Bill Sykes, Sr Page

FOND MEMORIES of "Baby Love"

I had friends who persuaded me to write and tell you about my experiences and travels in my 1963 Type 1 Volkswagen, which I have named “Baby love.”

In August 1963 I purchased a new Type 1 Volkswagen in Furth, Germany. This is a town near Nuremberg. I paid $1275.00 dollars for the car with a sun roof and radio, “Baby love” has toured in a total of 14 different countries. I drove it as far north as approximately 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Norway. My tours also included travels as far south as Pompeii, Italy. To see as much in my travels as I did, I had to drive all night and then tour all the sites during the day as I could.

The first trip the Volkswagen Dealer wanted me to put about 500 miles on it before I left so he could adjust valves and other things. Over the weekend I put about 250 miles before we left. One thing I will say about the Volkswagen Dealership is that I took my V W back to them at every scheduled service time after about 2500 miles, I had taken it in for service, picked it up Saturday afternoon and it was cold, so I drove into the shop over the grease pit and walked down to look under it no service had been done, which I had paid for, as a mechanic I could tell the oil had not been changed or the filter, or lube. The dealer had stamped my service book that it had been service. (I still have the service book.)  Then on the first trip, I drove south on the smallest road ever on the way from Nuremberg to Ulm, Zurich, Bern, Lansanne, Geneva, Lyon, Montpellier and on to Barcelona, Span.  We arrived about 2:30 am and awoke about 8:00 am and the 6th fleet had come ashore, there must have been 3,000 sailors on leave that weekend. The best ham and eggs I have ever eaten were in Barcelona. Baby love made the trip with no problems.

My second trip was to Italy. We spent our first night in Zell-Am-Zee, Austria. Toward the end of 1944 the Porsche family live here. I did not know this at the time I was there. We got up early and left, about two miles out town we saw two ladies and stopped and picked them up. They were from Paris, France. I will say more about them later.
One of my most remembered trip was to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We arrived about 11:30 pm. With the light shining on the Tower it was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. Then we drove on to Rome. I did not see much as I should have in Rome and now I regret that.
Now you have to understand that I am a Baptist raised in Mississippi and I never have been to another church denomination. My friend was Catholic, which I am very thankful for because I would not have known about the Vatican. The ceiling in the Sistine Chapel was a most interesting sit to see.


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We left St. Peter and went down the street to an USO club and had coffee and donuts, then we went to see the Glory of Rome. The Coliseum towering above the busting traffic of Rome and the enormous bulk of the Coliseum still stand as a link with her mighty imperial past.
I have pictures of Baby love in front of St. Peter and the Coliseum. We left Rome after three days of touring around and sight seeing, and then we headed the ’63 V W south to Pompeii.  If I had to list all my sites that I saw in all my traveling on a scale of 1to 10, 1 being the best Pompeii would be # 2(# 1 would be the museum in Dunkerque.)  Pompeii the summer resort for the wealthy Romans near the bay of Naples, which were wiped out in one horrifying day when mount Veuvius erupted on August 24, 79, A D. in destroying the city the volcano also preserved it for all time.

We left Pompeii and headed north to Rome, to Firenze, Balogna, Bolzano, we were getting close to the Austria border and we wanted to go through Innsbruck, Austria where the winter Olympics were held the ladies wanted to go back to Zell-Am-Zee to see some friends before going back home to Paris. These ladies took our cameras and our only good road map and my 8 mm movie camera which we didn’t know until we were at the border waiting in traffic to be checked through when we saw something we wanted to take a picture of but there were no cameras. We parked Baby love on the side of the road and took everything out and looked for our cameras and map, NO LUCK. This little border town only had two guesthouses and a train station we searched  the guesthouses, train station and walk back looking into the cars that was in line to cross the border, NO LUCK. (More about the ladies later.) We made the trip back to Nuremberg fine and Baby love ran good with no trouble out of the 40hp engine, about 25 mpg.

My third trip was to Paris, we arrived at the Germany and France border checkpoint just across the Rhine River. The guard asked me if I had any cigarettes or liquor (which I do either.) I told him that I did not he said that all America smoke and drink, so three guard took everything out of the V W, front and rear seat, all luggage, check the engine compartment, took out the spare tire then said that I could go. I had to put everything back in the car myself; we arrived outside of Paris about 1:30 a m and found a very small hotel for the night. I talked to the night clerk about the 2nd World War, he showed me his hands and all ten fingers had been broken. He said that the Gestapo had done that to him to get him to talk about the French under grown but he told them nothing. I was very impressed. One thing I will mention here is about the two ladies we picked up in Zell-Am-Zee, in Austria, I had gotten their address from them and told them if I came to Paris one day I would look them up, I got in a cab one day and said to take me to this address he handed the address back to me and said that I did not need to go there, he said that it was a bad place and would not take me. (I still have the address.)



