A promise kept

Written in 2006 by Randy C. Horne, reprinted with permission.


Volunteers pose with the restored 1931 Ford model A before presenting it to David Cord.

Promise - (prom'is) n. - Assurance that one will or will not do something specified, a pledge.To most people, a promise made is a guarantee that something will happen. A promise carries a lot of weight and sometimes many years pass before a promise can be fulfilled. Back in 1977 David Cord made such a promise at his fathers grave side and his promise was finally kept on August 5, 2006.

Born in Loma Linda in 1954, David and his family moved to Mojave in 1959 where they lived for 5 years. In 1964 they moved to Tehachapi where David's father Jim Cord bought and ran Cord Chevron at Mill Street & Highway 58. He later relocated his business to Tehachapi Blvd., where Rancho Car Sales now stands. Being a mechanic Jim had a love of cars and used to cruise the area in a then popular dune buggy. In 1970 Jim traded his dune buggy and $400 for a 1931 Ford Model A, a project car for restoration as a good percent of the parts were in boxes. A generous coating of rust inhibitor was applied to the body and it was rolled into the garage awaiting restoration.

Attending Tehachapi High School, David played Varsity Football, a center for several years. He also played baseball with Dave Markowitz, and was one of the very few who called him Davey. In 1977 Jim passed away and son David inherited the Model A, mostly assembled. At his fathers grave side, David made his promise, when the Model A was restored, he would drive it to the cemetery and show his father the car he never had time to finish.

Also in 1977, David's close friend Ben Austin got him interested in law enforcement and he began the sheriff academy. After graduating from the academy, David began working for the Kern County Sheriff Department in Rosamond. In 1980, David met Joan, a beautiful woman who was instantly the love of his life. He moved to Tehachapi where he and Joan were married in 1982. The following year, their first child, Courtney was born. David, who was now working in Tehachapi still kept thinking of his promise to his father but was so busy with work and family he didn't have time to work on the Model A.

Life was good for David and Joan, it was a bit rough for the 13 years David worked the night shift with the Sheriff Department, but it was a good life. David and Joan were again blessed with the birth of a second daughter, Ashley. Throughout his life, David accumulated many friends, he was an honest, upstanding guy liked by everyone he met.

In 2004 he began not feeling well, nothing he could pinpoint, just didn't feel well. A trip to the doctor revealed problems; a quadruple bypass was needed. Anymore, these are done routinely and rarely are problems encountered. This time was different, shortly after the bypass surgery it was discovered David had cancer. As soon as possible, David began chemotherapy to fight the cancer. This caused his diabetes to rear it's ugly head and soon circulatory problems began causing David to lose his left leg below the knee. David was also worried about his promise to his Dad, he was in poor health and may not be able to restore the Model A.

A close friend, Dennis Sterk, felt the need to help his buddy. Dennis called Al Baumgarten, considered an expert in Model A's, and together they put a plan together. They made phone calls, did internet research, contacted people from all over the country including the National Model A Club. Pretty soon, parts were arriving from Washington, Ohio, and more. Things were taken apart, painted and reassembled. An upholstery shop in Massachusetts helped with the mohair cloth which was then installed. Friends from Tehachapi, Bakersfield, and all over the country got involved in this project. Dozens of people, too many to name, put in hundreds of hours helping in any way they could. The engine was tuned, brakes bled, fluids filled, paint polished, and chrome shined. The 3 spare tires were put into their respective mounts, the dome light mounted and tested. Turn signals were added for safety, the only non-original parts on the Model A. The last thing to do was some red pin stripe accents and on Thursday, August 3rd, it was declared finished.

On August 2, David was taken to the hospital in bad shape, his blood pressure had fallen to 60 over 30 and he wasn't doing well. After several hours, the doctors had made him feel as good as they could but the unasked question hung in the air like a thick fog: would David be up to the excursion on Saturday, August 5th to the cemetery to fulfill his promise?

Dave Cord and his family prepare to keep the promise he made to his father in 1977.

Saturday morning arrived, a beautiful Tehachapi day, cooler than the recent heat wave we had been feeling. About 30 friends and supporters met at Mountain Paint where the final touches and wax had been done the night before. Photo's were taken of the car along with some of the people who helped make this possible. At 9:45 AM we set out for David's house, his beautiful black Model A gleaming in the morning sun light. David was feeling pretty good that morning, the best he had felt all week as Dennis wheeled him outside to see his car. The look on his face was that of a child at Christmas, he couldn't believe how nice those boxes of parts turned out to be. He was carefully lifted from his wheelchair into the passenger seat of the Model A. The street was lined with classic cars and hot rods as well as all David's neighbors out to cheer him on as Dennis drove him down his street. The Model A lead the way with the procession of cars to the cemetery where David fulfilled his promise. He showed his father the beauty of the Model A, but also the beauty of friends and friendships that he gathered through his life. For a few moments there, the sun shone a little brighter and the birds sang a little sweeter, as a promise was kept.

Twelve hours later, David passed away peacefully at home surrounded by the family that meant so much to him. The Model A will remain in the Cord family as a gentle reminder of a husband, father, and of a man who kept a promise.


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