Latest update: July 7, 2011 - scroll to bottom

August of 09:

My best friend in junior high was a guy named Jim Carlson. He was a god amongst us mortals; tremendous athlete, natural leader, cool, great musician, and mature way beyond his years. As it turned out, he took a vicarious interest in my meager attempts at restoring old cars and bought one for himself back in the mid 70's. His choice was a 1941 Caddy (series 60 Special). The picture above was taken in 1975. We'll call it the before, before. It shows what Jim saw in the Caddy and it also shows that Jim had good taste in women. His wife, Cheryl, was and is as cute as they come.

In any event, Jim began a complete ground-up restoration of the '41. I remember visiting him in Fullerton, CA while he was in graduate school and seeing the car in pieces all over his apartment and car port. Over the ensuing years, the Caddy was stored and hauled around with small amounts of work being completed here and there. Cheryl, Jim's wife, said that Jim always intended it to be a retirement project. Unfortunately, as I discuss in my little book, 22 Cars and a Boat (available for free on the home page), Jim ran out of road on his motorcycle in 2007. It was a great loss to the world and particularly to the world that loved this big guy.

Jim's family didn't really know what to do with the Caddy - keep it, sell it, or find for it a new home. That's where we come in. Cheryl emailed me and said that the Caddy was more than the family could resurrect and was I interested in taking a cut at it. Dylan and I talked it all over, especially since Jim has been a source of stories for me to tell Dylan - about being a superstar and being cool in Junior High and beyond.

The bottom line is that Carlson's Caddy is on its way to the workshop where Dylan and I are going to transform it into a running rig of some kind. The ideas have been flowing; - our current concept is to drop the body on a modern frame and powerplant that includes off-road capability with big block performance. Dylan looked into the distance at one point in the imaginings and said in a far off kind of voice, "A '41 Caddy Super Duty..... Now that's cool." His rough sketch of our concept car is about as close as we ever get to blueprints.

First, we'll get the Caddy to Dallas and then see what we have. Pictures are coming and we'll share the whole ride. Buckle Up.

Below is me in my La Salle, summer of '68. That I owned a Caddy LaSalle is probably a coincidence in so far as Jim's choice of car is concerned. I ultimately traded the La Salle for a 57 Chevy. This was essentially a trade of suicide doors and dual side mounts for school. University studies seemed like less work. Now that school is over (almost 40 years ago) and both Jim and I earned doctorates in our chosen fields, let's see what Jim's old buddy from 6th grade can do with what he started. Stay tuned.

Holy Moly, the Caddy arrived in Dallas after the usual shipping hassles. Thanks to Pete (Cheryl's brother) for dealing with more than a few frustrations at the Seattle end. Here are the three generations of Thompsons on the day the car was pushed into the shop. We unloaded all the stuff that was packed to the ceiling including an array of artifacts that had once been part of the upholstery, window moldings, wiring and weatherstipping. I might try to take a picture of the boxes and piles of detritis that emerged from the bowels of that passenger compartment. Everyone at the shop has been impressed with how complete the project is. From here there are a limitless number of ways one could proceed. Jim, no doubt, was intending a true restoration, which explains his attention to detail. He had meticulously labeled everything in a Hansel and Gretel sort of way - "might want to go back where this started in the 70's some day." His files were incredible with leads and vendors for all aspects of the restoration. Unfortunately most of those folks are dead by now I imagine. Anyway, the core of the car is really good - no rust, body panels nice and straight, much chrome redone or carefully packaged, everything saved that might come in handy. There was only one critical element missing and that was the title. Jim apparently never received a pink slip, title or bill of sale. Bummer. The next pic shows a side view of the car as it arrived. The picture at the top of this page shows our first effort at bringing the car back to life. We installed the hood ornament and buffed a bit of the paint - still quite nice after 30 plus years.

To beat the bushes and see if there's any help that can be offered with the parts we won't be needing, I posted an ad for free 41 60 Special parts on an antique Cadillac La Salle message board. Responses came in from all over the U.S. With the running gear and extra parts that Jim had carefully collected, we'll be able to assist seven vintage restorers (so far). Here are pictures of the cars along with what they need. How cool.

The convertible is a 1942 series 62 that needs new control arms and some interior pieces. The 37 Cad coupe needs the rear end. He'll get the whole third member complete with brakes and drive shaft.