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In Paris as we toured around and drove up and down the Champs-Elyses, I have an 8 mm movie as I stood in Baby love’s sunroof and took the movie. We toured Paris and had a good time. We left Paris heading to the English Channel; one of the most awesome sites was that half track, tanks and trucks sitting in the fields with wheels and track blown off with a sing saying “DO NOT ENTER-LANDMINE”, written in seven languages. This was in 1963 so the World War II had not been over that long. I can still see the pictures in my mind. I did not learn anything about the World War II in High School (Could be because I had a very fine 1955 Chevy 2 door with a hard top.)  On the English Channel in a small town museum, I learned a lot about World War II and the men who died there in that war. We went inside about 2:30 pm and did not come out to about 8:00pm it was great. The next day we headed to Furth, Germany. It was a very good trip, no trouble out of Baby love.

My next trip was the only one that I had any problem with my V W and it was some where in Belgium. A small piece of enamel came off the spark plug center electrode and made a knocking sound. My friend stated walking to see about getting some help; meanwhile I tried to see what was making the sound. I noticed that the sound started to go away, so I started to drive it. By the time that I picked up my friend the sound mysteriously went away. Many years later when I tore down the 40 hp engines, you could where the enamel had made an indention in the piston. We drove to Calais and took the ferry to Dover on to London, England. We had a good time and saw all the sites, but after touring around in Baby love it started to miss, I would take it outside of town to run it real hard and it would clear up and run good. We went back to London and toured for the day and it would start missing again. In London I had a picture  taken of me standing by the London Bridge <I was so young,> I went to Lake Havasu , Arizona  in 2003 they have move that bridge there and I stood at the same place, I had no one to take my picture there but will go back. We made it back to Germany before changing the spark plugs. We left London headed to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and then to Newcastle and on to Glasgow, Scotland. We made it back to Nuremberg without any trouble.

My next trip was to Frankfort Germany, I stopped in to see an old buddy Sidney, and I joined up on the buddy plan, he was in Frankfort Germany and I was in Nuremberg, well at least we were in Germany.  I drove on to Dusseidorf and to the Netherlands, Amsterdam. I had been driving for many hours and decided to take a lunch brake, I pull off the road and in front of some Dutch windmills, while I was eating a peanut butter sandwich I never realized how enormous the windmills actually were. I have a stature of the little mermaid that sits at the entrance of the Copenhagen Harbor, as a memorial to Haus Christian Anderson fairytale. (About a month before that I got there someone had cut her head off, but was replacing when I got there.) It is felt to symbolize the Port seafaring tradition. From Amsterdam to Rotterdam, Antwerpen and Broxelles Belgium, we left Belgium headed to Luxembourg.
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We wanted to go through Luxembourg in the daytime because at one time it was one off the small Countries. It had turned cold and we were getting close to Luxembourg when we saw a sign that said “Luxembourg 6 K”. It was about 11:00 PM and we were very tired. We pulled off to the side of the road and my friend got in the back seat in a sleeping bag. I slept in the front seat and stretched out the best I could. People this is true, the next morning I looked out Baby love left door glass and said to myself we had a little frost last night. At that time I pushed the button on the radio and the announcer said “this is the arm forces network and we had eight inches of snow last night”. Folks, I opened the door and sure enough we had eight inches of snow. We spent the next two days trying to get back to Nuremberg. We went through Luxembourg and made a left turn and took on a small mountain. A few cars and busses had tried to make it over but the bus had made it about half way up and had to stop, my friend and I had came up with a plan, he would drive and I would stand on the rear bumper of Baby love we went back down the mountain to get a good fast running start and a guy said he needed a ride, I told him to stand on the bumper on the right side and we made it over the top, Baby love engine was screaming all the way, the man kept telling me he  needed to get off that we had passed his house, he just jump off. The snow that accumulated on Baby love stayed on and did not melt; only the snow around the engine was all that melted a little. One thing that happened that I had never  experienced was slush that accumulated under the fender well and froze, as long as we went straight it was okay but when I need to turn I had to get out, take my boot and kick some ice from under the finder well so I could turn the steering wheel. Baby love made it back to Nuremberg, Germany like it was supposed to do.

