An Amarillo photographer's personal journey through the Dust Bowl- with past and present eyes.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Out of gas - twice.

Ken Hanson, his father and his 1927 Ford Model T:

Click to enlarge


I enjoyed reading the story on Dust Bowl Echos about the making of the photos simulating a car on Black Sunday using my 1927 Model T Ford. Let me tell your readers, as Paul Harvey would say, “The Rest of the Story”.

When Steve was working with renown film maker Dayton Duncan scouting out locations for photo shoots, he approached me with an idea for some photos using my restored 1927 Model T. The idea was to take the car to a rural road in western Armstrong County near a friends house, and simulate several scenes during the Black Sunday duster.

We loaded up Steve’s camera gear, and drove about 15 miles to a county road south of the Claude Highway east of Pullman Road. We were looking for a rural road similar to what you would see in the 1930’s. During that era, many farms didn’t have electricity yet, so we needed a location without power lines. Also, metal T-Posts weren’t in use, so we needed a field bordered by barbed wire and wooden fence posts. We found several locations.

We spent several hours shooting my car in different locations with assorted backgrounds. As well as still photos, Steve wanted to get several motion picture shots of the car coming and going down the road kicking up dust. We took quite a few shots with the sun in different angles, with the headlights on or off, close up and far off, and so on.

While driving down the road, after a while, I ran out of gas. Model T’s don’t have a gas gage, so I always carry a gallon of gas in the trunk. I know, I know, not very safe, but it sure beats walking! What I didn’t know until I poured it in, there was only a half gallon in the can.

Model T’s get about 25 miles to the gallon, and we were 15 miles from my house. I was sure we would make it, but it would be close. I told Steve we needed to head back now, but ever the dedicated artist, he wanted “Just a few more shots”.

We took several more shots with the car coming down the road from about a half mile away, then loaded up the gear and headed back. We made it to the paved road, and chugged along about 25 miles and hour to maximize the mileage. We almost made it.

We ran out of gas about a mile and a half from my house. Since Steve had a lot of valuable camera gear, and the Model T won’t lock up, I told him to wait in the car and I started walking. He made a bet with himself that I would get picked up within a half mile. He won.

I guess an 80 year old car on the side of the road and someone walking on the shoulder will peak anyone’s interest. Thank goodness we’re in Texas where people are friendly and willing to help. A young couple took me to my house and brought me back with the only gas I had, a half gallon of premix for my weed eater.

I thanked our helpers, poured in the gas, and we headed down the road in a cloud of blue smoke. We only had about five miles to the nearest station, so maybe there wasn’t quite a half gallon. We ran out of gas again within sight of the station. Laughing, Steve bet me I would get picked up before I made it to the station carrying the gas can. He won again.

I bet when he got up that morning, Steve never imagined he would run out of gas twice in a Model T before the day was done.

Thanks for the adventure my friend, let’s don’t do it again! - Ken Hanson

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