The 37 Sedan needs front hubs, brakes and master cylinder - only the master fit but that's something.

Next, the 41 coupe needs fog lights and a pedal assembly - Sent and received.

The wiring harness is going to another 41 60S that is currently in pieces. Sent and received. Miss Betty, also a 1941 60S (below) got a new fuel tank. I want a ride in this rig some day. Next, the 42 stretch (series 67) needed the engine - car has no compression in three cylinders. Tod, the owner, is a Dallasite so he's offered to hire Dylan to orchestrate the engine swap. There were many requests for a "free engine." Tod felt right to us.

Having said that, engine swaps are an effort. Before giving the engine away, Dylan put a few hours into her to make sure everything was kosher. He oiled the top and bottom and performed a leakdown test on all of the cylinders. Some of the valves were sticky in the sense that a little tapping was needed to seat them well. But there's good compression throughout now. Dylan said that the bottom end looked like new under the pan, which we pulled to make sure it all looked fresh under there. The next shot is of the hopeful parents before the swap. We'll see if they're still smiling when it's over. Next is the old motor lynched from the rafters, then the new motor hanging in the sling, and, finally, the swap in on New Year's Weekend. The double winch setup gave us complete flexibility to pitch the engine. We had the car on floor jacks so we could move it in any orientation. How does somebody do this kind of stuff without a lot of space I wonder?

Update: As incredible as this sounds, we fired that 35 year old engine up with no problems whatsoever. She just purred. Really, it was astounding. The big question mark is how long those ancient seals and gaskets will last in there. Nevertheless, it proves again that old iron is good iron.


Jim's body is now hanging in its cradle through the windows until we have our new frame and running gear all stracked out. Who knows how long that will take. We've got a 4x4 Surburban 454 coming but we'll throw it away if it doesn't sing to us.

Latest update shows that we've got all the lights wired and installed along with the door handles and locks.

Ain't life grand?

Mid January 2010:

We are now in possession of the 454 4x4 Suburban. This package has some nice features. But oh what a mess - pieces of Suburban all over the place and little stacks of what we might want and what we don't want. We had an amusing expience though, with the doors, hood, fenders and bumpers. These were set outside our perimeter fence one night and, by morning, the scrap fairies had picked 'em all up - maybe 5-600 pounds worth of burning ugliness.

This last pic shows how we disposed of the body itself. Got 96 bucks for her.

So, here's rock bottom. Talk is cheap. More questions than answers. We're not going to breathe life into this thing with a couple of A-dapter kits, that's for sure. Will we be able to create something that isn't an embarrassment to man's ingenuity? Stay tuned. One favorable piece of news is that I was able to secure a bonded title for the Caddy. She exists. "I'm titled. Therefore, I am."

Update mid March.

We've been making a lot of progress on the Caddy in terms of figuring stuff out. But some of the hardest things technically, don't look like much in a picture. For example, it took several weeks to hone in on a set of wheels that would fit the Suburban axles and hubs, while simultaneously having enough backspacing to fit inside the Caddy fender skirts and enough diameter to slide over and outside the front tierod ends. We finally found a set of 17" Dodge Charger wheels that had the right bolt pattern and backspacing. They cleared the tie rod ends by about a quarter inch. All I had to do was cut larger center bores to fit the Suburban hubs. This wheel swap saved 4 inches of track in the rear and six inches of track in the front. We had to move the engine back on the Suburban chasis about 8 inches because the Caddy has a longer hood and the engine sits farther back than in a Suburban or other SUV, where the engine sits right over the front axle. Right now we're in the middle of building the frame brackets to mount the body. This has necessitated hoisting the body on and off a bunch of times. When done, we want the job to look like everything fit easily but, in reality, nothing quite fits.

Here's a pic of Dylan doing his two-handed rattle can paint job on the frame. Notice that the freshmen had their heads shaved for football last week. The frame looks pretty nice now that we've stripped off everything we don't want and cleaned everything we do. We'll be able to cut about a foot off the rear of the frame by going with a smaller gas tank than the stock 40 gallon unit. Of course this means moving another cross member but what the hell. In for a penny, in for a pound and a half (next photo).


