The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

1964 Mustang pace car rescued from rust 2011.05.25

Written by David Green.

mustang.mikeBy DAVID GREEN

It’s an addiction and there’s no cure, says Megan Bovee, the owner of a completely refurbished 1964 Ford Mustang.

It’s a bad disease, says her father, Burdette, and he warns against catching it because it’s an expensive affliction.

They’re talking about the troubles  experienced by the owner of a classic vehicle.

Mike Prystash has the easy explanation to the Bovees’ dilemma: It’s fun. Lots of fun.

Mike, owner of M.G. & Sons Automotive in Lyons, was called on to save Megan’s old Mustang, to bring it back to life after a quarter century of sitting in a barn.

There wasn’t much life left in the old car. Even the mice were dead.

“Mouse carcasses were prevalent,” Megan said, “and there was quite a strong smell.”

When the Bovees hauled it from a barn near Bryan, Ohio, it was already an established fact that this was no ordinary Mustang. That’s why it was so hard for the previous owners to let it go.

“They didn’t know what it was for a while,” Burdette said.

mustang_oldThe owners—relatives of Megan’s brother-in-law, Rex Vernier—had several old Mustangs. Rex’s uncle had plans to restore them one by one and sell them for retirement cash.

Rex’s aunt drove the 1964 car to work and his cousin remembers driving it around the farm, not taking any special care of it until they learned a hidden fact.

They read an article about former Indianapolis 500 pace cars and it got them to thinking.

“It was the right color,” Burdette said. “It had the right equipment on it. It could be one of those pace cars.”

They started taking a closer look and found on the front end the word “Pace” that had been marked in grease pencil when the car was assembled.

Megan, who was already a fan of Mustangs, inquired about buying the vehicle once she heard about it from Rex.

“I loved it even when it was dirty, nasty and rusty,” Megan said.

The Mustang become somewhat of a family project, but as Megan notes, she’s the one who wrote the check, and she’s written several since that initial one.

“You just close your eyes and do it,” Burdette says. “You can’t think about the cost.”

The Mustang has lived in Mike’s garage for well over a year.

mustand.dashThe hood, trunk lid and taillights are original. The seats are original, although they have new covering. The instruments and AM push-button radio are original, although they were sent to a shop in South Carolina for refurbishing.

“I could have bought a new instrument panel for a lot cheaper,” Mike said, “but the chances of new ones working right are slim to none.”

The goal was to avoid after-market replacements as much as possible, and sometimes they got lucky with eBay. Two hubcaps, for example are new old stock that were still in boxes in someone’s garage.

Much of the body had to be fabricated.

“My son, Frank, welded on that car for three months,” Mike said. “He did nothing but cut and weld.”

“As far as we know, it has the original engine,”Burdette said, “but it was in sad shape. It had 110,000 miles on it, but that car wasn’t built to go a hundred thousand.”

“It hadn’t see an oil change in a long time,” Mike added, “or a cooling system flush. That was the part that killed me the most. It was corroded almost solid.”

Mike did start the engine shortly after it arrived by trailer, but he’s glad he didn’t leave it running long.

He put in a battery and poured a little gasoline into the carburetor and it started.

“I ran it twice,” he said. “Once just to run it and once for Megan.”

He called her but had to leave a voice message.

“What’s that noise? That’s the sound of your engine.”

The engine was pulled and went to Dick Laiman, south of Lyons, for an overhaul. Dick worked in a Ford garage for years, Mike said, and he did a very nice job of rebuilding it.

Other people also had a hand in the project, such as Tom Christenson with the carpet replacement.

Eventually the project faced a deadline.

“His daughter threatened my life,” Mike said with a nod toward Burdette.

Megan learned about the 100th anniversary celebration of the Indianapolis track, an event that included an assembly of pace cars from the past.

She learned that 190 of the 1964 cars were produced as promotional vehicles for dealers. She heard that only about 30 of them are known to still exist, and only about 10 of those are road-worthy. If her restoration team finished their massive project on time, her car would be the only representative from 1964.

They made it on time, right down to the lettering and badging on the doors to match the original.

Where did the Bovees’ catch this disease? Burdette tells Megan it came from her grandmother.

“In 1951 Ford came out with the first automatic transmission and she had to have it,” he said. “She had to have a Ford-O-matic. When tractors changed models, she had to get a new one. And I guess that’s just the way we are.”

Burdette started with tractors and somewhere along the way he added a ’54 Chevy pickup. It was owned by the Swicks who lived on Yankee Road.

“Twin brothers married sisters and they all lived in the same house all their lives,” Burdette said. “Bertha was the only one who drove.”

By the time Bertha stopped driving it, the truck had only 9,000 miles on it.

“It’s just as nice as her car,” Burdette said.

Her car is now like new and Megan is delighted to have it back in classic condition.

“We wanted to be true to its history,” Megan said. “We just thought this car deserved to be put back the way it was.”

She’s not the only one who appreciates the effort.

“When I drove it through Morenci recently,” she said, “every boy in a pickup truck took a look.”

Careful, boys. Mustang Megan is carrying a dangerous disease.

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