Photo By: Al Clemens
Posters of the
above picture can be purchased at: http://www.zazzle.com/products/default.asp
Any proceeds will go to the ALS foundation.
Enter "BusterCluster 2006" in the search box.
Search string must be exact (no space between Buster and Cluster.
Some pictures of the Cluster: http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/bustercluster2006/
Slide show with music by Jim Johnson. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs1klEzra24
Story By: Ron Soave
OK, I just
received an email from Larry Daniels echoing an idea
a few of us have had in the works for a month or so. Buster's
latest offer of generosity with AH Spares catalogs confirms - it
is now time for the first call to arms for the first and, if we do
it right, the only BUSTERCLUSTER.
As anyone who has paid attention knows, Buster is the original
owner of his 1960 Bugeye, and is in the process of restoring it.
The restoration needs a jumpstart. In my recent "winter of hell"
moving a business from California, I had the chance to hang out
with Buster a bunch of times, talk cars and a lot else, break
bread (and wind) with him at his beloved Mexicasa restaurant,
and confirm my suspicions that he's one of the good guys (I also
had the pleasure of meeting Billy Zoom, another great guy. In
addition to sharing the Spridget addiction, there are many of us
who grew up in NY listening to WLIR and watching Midnight
Special who would have killed to see his iconic Gretsch Silver Jet
guitar hanging in his studio as I did!).
So....it's time for the Cluster. Buster's car is at paint right
now, his shop is a good work space with organized tools and
parts, it's ripe for the finishing. We may even have help from
Moss (quiet Frank) to deliver parts at a severe discount, if not
Several Midwesterners and east coasters are up for the trip,
and we know we can count on the leftcoasters to support this as
well. This will likely be a few months from now in midsummer
based on schedules, logistics, Buster's paint shop, etc. I ask
for preliminary commitments now, and, for argument's sake,
let's shoot for July 28th-30th for the Cluster, with some
smaller pre-Clusters prior to that to ensure we can be at a
state where Buster and Pam can drive the car around the block
by the 30th. Billy Zoom is scheduled to have a pair of little
Zooms arrive around that time, and maybe we can blitzkrieg his
Sprite as well since it isn't likely he'll have a lot of time this
summer after the twins arrive.
A long time ago in a garage far, far away...
Actually, it was just before Christmas 2005 in a garage in
Anaheim. I was spending a lot of time in California on business,
and I made contact with Buster to meet for dinner to break the
work-drink-not sleep cycle. I normally drink a beer or 2 a
week, during the Cal trips it was 8 to 15 a night. Not a good
sign, and I was in need of some normalcy. Buster's idea of a
good time for us was to hang out at a 1953 vintage McDonald's
at a Thursday night impromptu car show and looking over the
Bugeye that was trapped in suspended restoration in his garage,
pretty much my kind of guy.
As Buster has said, my first thought was that his garage was
well-equipped, and with the car as original as it was, it would be
a straightforward assembly job (body and paint excepted). I
mentioned this, sprinkling the conversation with "Frank could
have this done in two days" 4 or 5 times (and this was before I
met the relentless dervish of activity and knowledge that is Glen
Byrns, BTW). I very briefly met Pam, as she was not feeling
especially well. She seemed to brighten up a bit having someone
new in the house, despite the huge black circles under my eyes
from a week of 13 hour work days followed by 5 or 6 hours of
beer. And now my fingers smelled like French fries, to boot.
I got home, and called Frank and Peter. I told them what I
saw, and how I even had thought of "Bustercluster" as a good,
catchy name that would probably reel in 3 or 4 other people.
Both immediately said "I'm in."
Fast forward to February, another meeting with Buster, this
time at his beloved Mexicasa restaurant (which is Spanish for
"many, many beans for very, very few pesos") where, despite
his irritation that the prices had climbed to over $4 for an
entree, we enjoyed dinner and more conversation about the
Sprite. Buster told me of how he and Pam loved to entertain
guests, and how they used to travel before circumstances came
about that made it almost impossible. We brought some
Mexicasa home for Miss Pam as I call her, and again she
seemed to brighten up a bit. Pam pulled me aside and told me
how much Buster enjoyed hanging out and BSing cars with me.
So, basically, Pam told me how important it was to her for
Buster to be happy, and Buster told me how important it was to
him for Pam to be happy. I called Peter and Frank again, told
them that if Buster enjoyed having one Spridget guest, 5 or 6
of us would be even better. We decided the Bustercluster had
to happen, and I was tasked with doing an inventory of parts on
my next visit.
