In this April 10, 2018 photo, Kyle Cropsey poses with his 1971 Volkswagen bus in Lindenhurst, N.Y. Credit: Chris Ware / Newsday via AP

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I love the comic “Zits” and have especially enjoyed following Jeremy and his classic Volkswagen van. His van experiences are so real and remind me of many of my own.

Our first “bus” was a 1956 that took our family hiking and camping mostly in the summer since those buses had no heat to speak of. One memorable trip was a camping trip to Baxter State Park with “Nellie Bell” when on the way out on the access road, our engine “swallowed” the number three exhaust valve, a common occurrence on those 36-horsepower VW motors. As a backyard mechanic, I had a spare head, piston and cylinder with us just for that eventuality.  

So there we were by the side of the park road. I had the motor out in 20 minutes, four bolts are all that hold it to the transaxle. The park police showed up and informed us sternly that no mechanic work was allowed in the park. I explained that I would have the vehicle repaired long before I would leave my kids and hitchhike 20 miles to Millinocket to get a tow truck. They left, we fixed the motor and I got my three kids on a long branch balanced on a rock raising up the motor as I shoved it back in place under the rear of the bus — VW’s were rear engined.  

As people stopped to offer help, my kids reply was: “Thanks but this happens to us all the time.”   (A favorite family story.)

Peter Duston