her smartness enabled her to learn tricks instantly and to quickly ascertain each family member’s mood and needs. A treasure. Unfortunately, Haiya developed cancer and was put down when just four years of age. She too was greatly missed. As always the death of a dog serves to remind a family of the joy you should find in each day. It is too bad that it has to be such a harsh lesson, but at least for those who rescue animals there is the deep satisfaction of knowing that they helped, and isn’t that what a heaven is for….

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A Great Mother’s Day Lesson Plan

By Alan Haskvitz, national inservice presenter

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

This is a great idea that enables the student to compare their mother to other significant women in history.  

http://www.reacheverychild.com/lessonplans/plan_mother.html

Grey conspiracy: We are in this Together

 by Alan Haskvitz

http://www.reacheverychild.com

Harold felt old. The cold air dried his skin, ached his joints, and disgruntled his nature. Harold was old.

He pushed open the heavy door of the department store and felt the warm, gooish air envelop him. Once inside he stopped and slowly searched for the men’s section much to the disgust of the other shoppers who had to sidestep him he bent over to read the labels in the dim fluorescent light.

Harold walked, looked, and sensed an annoyance from others at his pace. He revealed in it a bit and wasn’t offended by the negative reaction to his actions. He had many younger driver try to cut him off on the highway because his speed wasn’t to their liking. He lived for the stoplights where he would catch them and give them the evil smile he had perfected  over the years. Having reached nearly 70 years of age he had developed a belief in himself that was  granitized by having survived. He may not be fast, but he was steady and reliable.

Ruth was looking at her watch yet again. It was her grandmother’s watch and it would be a prized possession of her grand daughter in a few years. She liked to stay busy working at the store as it made time pass more quickly. It also suited her ego as she enjoyed showing the younger clerks what a real worker should be like. Ruth was religious, took pleasure in the rare visit from her now grown children, and was described by others as warm and honest. They simply did not know her.

Harold viewed the isles of all department stores as gates that forced one into areas that he did not want to wander. One of his pastimes was to watch others being guided down the store paths that circled the store’s generous offerings rather than just walking through the smaller isles to the section of want. Watching is what Harold liked to do most. He wasn’t so good at participating.

Ruth saw Harold coming. She didn’t know him, but she knew the type. The gray hair, slow gait, and hardened eyes enlarged by glasses that had been upgraded yearly to offset the thickening corneas. To her he was not handsome or ugly. She had long ago banished such observations to those under 40. Now her labeling was simply based on the observer’s medical condition.

Harold saw Ruth and walked directly to her. He noted her appearance without prejudice. She was a salesperson. In his younger days he would probably have not been attracted to her, but now he saw someone he could identify with. Someone who wasn’t threatening or likely to ignore him.

“May I help you, sir?” Ruth asked with a self-taught smile.

“ I’m looking for some gloves. The type they used to make. They had a wool insert, were leather, and there was an adjustable strap on them. I need that kind. My hands are real big and they get cold in this dam damp weather, “ Harold asked.

“I have not seen that type in a long time. Maybe something over here would be satisfactory?” Ruth recommended as she slowly led him to a small selection of gloves near the belts and watchbands. She was hoping that the younger clerks would notice how she was willing to help this customer even when it would mean little to her sales commission.

Harold tried a few on while she watched. His hands were big, but what puzzled Ruth the most was the crooked fingers and scars that could not be covered by the stretched and thinning skin.

“What did you do for a living?”

“ Lot’s of things. Started on a farm, later worked in a junkyard, and after the war I got a good job making steel. Too bad the place went belly up. To much Chinese imports boss said.”

Harold liked to talk about the past.

Ruth listened carefully. Her husband had also faced a hard life and she recognized the need to be a good listener.

Her husband had died after a full life, but little financial success. She was the first man she had known and the last. Ruth took pride in that fact and kept it that way until she passed away quietly. Her family divided up her slim belongings and kept her memory alive, but not well.

Harold started rummaging through the pile of gloves.Near the bottom of the pile he found a pair of woolen mittens. He smiled to himself in self-appreciation.

