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The Magazine That Built Me

by LCDR(s) Jessica E. Hamilton

It's visceral, Miranda Lambert's song, "The House That Built Me" bringstears to my eyes every time I hear it. While my story doesn't quite mirror its lyrics, the deeper theme of the song resonates with me as it explores the idea that a house (or a magazine), is more than just a structure or an object. In my case, it's a foundation that has had pivotal impacts on my identity, values, character, and life trajectory. CruZin' Magazine was born when I was just seven years old, my Dad and Mom's intrepid vision of combining their love for hot rods, journal ism, community, and autonomy. However audacious, my parents both quit their jobs, set their sights, blazed their own trail and never looked back. Before long CruZin' became the core of our family identity. Even from a young age, I was all in- spending my weekends with my parents at car shows, taking pictures of cars for feature articles, taking notes for photo captions, soliciting potential advertisers, immersing myself in the culture, making friends, learning the lingo, and manning the CruZin' booth to sell subscriptions; I was the most proud eight-year-old salesgirl you'd ever met. I even made my debut in the Publisher's Letter of the third issue of the magazine in a photo standing proudly next to a rust bucket of a 1941 Plymouth convertible, that would be come our first family hot rod project.

Living and breathing CruZin', our little family encountered hardship along the way... in the early days we advertised on a local TV show called CruZin' Northwest. As part of the deal, the TV show was to administer all incoming magazine subscriptions, take a percentage of sales, and then provide us with the subscription names and proceeds. As it turned out, shortly after its inception, the TV show went bankrupt, taking all of our subscription revenue with them, and dispos ing of the subscribers information. It didn't take long for my parents to start getting phone calls about unfulfilled subscriptions. Honorable to the core, they couldn't stand the idea of their community and subscrib ers being cheated out of their money. Living on a shoestring budget ourselves, and publishing the magazine out of our very small home, we somehow found a way to honor each and every subscription without any of the revenue, and we pressed on. Securing a small loan, we purchased a Mac II computer to assist with magazine production, and even "splurged" to rent a TV and VCR for some rare family down time. It wasn't long after that our house was robbed while we were away at a car show. Any and everything valuable was gone, a blow to our momentum, but we pressed on. Come hell or high water, we were not giving up on CruZin'.

We rebuilt, and in the following years my Dad spent many a nights in the shop with "Diamond" Mike Coble restoring that '41 Plymouth convertible which would soon become the mascot for the magazine making appearances at car shows, and on CruZin' t-shirts. Eventually, after several years, CruZin' saw success and became known as the staple clearinghouse in the Northwest for all things classic cars. Throughout the years I had the privilege of meeting people like Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, the LeMays, Gene Winfield, Kenneth Howard aka "Von Dutch", JR.Nelson aka STRIPE-N and George Barris among others. I also was blessed to develop relationships with other enthusiasts such as Jim & Pam Gulley, Hugh & Lael Wedekind, Ken Myers, Wink & Judy Smith, Dotty Rickards, Cher & Irvin, Sonny, Val & Corey Wisner, and Bud & Marilyn Melby.

The 1990's were the golden years of our family and CruZin'. In 1994, my baby sister Kailee was born and became the new cute-as-can-be CruZin' mascot manning the booth at car shows. In 1995, my Dad was inducted into the Washington State Hot Rod Hall of Fame, an honor for those who make a substantial difference in their community and within the hot rod hobby. In 1997, I got my first car, a 1967 straight-6 lime gold Mustang (from Jim & Pam Gulley) which I proudly drove to high school for about a year before I got t-boned and the car was totaled.

Sometime in the late 90's my path began to diverge. While working the booth at the Portland Roadster show, I met a retired Coast Guard Captain who encouraged me to consider a career in the Coast Guard. Intrigued, but not convinced military life was for me, I did some research and found that the Coast Guard was more of a humanitarian service, with 11 statutory missions spanning from search and rescue to marine safety. I loved the idea of always being close and connected to the ocean, and was excited to be able to travel and earn the GI Bill. So in the summer of 1998 I enlisted, and was shipped off to Cape May, NJ for boot camp. I never thought I'd stay past my initial four year enlistment. In fact, at that time in my life, my goal was to serve my time, get out and use my GI Bill to study business, and eventually take over publishing the magazine from my parents. But like my parents did when they started CruZin', I joined the Coast Guard and never looked back.

