Sunday, November 15, 2009

10 Cent Sodas and Moon Pies

After High School graduation I went to college. It would have been a good opportunity for me to become educated towards a lifelong career; the only problem is I had no idea what I wanted to do. Despite this, I enrolled in Purdue University with an aeronautical engineering major.

Purdue is a huge place. At the time I attended there were 36,000 students on campus and it wasn’t long before I was making friends. I met Ryan my freshman year. He initially was in a class with one of my roommates and lived in the same apartment building that we did. Ryan used to stop by once in a while and we would listen to records and talk about hot rods.

Ryan was a business major but he did not present what I would call the standard image of a businessman. He was a big guy standing about 6’3” and weighed maybe 200 lbs. He wore his hair long and curled like the heavy metal rockers popular in the eighties and always wore prescription glasses that had dark tinted lenses.

Ryan’s favorite band was Van Halen and his real aspiration in life was to become a heavy metal drummer. He had a 23 piece drum kit at his home in Indianapolis and he could play it well. The business major was his backup plan in case the drumming didn’t pan out.

Ryan knew cars inside and out. On campus he drove an old Monte Carlo but at his home in Indianapolis he had a 1976 Camaro which he had built from the ground up. The engine made over 600 HP.

He used to tell me, “Mark, allot of guys can build an engine but not everyone can build one that will last. Allot of engines you see will eventually be leaking oil and get all grimy. Not my engine. You can eat off it – no lie. My engine is built to run forever and you can drive it on the road.”

I went home with Ryan one weekend. I saw that engine and took a ride in that Camaro. He was not lying. It was a rocket on wheels and it was immaculate.

Sophomore year I moved to an apartment closer to the heart of campus. It was a nicer building which provided each tenant their own bedroom. We were also able to get cable TV. Ryan started coming by almost every day in between his classes. He would settle on the couch for an hour or two and watch a new show called MTV. Sometimes Ryan and I would go pick up a six pack of beer and hang out down by an old railroad bridge spanning the Wabash River.

As a college student money was always tight so we learned to appreciate the small things. One evening Ryan popped in and asked if I would like to take a ride over to the Saveway market. They had cans of soda on sale for 10 cents. That sounded good to me so off we went.

We arrived at the store and we walked in looking like a couple of thugs. Ryan was very intimidating with his physique, long hair and dark glasses. We walked around through the store a bit and stopped at the magazine rack. We spent about a half hour there looking at hot rod magazines and talking cars. Eventually we got our sodas for 10 cents and we each got a Moon Pie to go with them. We paid for our snacks and went out to the car.

We sat in the parking lot for a bit eating our Moon Pies, drinking 10 cent sodas and talking. As we sat I noticed a police car go by. A minute later there was another unit driving through the lot. I mentioned to Ryan there sure were allot of police out that night.

When we finished eating Ryan started the car and we began to leave the parking lot. We had gone about 20 feet when a car drove right in front of Ryan and cut him off. It was close enough he had to jam on the brakes to avoid hitting the car. The next thing we knew we were surrounded by several squad cars and a few unmarked units including the one that had cut us off. The police had exited their vehicles with guns drawn and pointed in our direction! We heard a voice on the loud speaker instruct us to exit the vehicle slowly and to keep our hands where they could see them! When you are staring down the barrel of a dozen loaded pistols you tend to do as instructed - we slowly got out. In the next instant we were apprehended, handcuffed and searched.

I heard Ryan say, “Officers, there is a firearm in the glove box in the car. I do have a permit to carry it.”

This was news to me! Now I’m starting to think how well do I know Ryan? What the hell is going on here? One of the officers recovered the gun and they did a check on our identification.

We asked why were we stopped but nobody would give us an answer. We were interrogated. Who are you? – Students. Where are you from? – We live on campus. What are you doing here? – Buying cheap sodas. It went on like this for about 15 minutes.

They checked Ryan’s gun permit and asked him why he was carrying a firearm. His response was, “Not to be disrespectful sir but that is my own business and I am not required to tell you that information.”

Again we asked why we had been stopped and finally we were told we fit the description of some guys that robbed the store on the other side of town a couple of nights previous. The manager on duty had got nervous with us hanging around in the place and called the police.

Well, we were obviously not the guys that robbed the store across town so we were let go. I asked Ryan why he carried a gun and he said he needed the protection and told me a story about an ex-girlfriend with some questionable associates. I got the impression it must have been quite serious as the State of Indiana did not casually hand out licenses to carry a gun.

The next year I took some time off of college. I never saw Ryan again. I still keep my eyes and ears open to see if he will turn up playing in a heavy metal band one day but I think more than likely he has put his major to good use.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Defender of the Reich

During WWII the Allied forces mounted a strategic bombing campaign to cripple Germany and her ability to make war. By 1944 the Allied bombing campaig was relentless. Despite ever worsening odds, brave men of the Luftwaffe took to the skies in defense of their homeland. This new print release depicts an Fw 190A-8 in the markings of "Black 8" of JG 3 flown by Willi Maximowitz.

This print and many other art works are available through our website: If you have any questions or want more information regarding customizing this print please contact us at: