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The Tow Truck Philosopher of the Eastern Mojave
by Mark Sedenquist
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Greg was convinced that the alpha state (characterized by brain waves oscillating 8 to 12 cycles per second) is the key to understanding the deeper mysteries of life. Most brain research supports the idea that the alpha state is particularly well-suited for gaining inspiration and acquiring factual information on an accelerated basis. Greg, however, took these ideas several steps further. At the time of his death, he was working on a book that shows links between the alpha state and spiritual and emotional health. By using affirmations and other "spoken word" techniques while in an alpha state, Greg believed that he could heal disease, attract prosperity, and access sources of wisdom.
Wherever he gained his inspiration, Greg was a font of remarkable creativity, especially when it came to automotive design. His work has fostered an entire community of custom vehicle builders. Many of his creations completely defy convention. "Sentimental Journey," a super-charged "horseless" stagecoach, was built on a 2002 Ford Bronco chassis. Another, a covered wagon powered by a Ford 460 engine, is capable of challenging even the fastest of off-road racing trucks. When I visited with him in November, 2004, Greg was building a "low-rider" stagecoach that will be used by a home for handicapped children.
In addition to his predilection for discussing the power of the alpha wave, Greg loved to explain his anti-gravity off-road racing suspension system to people who visited his shop. This work in progress -- which I first saw in April, 1996, and which is still in much the same state of semi-completion -- is an elongated, dune buggy-style chassis with an unconventional structure that shifts the weight of the axle in such a manner that it appears to be nearly weightless. Greg's design contradicts just about every theory of weight distribution and propulsion currently accepted in the automotive world.
Greg's brother Ed passed away in 1998, but a number of the "Mad Max" style creations that they built together are still on display in the old A-1 Towing yard. Officially, Greg had retired from both the towing and car repair business, but when I was there last November, at least ten people stopped by to have him "take a quick look at" something in their cars. Others came by to hear the latest news on Greg's projects.
Greg roamed the greater Barstow area for nearly forty years, usually in his custom 4-wheel drive van, but also in his attention-grabbing motorized stagecoach. He was an adventurer not only on the dusty roads of the eastern Mojave, but also on the edges of philosophy and creativity. He was an inspiration to me, and it was obvious from the crowds at his memorial service and twilight procession that I was far from alone.
As of this writing, I don't know what will become of Greg Parker's remarkable vehicles, but if your path brings you to Barstow, take ten minutes and swing by the former A-1 Towing yard. Even though Greg won't be there to tell you about the remarkable creations parked behind the fence, you can still appreciate the genius, artistry, philosophy, and humor of Barstow's best-loved tow truck driver.
The former A-1 Towing lot is at 30939 E. Hwy 58, Barstow, California. (Exit at the Old Highway 58, then proceed 1.4 miles and look for the sign on the south side of the road. Map
September 25, 2005
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