This trip was the next to the last trip in Baby love in Europe. My friend and I left Nuremberg to go north, we hope to drive to Helsinke, Finland, and this was a longer trip than it looked on the map. We went from Nuremberg to Hanover, Germany and on to Denmark. Baby love was ferried from Frederickshavn, Denmark to Goteburg, Sweden and then we drove to Oslo, Norway.  In Oslo we went to a Vikings museum which was a very neat museum. It had a Viking boat that was the real thing; we could not take a picture because of the flash, so I have some real bad 8 mm movies of the inside of the museum. We walked out side and Baby love had a flat on the left rear. From Oslo we drove the ’63 V W north to Hamal, Lillehammer and on to Dombas. By this time we had the headlamp on all day and night, we stopped in this little town call Visberg and went into to this little shop more to walk around then to buy anything. I had walked outside to check Baby love oil when this  man walked up and ask in very good English accent asked me “are you from  America,” I said yes, how did you know and he said by your license plate. I talked to this man for about fifteen minutes when I asked “how far to the Arctic Circle?” he said about 250 miles. I asked “when dose it begin to snow real bad here” he looked up to the sky and said maybe today, maybe tomorrow. I said thanks and went inside to get my friend and we started back south. We stopped in Stockholm, Sweden and the only thing I can remember was we went to a move and saw the Beatles in English with Sweden subtitle. Then we went back to Halinsborg, Sweden and then to Helsingor, Denmark and then home to  
Germany
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As I end my travel in Europe I had to take Baby love to Bremerhaven Germany to be ship back to New Jersey, as I started my travel in Europe I always took food, clothes and the “63 V W was always loaded down. I had to adjust the headlamp up to see at night, when I took the “63 to Bremerhaven it was just me no close, no food. That night I went to ride around some and the headlamp was so high up I could not see. I went back to my room (and this was December 31 1964.) I did not stay up to welcome the New Year in as I was real tired. I did not adjust the head lamp until somewhere in New Jersey. I pulled up to a garage door and adjusted them. The next morning, January 1st 1965 I took a very tired, very dirty Baby love to the dock to be taken to the GOOD OLD USA. Baby love arrived in the USA the 17th of January and I arrived on the 18th of January; the Longshoremen called a dock strike on the January the 16th 1965.

After separation from the army, I went to the dock and ask this man if I gave him $25.00 would he get my V W off the ship. He said NO. I said $50.00 he said NO. I said $75.00 and he said NO, this man told me that he would not touch the car with a 10’ foot pole. If you were still in the Army they would release your car.

I went to the soldier, sailor and airmen club and got a room for about three weeks I saw a lot of New York. All this time LBJ was saying “the longshoremen will go back to work today.” HA! The longshoremen went back to work when they got what they wanted. My Mom called and said honey comes home. Within a few hours I was on an airplane to Houston, TX. I was home for about four days when the dock strike ended; my friend Sidney who joined the Army with me had his V W send to Houston, TX. Where he lives, he also went back with me to New Jersey get my V W. (Thanks Sidney.)

As I come to the end of my “Fond Memories” Baby love may sit for many weeks and never be started, but when it was started it knew it was going to be a long trip. I have looked out my second floor window and see Baby love cover with snow about 1” off the radio antennas would be showing. Gas was .90 cent a liter; this was in 1963 and 1964 on the market, Shell and Exxon.

In July 1966 I married my wife in Byram, Mississippi. Two weeks before I had to do my first valve job on the 40 h p engine, about 25,000 miles. The 40 h p was not a good engine for me, but I am not your average driver. After our honeymoon to Tennessee Baby love became out daily driver with some vacations. Our two boys Bill and Brian in 1969 and 1972 were brought home from the hospital in Baby love and also carried them to there first days in school; the V W was not cool.

In 1984 I parked Baby love and have not driven it since. The speedometer has 110,001 miles on it now. As I am restoring it now, I have a very hard time getting anything done because of all the “FOND MEMORIES”.

Marco Polo on his deathbed in 1324 declared “I have not told half of what I saw”. I can relate to this, there is so much more I could tell.

MORE FOND MEMORIES

In august of 1969, I had replaced a starter for a friend for $5.00 dollar. My wife and son Bill Jr. who was eight months old had gone with me in Baby love to the auto parts store to return the old starter for a $3.00 core charge. At that time Baby love was paid for and my wife was not working an outside job, I was making about $100.00 dollars a week at my job, gas was .26 cent a gallon. We had no money but we were happy. As anyone who has had any experience with a 6 volt V W would know about the starting problems but if you don’t know I will elaborate. When the wiring get old and starts to corrode it can cause the voltage to not flow through like it should and usually will not start. Baby love had this problem at this time. If you had jumper cables it would start and may start the next eight to ten time or you could push it to start and it would start the next eight to ten times before the next time it wouldn’t start again.

People you have to imagine this picture: VERY HOT, BILL Jr. sitting in the back seat with only a diaper on and had a bottle of apple juice he was drinking, sweat was running down his face and chest. We pulled up to the corner of Harrisburg and north Sidney which was a one way street on the north side of the parts house. I went inside and returned the starter and came back out to where Joyce and Bill Jr. were waiting in Baby love and it would not start. Joyce and I got out and we pushed Baby love back to try to start it I jumped back in to it and put it in gear and let out on the clutch but it just jumped two or three time and would not start. Bill Jr. with the bottle in his mouth started laughing, I got out and help Joyce push Baby love back down the one way street, I jumped in to try to start it again, the same thing happened again, Baby love just jumped two or three times, Bill Jr. was laughing really hard by now and apple juice was running down his mouth because he would not take the bottle out of his mouth, Joyce and I started  laughing at him and then we tried for the third time and it started. I guess you had to be there. This eight month old boy has grown up to be a find young man, husband and father. All parents should have a child this good. I attribute this to his time spend in my 1963 V W.