“I’ll take these.”He dug into another pile and located a pair of large leather gloves. “And I’ll take these.”

She had seen what he had done and laughed.

“So you made yourself a good old pair.”

“Yep, and they fit darn well, too.” I bet “OJ would be proud.”

She couldn’t help but laugh. Not too many of the other workers would have even understood the sly joke.

She smiled as she walked back to the register. The word darn brought back memories. She remembered her mother scolding her father for using the term.

Ruth started to ring up the purchase. She looked at him again as he fumbled in his wallet. He had already calculated the cost and had opened an old coin holder to get the exact change out.

It was not a rash decision by Ruth, but one derived of camaraderie and a hatred of the corporate system that had chosen greed as its god and reduced human life to one of haves and have nots. She hadn’t acted on this impulse before, but, as she looked at this age-weakened fellow survivor, clinging to the edge of a society that tolerated him until his Social Security check was spent, she decided to act.

“That’s is $5.78.”

He looked at her.That was not the correct price for the gloves. He was puzzled. Had she had forgotten the second pair?

“Did you get these?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Are you having a sale?”

You might say so, Ruth said nervously. Her idea, so strong a few minutes ago, was weakening as it appeared that this might not have been the man to start her act of corporate sabotage.

“Okay, Harold finally answered, smiling at the bargain.

She handed him the change and watched him count it.

“Thanks.”

Ruth was not given to excessive talking, but this time she could not hold herself.

“We are in this together.”

Their eyes meet briefly and without a word they both knew that a good deed had been done.

Harold took the bus home, trying his gloves on, exploring their workmanship, and wondering, a lot.

The gloves went well with his security guard uniform and they were truly warm. As he wandered around the large discount store parking lot he felt stronger wearing them. Harold had worked this job for over five years supplementing his government benefit check and giving him a sense of existence.

Since the cold wave there wasn’t too much fooling around in the parking lot so he went inside. It was a lasting decision.

Instinct also was a strong point for Harold and as he walked to the change room he decided to stand there for no apparent reason. The woman was Mexican, old, and weathered. Harold knew she was stealing something and so he followed her. His walkie-talkie went off and he answered

“What’s up?”

“Harold, see that woman in front of you?”

“Of course.”

“We have her on tape putting something in her purse. When she goes outside check her out. Think your man enough?”

Harold did not answer. He was used to the jokes and jabs about his age, but the company knew he would be there Mondays and after long weekends and kept him on the payroll. They also knew he would be hard pressed to find any other job and so his position and salary remained at the entry level. It peeved him, but he liked the idea of moving around and the prescription discounts.

Outside, he asked the woman to stop. She was shaking.

Harold knew she was a shoplifter. He had done this many times before. But usually it was a teenager or a gang member and they seldom stopped. He just followed them at a safe distance copied down the license number of the vehicle and called it into the supervisor. This was different. She had stopped.

“Open up your bag,” Harold said cautiously.

The woman compiled. Inside were some underwear, a bra, and a pair of socks. He started to take them out and he noticed his own gloves. They were so comfortable he had almost forgotten he was wearing them. “What’s your name?” Mary she said softly, head down.

The well-worn women stood still before him, head down, ashamed, and yet cornered. For some reason Harold turned her against the car so that the video cameras could not record the action.

“What do you have in there, Mary? “

“I don’t have any money for new ones.”She was too embarrassed, even at her age, to name the garments in front of a man.

Harold looked at her and the conspiracy took it next victim.

“We are in this together.”

She looked up, her brown eyes misty and searching for meaning in his words. She had not noticed his face  before. It was not polite to look at men outside her family. She reached for his gloved hand and squeezed it.

A few seconds after she drove off the walkie-talkie squawked to life.

“What happened? Get yourself a date?”

“Better get your camera pointed at some younger women, “ Harold replied. He had done his job.

Mary didn’t speak English well. She had tried to exchange the items in her purse, but the sales clerk was on the phone and didn’t understand what she wanted to do. She had receipts, but no one seemed to care so she simply exchanged the wrong sized items for the correct ones.