My next trip 2 weeks later was for 13 days, and I got to see
Buster several times, including tours of Miss Pam's childhood
home, their first date spot (which was a ride in Busters
Sprite), and so on. It was all about Pam. In my mind, I pictured
what eventually took place on July 30th. Peter mentioned it to
Billy Zoom, who lives maybe 3 miles from Buster, and he was in
as well. We had 4. I told Buster about the Cluster idea, and he
had me tell Pam. She had a stunned look on her face and tears
in her eyes. That did it. I got home and started writing a draft
to the list about the idea, and while writing it I got an email
from Larry Daniels, telling me what a great guy Buster is and
maybe we can arrange something out in California. Unbelievable.
As Pete Townshend wrote in a song about mods, "ain't it funny
how we all seem to look the same?" Both Billy and Larry couldn't
join us because of their jobs, but you guys were there in spirit.
So I announce to the list, and Buster has told you what the
initial response was - staggering. I confess that I am the one
who said "don't worry, only 5 or 6 people will end up being able
to come." OK so I'm wrong...it's not the first time (note to
Buster: upon reflection we didn't have ARP bolts and re-tapped
crankshaft holes when we installed the flywheel on your car, so
I shouldn't have talked Glen out of using loctite. It'll be fine
for at least a week). The date starts getting closer, and Buster
is starting to freak about the size, shape, logistics, etc. The
phrase Clusterfuck is uttered a few times. No worries from me,
though. From my winter project, I was hailed for pulling off a
business move on schedule with happy people at the end. These
are the magic rules many nimrods outside our hobby don't get:
1) Know what you want to do very clearly, and make sure
everyone shares your vision. Not "work on the Sprite". For all of
us, it was "Pam and Buster will ride in this completed car by
2) Do all stages of the vision with integrity, respect, and good
humor for those you are working with. Even if some of them
have Triumphs too.
3) Take care of your people. Coffee, food, beer, and an
occasional reflective cigarette help.
4) Pick the number of good people needed to fill your own gaps
in knowledge and ability. If 8 are needed, make sure 10 are
there, because you are stupider than you think.
5) Show people the vision in little pieces. A garage walk through
by Miss Pam always seemed to get us motivated and reminded us
why we were there.
We certainly had the people and the means to follow the 5 easy
steps above. And then some. And then some more.
A final trip out to see Billy and Buster over dinner in May, and
we're done planning. It's going to happen. I puckered at the
paint shop issues, but Buster had that addressed immediately.
July rolls around, and I meet Peter in my work costume at the
airport, we avvafew in the bar, I start to be me again. Good
flight, my brother from NY waiting for us, get to the hotel that
was my winter home away from home to find a complimentary 2
bedroom suite up grade, and Frank unconscious. He wakes up
finally, rolls over and calls Jay. Jay comes down, it is
immediately like I am hanging with a lifelong friend. We force
ourselves to go to bed (not with each other, to be clear), 24
hours awake with time change, and are all up 3 hours later
anyway like kids on Christmas morning. We got the Buster
cluster around 9. You now know what happened next.
Despite the fact that X songs have been in my head all week
(you all need to go when Billy's tour is near you; Peter is a
convert going again next week in Milwaukee), there is a stanza in
a Springsteen song that'd pop in to my head whenever we made
"It's been a long, long drought baby,
But tonight there's rain pouring down on my roof.
Looking for a little bit of God's mercy,
I've seen living proof"
The Bugeye drought is over at the Evans, the sky's been
cleared by the rain, and it's a new morning. Thanks to all.
Correct Height for Buster's Ceiling
Every mile a memory
List Of Attendees
Paul Asgeirsson, Portland
Spencer Baker, Hermosa Beach CA
Jim Bauder, Scottsdale AZ
Glen Byrns, Davis CA
Peter Caldwell, Madison WI
Frank Clarici, Toms River NJ
Al Clemens, Boynton Beach FL
Hal Faulkner, Fair Oaks CA
Jay Fishbein, Wallingford CT
Robert D. Gardner, El Cajon CA
Robert Houston, El Paso TX
Jim Johnson, Dodge City KS
Mike MacLean, San Bernardino CA
Larry Miller, Salinas CA
Jerry Mock, Corona CA
Vern Olson, Ontario OR
Jon Paschke, Tehachapi CA
Warren Pierce, Aromas CA
Mike Rivers, Tustin CA
Jim Rogers, San Juan Capistrano CA
Ron Soave, Roscoe IL
Bob Soave, LaGrangeville NY
Vigil, Fountain Valley CA