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Works in Progress

Tracing one family's love of old vehicles, on view next month
at the Run to Copper Country Car Show.

by Clara Bustillos

 

 

When you see Cruz Bustillos' 1938 burgundy Chrysler Royal sedan next month at the annual Run to Copper Country Car Show, August 23 at Gough Park in Silver City, you'll think you're just admiring a car. But what you're really seeing is the latest in a lifetime of automotive works-in-progress.

car
Andres Bustillo helps his dad work on the 1949 Chevy pickup.

It all started in 1965 when Cruz's dad bought a beaten-up, muffler-less 1949 Chevy pickup. Eventually a muffler was installed along with a few band-aids to keep it running. Cruz's friends chipped in change to buy a gallon or two of gas to get them where they wanted to go. "It was a project in progress that never progressed!" Cruz recalls.

His dad eventually sold the truck. But in 1981, while in the Navy, Cruz came by another 1949 Chevy pickup. He and his wife, Clara, purchased the truck and the restoration process started, with their youngest son, one-year-od Andres, handing his dad the tools. Many times Cruz would take his lunch break, still in uniform, and meet Clara at a junkyard. He would find one of the many parts he needed, load it into the station wagon and send Clara home with the prized possession.

After Cruz restored the outside and Clara upholstered the seats, the candy-apple red truck could be seen all over South San Diego as the family drove it daily. When Cruz was reassigned, the truck toured the Pacific Coast, from San Diego to Bremerton, Wash., and back, onboard the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier's flight deck. Trouble followed this truck, though, and eventually it was sold and ended up somewhere in Texas, abandoned at a mechanic's shop.

 

By age 14, son Andres had caught the old-truck bug. He started looking for the truck of his dreams — a 1949 Ford to restore and drive while in high school. Clara will never forgive herself and her daughter for finding a beat-up, rusty truck without a motor, matching the description the guys wanted. Within two hours seven family members had checked out the truck in Albuquerque, and another work-in-progress began.

car 2
The author and husband Cruz Bustillo with their 1938 Chrysler Royal sedan. (Photos by Clara Bustillos)

After a lengthy search, a motor was purchased, cleaned, renovated and installed. Having no garage, during cold, rainy, snowy days Cruz worked on the truck camped under the home's carport. Andres finally got to drive his dream truck when he was 21. He took his truck to school in Prescott, Ariz., and was the envy of many college friends.

When Andres moved his new family to Albuquerque, the 1949 F1 pickup became the sole occupant of the home's garage, ousting his wife's car to the driveway. Andres and his young children, Brayden Cruz and sister Aryanna, can be seen cruising the streets of Rio Rancho and Albuquerque. Once in a while Samantha, Andres' wife, is cajoled into taking a cruise with them.

 

Lacking an old vehicle to work on, Cruz started shopping again. This time, Clara wanted something that would fit more than two people comfortably. Along came Rudy Luna selling his 1938 Chrysler Royal Sedan, and Cruz took the bait. Stipulations on the purchase of the car included no money in the car until the couple's home was remodeled and a proper garage was built. Work on the car was delayed as they had to live in Albuquerque for a year while Clara underwent chemotherapy. A starter waited in the garage and was finally installed in the fall of 2013.

You can see the old Chevy at next month's car show. Keep in mind, though, that it is a "work in progress."

 

 

 

Life in a State of Nature

More reader photos of creatures big and small.

 

Summer brings bugs and lizards, and we have the photos to prove it (along with a favorite bird), thanks to readers sharing their snapshots of the critters they see in our "Southwest zoo."

 

 

scorpion

 

Look closely at this one from Barbara Gorzycki, who writes, "I had just gotten a pedicure and manicure in Tucson, and I thought I could toss my boots for a bit and just wear some pretty sandals around the house." That little scorpion apparently thought otherwise.

 

 

lizard

 

Rhonda Lackey sent this picture of "a little lizard perched on a cow pie, taken south of Animas."

 

 

quail

 

Here's a Montezuma quail in the backyard of Leonard Sandgren of Mimbres.

 

 

mantis

 

Finally, this striking photo was sent our way by Gordon Berman, who writes: "My wife Ann spotted this praying mantis clutching a cactus outside our home on the west mesa outside of Las Cruces."

 

 

Share your own photos of local creatures great and small. Send to editor@desertexposure.com or mail to PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, and include your postal address for a little thank-you.

 

 

 

The Tumbleweeds Top 10

 

Who and what's been making news from New Mexico this past month, as measured by mentions in Google News (news.google.com). Trends noted are vs. last month's total hits; * indicates new to the list. Number in parenthesis indicates last month's Top 10 rank. The primary election gave us some new names to track, but only Gary King made the cut. For those of you keeping score at home, Senate candidate Allen Weh managed 49 hits and Second District House candidate Rocky Lara got 15, well behind opponent Rep. Steve Pearce at 86.

 

    1. (1) Virgin Galactic — 269 hits (▼)
    2. (3) Sen. Tom Udall — 242 hits (▲)
    3. (6) New Mexico + immigration — 223 hits (▲)
    4. (5) New Mexico drought — 213 hits (▲)
    5. (4) Gov. Susana Martinez — 181 hits (▲)
    6. (2) New Mexico primary election — 177 hits (▼)
    7. (9) Ex-Gov. Bill Richardson — 158 hits (▲)
    8. (8) Sen. Martin Heinrich — 130 hits (▲)
    9. (-) Gubernatorial candidate Gary King — 104 hits*
    10. (-) New Mexico + Border Patrol — 102 hits (▲)

 

 



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