Mary drove home. She went to Mass the next day and asked the priest what “We are in this together,” meant. He told her that it related to the Bible and it was all about God. Mary liked that answer.

On Monday,  Mary went to her job at the dry cleaners. It was hot and the hours were long. Everyone seemed to be in a rush and many times her boss would criticize her because a customer had said her work had damaged an old garment. Mary knew the drill and so did her boss. If he yelled at her the customer felt better and her boss would give the customer a free credit slip. Everyone knew the old garment was ruined before it was brought in, but business was business.

The old couple walked in with their yellow receipt and waited for Mary to find the dry cleaned items. There were ten of them. Mainly tattered shirts and blouses. But in the middle was a double hanger with an old wedding dress. She checked it and the heavily laced dress was part of the order. She decided to double check and took off the receipt and walked back to the front where the couple was waiting.

“Did you have a wedding dress? “

“Yep,” the gray haired man replied.

“My wife here wore it 60 years ago and now my niece is going to wear it for her wedding. Makes us proud.”

The woman was smiling as her husband  explained the gown.

“I’ll get it for you,” Mary said and went to back into the store to get the garments. The gown cost nearly $50 to clean and the other items came to about $20.

She brought the items to the front, hung them up, and called to her boss.

He came with anger in his walk. He had heard Mary’s call before and knew what it meant.

In Spanish she said that the customer was a regular and was very unhappy because the lace on the designer wedding gown was ruined. He glared at her, grabbed the receipt, and smiled at the customer.

“Thanks for coming here. I heard what happened and you don’t have to pay for the cleaning of the dress.”

The old couple was jubilant.

Mary took the money for the few shirts and blouses and handed them the change.

“We are all in this together, ” she said softly

Ruth meet her friends for coffee and told them what she had done. They were not all in agreement, but some  started to organize and the subversion spread.

The Grey Conspiracy it difficult to spot. After all, you are dealing with the most experienced workers in the world. They have built every company, built every road, and filled every position for decades. They knew how things were. That is except for computerization. But that hurdle didn’t last for long.

Ruth had small cards made up in large font that read, “We are in this together.” She even wrote out the rules. If you needed something, really needed something, you would show the card and ask the person if they knew what it meant. If they said, “We are in this together” the person in need would get a discount or the item for free, illegal or not.

The older generation was wrestling back control of their world.

Of course, it did not take long for management to notice something was wrong. Old people were coming in looking for older clerks. Everything was balanced, but something was wrong. How could old people be beating the system?

Elliott felt foolish working in the computer store. He could not keep up with the newest trends in technology. Everyday Elliott was ignored at work and his ideas shredded. He was trained as a computer programmer, but nowadays that was done by younger people. Elliott wanted to help people, but his pace was too slow. He restocked and occasionally reprogrammed a computer so that it worked a little more efficiently, but no one seemed to notice.

And yet,  Elliott ultimately saved the movement.

The old man came up to Elliott and showed him the card. Elliott had no idea what to say and so there would be no discount. But old people kept searching him out and giving him the cards. They were all looking for help fixing their computers.

“What do you people want with those cards?”Elliott asked in frustration as a customer holding on to a walker presented her card to him.

“We look after one another. Why don’t you come to one of our meetings,” she suggested.

There must have been a hundred people there. All old, and none looked rich. Ruth gave her speech, asked for their opinions, and sat down. There were no opinions until Elliott spoke up.

“I don’t like this, but I can see your point. The problem is with inventory control. How are you going to not get caught?”

Ruth explained. We just overcharge the young people. Sometimes they complain and we apologize, after all we are old. Most times they just sign and leave. We do have a problem with the inventory, though. The cash drawer always balances, but the inventory is off.  We say it is shoplifting.”

Elliott thought for a while and smiled. “I think I can help.”

