photo of the week

Yard Skiing via Jeep Power

Grinning from ear to ear, young Thomas Hopkins is slipping and sliding on a smooth-bottomed mess hall platter behind a well restored jeep.  At the wheel of the jeep is his father, David Hopkins.  Just like water skiing, when the skier gets weary, he drops the rope.  Though the World War II vintage jeep was never intended for such use, it does a good job of entertaining kids — and, I might say, their parents, grandparents, and on-lookers as well.

Wheels of War

Sunday, April 6, 2014
Pine Buff, Arkansas

Author’s Note:

I accepted an invitation to attend an antique military vehicle rally at Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas, back in late September, 2010.  Most members of the organization, the Arkansas Military Vehicle Preservation Association, arrived towing their vehicles — although a few hardy individuals drove their charges up the mountain, a noble accomplishment given the fact that these vehicles were not conjured up with creature comfort as a design goal.  If you appreciate history, and particularly World War II history, then you were at the right place.  That describes me, so I was a happy camper.  Rains came but did not dampen the enthusiasm or resolve of attendees.  After all, soldiering continues regardless of weather.

Be sure and see more of the same, plus some Petit Jean Mountain pictures at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind, where the story continues and comes to a logical conclusion.



PS:  It kinda puts one in one’s place when the equipment you employed and deployed while wearing Uncle Sam’s green is now callously referred to as “antique.”


A Browning .30 Cal Machine Gun

Tom Essary, who brought his jeep from Arlington, Texas, discusses the finer points of a .30 caliber (30-06 cartridge) Browning air-cooled light machine gun mounted on his vintage WWII jeep, with Bob McFarland, who is president of the Mid South MVPA of Atoka, Tennessee.  The gun is fully functional for automatic operation firing blank ammunition.  The owner let meeting attendants fire the gun.  He said that when he was a boy, he had a toy jeep with a machine gun and now he has the real thing.  Unlike the general population, hearing a machine gun bark did not cause panic among attendees or raise many eyebrows for that matter.

Memories on Wheels

First Published on Sunday, September 26, 2010
Pine Buff, Arkansas

Had you been on Petit Jean Mountain in central Arkansas, September 23-25, 2010, you might have had to pinch yourself to see if it was really you and that it really was 2010, not the forties, fifties, or sixties.  The mountain was the site of the 10th Annual Petit Jean Rally of the Arkansas Military Vehicle Preservation Association.  Once you entered the campgrounds, you were in the midst of a rolling outdoor museum of jeeps, trucks, ambulances, and a World War II U.S. Army Harley-Davidson, well restored and looking good.

Despite the collection of vehicles for war, the members and guests are a family-oriented lot.  The demographics run from grade-schoolers to World War II vets.  Do the math and that is a respectable range by any measure.  And though you might think of military vehicles as the ultimate "boy-toys," many of the participants in the organization are women (married to the guys) and share their spousal unit’s enthusiasm for olive-drab wheels.


G.I. Joe Rode a Harley.

This World War II U.S. Army Harley-Davidson was restored with an eye for detail by Bill Thorne of Yellville, Arkansas.  The "hard-tail" design left any shock-absorbing duties to springs under the seat, which were woefully short in field conditions.  My fanny aches just to think about it.  The only parts not original equipment on the bike are the fenders, which Bill crafted from plans for the original.

Enthusiasts from Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Illinois converged on the mountain to join native Arkansans for the event.  Virtually all of the participants in the organization and rally restore and maintain their own vehicles.  Turns out, they not only revel in tinkering with and driving their vehicles, they delve deeply into the history surrounding their machines.


One-Way Ticket to M*A*S*H

This 1944 WC 44 ambulance was built in on what is popularly known as a "Dodge Power Wagon" chassis.  It would carry four stretcher patients or six walking wounded.  Michael Penny of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, is the owner.  This vintage ambulance also saw service in the Korean war, as M*A*S*H aficionados can well attest.

These folks put their money where their mouths are in pursuing their avocation.  In so doing, they help us remember some of the heroic and sacrificial moments of our history.  Anyone short of being brain-dead understands that there is a great benefit in knowing our history versus a great danger in forgetting it.  'Nuff said.

Photo Notes

Nikon D300, ISO 400, all; Jeep pulling boy, AF-S VR Nikkor 18-200 f3.5-5.6, 1/200@f5.6; Machine gun jeep, same lens, 1/250@f8; Harley, Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6 EX DC HSM, 1/160@f4.8. Post processed Photoshop CS5 Extended and Genuine Fractals Print Pro.


see more
See more military vehicles
and the view from the top
of Petit Jean Mountain at
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.
Also, another Harley shot and a convoy to boot.  Click here to go there.  Be sure and look for "But Wait, There's More" to see our weekly picture-only galleries.

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