Lenoir County monument relocated to Greensboro

Lenoir County monument relocated to Greensboro

Lenoir County is home to many historical monuments: The CSS Neuse, the Richard Caswell Museum and Neuse News Editor Bryan Hanks’ 1937 Jeep.

Bryan Hanks’ Jeep is without question one of the most recognized vehicles in eastern North Carolina. This vehicle is not pretty, distinguished or legal to drive in several states, and the few brave souls who've ridden in it know Hanks eschews modern vehicular luxuries such as air conditioning and breaks. 

"The roof of the vehicle is basically a large piece of Saran Wrap with a zipper," said Hanks Jeep survivor Junious Smith III. "Due to it's age and the bullet holes it took on while Sherman was driving it out of Atlanta, the long-ago disintegrated seats have been replaced with a series of plastic pickle buckets duct taped to the portions of the floorboard that have yet to succumb to rust."

People like Hanks’ 81-year-old Jeep because it’s one of the few vehicles on the road that’s powered by a steam engine.

 Hanks final ride in his beloved Joop (photo by Jon Dawson)

Hanks final ride in his beloved Joop (photo by Jon Dawson)

"The coordination Hanks displays while shoveling coal into the firebox while shifting gears and simultaneously Tweeting about high school sports is awe inspiring," said Brian North of WCTI. "I would've helped, but I was too busy screaming 'SOMEONE GET ME OUT OF THIS DEATHTRAP' or something to that effect."

“I went on a road trip with Hanks a few years ago,” said Jonathan Massey, 58, of Kinston. “He ran out of coal so we stopped at a Walmart and grabbed a few bags of Kingsford charcoal. The Jeep didn’t run as well on the charcoal, but we were able to cook a few Bubba Burgers on the engine block on our way to Furry Con.”

Most of Hanks' friends believed he would be buried in his beloved Jeep, so imagine the shock when news broke late last week that Hanks would be donating the vehicle to a Greensboro family in need. All kidding aside, anyone who knows Hanks wasn't surprised by this act of generosity. Many - including myself - have been vastly blessed by his generosity over the years. And now, back to the kidding.

About five years ago Hanks realized the only thing holding his beloved Jeep together was the paint, which was chipping off at an alarming rate. If Hanks drove down your street at 35-mph, the cloud of paint chips that followed in his wake rivaled any New Years confetti display in Times Square. He tried to patch it up with teal White Out but it didn't work. Several local mechanics advised him that a new paint job would double the vehicle's Blue Book value, thus bringing it up to $146 Croatian.

This writer rode in Hanks’ ancient Jeep once. Looking back on it now I realize how reckless a decision it was to voluntarily ride in a vehicle that’s only safety device is a series of bubble wrap sewn into the dashboard. Also, the clipboard full of release of liability waivers sitting in the passenger seat should have been a clue that I was not in a safe place. There’s a rumor going around that Evel Knievel refused to drive it to the market on a dare back in 1979.

 Bryan Hanks with a hint of Berlin (photo by Linda Whittington)

Bryan Hanks with a hint of Berlin (photo by Linda Whittington)

Eventually, Hanks gets the Jeep painted, and I have to say it made the 81-year-old vehicle look more like a 57-year old vehicle. One peculiar thing: Due to the new paint filling in every crevice of the vehicle body, the word "Jeep" as displayed in raised letters on both sides now read "Joop". Not only did I notice Hanks was now driving a Joop, I told everyone within a three-county radius about it. I Googled "Joop" to see if it actually meant anything, and the results were fascinating.

Apparently, Joop is a German cologne. According to the product description on Amazon.com, Joop smells like "exotic spice and florals, with woods, patchouli, and honey, very masculine. Recommended use: evening." 

Come to think of it,  who wouldn't want to smell like Berlin?

Hanks now gets several bottles of Joop annually from all of his friends and a smattering of enemies. As of this writing, there is a bedroom in Hanks' home that he rarely resides in that is nearly filled to capacity with box upon box of Joop cologne he's received over the years. I'm not sure why Hanks doesn't actually wear the cologne. It's almost as if he's planning to weaponize it at some point.

To be continued.

Jon Dawson can be reached at jon@neusenews.com and www.jondawson.com.

Print Friendly and PDF
'Nine Questions' with Correspondent Jon Dawson

'Nine Questions' with Correspondent Jon Dawson

'Nine Questions' with Editor Bryan Hanks

'Nine Questions' with Editor Bryan Hanks