Steele Drivin' Man 9/?
Date: Monday, May 21, 2001
Anne Rose <>

Fred's back! This diary entry is not based on a particular episode, so don't lie awake at night trying to figure out which one! I just thought it would be a fun aspect to explore, and Fred will probably re-visit this topic after some "time" passes.

Since it's been a while since the first SDM was posted, I thought I'd explain again how I got the title. There's an American folksong about a railroad worker named John Henry, who pounded in the spikes that held the rails as the Transcontinental Railroad was being built. One day he was
pitted against a mechanical piledriver, which he battled to the death. The chorus says, "John Henry was a steel drivin' man". And Fred is the Steele Drivin' Man.

Feedback is always appreciated - permission to archive.

Steele Drivin' Man 9/?
By Anne Rose

Date: 3/31/83
Mileage: 7,135
Maintenance: Air conditioner check, annual emissions test

Mr. Steele sure does love to talk. At first I thought he just liked listening to the sound of his own voice, but after (mostly) listening to him for a while, I kinda feel like he just hasn't ever had anybody who would really hear him out. When Miss Holt's not with us, he sure has a lot to say. Not that I have much choice about listening, I mean, I can tune anybody out if I have to. But I think he's figured out that I'll listen as long as he's got something to say.

At first he would talk about whatever was on his mind, then sometimes stop talking and ask where we were, what street we were on, how we were getting from one place to another. I thought he knew LA, but I found out I was wrong early on.

And movies, man he loves to talk about movies. He can talk forever about movie stars my mother used to go on about, like Dorothy Lamour and Virginia Mayo. One day he finally asked me what kind of movies I like. I asked if he'd ever seen "Death Wish". Well, that drew a blank. So then I asked him about "Good Guys Wear Black" --I was sure he would know that one! Guess not. Then I thought of another he just had to know, and finally we found one - "Enter The Dragon". And then he was off and running about Bruce Lee and Kurosawa reaching across the boundary from East to West, crossing cultures and divides of race and class, bringing new, vigorous strains into western filmmaking, influencing a diverse range of directors from Scorcese to Lucas. Uh-huh.

That reminds me of something else - he can talk his way out of so much trouble. Like just a couple of weeks ago. He asked me to drive him to Del Mar on a Saturday so he could go to the horse races. I figured I had the time, so we drove down, and I sat around, watched the races from the fence, and took a little nap. Must have been a really good day for Mr. Steele, because he was flying high by the time we left to go home. He talked a blue streak about the winners he'd picked.

Obviously he was feeling really lucky because he asked me if I'd drive again on Sunday. I figured I could listen to the Bruins' game on the radio, even though I really wanted to watch it on TV, so I said OK. Well, we didn't get out of town quite as early as I expected to, because when I picked him up, Mr. Steele made me go back to my house and change out of my uniform. I guess he realized that sitting in the parking lot two days in a row couldn't be very much fun. So, we went to the track together. When Mr. Steele found out I'd never played the ponies before, he spent the whole drive down explaining the finer points of picking a horse. Well, there was no way I could absorb all that, so when we got to the track I just watched for a few races, picking a winner in my head but not placing a bet. Mr. Steele waded right in -- he wasn't shy about who he bet on, or how much he bet. He was up and down in the money column all afternoon, but he didn't seem to mind. Finally, in the fifth race, I placed a two dollar bet -- figured I'd start small. You could have knocked me over when I won $20! I was having fun now. It didn't last, though, because I lost the next two, but in the end I went home ahead, and Mr. Steele said that was more important than anything. I could do that again anytime.

All the fun we had went out the window a couple of days later, when Miss Holt took a look at the mileage log and saw that we had racked up over 500 miles in a weekend. To say that she was mad would be a major understatement. But Mr. Steele jumped right in with a dozen excuses, telling her that he and I had done a lot of errands over the weekend. When I glanced up in the rear view mirror, he gave me one of those looks that said "stay out of it --I'll handle this". He had a new poster to hang, so we had to go to the hardware store. Then his tailor called and said he had some new ties in. Then Mr. Steele realized he couldn't get through the weekend without more Pouilly-Fuisse. Then there was the Fellini film festival at the Nuart, for three nights. It was a major snow job, and he probably thought he had Miss Holt fooled, but I wouldn't bet on it. I sure learned my lesson.

For quite a while there Mr. Steele also liked to talk about the women he went out with. At the very beginning I just did my good chauffeur routine, keeping quiet while I drove them to that evening's swanky restaurant. But before long, after we'd dropped his date off, he'd start asking me questions about her, like he wanted my opinion. Talk about putting me on the spot. But he always appreciated an honest answer. Sometimes his questions sounded he was trying to compare them to each other, or maybe to someone else.

But we haven't been having many discussions like that lately, and I haven't been cooling my heels at Chez Rive much either. Seems like ever since their case in the wine country (not the REAL wine country, in Napa, but the local wine country near Santa Barbara) we're not out as much in the evenings.

Yeah, Mr. Steele loves to talk. But I have noticed that there's one time when he doesn't have much to say, and that's when we drop off Miss Holt at an appointment, or at her house at the end of the day. Then he'll look out the window and won't say a word until I tell him we've arrived somewhere. Then he comes back from whatever distant shore he's been on. Wonder what's going on with that.
To Be Continued . . .
To Part 10