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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Me and John Mulligan

by "Big Gene" Townley

Back when I lived in Garden Grove, I spent a lot of time with John Mulligan. The people I worked for were right next door to The Cave. One night I was at the shop and John looked over the fence. He asked me if I was going over to our shop later because he wanted to work on his truck. Ruth was in town and there was not room at their shop. He picked me up in his Ford Econoline pickup with a V8 Chevy and we started down Garden Grove Blvd. When we went by the Big Boy, John said, "Dave Beebe and Frank Fedak are in the Big Boy." We swung around, went back, and let the air out of both their tires. Back in those days, everyone did that. Most of us, if we were going to the Big Boy, took an air tank. Then we headed for our shop. 

I had a nice shop on Trask that the man I worked for had built. We worked on John's truck and then someone said, "Let's get some wine." I remember it was on a Thursday night and none of us had any money. We put what we had on the table and found we had enough for three bottles. John and I got in his truck and headed for the liquor store. When we started into the liquor store, I saw a sign on the door that said, "We take BANKAMERICARD." About two months before, my bank had sent me one of these BANKAMERICARDs and I had looked at it and put it in my wallet. We went over to the clerk. I showed him my card and asked him what I could buy with it. He looked at me and asked, "Are you Gene Townley?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Do you have an ID?" I gave him my license, he picked up the phone, and when he got through, he said, "You can buy up to $750.00 worth of anything in the store." We got a case of wine, a case of beer, a box of peanuts, and a jar of beef jerky, and back to the shop we went. 

After about two hours, a cop who used to come by all the time showed up with his partner -- a German Shepherd. He used to block off Trask so we could fire the motor to check it out. He talked to us awhile and then asked if he could borrow our restroom. While the cop was in the restroom, Mulligan said, "Big Gene, you ain't got a hair on your ass if you don't go get in the back seat with that dog." I got up, went over, opened the door, yelled at the dog get over, got in with the dog, and started petting him. He laid down on the seat by me and acted like he liked me -- that wine makes you do funny things. The cop came out and saw what was going on -- by now I had rolled the window down -- and he drew his gun. Mulligan asked him as calm as he could say it, "You're not going to shoot Big Gene, are you?" You guys who knew John can probably see him saying this. The cop said, "I may have to shoot the dog if he makes a move toward Gene." By now, the dog is licking my hand. The cop said, "Gene, please open the door, get out, and shut the door." I got out and shut the door but the window was still down. The cop had his back to the car, chewing me out, telling me how lucky I was Clancy didn't chew me up. I told him Clancy might attack a crook if he sicked him on one, but I was sure if he knew you weren't a threat he wouldn't hurt you. I said, "Clancy -- come here, boy." Old Clancy jumped through the window, ran over, jumped up in my lap, and I started petting him. The cop finally got Clancy back in the car. He asked us to please not say anything about this deal and left. He would still come over but he always parked three shops down. 

The next day after I got paid I went down to Reath's to get our crank. As I walked in the store I saw on the window, "We take BANKAMERICARD." I guess you know where that led.

"Big Gene" Townley


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