Believe it or not, the crossmembers and motor mounts (front and rear) contain a total of 36 bolts that have to line up with at least 100 bolt holes through metal and rubber, icluding the fabricated and welded frame plates we had to build. After making some compromizes caused by the fact that the original mounts weren't perfectly straight and the rear end is about 3/4 inch off center (don't ask how this can be), the engine, tranny and transfer case are all sittin' pretty in the frame now, along with the shortened back end, smaller gas tank and rebuilt trailer hitch custom fit to the shortened frame. I know, I know. It doesn't look like much in the picture. We haven't started bolting on engine chrome yet but this last picture gives you an idea of what we're looking at when we show up each day. The fourteen mounting points between body and frame that had to be created don't show up at all in the pictures. For each mounting point, we had to build either the body side, the frame side or both sides of the mount. If all 14 bolts slide through it will be a miracle, since many of these mounts had to be measured and designed frame off (can't get to your work with the frame and body together).

May 10, 2010 OK. Body is on the frame. The whole contraption looks a little like Frankenstein (prnounced Fron-ken-steen) waiting for the electric shock to bring it to life. The last couple weeks have been spent building

1.The steering column, which mates the Caddy steering wheel to the Suburban power steering in a functional yet attractively minimalist way. We can't have some bulky black plastic steering column from a modern car in there.

2. The linkage and brackets for the power brakes and pedal assembly.

3 The accelerator pedal assembly and brackets.

and 4. The emergency brake mechanism that connects the way cool pull-handle brake that came with the Caddy to the emergency brake cable that goes to the Suburban rear hubs. The Suburban emergency brake pedal looked over engineered and stupid under the Caddy dash. All of these assemblies need to fit together so the "feel" is right. Had to mock up a seat in order to imagine the driver ergonomics.

I'll take a few pictures once all of this is finally in place. But the dash has to be fit before the steering column goes in. Major mods to the dash are most easily accomplished with the dash removed, so we're now contemplating that piece of the grand puzzle. We're thinking about a nice sized computer screen (18x10 inches) between the old mechanical speedo and clock. This computer would project all of the sensor information (speed, tach, oil pressure, temp and fuel) along with GPS, XM and the occasional DVD movie.

In addition, we found some headers, an intake manifold and a Holly carb at a local swap meet , so the engine is starting to look like more than a black hole. Thus, little by little, this whole hunk of burning steel is starting to reflect some spirit.

Jean Claude dropped by from up New York way. He took the five original Caddy wheels and tires since his 41 didn't have originals. He also took the tranny and the front hubs, which saves him having to rebuild his. I'll post his yard art back up in that section. He's making steady progress and seems like an interesting guy with lots of energy. He's going to need it!

June 2010

Here's a shot of the body on the frame with the engine starting to brighten. We've got the steering hooked up and the pedal assemblies in. Wiper linkage, motor and brackets have to be created to work with the original wiper studs and arms. We're all electric now - flops back and forth with the best of 'em.

We've been wondering what to call this thing when it hits the road. Anyone want to suggest a specialty license plate? Six letters. How about RAT4X4, or CAD4X4, or Big E Rat (too many letters, really cute though), OURRAT, RATART (cute combo of letters interchanged). Let's see ........MADE UP could work. .... Help me out here.

Hey, that's good ...HELPME.... Really funny but already taken (checked on Once we're on the road, it'll be too late for a name like that anyway. 2L8.. Humm. I'll go check - yeah it's available. But perhaps we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. My buddy Virgil just suggested RAD CAD. That's pretty good. Dylan mentioned 1N ONLY. Yeah, I guess that's true enough.

July 2010. We made some progress on several fabrications including an entire windshield wiper assembly - but, hey, it sounds rather pedestrian to describe it.

August 2010.

Well.....It's been about a year now since this challenge began. An update is due. Dylan and I have not lost interest by any means nor the vision. But "many's the slip twixt the cup and the lip" (I forget who said that, but it was a long time ago). I took a picture last week for Cheryl and the family, - proving that we may be bowed but we're not broken. At this exact moment we're waiting for new front windshields. The ones Jim had with the car were just a tiny bit too big to fit in the frame.