It was not the greatest website in the world, but to conspiracy members, it was the best. Working alone in his bachelor apartment, Elliott would scan every bar code he could find. He the codes  on his site with a description. The conspiracy members brought him piles of bar codes and he worked long hours perfecting his program. It was a challenge and he loved it.

Meanwhile, no one ever looked twice at an old people looking in dumpsters and putting slips of paper into their Wal-Mart bags. Old people and dumpsters weren’t an unusual pairing.

The website went on line without any fanfare. It was a secret and by utilizing several servers around the world Elliott kept it that way.

Word got around in a slow, unhurried way. Old people would go to the website, find the items that they needed, and print out the codes. They would paste the codes to the back of the “We are in this together” card and go from store to store that handled that item looking for a member. They knew it was only to be used in extreme circumstances. No one wanted to ruin it for the others.

All they needed to do was find a member working as a cashier.  It was a simple matter to take the card, place it on the item, and let slide it across the reader so it would record the reduced price.

When the inventory figures came out they would match. If any problems emerged they would be recognized by the younger management team as a computer problem and phone calls would be made.

Over time the movement spread and vitamins, support hose, and even sturdy shoes and a suit for a grandson’s wedding were given these “senior discounts.”  It got so that when a gray haired individual walked into a store a gray haired clerk would often seek them out.

Now mind you, this wasn’t done at the small stores. This is a conspiracy against the sprawling, big box, impersonal ones. It exists today anywhere you see a survivor in need. A survivor who helped build a great country and who only wants to die warm and comfortable.

Harold and Ruth never meet again and never needed too.

 

Is Food Choice Hurting Your Child at School?

By National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz

For more car reviews and free educational links go to

http://www.reacheverychild.com/

http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.html

It is absolutely alarming. Obesity in young children is becoming such a problem that some students cannot sit at a regular desk. They have poor attendance, they have more medical problems, and they can develop personality concerns that could impact them for life. In fact, recent research has reported that obese adolescents consider themselves bad students.

What is happening? Obviously, people are not eating or exercising regularly, but what is most frightening to an educator is the fact that children are not being taught good eating habits and having these lessons enforced. It takes a willing and spirited parent to change a child’s behavior. They may even have to change their own lifestyle.

A Life Sentence

Overweight children bring many problems to school and life with them. There is an increasing evidence of pediatric hypertension, which in combination with other cardiovascular risk factors produces insulin resistance and a lack of concentration. In addition, learning can be reduced as a child who craves a constant food supply, can not pay attention in class until he or she finds subsitence. To give in to this craving they violate the no eating in class rule. An obese student quickly learns how to sneak food and justifies this cheating by rationalizing that it isn’t hurting anyone.

Few teachers have looked at the classroom at the end of the day and not seen candy wrappers, gum, and other junk food remanents hidden away. Where did the child develop this dependency? From home. Many parents simply do not care. High calorie treats for doing well are given freely without regard to developing delayed gratification or alternative rewards. Halloween becomes an orgy of eating, and a meal is not complete without a rich dessert. There is little passion for exercise and the televison and computer take presedence over walking and doing chores.

Contributing to this is a sociey that thinks nothing of promoting questionable food choices for children. Supersizing, Happy Meals, toys, and other child incentives that promote eating fast food are difficult for a student to ignore. So what is a parent to do?

Work with the school

First work with the school. The reason to start with the school instead of the child first.is becaue if the school encourages poor nutrition by offering bad food choices, what is done at home is partially nullified. Parents should make sure the school offers some education about nutrituion. A child should learn how many calories are needed, what the calorie count of foods, and the importance of exercise. Next, make sure the physical eduation program is robust. Merely having students play softball for 40 minutes does not develop good, lifelong exercise habits. Finally, check and see what foods are being offered at the school. That nutritious sack lunch you send to school may end up in the garbage if the child has enough money to buy junk food outside of your view.

Many years ago, while teaching in Canada, I got a government grant that enabled me to measure the calories usage and heart beat level of students doing sports commonly played in physical education class. The results were dreadful. Most sports, such as softball, kickball, football, and soccer were essentially of no value to a non-intrerested child. For example, in soccer, a child who is afraid to get involved can spend most of the class period walking around hoping the action goes elsewhere. Even when the ball came into play the action was usually brief. Now, those who were good at the sport had excellent results except for the goal keepers. The best sports for physical fitness are those that require consistent levels of elevated heart activity at an acceptable level. We advocated altering these games, but the culture has established them firmly into the culture and only a strong leader could make these changes stick.

Be a Role Model

As a parent, you need to become aware of the calorie intake of your child and the importance of good eating habits. Equally important is to stress physical fitness. At least thirty minutes of exercise every day has been proven to be of value, but make sure you check with your doctor to find out what exercies would be appropriate and be build up before doing anyting strenous. Become a role model by modeling good eating and exercise habits. Make it a game for your children.

How Many Calories

Here is a chart for adults about calories required for various tasks. Take a look and see if limiting televison and computer usage are not worth it to help your child become fit. http://www.coolnurse.com/calories.htm

Remember that male children usually need between 2000 and 3000 calories per day depending on their age to maintain themselves. Females usual need between 2000 and 2300. Any calorie intake over this amount without exercise to use up this added energy is going to result in weight gain or fat storage.

Measure Your Child’s Body Mass

It is absolutely essential to being a good parent to know your child’s risk of becoming overweight. Here is an excellent calculator that enables you to find out more. It only takes a minute and it could impact a life. This is a body mass indicator. However, the only way to really be accurate is to check with your doctor and have a personal test done. http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/welcome/bmicalculator.html

Sugar research

Some research worth noting is that there isn’t any correlation between sugar and behavior. The effect of sugar is modified by the foods eaten along with it. If a well-balanced diet is maintained sugar does not cause hyperactivity. However, a new report indicates that artificial food colorings and benzoate preservatives increase hyperactive behavior in preschool children, but this was not a broad study. The British findings also noted that parents noted their children’s
hyperactivity fell after withdrawal of food additives from the children’s diets, and there was an increase in hyperactivity when food additives were re-introduced.

The combination of sugar and starch, in the absence of substantial protein, increased deviant behavior, not only in children who were mentally disturbed, but also in normal children. This combination is found in sweetened breakfast cereal.

Children can react differently depending on where the sugar is from; corn, beets, or cane.

Other research

Obese children tend to become obese adults, putting themselves at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some cancers and other health problems.

Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight, and almost one in three is obese.

As many as half of all children in middle school may be overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.

Most parents are unconcerned about their children’s weight.

About a third of obese girls and about half of obese boys were considered to weigh “about right” by their parents.

A third of mothers and half of fathers who were overweight or obese themselves considered their own weight to be “about right.”

The norm is becoming an overweight child. The result is parents of normal weight children are concerned that their child is underweight.

Of the overweight children, about 40 percent of children had pre-diabetes, nearly half of the students had low levels of HDL, the “good” form of cholesterol, and many had blood pressure that was above normal for their age.

Junk foods such as soft drinks and potato chips make up nearly one-third of calories in the American diet, researchers said last week.

Soft drinks and pastries pile on more calories in the daily diet than anything else. This includes high sugar content coffee drinks. Sweets, desserts, snacks and alcohol contribute calories without providing vitamins and minerals.

Childhood obesity has become one of the most prominent public health concerns in the United States. Childhood obesity has been shown to be associated with several immediate health risks such as orthopedic, neurological, pulmonary, gastroenterological and endocrine conditions.

Just as importantly, it can impact their personality, school life, and create psychosocial outcomes such as low self-esteem and depression.

For excellent ides on how to help your child learn about nutrition go to

http://www.reacheverychild.com/veggies.html

How my Car Choose my Wife

By

Alan Haskvitz

For more car reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

cobrahask2

It’s not unusual for a car to be considered almost a family member. They are given their own names, have unique personalities, and sometimes people spend more time and money on them then their own families. But how many people let their car help select their future spouse?

