A FOOT AT A TIME

June 15, 2001 11:00 pm
 (TREE FROG: Inspiration for the car's paint job came from a photo of a red-eyed tree frog South had seen in National Geographic magazine 20 years earlier.).
(TREE FROG: Inspiration for the car's paint job came from a photo of a red-eyed tree frog South had seen in National Geographic magazine 20 years earlier.).

Ken Souths license plate reads 1st Rod. His first time at the Oregon Mountain Cruise car show in Joseph was last weekend. His 1st Rod was third among the street rods there.

First place also eluded South in the Farthest Traveled Award. It was won by Dan Ivers, who drove 560 miles from Medford.

South, however, drove the 409 miles from Seattle, one foot at a time one foot on the steering wheel and one foot on the gas.

I go through a lot of steering wheels, he said, particularly from parallel parking.

South thinks he is the only person in the world who has survived the trauma of a double forequarter amputation and lived to tell about it. He has no arms. He has no shoulders. What he does have, he says, is phantom-limb-pain.

Souths 1st Rod has a short steering column, a foot latch under the running board to open the door, and hidden ignition switches rather than a key.

South can drive other peoples cars, although steering wheel airbags get in his way. However, No one with arms can drive the Tree Frog, he said.

Thats because his distinctive 1933 Ford Cabriolet is well-known and if it were driven by someone with arms, people would know its not the owner, he said.

South also has a three-wheeled motorcycle with a one-foot lever, similar to a boat tiller, but it has an exam-table stirrup on the end.

He drove a standard transmission car around the block, 10 days after he was released from the hospital following his 1977 accident.

South was a lineman for Seattle City Light when he was electrocuted in a high-lift bucket.

Fire was going out both ends, he said, adding that 14,760 volts went from one end of me to the other. My left wrist acted as the fuse. My hand burned off and fell to the ground still in my glove and with my watch on it.

Now South wears his watch on his ankle, and has his wallet velcroed to the other.

The Tree Frog was the first rod he acquired after his double amputation.

I think it looks distinguished, South said about his adding frog decor and green-and-black headlight covers to the two-tone green paint job. He had remembered a photo of a red-eyed tree frog that he had seen in National Geographic magazine 20 years earlier.

The decor had to be redone after an accident in a September downpour on Rainy Pass on the North Cascades Highway, he said.

His feet were real busy pumping the brake and steering to counter a sideways slide into a turnpike barrier.

Repairs to the Tree Frog were finished at 12:30 a.m. Saturday. South was up at 4 a.m. and headed south and east for Joseph at 5:30 a.m.

We log a lot of miles, South said of himself and his Rat Pack Cruisers car club friends Fred Shoulders and Dale Minick, who show customized pickup trucks. They participate in about 40 car shows a year.

At last years Hot August Nights show in Lewiston, Idaho, the trio learned of Josephs Mountain Cruise and vowed to attend this year.

They will be back, saying they like Josephs look on Main Street and the friendly people.

Show awards

A Joseph resident, Sara Kemple, won the $50 golf game at the car show. Trevor and Troy Stebbins of La Grande won the $50 hoop shoot with 16 baskets.

The $100 roll surprise game for those registered in the car show this year involved bowling. Alizebeth McConnell won by knocking the gold pin closest to the $100 bill at 2-feet, 41/2-inches.

The King of the Mountain award was given to Louis and Jan Peters of Eagle Point for their 1932 Dodge Victoria Coupe, which placed second in the Street Rod Division.

Bill Wallace of Monmouth won the King of the Web, officially called the Internet E-Car Show title. By paying $10 and sending in a photo, enthusiasts could enter their cars. They were judged by any car enthusiasts in the world who went into the Web and voted. Two clubs tied for the club participation first-place award. They were the Walla Walla Hot Wheels and the Line Chasers from Bend, both with seven entries. Second were the Heap Herders

from Southern Idaho with six entries.

More E-shows are planned, including one late this summer. Check it out at ecarshow.com.

The other 12th annual Oregon Mountain Cruise winners (in first, second, and third place) were:

Peoples Choice: Bill Wallace, Monmouth, 41 Chev Coupe; Steve and Cindy Wade, Clarkston, Wash., 39 Ford Tudor Deluxe; Kelly Gutches, Burns, 56 Ford F-100.

Pro-Street: Mike and Jackie Heller, Hermiston, 55 Chev BelAir; Gordon Blankenship, Stanfield, 57 Chev.

Cranker: Mark & Marilyn Hryciw, Gresham, 26 Model T Tudor.

Orphan: Monte Glud, Dundee, 36 Packard; Bill Darland, Eugene, 37 Willys Overland; Bud Stangel, Enterprise, 37 Cord Phaeton.

Custom Truck: Kelly Gutches, Burns, 56 Ford F-100; Gary and Bonnie Baxter, Baker City, 21 Ford Cab Delivery; Dan Bock, Milton-Freewater, 55 Chev.

Custom Car: Marion and Carol Munday, Kennewick, 58 Chev Impala; Paul and Anna Savelskey, Walla Walla, 55 Chev hardtop; Forest Moss, La Grande, 46 Ford Business Coupe.

Muscle Car: Pete and Tamara Cook, Lewiston, 67 Chev Camaro SS; Chris Kreeger, Meridian, Idaho, 67 Pontiac GTO convertible.

Modified Truck: Warren Gray, Elmira, 47 Hudson; Floyd Duncan, Baker City, 50 Dodge one-ton; Wayne and Peg Anderson, Prairie City, 40 Chev/Teardrop.

Unrestored Car or Truck: Donald and Tamara Brown, Redmond, 57 Chev Corvette; Chuck and Pam Garrett, Joseph, 36 Plymouth Business Coupe; Jim Darrow, Cove, 59 Chev Corvette.

Restored Truck: Roger Mesenbrink, Gaston, 54 Dodge Power Wagon; Mick Courtney, 40 Dodge 1/2 Ton; Sam Rhodes, Milton-Freewater, 64 Chev C-10 Fleetside.

Restored Car: Jeff and Annette Brence, Cove, 68 Plymouth GTX; Ron Nance, La Grande, 63 Chev Corvette; Bud Stangel, Enterprise, 33 Chrysler Co-6 Convertible Coupe.

Street Rod: Erwin and Jan Bartlett, Burley, Idaho; 41 Plymouth; Lewis and Jaren Peters, Eagle Point, 32 Dodge Victoria Coupe; Ken South, Seattle, 33 Ford Cabriolet.