The caddy setup is problematic because the chrome frame had to fit inside the body, the rubber had to fit inside the chrome and the windows had to fit inside the rubber. Bottom line on something like that: there's not much chance everything is going to be precisely the correct size. After working for about 6 hours on the frame and then 3 hours on the windows , we busted one - it just wouldn't go in. As a boy, whenever I was struggling with fit on a project, my dad would tell me, "Don't force it, son. Use a bigger hammer." I guess we used a hammer just one size too big. The new windshields will be a bit smaller. That way we can use a smaller hammer to install them.

December 1 ... Geez. time flies. These past few months have been SLOW. We mocked up the front end to see if the fenders and grille were going to fit on the frame and confirmed all that. Mocked up the velocity stacks (see right side image). Built the bumper brackets and mounted the front and rear bumpers (not in the picture). We pulled everything off, modified the front wheel wells so the tires would turn. Then.... we got stuck.

The next big piece of the grand plan is to fashion a set of headers that route the exhaust to the outside of the frame and down the side, like the old Corvette side pipes. To add some interest we want the header pipes visible all the way to the edge. Anyway, we puzzled about having a custom set made vs. doing it all ourselves. We decided that Michelangelo probably didn't have someone else carve the feet...

One approach is to take a bunch of prebent pipe, cut the pipe at the bends and weld a set of curved pipes together. This often takes up to 30 welds per side. The other approach is to bend the pipe yourself, but that requires a pipe bender. The only benders that can handle exhaust piping are commercial units at exhaust shops.

After contemplating the alternatives for what seemed like forever, we found an old pipe bender for sale from an auction house. The bender was fantastic except it didn't work and needed a bunch of parts, wiring and so on. Yet it was the real thing in terms of what it could actually do when fixed up. So... we bought the machine and spent a month rehabilitating it. Last week, we finally got 'er working. Voila. In about 3 hours we had a set of header pipes looking not too bad. We've orderd the header flanges, collectors, custom side pipe mufflers and the rest of the components for the system. That's still a lot of precision welding but it's doable now. Hopefully this piece will be in place by the end of Christmas break. That's the goal.

Here are a shot of the bender and the initial mocked up pipes. You can't really tell how this will all look without the fenders on but use your imagination. One aspect of the header build: Someone might ask how on earth you can justify sinking thousands of dollars into a commercial pipe bender to build a set of headers that, if they weren't custom, would cost maybe 3 or 4 hundred bucks. If you start thinking like that (rationally), it's game over. In the words of some mountain climber or another "DON"T LOOK DOWN!"

There will be features unique to this car, which should make the effort worth while. For example, the exhaust tip at the end of the exhaust will have the same 4 pipes as the header input side. So, the entire setup, after we put a heat shield outside the muffler, will look like a set of four pipes running the entire length of the car on each side. Way over the top cool and we've never seen this done before on any vehicle no matter how radical.

Realizing how easy it is to lose focus on a project having an indefinite end date, we've come up with a plan. It sounds impossible but it might be the only way to bring closure to this massive undertaking. Dylan and I will commit to driving the Caddy back to Seattle sometime next summer (2011),. Hopefully Steve can join us. We'll meet up with the Carlsons so they can see the car and confirm that Jim's spirit lives on. We'll also rendezvous with my Uncle Norlin, who's a legitimate rod builder. If we can take a picture of the Caddy next to one of his cars, it will be a cute milestone for our two families. Norlin has always been an inspiration for me when it comes to custom car work. His cars are the real thing - award winners in multiple car shows. Ours is more of a shade tree concept car with all hand-made parts, albeit a little rough around the edges. Roslyn and Diane are hoping to fly up to Seattle and help drive the car to San Francisco. It's all down hill from there back to Dallas isn't it?

What say? We're as ready as we'll ever be to tackle the rest of this beast. Dylan, let's start swinging them hammers again.


January 2011.

I'm trying to get 4 hours a day at the shop these next couple months. Time is the key to solving all the little stuff like finding out the left header flange was warped and wouldn't pull up to the head properly. Remove headers and modify flange. etc. etc. The headers are up tight and out of sight now though. Here are a few more shots. That's my sister, Lauralee. She's the queen of helpers: cheerful under all circumstances and unaffended by my occasional cursing.

early March 2011.