It happened 35-years-ago. I was just out of college and working as a junior executive for a large financial corporation. It was very stuffy and conservative and so I asked my parents if I could have their Ford LTD until I got my six-month evaluation and a permanent position. The Ford did the trick. No one suspected my hidden agenda.

When my boss called me in to tell me my apprenticeship had been successful I thanked him, walked out the door, threw my tie in the backseat of the Ford, and drove down to the Los Angeles Airport, home of Shelby Motors. There, clustered in the showroom and the garages behind it were Cobras, Cobra Coupes, and Shelby Mustangs. I was a pushover for the salesman. One hot ride in the cool morning mist and I was sold. Realizing my fantasy only took my signature was a wonder to me. The Ford LTD, noble vehicle that it was, gladly sacrificed its residual value for the down payment. I owed $5200, a small price to fulfill a dream. But the best was yet to come. I had a used 1965 289 Cobra in my apartment parking lot

The Cobra was British racing Green with red–yes red-leather seats. It had a Racer Brown cam that made the engine shake the ground. There was nothing better than getting out of work and seeing it sitting there ready to play. Of course, I pampered it and the Cobra soon repaid me by changing my life.

Driving it daily in the bumper-to-bumper traffic or the rain was a chore, as the car had a heavy clutch and wide tries that refused to grip in even the lightest dampness. The top was a joke made with iron rods and a thin piece of canvas. There were no roll-up windows, only plastic inserts for side curtains, and they leaked badly. The side exhaust was so loud I could not hear the radio. The foot wells got so scorching my sneakers melted to the firewall. The car ran so hot that I had to remove the grill and add a scoop for cooling. The Cobra’s Koni suspension was so firm that the car would not sway and I simply skidded it around corners. The aluminum body was so thin people had to be warned not to lean on it because they could dent it with their weight. The wire-wheels would get out of round almost weekly trying to hold the 300 horsepower in check. The glove compartment opened whenever it felt the need. The heater was excellent in summer and nowhere in winter. The cowl shook so much I couldn’t use the rear view mirror. In other words, it was perfect.

What I didn’t realize is that my reputation changed the day I drove it to work. My image as the golden boy of the company ended as the Cobra’s exhaust noise bounced off the underground parking lot’s walls. I owned a sports car. And, worse it was an American sports car. I didn’t have the good sense to buy a Mercedes SL, MG, or Porsche, which at least would have shown some class. No, wonder the Cobra forever lumped me with the Vette crowd–only the Corvettes had air conditioning, windows and power steering. The Cobra was literally driving me out of a job.

On the good side of Cobra ownership was the fact that this car helped me meet girls. It even helped me judge them. If a young lady was more interested in the car –that was a no-no. The car’s rough ride enabled me to judge their ability to endure the pain of childbirth, or worse, my jokes. The Cobra even enabled me to see how generous they were as the Cobra required frequent trips to the gas station where I would see if they were willing to help with expenses. (Actually, I am still waiting)

In the end, the Cobra even helped me find the perfect wife. A hot number from New Jersey moved into my apartment complex. Blonde, blue-eyed, working, and with absolutely no interest in me at all, I knew she was worthy of the Cobra test. I asked her out. She was new to California so I didn’t have any competition. Perfect.

I knocked on her door and she looked right through me. This was going to be tougher than I expected. She agreed to the date because she was looking forward to a good meal. I walked her to the Cobra and waited for her reaction. There was none. I started to perspire. Didn’t they have Cobras in New Jersey?

Now, there are no exterior door handles on a Cobra so I had two choices. I could tell her to climb over the door, which was always interesting to watch, or reach in and open the door from the inside. Her stance indicated that the latter action was required. One turn of the key and the 289 engine barked to life. The side pipes startled her. She wasn’t so confident now. The Cobra was playing its part. She held her short skirt tightly as we drove off. Apparently, she had sat in sports cars before. Damn. I drove to the local drive-in and watched the masses part as the Cobra waddled into the prime parking sport. The carhop brought us the burgers with the usual complaint-there’s no place to put the tray. I made the usual joke, “just hold it for us.” My date looked out into space. Perhaps a hamburger at a drive-in wasn’t her idea of a good meal. Go figure. Maybe I should let the Cobra do the talking. When we left I let the Cobra idle a little so that my date could hear the power and I waited for her reaction. Nothing.