In the years that followed after I left for the Coast Guard, CruZin's success continued. During the first six years of my career, I was fortunate to be stationed in Seattle, so I remained connected to the magazine, going to car shows, and helping out when I could. In 2004 I left the northwest for an assign ment in Hawaii so it became harder to stay connected, but occasionally I'd contribute by shooting coverage at Hawaii car shows. In 2007, I flew home from my assignment in Hawaii to celebrate CruZin's 20 year anniversary, and in 2012 I flew home from my assignment in California to watch my Mom be inducted into the Washington State Hot Rod Hall of fame. No matter the miles, CruZin' was always a part of my core, and I was always so proud of the work and community my parents built. Moreover, I admired them for throwing caution to the wind to live life on their terms, and spend their life work in pursuit of their passion. My career in the Coast Guard has been quite the adventure: enforcing UN sanctions in the Persian Gulf, travelling Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, conducting ma rine safety operations in the nation's largest and most economically viable port complex, conducting search and rescue operations, obtaining a Bachelor's and two Master's degrees, buying and rebuilding my dream car ('68 Mustang Fastback), and now leading the Coast Guard's largest and busiest clinic as a Healthcare Administrator at the place I started my career 21 years ago, Coast Guard basic training. As I look back, I know that my success in the Coast Guard is a direct result of the foundation that CruZin' built for me. Hardship, perseverance, fiscal prudence, vision, grit, relation ship building, ownership, and integrity are all things that I learned from a very young age, and they mirror the Coast Guard's core values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.

I would not be who I am today if it weren't for CruZin', and for that, I'm grate ful. Dad, you are a true, rare, visionary. I'd liken your path to something Henry Ford once said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses". While it was clear that there was a demand for periodicals that showcased half naked women posing on hot rods, (albeit hot rods that were pur chased with checkbooks), you knew there was a niche of wrench turners, and family hobbyists out there who needed a trailblazer to bring them together. Mom, you've made CruZin' so much more than a magazine with your personal touch, connection to purpose, and "this too shall pass" outlook that got us through the hard times. Together, you've brought thousands of people together, and built lifelong bonds and a huge community. As it turns out, carrying the torch wasn't my destiny, but CruZin' will always be part of my identity, which is why today my heart hurts as we say goodbye... to the magazine that built me.

The Magazine That Built Us

By Kailee Marin

As per usual, my sister has the words to say it all. Elegant yet concise. Thorough and touching - Jessica's summary of the advent of CruZin' reminds me that I was fortunate enough to bask in the glory days of the magazine - our struggles were few. Around me the business and the hot rod community flourished. Whether it was a new (classic) car, computer or camera, everything we had and everything we did was for the magazine.

I was taught the importance of work ethic and customer service as I grew up polishing wheels and charging credit cards. The dedication that I learned from my parent's pursuit of their passion, along with the fearlessness and ability to delay gratification that I saw both the Coast Guard and my parents instill in my sister were enough to set me off on my own path to success.

I saved the majority of the money I earned from working for CruZin' so that when I turned 16 I had enough cash saved to buy my 1966 white and primer Mustang Coupe, "Sally". My Dad helped me turn the wrenches to get and keep the car running, and I probably had too much fun with her V8 engine. Today, Sally is still alive and well at home with Mom and Dad. While I hope that we will be reunited permanently in next couple years, I am glad that my Mom gets to be the one having too much fun with her while I finish up my last year of medical school.

While my life has taken me into medicine, I wouldn't have made it without the desire to be self-sufficient and the courage to be ambitious - both learned from my childhood, and from my family. CruZin' will always hold a special place in my heart, as will the family, community, and rich culture of the hot rod industry that shaped me. As sad as it is to think of this chapter of our lives coming to an end, I do believe that through the community ties and lifelong friendships - the connections created by CruZin' - the spirit of the magazine will live on.

Pardon Our Hiatus Please

Last issue we told you we'd put the magazine up for sale and that's been done. We're looking at new ownership to resume publishing and optimistic that the new CruZin' will be bigger and better than ever. Meanwhile, check in at the CruZin' website: cruzinmag.com and we'll keep you posted.

Patti Stein, our stalwart Advertising Coordinator, will be taking care of the CruZin' Calendar, the CruZin' Club Directory and the CruZin' Classified ads, updating each of those "departments". The online CruZin' will be free to all. Additionally, clubs and businesses will be able to advertise their events and/or products, all at very attractive rates.

Contact Patti at cruznpat@whidbey.com Turning to this issue, we have a final 96 pages of content from our Northwest hot rod family. Our largest issue ever has been put together with the hope to tide over our readership until publication can be resumed. Finally, if you're looking for a single copy or extra copies of this June issue, send $12.00 per issue in the form of a check or money order. If you are seeking a back issue the cost is $10 each.

Payment can be sent to: CruZin' Magazine, Post Office Box 774, Freeland, WA 98249-0774.

That's all for now, Stay low in the curves and keep on CruZin' David & Jeanne Marin & the CruZin' Staff

Stay Low in the turns and Keep CruZin'
David and Jeanne Marin & the CruZin' Staff

Remember... The print version of CruZin' Magazine contains the content above, plus MANY
features not available online. Pick it up at your local newsstand, Westbay Auto Parts, Sunset Auto Parts or subscribe today and never miss another issue!

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