Well.... My intermediate term goal has evolved into getting the Caddy started on Dylan's birthday (April 8). I wouldn't completely rule it out at this point. We've fought through a lot of new issues and revisited some old ones. The front end is attached now and all the fabrication required for the radiator, oil cooler and tranny cooler is complete. My first attempt to add fluids found leaks in the tranny, power steering and brake lines - but the rear end held oil! These are frustrating but doable fixes. Here are two new pics by way of a progress visual. I had to over-expose the side view to show the finished headers and exhaust. Note that we were able to attach the original hub caps to the new wheels - very old school. I've been accused of saying this next thing too ambitiously in the past, but I'd say that we're about a hard weekend away from firing the motor and seeing what blows out those pipes. Of course finding the time to put in a hard weekend is part of my problem!

Update March 28: Two weekends ago, Steve and Dylan built the last heat shield for the exhaust and then we attempted an engine start. Had a little pop now and then but the BIG MOMENT eluded us - me actually. I tried to stage things but just wasn't ready. I felt a great dissappointment that the first attempt to hear the engine wasn't momentous. The boys were OK with it but I was crushed. My best effort failed to have every necessary eye dotted and t crossed in time before spring break ended.

Another week of checking all wires, fuel lines and initial settings and now she's a lot closer to a runnin rig. Was hoping for a successful tune up attempt yesterday but Dylan couldn't make it to the shop. Earlier in the week I had the engine running on its own but didn't feel I had enough eyes to be sure that the process stayed under control (no gas or significant oil leaks, no other detrimental weirdness going on). So, I finished the wiring and some tightening down of various tacked on bits and pieces. Here are some shots of the finished heat shields and lights. There's a heart beating in the Caddy now. I know it.

April 8: Our goal was to see this thing roll under its own power in time for Dylan's 16th birthday, which is today. Last Sunday I shot a little clip of the first ignition "event." The clip isn't very impressive; not quite in the league of the famous Wright Bros. picture of their first flight. But damn, we have ignition, if not a takeoff. How much harder can the rest of this project be?

One more quick update: On Saturday, the day after Dylan's birthday, he drove the car up and down the street. Amazingly, nothing of significance fell off. He said it felt pretty good overall. I was a little freaked out, particularly when he mistakenly drove it over a curb as he was twiddling with the turn signals. Fortunately, we've tried to build it tough if nothing else.

Good news: Last Thursday we celebrated an important milestone. The Caddy is officially licensed and inspected! That's right. She is street legal. Dylan drove her home and around the neighborhood (after picking up all his friends). We've got a lot of trouble shooting ahead, but at least we can legally run her around and see where the weak spots are. Steve and Dylan both worked hard over the weekend tightening things down and finalizing the fabrication of the velocity stacks. Here's a shot from last night out in front of the house.

In a sense, we've crossed the finish line. We promised the Carlsons that the car would run again, and it does. Getting it to Seattle is still a very ambitious additional goal that is not by any means assured. We've got two more weeks to see how our confidence grows or deteriorates with time in the barrel.

June 14:

Well, we've had some exitement over the last week and a half. Blew the tranny and had to replace it, added an extra radiator (a heater core from a school bus), created some plexi side windows in case we hit rain, installed a headliner that Dylan's mom made (looks pretty good), spent forever trying to align the hood, added aluminum rock guards on the rear fenders, and other stuff that doesn't come to mind at the moment. We've still got a pretty long wish list of things to finish but we've decided to move to code red. We leave Thursday morning to challenge the road. I might not get back to this web site until it's all over.

We've made a plan with Cheryl to meet at Jim's marker on old Highway 97 in Oregon where Jim departed this world. The distance from our shop to that mile marker is almost exactly 2,000 miles. We'll show Jim the car and probably shed a few tears - yeah, even us tough guys.

Keep your fingers crossed. Faithfully yours, Rex

July 7 2011

It's all over now - just fond memories of a ride into whatever hand fate dealt us. When we rolled out, Dylan was behind the wheel as we headed toward Lubbock. It was 106 degrees when we picked up Steve. We didn't really stop again until Twin Falls Idaho about 1700 miles from the big D. We all remarked that after about two or three hours with the windows down, you could hardly hear the Caddy purring along.

What is a quick synopsis of the adventure? All objectives were met. We saw Jim's marker and showed him and Cheryl the car. We enjoyed several nice meals with the Carlson family and showed them our humble tribute to a friend not forgotten. I promised one of Jim's sons, John, that he could have my vintage Music Man guitar amp (a 70's model like that used by Eric Clapton at the time) if he ever showed up in Dallas to claim it. The trip was one of those potlatch kind of moments when everyone wanted to share with everyone else. It didn't matter what you had, large or small. John offered a CD of Jim's music and drove half way across Seattle to give it to me.

