Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Phone Rings, And The Surprise Of A Lifetime...

Tuesday evening, December 29th, 2009, is a date I won't soon forget. While spending an idle evening reading my favorite blogs, and posting my usual silly comments in The Car Lounge ( http://forums.thecarlounge.net/zeroforum?id=1 ), at around 9:30pm, my telephone rang. Thinking it to be the usual bill collectors, or some other undesirable, I ignored it, but my wife called from another room; "Larry, you'd better look at your phone right now!" So, I picked it up, and on the display were the words; "JAY LENO".

.....JAY LENO?!?!?!

As you may imagine, at this point I answered the call. "Is this Larry?" asked the unmistakable voice on the other end. From my mouth came the incredibly witty response; "Yes, it is...is this REALLY Jay Leno?" Well, to cut to the chase, the fellow on MY phone was the real Jay Leno, and at this point my heart was pounding at approximately the same pace as a Rick Mears pole-run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Here was my hero, and virtual kindred spirit, blue-denim workshirt and everything, calling me to tell me that he likes my writing, especially about steam-powered automobiles. Mr. Leno was in his car at the time, coming home from taping his show, and so he asked me if he could call me back in about an hour or so to talk some more.

.....Jay Leno asked me if he could call me back and talk about cars. One guess as to my answer.

I spent the next hour on pins and needles, wondering if this were really happening, and if Leno would really call me back. At 11pm, the phone rang, and darned if it wasn't him! We spent the next 40 minutes or so talking about all kinds of things...Doble and White steam automobiles, stationary steam engines (he has several huge examples of these), his beautiful Cord 812 sedan and what it is like to drive it, as well as he and I getting acquainted on a personal basis. Eventually, "Jay" (I now feel comfortable using his first name) said that his wife was reminding him that they had an engagement to attend, and we closed our conversation, but not before he invited me to come out to California some time to visit his collection, and also so that he could "show me how they operate", referring to his steam-powered machines. He even gave me his phone number. As I write this, it is 2 weeks after that evening, yet it still seems kind of unreal that this man, who I admire and almost idolize so much, actually read my scribbles, liked it, and then looked me up and called me to chat. I'm not a "star struck" kind of person, but this affected me on a deeply personal basis. It was an honor I didn't deserve, but will never, ever forget.

The best part of all was seeing the look on my son's face, as he walked into where I was sitting while talking with Jay, when I pointed at the phone, and mouthed the words; "JAY LENO!" to him. I thought his eyes were going to pop right out of his head. There is an effort going on in my "home" website, the aforementioned "The Car Lounge" by many of its members, who are also my good friends, to help me accumulate the funding to be able to travel to California at a future date, and accept Jay's wonderful invitation to visit. To my friends and colleagues at TCL, I don't really know what to say except, thank you, and God bless you all. If and when I do make it to California, I will bring back a thorough "VWLarry Report" on Jay Leno's collection, and the experience of being taken through it in-person. Since you all know that I am the "Master of Making a Short Story Long", it won't lack for details, either.

Finally, to Jay Leno, if you should happen to read this...THANK YOU. I had been a little bit blue about the way it seemed as if nobody read my little blogpage, but somehow, knowing that you paid a visit, that makes all the difference. You're a very nice, and a very classy fellow, just the way I would expect you to be, and it's an honor to have made your acquaintance. The best to you, always.


  1. Larry... People do read your blog page, its just not all of us comment on it. I dig your posts on TCL, so it was just natural to follow over when you started writing stuff in a more structured manner. You've got an interesting perspective, its not about numbers and exotic supercar fantasies, its that guy who sits on the porch and talks with you like you're his best friend even if he just met you; and that's whats appealing.

  2. This is so cool Larry! I wish I could go along and just chat about cars with you guys. Ah, well. Merc63 will just have to keep chatting about them on TCL. And I'll be waiting anxiously for the report!

  3. Way to go Larry.
    Rememebr when you do make that visit to the left coast, you'll be sure to stop for a visit in Flagstaff.
    Blast from the past,

  4. Hey Larry, wondered what happened to you, and Bob just sent me this!!! Stop in Chgo on your way to see Jay, and visit!!!

  5. Well, Larry, I consider you as the best poster on TCL, and am happy to enjoy your blogs as well.

    By the way, I'm the one with the copper colored 1973 Capri that you have been so kind to complement before.

    Thanks, Rand

  6. I had a similar experience a few weeks ago. Except the call I received was from Conan O'Brien. He said he was out of work and was kinda lonely. I told Him i was pretty busy but would write him back if I could think of any gigs for him. I really just wanted to get him off the phone. He really can drone on.

  7. Great article about Nash. You said that Nash had a padded dash in '49.The padded dashes weren't offered until sometime following '51.

  8. I just looked up when Nash first offered the padded dash. It was an option on the '58 Ambassador.

  9. Actually I think it was offerred as early as '52 on full size cars and had a padded rubber strip on the early fifties Nash Healy's. Anyway Nash was the car to copy when the tubs entered the scene.

  10. Interesting, well written thoughts on cars. You might want to visit my auto site on Facebook. It's called "American Nitro".

    We would welcome your knowledge.


  11. Great story about Jay, Larry. I'd love to know he was reading my blog too. There's isn't a bigger gearhead around than Jay. He really seems to enjoy actually doing most of the work himself instead of just paying someone to do it.

    I've just started going through your blog, but I like what I see so far. I can see why Jay likes it. Keep up the good work!

    Best Regards,
    Jeff (aka King of the World).

  12. love your posts and I am visiting the blog for the first time today - gl getting out to visit Mr. Leno

  13. Hey Latty! It's Freedomperiod from TCL!! Thanks for pointing me here. I love this blog! I'm following it now!! This blog hits the spot like steak and potatos after a long day's work!



  14. love your posts and I am visiting the blog for the first time today - gl getting out to visit Mr. Leno

  15. Did you ever visit Leno? I'd contribute a few $$ but don't know where to go to give it...

  16. Larry, I remember reading about this in "The 726" when it happened. I still think of your story when I see Jay Leno, and it brings a smile to my face for. Keep chugging away, my friend.


  17. Great Larry and thanks for sharing this nice information.

  18. I hope you get to meet Jay and see his collection, he is a down to earth real guy you want to sit and talk cars to.

  19. What a great experience! I sure hope you're able to meet him.

  20. watt65 likes the site. PS, Larry also takes care of my Subaru.

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