Mel Austin

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Mel Austin
Male silhouette.png
Birth nameMelvin Austin
Birth date1926
Birth placeHartford, NE
SpouseArlene Pewabic
FatherMr. Austin
MotherMrs. Austin
Elaine AustinFMarch 1960
Raymond AustinMNovember 1957
Vernon AustinMSeptember 1956

Mel Austin is the main character and narrator of the On the Road books.

As a youngster he lived with his parents on a farm near a small town of Hartford, Nebraska. He had a sister, Shirley, who moved to California during Warld War II, and an older brother, Philip (sometimes spelled Phillip).BR1-4

In the spring of 1944 he was a senior in high school in Fremont County and presumably just turned 18 when he was drafted into the US Army.BR1-1

After being released from the army in summer of 1946, he quickly realized that he didn't want to be an unpaid laborer on his parents' farm, and went to Chadron State College, the teacher's college in Chadron, Nebraska, using the GI Bill.BR1-4 After less than a year, he transferred to Milwaukee, where he graduated as a teacher in 1950.BR1-5

Rather than becoming a full-time teacher, he became a midget car racer, working as a substitute teacher in the off-season.

After several years on the racing circuit, around 1954, he was involved in a bad accident at a race in Bradford. Another one of the drivers, Arlene Pewabic was an Army veteran RN and field stabilized him after the accident, supervised the transport to the local hospital, then assisted the ER doctor in saving Mel's life. Both of them remained in Bradford, she getting a job at the local hospital and keeping an eye on Mel while he healed. When he got better, they decided that they both had enough of racing, and wanted to pursue a closer relationship. Bradford was a nice enough town for that.BR1-39

Arlene and Mel got married in a nearby Indiana county seat in August 1954. By 1960, they had three kids: Vernon (Vern), Raymond (Ray) and Elaine (Laney).

He once restored a vintage Firebird for Jason MacRae at Bradford Speedway.HS1 He rebuilt a Ford flathead engine out of a 1930s Chris-Craft boat for Nate Kunkle at Winchester harbor.WH19

By 2012, Mel and Arlene have been spending winters in Florida, where he's been writing down his recollections after being prodded by his grandson Will's girlfriend.BR2-27

By the beginning of Banners Flying, his son Ray meets a girl...BR3-1