After touching base with the Haavigs, the boys flew home from Seattle. That first leg to Seattle was a permanent bonding experience for us guys. Steve and Dylan pulled more than their share of the weight and learned to cover for me when I forgot things and goofed up. It was special to me that the reins of leadership are slowly passing from one generation to the next. I'm resting easier knowing that the two boys who matter most to me are steering the boat as much as paddling these days.

I collected my sister and the two of us rolled to San Francisco where, according to the plan, we picked up Roslyn and Diane for the next leg. I checked the car over at my buddy Larcker's in Palo Alto. A few loose bolts was all I could find amiss. Then the three girls and I ran up to and all through Yosemite. That's some winding, up-and-down road if you haven't been there. Make sure you go in a dependable car. No shoulders on that stretch of road.

At the top of Glacier Outlook, which was the culmination of twelve miles of winding, narrow, switchbacks, we were parked and I was standing a little ways from the car. a guy said to his buddy, "How did they get that thing up here?" I laughed out loud. By that time in the trip we'd seen every kind of road from smoldering cow shit to sleeting rain to the Great Divide. If any car could have made it through Yosemite it was Carlson's Caddy.

We headed on to Mojave and laid up until 5am to cross the desert. Looking out at 300 miles of desert through a hazy, moonscape looking vista reminds even the hardiest soul that mama would be disappointed if she had raised a fool. Best take the Mojave in the AM, brother. Ran most of the way with the two front windows out and the two back windows in. It was like being IN the desert rather than riding through it. 115 degrees at Needles. Saw the Grand Canyon and a good stretch of Route 66, along with the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. Roslyn and Diane flew to their respective destinations out of Albuquerque while Lauralee and I booked it straight home to Dallas from there.

Total trip was 5900 miles; the only breakdown a loose radiator hose clamp outside of Seligman, Arizona. Got about 13.5 mpg.

An entire book could easily be written about all the back stories. Hundreds of people commented on the car. We started making a list of names given, like " Ba Ba Ba Bad to the Bone Baby" - mumbled from a tough looking 50's something biker chick with stringy grey hair and only half her teeth.

We connected with every type of traveler from little kids to teenagers to truckers to bikers to baby boomers to oldsters. Their comments and the conversations we had with everyone was a trip in itself. Every nationality, heritage, race, color and creed gave us a smile and thumbs up. For some reason, no one felt challenged, threatened or offended. It was the ultimate ice breaker.

Here are a few parting shots:

final adjustments in the garage with Dylan and Steve

On the road in Amarillo at the Cadillac ranch. See the buried Cadillacs in the background above the hood?

At Jim's marker. His marker is right behind Dylan's leg. I'm holding a picture from our 1967 yearbook of Jim and me sitting in class. Jim had written "You, me. Us in action." on the picture, which I left at his marker. What I said to Jim (or anyone else listening) was that we made our pilgrimage in the spirit of the little drummer boy. Completion of his car wasn't much in the eyes of many, perhaps. But it was the best we could do and I think he would be pleased that his car is on the road and that it has brought a lot of enjoyment to a lot of people. Another aspect of the caddy project is that it has served as a touch stone for a bunch of Jim's old buddies. On this trip I saw Mark McGrath, Vern Allen, Bill Fetterley and Riley Shirey, who were all friends of Jim from high school. It gave us a point of departure for story telling about the good old days when we were all invincible. Most of us realize now, however, just what vincible means, even if it isn't a word.

On Route 66. There are three smiling faces in the car but I'm the only one you can see.  Incidentally, that's Elvis sitting on the rear bumper of the Edsel behind us.


Back home in the 4th of July parade.

She's a tried, tested, road-ready, bring-it-on kind of rig now. Who knows what will happen next? Maybe I'll finish the extensive to do list of final adjustments and detailing. Maybe not. It's really Dylan's car now.

I'll  add a few more pictures from the trip soon. There are two important ones I need to download.  One is of the Carlson family and the other is of Cheryl next to the reincarnated Caddy, in much the same position as the first picture on this page.  It about says it all;  something close to  "you would have had to have been there."