I decided to test her ability to handle life’s fast pace. I took her for a hot ride. Suddenly a stalled truck appeared before us and I was trapped in traffic. This was no way to treat a lady. I saw an opening in the next lane and the zero to 60 in five seconds Cobra leaped ahead. Oops. There was a car stuck in the new lane. I hit the four-wheel disc brakes hard. The Cobra did its stuff. I missed the stalled car by inches. I was embarrassed. Why had the Cobra done this to me? I looked over at my date. She wasn’t there. I looked again. Yes, she was. She had just slid down the footwell tunnel. There was no seat belt on the passenger side and the red leather seat did little to hold her.

All I could see was the top of her head. She crawled up and repositioned herself in the seat. I waited for the verbal attack. She never said a word. No complaining about the idiot driver. Not a word about the brutal ride. She was perfect. We’re still married. The Cobra had done its job and helped me select the perfect wife.

The Cobra taught me everything that it could before I let it go. It taught me not to prejudge people by what they look like or drive as others had done to me. It taught me to appreciate evenhandedness when racing and in life. It taught me the joy of driving and the wonders of the open road. Finally, its sale gave me the funds to travel the world and awake my senses to a planet full of wonder and discovery. And, it helped me find my wife, and a joy she is every (week) day.

The Bentley Continental Flying Spur

The Car Family

Internationally syndicated

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The realization of what you are driving while at the wheel of a Bentley Flying Spur sedan comes the moment you pull up to the stop light and note that the value of the other six cars waiting for the light to change are less than the value of your Bentley. And why not? This is the penultimate sedan. It makes the ponderous Maybach, outlandish Rolls Royce, and indistinguishable
Mercedes-Benz S65 pale in comparison despite the fact that all three cost more. Not to mention that the Bentley is said to be the world’s fastest sedan with a top speed in excess of 190 mph. No amount of Grey Poupon can cover up that performance.

As an owner, you are the man, big daddy, in the catbird’s seat, on top of the world. The Bentley is the hammer and deserves a lane for itself on every highway so the working stiffs of the world can see what they are working towards.

Okay, we were smitten, but why not. This is a family man’s dream. An other worldly fast vehicle that can hold five adults in comfort, has a large cargo bay, a wood and leather interior that is elegantly understated, massaging heated and cooled seats, a V 12 engine that can get you to 100 km in about five seconds, and a stereo that is terrific. All you need to do is pony up the $172,000 (US), extend your gas credit card limit and hide that radar detector.

Mom’s view: The Bentley engine makes the best sound of any vehicle in the world. It is a combination of Orson Wells, Barry White, and James Earl Jones. When parking at night the Bentley is surrounded with puddle lights that make you feel much safer. Did I love driving this creation? You bet. It parks very easily, the valet always places it in front, and the acceleration is smooth and adult. And, just in case you forgot about the famous California crash of an Enzo Ferrari, well that two-seat, million dollar sports car gets to 60 mph about a second quicker and goes 20 miles per hour faster than the Bentley. The Flying Spur sedan is nearly as fast and costs hundreds of thousands less. Of course, obectivity doesn’t matter in cars of this magnitude. However, I wouldn’t want to be the Ferrari owner who spent a goodly amount to own a super car only to find he’s not able to accelerate away from a middle aged woman driving a big sedan who is adjusting her massage seat.

Of course, as any woman knows, nothing manmade is perfect. The car tires are noisy over rough pavement, the Bentley feels and is 5500 pounds heavy, the gauges are difficult to read, and the GPS simply does not work well. Oh, and the worst problem is that I can’t afford one.

