Things I learned about 91-year-old Roland Mack from the short profile of him in the Morning News‘ NeighborsGo section:
1. In World War II, he served as a tank mechanic in Gen. George Patton’s 13th Armored Division. As the war was ending, he also became an interpreter, since he spoke German and soldiers “were surrendering right and left.” This is perhaps why he reminds me of Mr. Rake, the late Levon Helm’s character in the underrated 2007 Mark Wahlberg vehicle, Shooter.
2. In 1947, Mack drove a new Indian motorcycle from Dallas to California, up to Oregon, and then back home through Utah. Which, come on, that’s pretty great.
3. He has a 1923 Model T speedster that he fully rebuilt himself, a 1923 Ford Roadster, a 1925 Harley-Davidson he added a sidecar to, and a 1930 Model A. He met his caregiver Lillie Mae Reeder (who is 84!) because they both have Model Ts. This happened at a Denny’s coffee club Mack used to have in the early 1990s.
4. In addition to rebuilding cars and pretty much anything mechanical, he can also do electric and plumbing work (he built houses after he came home from the war until he retired) and probably dozens of things you can’t do. “He can do, well, anything that needs to be done,” Reeder says.
5. His name is Roland Mack, which is the name of a pure player and/or the lead in my new series of hardboiled private detective novels that I’m writing under the pen name Frank “T.T.” Nails.