|Mary Anne Anderson (Busavage) 1913-2008. Tinkers Daughter|
The story as witnessed by a seven year old Mary Anne Bucevicius (my spouse's grandmother) took place in Rockford, Illinois during a sticky hot summer. Ignas, her father, had left home that morning to buy the long aspired to freedom machine, a Ford Model T. By 1920 due to increasing efficiency in production the Tin Lizzie was selling for $290, about $3,200 in today's bucks, and Ignas was eager to bring a bit of status to his growing family. Mary Anne and her two younger sisters had accompanied their mother, Mariona on errands while Ignas was away. They were eager to return home knowing Ignas would be there waiting with the new Ford. Little did they suspect that the inner workings of the Model T would be laid bare in such detail when they arrived. Ignas, a natural born tinker and engineer employed by the swelling auto industry, had taken it upon himself and his tool kit to know that Model T. In a matter of hours he had disassembled and distributed all the parts of that car in a real-life exploded view. Mariona nearly dropped on the spot. Ignas, realizing the spectacle he presented, quickly got to work reassembling, as much to have the car running again as to keep domestic peace. His nuts and bolts skills came through and the Ts chuff, chuff, chuff, was heard again before sundown.
The Ford Model T, manufactured for nearly twenty years, provided the first internal combustion engine power in rural areas all over North America, and many ingenious folks modified the Model T to suit their own purposes. They served as farm tractors, they powered diverse machines from buck saws to threshers, and their engines spun the propellers of home-built aircraft and motorboats. These Model T chimeras would make contemporary tinkers proud and the people who built them had certainly taken ownership of their Flivvers.
With Mariona recovered from her fever, everyone climbed in the reassembled Model T for a ride. As they bounced down the lumpy roads of Rockford, Ignas knew the source of every groan and rattle in that car. In the following years after miles of bumps, when this or that wore out, he could feel what part needed attention without even looking. He had done more than buy that Model T, after a complete teardown and rebuild, he owned it.