by David Stuursma
“I want to see all the radiator caps perfectly lined up.”
We all know someone who would say that. Many of us see that person in the mirror each morning. A little light obsessive compulsion is something to take pride in, right? This time that quote belonged to Larry Long of Hutchinson, Kansas, however, he said it in Solvang, California, where the Paradise British Car Club was hosting GoF West. Larry had been a Paradise Club member for 30-plus years and still is, despite following Dorothy to Kansas, as he likes to say. And from hundreds of miles away he accepted the responsibilities of the Funkhana, setting up the car show (with precision), and being one of the event’s go-to guys. Printed on his nametag was, “I’m the Boss.” Enough said. I’ve known Larry for years. The Paradise Club is one of the closest to Moss Motors, so he was no stranger.
Like ice cream, leadership comes in many flavors, and some sure are unusual—“an aquired taste,” one might say politely. Larry likes to apply a dose of humor to his leadership and it certainly falls into that aquired-taste category. Take for example these instructions he handed out to his car show parking volunteers. This was my first encounter with a Parking Protractor; I thought some readers here might appreciate its special purpose as defined by Larry.
PARKING PROTRACTOR (PP)
INSTRUCTIONS FOR PROPER AND SAFE USE
Congratulations! You have been one of the select few chosen to perform a very important activity for GoF West, and have been issued the latest design model of the Parking Protractor. Please read all the instructions before using the Parking Protractor (PP).
The PP issued to you is model PP-140, a modified version of the original PP-120. The PP is a highly sophisticated, scientific instrument designed for parking vehicles at a precise 22.5 degree angle, plus or minus 0.03 degrees, and has been calibrated by the National Bureau of Standards.
Replacement parts for your PP, should you need them, may be ordered at no cost to you directly from the manufacturer by submitting form PP-140-98b, along with the $20 shipping fee.
For Your Safety:
Your PP is not a toy. It is a technical instrument designed by a former aerospace engineer and one of the world’s foremost experts on PPs. If used properly, your PP will give you years of satisfaction and will bring enjoyment to others when they see you using your PP.
Operate your PP only as instructed. Using your PP for anything other than its intended purpose may be detrimental to your PP. Do not let others handle your PP. And similarly, do not ask if you can use someone else’s PP. Wash your PP with mild soap now and then.
Do not hit other people on the head with your PP.
If your PP should break, which would be very unusual, you might be able to repair it by wrapping duct tape around it. Do not wrap it too tightly. Finally, be sure automobiles do not run over your PP. That may make it unusable, even with duct tape.
The Indefatigable Larry Long
Larry Long was the driving force behind the Paradise British Car Club from the time we moved to Santa Maria in 1999 until he relocated to Kansas in 2018.
His dedication to the club and his quirky sense of humor made the Paradise Car Club a fun and unique group to be in.
He, along with his partner in crime, Jim Bull, concocted elaborate stories and e-mails that were so over the top that they bordered on the ridiculous. These would be shared with their closest associates in the club.
One of my favorite memories of Larry was the discussion about the doughnuts we were getting from a local shop for a club event. The shop owner was named “Hu.” Larry and other unwitting club members got in big circular discussions about who brought the doughnuts. The club member would ask “who?” and Larry would say “Yes, Hu. Hu brought the donuts.” This confusion was compounded one year by the fact that we had two Jims in our club. Larry misunderstood which Jim was bringing the donuts from Hu’s shop and mass confusion ensued. I found this so hilarious that I actually wrote a skit about it, which was performed at the next Christmas party at Larry’s house to the amusement and bemusement of all Hu attended.
Larry is a perfectionist, but also has a heart of gold and is a good friend to those that know him. His hospitality is unrivaled, and he loves putting on events for the club and the British car universe. His inventiveness and planning made our events unforgettable. There is not another like him. The indefatigable Larry Long.
— Rhonda Cardinal
Please continue to send your stories of the leaders that have so much to do with the enjoyment of the classic British car experience. Submit stories and photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org