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Day 13 – Friday May 11th: Lawrence & Lubbeck

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<– Day 12 – Thurs. May 10th: Willys to Hawgs | Day 14 – Sat. May 12th: Ann Gets the Boot –>

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Our welcoming party at Lawrence Elliot’s place. From Left to Right, Carroll, Ann, me, Van, Lawrence, Susie, and Phillip.

Day 13: I only had to drive for 20 minutes today. That was in the morning on our drive to Maury’s. For the rest of our drives, our Chauffeur and tour guide, Maury, took us all over the windy hills of Western North Carolina. I think he could make a living doing this with a DUKW and microphone. He was entertaining and informative! However, I suspect being an architect pays better, so I don’t see him changing careers just yet!

We started out the day by meeting Maury at his shop, where his GPW is located. The GPW, #58671, was drafted into the Army on August 25, 1942. Six years later, it landed in Maury’s hands when he purchased it from Tom Stanek, who’d done a restoration on it and learned that the jeep was a Bechtel reconditioned unit. Maury has written up all the history he’d uncovered on his GPW in a article titled “Tracing the History of GPW 58671”, which appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of Army Motors Magazine.

Here’s Maury giving us a tour:

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Maury also has a CJ-5, which is getting restored. He had these seat belts re-chromed for it. They look great.

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I had gotten to know Maury over the years, because he’s shared some unique documents he’s acquired off eBay and other sources. For example, he was the source for much of this Reconditioning post.

After we looked at his jeep, he showed me some of the magnets scattered throughout his garage. They are pretty neat!

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We didn’t linger long, as we had to go pick up Van, a former Jeep mechanic, and head to Lawrence’s place, where Lawrence, another former jeep mechanic who worked with Van, lived. Van and Lawrence worked together for many years at Jeep.

We reached Van’s place to see Maury’s in progress CJ-5. Van apologized for not shaving, I reassured him that I only shave when my wife reminds me, so all was good.

With Van aboard, we were soon dashing through the backroads of western North Carolina. At one point, we turned off the highway, onto a gravel road. Maury reassured us that this was not a Deliverance moment (you’d have to see the movie to understand). But, then it occurred to me that that’s exactly what someone might say!

Nonetheless, Maury and Van seemed pretty okay to us and, as promised, the gravel road soon gave way to pavement. We were again racing along the narrow backroads among the mountains dotted with farm houses and the occasional leaning shed. It was a very pretty drive. However, there are a lot of confusing roads, none seemed straight, and even Maury had to consult his GPS when we came upon a closed road. It made me wonder whether anyone knows all the backroads in that area.

We soon arrived at Lawrence’s home, a place hidden at the end of a long, narrow driveway. To our surprise, five jeeps were lined up, awaiting our arrival. It was a great, welcoming gesture. Ann, Maury, Van and I piled out of Maury’s Suburban.

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I’d first heard about Lawrence around 2010 when his friend, Gary, mentioned that Lawrence had developed a special bell crank modification that used employed cone bearings. It’s a neat mod that actually works better with the newer Crown bell cranks, because of the extra material used in the casting, but old ones can be modified as well. Lawrence and I later spoke on the phone in 2010 and I told him I’d send folks his direction.

Maury mentioned that Lawrence was pretty excited to hear that I was willing to travel from Washington State to meet him, so he’d invited his friends Phillip, Susie, and Carroll. They were all very welcoming and each a unique character.

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Here I am presenting Lawrence with a poster.

It wasn’t long before we were examining the jeeps. Each has had an modifications of some type. Several have one of Lawrence’s Ford Ranger steering mod, where Lawrence replaces the Ross box with an early non-power 1980s Ranger box using a special bracket. He says the boxes are hard to come by these days, but it’s a fairly non-intrusive mod as you can see in the pics.
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Another mod are the fake full floating rear hubs. Lawrence didn’t want the standard hub caps showing in the rear of his vehicles, so he created some fake hubs that cover the standard hubs and slide on underneath the rims. It sure fooled me!

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We spent several hours looking at jeeps, touring his garage, exploring his barn of parts, and trading stories. It was a great time! I want to thank Lawrence, Maury, and everyone else who made it possible.

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We drove back to Van’s, dropped him off, then had a light lunch of fish tacos at a local Mexican restaurant. After a break of a couple hours, where I got to look over some of Maury’s books and jeep documents (lots of cool stuff), we drove over to Bill Lubbeck’s house.

Bill Lubbeck fought in the German Army North during WWII. At one point he commanded 300 soldiers, but Russian advances and the end of WWII led to the deaths of most under his command. He barely escaped the Russians (and SS that were killing retreating German soldiers). His autobiography—At Leningrad’s Gates: The Story of a Soldier with Army Group North—co-authored by Maury’s brother, is a fascinating read. I borrowed some of his anecdotes for my book The Amber Panels of Koenigsburg.

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Former German Soldier Bill Luebeck and I talking about WWII.

Bill is 97 and can’t hear too good, but seems pretty sharp mentally. He mentioned when he sleeps he still dreams often of WWII. He fought as a proud German soldier, with honor and respect. When his division was told to salute Hitler in 1943 and pledge their allegiance to him, they refused; instead, they simple did a standard military salute.

After surviving the war, he had an interesting time, eventually moving to Canada, before entering the US. Eventually, he befriended an American WWII vet. Not too many years ago, both vets were out eating dinner. When their waitress learned they were both vets, she returned with free deserts for each and thanked each for their service, as she naturally assumed both were American soldiers. Everyone at the table busted out laughing.

It’s good that we can now laugh. However, he cautioned that he hopes no one ever has to go to war again. He didn’t say it, out of respect to Ann, but it was clear what he meant: to him, war is hell.

Saturday morning we head to the Veterans Administration’s ER to get Ann’s achilles checked. So, who knows how that will go!

<– Day 12 – Thurs. May 10th: Willys to Hawgs | Day 14 – Sat. May 12th: Ann Gets the Boot –>

 

3 Comments on “Day 13 – Friday May 11th: Lawrence & Lubbeck

  1. Mom

    It always amazes me the people you meet along the way and your very personal connections with them.

    Here’s hoping,Ann, your Achilles isn’t a serious problem!!! Just learned Achilles needs to be capitalized.

  2. Gary Peacock

    Thank you both for going by and visiting with Lawrence. That was like a dream come true to him. I think it’s great some of his ideas get to be recognized. He’s a very smart and talented man who has worked with turning nothing into something.
    Gary Peacock

  3. David Eilers Post author

    Gary, I wish you could have come by as well. It would have been great to meet you! Lawrence had all kinds of nice things to say about you.

    Mom, it amazing me at times, too!

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