 College going male’s view: The Flying Spur is a math trivia fan’s delight. What sedan has 552 horsepower, a V 12 engine, twin turbochargers, 479 lb-ft of torque, all wheel drive, four bi-xenon headlights, a top speed of 194 mph, weighs 5500 pounds, uses 11 cowhides for its interior, has a six speed automatic transmission, 48 valves, 19-inch alloy rims, two batteries in the trunk, does 0 to 60 mph in five seconds, four-zone automatic climate control, holds six CDs in the glove compartment mounted changer, has 16-way power front seats with three-position memory, holds five adults, and is a long 208.9 inches?

The rear seat is the best. You have controls for the seating position you want, your own temperature controls, and the rear windows go down all the way. There are even side and side curtain airbags all around. The car’s heating and cooling system is quiet and efficient and with all wheel drive this car could be used in the winter without any loss of comfort. In fact, if I owned it I would drive it everyday, especially since the three year warranty has unlimited mileage coverage. Of all the cars in the world, the Bentleys appeal to me the most and I didn’t have to go to college to figure that out.

Young working woman’s view: “Want to go for a drive in my Bentley?” Come on ladies, who is not going to have to check that out? It appeal is not in its understated design, but the uniqueness and how comfortable it is to be with. Feeling troubled? A quick, and I mean seriously quick, ride to the mall and your problems dissolve before you reach the shoe section. I love the massaging seats, but most of all I like the way it sounds. Undeniably, Bentley has all the traits of a perfect mate.

Dad’s view: Nearly invisible to the masses, the Bentley Flying Spur is quite capable of creating a new generation of A type personalities with its effortless power. Two levers in back of the steering wheel can control the transmission. It becomes positively addictive to seamless downshift the big sedan from speed or maximize its power with upshifts using these paddle shifters. This is a world-class transmission, and, for that matter, a world-class power train. We seldom recorded over 15 mpg, but at least we knew that we were getting full value for those petrodollars. The Bentley has several ride controls, lowers itself at high speeds, and accelerates like a jet. The trunk is easy to open, holds a massive amount of Big Bertha clubs, and only the placement of the cupholders and ignition key on the left side of the steering wheel provided bothersome. Of course, with time this wouldn’t be a problem to master. Overall, one of the world’s truly great cars and a bargain, too boot.

It has a slow and deliberate pace when just starting out, almost as if someone left the electronically activated parking brake on. Once under way in commuter traffic it plods along diligently. The tire noise can be masked with the superb stereo, but the reality is the wide grippy rubber is just doing its job. If you want quiet switch them out, but don’t expect the same handling prowess. By the way, there are four setting for the suspension system which you control from the dash monitor. We kept it on comfort for most of the time and when we did challenge the road we set it for a firmer ride and there was absolutely no lean on corners. For a car this large this is remarkable. The more I drove it the smaller it seemed to be.

Due to time constraints only once did I really explore its potential and I was a little disappointed. It just simply went fast, very fast, with little or no sensation of speed. Jet like acceleration is the only comparable feeling. Yes, we test tuners and Corvettes and even AMG and M products from Mercedes and BMW respectively, but none have the fluid and linear acceleration of this sedan.

When we were coming back from our photo session we had to pull over five lanes to get to our off ramp. It is one of those highways designed by people who never expected cars to actually use them. Anyway, I cautiously checked my side mirror and noticed a nice opening. Hitting the turn signals and not the shift paddles for a change (they are very close to one another), I floored the Bentley and felt essentially nothing until I looked at the rear view mirror. I was shocked. It looked like everyone had stopped behind me until I looked down at the speedometer and noticed that I was doubling their speed. I quickly let off the accelerator and blended into traffic. I was sold. This is a jewel. And, the brakes are every bit as good as the engine and the resale is probably going to be even better.

Family conference: If you can afford it, the Bentley Flying Spur is a must have. This is the best car in the world for those who enjoy driving, have the need to carry five adults and all their luggage, and find a perverse thrill in being able to fly under the radar. It is heavy on its feet, but once you get used to that it is unmatched for comfort and speed. With Bentley announcing its new convertible, this would be a great time to get on that waiting list too. For a list of vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business.