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a boy and his zeppelin
a teen builds his dream machine
by jj freyermuth

In the backyard of my desert dwelling sits the shell of a former beauty lovingly referred to as “The Zeppelin”. This titanic undertaking belongs to my seventeen-year-old son, Alex. My dear boy has vowed to avenge his precious pet project and conquer the evil rust demons and wiring goblins that over time have delivered a mighty blow to “The Zep”. His mission is to fully restore this once glorious 1969 Chevy Chevelle to its original bad-ass-ness.

It has been sitting in my backyard for three years. Three years.

Granted, when Alex first acquired this primered princess (with assistance from his gear head father) the dreamy pubescent boy had not yet attained his driver’s license or finished even his first year in high school. How could anyone expect such a goal to be achieved by such a young youngster?

But as time continued to take its toll on “The Zep”, Alex grew into his own. Now, he will graduate from high school in a few short weeks and has sworn a new and solid commitment to do right by his car.

He has spent a few semesters at the local community college learning how to weld so that he can try his hand at body work. His father, being of a mechanical mind, will assist him in placing the horses under the hood that will bring this baby back to life.

Part of this process consists of cannibalizing the other beauty that sits in the backyard. My husband has lovingly donated the engine of his 1968 Camaro to the endeavor. In mechanics terms this equates to the donation of a kidney or other vital organ. It is very fitting considering my husband inherited that big block behemoth from my father, also a mechanic. What an heirloom!

So the boys have made some solid plans. Alex has found a job and will probably take on an additional if there is any possible way to add hours to the day. As I write this, metal is grinding and the boy welder is arching heavenly blue light across the garage.

The owner of this automobile is even staying close to home for his first year of college, just to work on his diamond in the rough.

I am excited and anxious to see the progress. I know what it is like to move slowly towards your dreams; wondering with great confusion if you will ever get where you want to go and having family and friends provide those loving zingers: “So are you ever gonna get to that or what?”

“The Zeppelin” also represents freedom. I know that four wheels mean adventure. And the thought of it being fully his from the ground up, one weld, one bolt and one nut at a time has got to hold an amazing amount of gravity.

So I look forward to the smell of hot metal, gasoline and new vinyl. But most importantly, I look forward to hearing the engine for the very first time. That sound of success is so sweet that no symphony or angelic choir could ever do it justice.

So here’s to every young man or woman that holds the dream of freedom and to every father, mother and friend that is cheering them on.

Now go forth and make it happen!


JJ Freyermuth is a mother, wife, writer and editor currently living and working in the bustling metropolis of Casa Grande, Arizona. Armed with a Pentel RSVP ballpoint pen and a three subject notebook, she usually writes interesting, heart-warming and sometimes odd articles on life in small town desert territory and the joy of being a middle-aged woman with a teen-aged brain. She is sure to leave you laughing, crying, scratching your head, or just plain sighing with general contentment.

more about jj freyermuth


worshipping the butter cow
an iowa girl goes home to remember
by jj freyermuth
topic: general
published: 8.18.11

my mother’s words from my lips
to thine own self be true
by jj freyermuth
topic: general
published: 5.1.10


dirk cotton
4.26.10 @ 10:06a

I had a '68 Chevelle SS 396, a new one in Palomino Ivory with a black vinyl top. I'd give anything to have that car back today. All I have now is a photo. Tell Alex I'm pulling for him!

jj freyermuth
4.26.10 @ 11:20a

Thanks, Dirk! He could use all the good muscle car vibes he can get. I have told him several times that if he needs to resort to sleeping in it to keep it, then do it!Loves like that are hard to find.

tracey kelley
4.26.10 @ 4:20p

Awww, all grown up now! Nice piece, dearie! And welcome!

jj freyermuth
4.26.10 @ 5:02p

Thanks for the invite Tracey and the warm welcome! Yep both of mine are grown now...sigh.

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