Tales from the Garage

by Rodney Kemerer

Thirty little vignettes, each a standalone short story—all charmingly illustrated—comprise author Rodney Kemerer’s Tales from the Garage. They are chosen from columns he’s been writing for Garage Style magazine for some time.

Topics and stories vary widely. Some tell of people, some draw from history, and yes, some tell of cars or a particular car. Those vehicles are of all vintages, all makes/models, domestic and foreign. Some pieces are humorous, some a bit more serious. Some concern themselves with objects, artifacts as it were, or other memorabilia. They truly run the gamut.

One particularly charming vignette concerns “90 Years, 25 Cars, 1 Garage” telling the story of a house built in 1931. The structure’s history is well documented down to the litany of cars that have lived in its three-bay garage. Those occupants ranging from the first, a 1929 Franklin 137 Airman Sport Touring, to current day, a 2013 Audi S5, give a hint of the fine machines that have been housed and protected. The image on the book’s cover is of that same structure’s three garages, too. 

The tale titled “Truck Stop” from which the page pair below is taken tell of the childhood toy trucks passed down to the author from his older brother when both were still children. As Kemerer writes, “These hand-me-down trucks arrived in the mid-1950s and were built to last. . . They are heavy, at least 8 oz. per truck. Each with solid rubber tires and strong. . . I have always felt that time is fluid and that objects stop the flow of time. . . My trucks mark a wonderful chapter, and today, I can read that passage as direct and clear as though it happened yesterday.”

Then there’s the astounding tale of a modern-day car manufacturer’s field rep encountered at a cars ‘n coffee who, well and truly, went the extra mile for the owner of a forty-year-old car his company had originally produced. The car in question needed a left front fender replaced. After some searching that factory rep found an NOS fender and arranged for his company to ship it to his new-found friend. I’ll leave it to you to discover the rest of that tale.

Recognize the building in the image below? It’s another wonderful bit of history, then to now, for the building is still very much standing with motorists still pulling in to fill their cars’ tanks. Related to that is another piece about being given (read free) a large vintage sign that, by the time it was restored, mounted and properly lit wasn’t so free after all. Just about every one of us can probably relate, recognizing something similar that’s happened in our life.  

“Artifacts” is the book’s concluding short. The lovely little framed piece on the righthand page the author, Rodney Kemerer, created many moons ago in an art class when he was a high school senior. Coming across it again he decided “to immortalize it with a proper frame and matte.” Beneath it is another sentimental item from his youth when “my friends and I would pile into their various heavily used sports cars [to] spend a weekend at Watkins.” This one was collected at the 20th Annual Watkins Glen Grand Prix in 1967.

Whether you read the book straight through from cover to cover or just pick it up now and then and chose a piece to read as you appreciate its accompanying graphics, you’ll find well crafted prose. Of his book, Kemerer told your commentator that, “One of my goals for Tales was to share positive emotions and humanistic values using automobiles as the connective thread.” From your reviewer’s perspective, goal achieved!  

Tales from the Garage
by Rodney Kemerer
Auto Didactic Print, 2023
160 pages, 27 b/w & 125 color images, softcover
List Price: $26.50
ISBN 13: 979 8 987450 80 2
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