October 25, 2014

Medina
Partly sunny
68°F

The Dash Between: David C. Evans lived life in the slow lane

The dates of birth and death that appear like bookends on a tombstone do not matter as much as the dash between those dates. Award-winning writer Alana Baranick has made her living writing about the dash between. She’s focusing on Medina and Lorain counties and those who have made our area the unique and interesting place it is. Look for her stories on the first Monday each month in The Gazette and visit www.medina-gazette.com to find additional photographs.
To suggest a story or make a comment, contact Baranick at abaranick@chroniclet.com or (440) 731-8340.
Today, Alana Baranick examines The Dash Between Nov. 15, 1946, when David C. Evans was born in Cleveland, and Aug. 13, 2011, when the Medina resident died at age 64.

David C. Evans, a retired member of United Auto Workers Local 1250, tooled around Medina with his wife, Fae, in a Model T Ford.

“(Model T’s) are fun,” Dave’s wife said. “They’re loud. They attract attention whether you want it or not. The Model T we drive the most could do 45 (mph) for short times; 35 (mph) is a real nice cruising speed.”

David C. Evans drives his 1925 Model T in Medina’s July 4 parade. (COURTESY PHOTO)

David C. Evans drives his 1925 Model T in Medina’s July 4 parade. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Dave, who died of heart-related ailments Aug. 13, 2011, at age 64, liked all sorts of old vehicles.

He served for many years as president of the Medina County Antique Power Association, a group that restores and exhibits antique cars, trucks, tractors, engines and lawn mowers at its own shows, as well as events such as the Medina County Fair.

“I think we were both born in the wrong generation,” said Jim Henderson III, a former co-worker at Ford’s Brook Park Casting Plant and fellow member of the antique power society. “He had worked on a lot of older tractors, especially John Deeres — whatever he could pick up and play with.

“Then he got interested in Model T cars — rebuilding transmissions, worked on clutching. We got into rebuilding engines.

“He was very talented at what he did, but he was always trying to perfect something different and tried to excel (at) that also. We try to expand our horizons.”

Dave, who was born Nov. 15, 1946, in Cleveland, began learning about cars at a young age from his father, who worked at Republic Steel’s rolling mill.

“Dave was always foolin’ with cars,” said his brother, Tom. “Even when he was a little kid, he was out in the driveway helping my dad with cars.”

As he got older, his interest in vehicles from the past intensified.

“He had a brand-new 1968 or ’69 Malibu, and he hated it,” his brother said. “He worked on cars from the ’50s in high school (in the 1960s). He ended with a 1913 Model T.

“The thing that sticks out is how meticulous he was about those old cars. He had a piece of basswood — like furniture wood — and spray-painted it black (for a Model T).”

When asked why he didn’t use plywood for the job, Dave’s answer was: “Henry Ford wouldn’t use plywood.”

David C. Evans

David C. Evans

The family moved from West 102nd Street in Cleveland to Brecksville in the mid-1950s.

Dave met his future wife, Fae Heineman, while both were students at Brecksville High School.

After graduating, Dave attended Max Hayes Trade School to become a sheet metal worker. Then he married Fae and started a family.

As an employee for commercial sheet metal companies, Dave installed restaurant kitchens and air-conditioning units for businesses. A few years later, he took a job with Ford Motor Co.

Dave and Fae raised their two sons, Keith and Jeffery, in rural Medina.

“We’re both born-and-bred city kids,” Fae said. “When we moved here, we were out in the country — five miles out of town, five houses; the rest, farm fields.

“We were both in 4-H as leaders and advisers for sheep. It was important to be involved in what the boys were doing — with their schooling, 4-H. When our younger son was in FFA (Future Farmers of America), we were involved and supported that.”

Dave also shared his passion for fixing engines with his sons.

“He and the boys did tractor pulling in a small way,” Fae said. “Both of our boys are mechanics. They worked on tractors and graduated to cars.”

View more photos of David C. Evans at: http://bit.ly/nXMDKX

In 1990, Dave told a reporter that the annual Medina County Fair serves to remind visitors of the county’s agricultural heritage.

“To me, you always bring the best thing you have to the fair,” he said. “That could be your mother’s preserves or someone’s old hog, but it’s something that makes you feel proud.”

Dave and fellow farm machinery preservationists took pride in their display of tractors and engines from as far back as the 1920s. Many elderly fairgoers stopped to tell them stories about their parents’ and grandparents’ experiences with old farm equipment.

“We learned more about Middle American farm history from talking to the old-timers than anybody can get from a book,” his wife said.

The same sort of thing happened when the Evanses drove their Model T to nostalgic cruise-ins at the Medina Dairy Queen, where drivers of classic cars explained mechanical issues to folks who were there for the golden oldies music and ice cream.

For example, Model T’s always leak.

“You can always tell where the Model Ts have been by the oil spots,” Fae said.

In recent years, Dave frequented garage sales, flea markets and auctions, seeking trinkets to give his seven grandchildren.

“We might go to an auction and buy only a cup of coffee,” his wife said. “We had a really good run altogether. Forty-three years married takes a lot of compromising and understanding of the other person’s point of view. I think we were successful.”

Dave’s blueprint for success?

“Do for others; be honest in all your relations with God and man; and in the end you won’t have to apologize for anything.”