A lament to days lost to my yesterdays....

SdoubleA

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A few weeks back, there was a thread about things from days gone by. This is an offering of mine. Perhaps it will bring back memories to many of you, and if so, my story will have served its purpose.



A lament to days lost to my yesterdays….


For as long as I remember, I have been a “car guy”. I learned to drive on a 1928 Farmall tractor at the age of nine. The tractor had belonged to my Grand Dad, a holdover from the infamous Dust Bowl days, and the tractor and I earned our keep by working on our farm outside of my home town of Owasso.

When I turned ten, I was graduated to the farm truck. Of the two vehicles I preferred the truck, primarily due to a soft upholstered seat as opposed to the burn- your- butt formed steel seat the tractor had. Also, the steering wheel was larger, and I didn’t have to use a hand crank to get the motor running.

By the time I turned eleven I was hauling hay on the town and country roads surrounding our community. In those days, that was just the way it was, and was considered to be normal for the time.

By age thirteen I purchased my first motorcycle, however that item had to be hidden from my Momma for nearly a year before she caught me. Momma said motorcycles were dangerous. By age fourteen I had experience my first severe case of road rash. My entire backside took nearly six months to somewhat heal. I say somewhat since remnants of the healing process remain visible to this day. Momma never said a word…for she didn’t have to. I was fortunate to ride the next couple hundred thousand miles without a mishap.

My older brothers were both instrumental in my introduction to seeing a car as more than just basic transportation. A car was only a blank canvas awaiting the artist’s touch.

In those days, street rods and customs were not only cool…they were king. The cars did not come from Detroit, but were lovingly built one at a time…by hand. They were built in barns, garages, wherever you could find a place to create, and were built by car guys through trial and error with sweat, perseverance, and the occasional warm beer.

You were only limited by your imagination, available cash, and whatever you could find at a salvage yard or order from a magazine such as “Rod and Custom”. Rod and Custom was eagerly awaited each month for new tips and guidelines to turn your ride into something special. Also, J.C. Whitney was a common go to catalogue source for specialty and wish list items. You could order a floor mounted shift lever and all hardware to convert your three-on-the-tree for $19.99 plus a dollar for shipping. That was a very tidy sum at the time, but dang well worth it. Changing out grilles and tail lights was usually an easy fix if you knew what would interchange from other makes and models with minor adjustments. Fender skirts, flippers, continental kits, real lake pipes, frenching, and shaved handles, were only a few common places to begin.

Your ride wouldn’t do to just look cool. It had to sound cool, and run like it looked. Walker, Weind, Offenhaeuser, Iskaderian, and other strange sounding names could assist in those areas.

Car guys in the fifties were the pioneers of the King Cars, boldly going into areas that would eventually draw the big three auto makers to get into the picture with the advent of muscle cars. A stock flathead V-eight could be turned into a ravenous beast producing three times the original horsepower with the proper gearheads involved. The V-eights from 1955 thru 1963 provided even more canvas to play with.

Car guys not only delivered the shine, but brought us NASCAR. They gave us the 100, 150, and 200 miles per hour levels at the drag strip. Bonneville Lake was thriving before TBI and ACAD even existed. Grudge races were held at the drag strip or airport runway, not on the highway during rush hour. Aviation fuel mixtures led to Nitro which led to Nitrous Oxide to provide an edge. The weak links of a quick ride involved the piss poor braking systems of the time. If we had disc brakes back then, someone would have reached the moon much sooner.

Car guys built cars. Period. It’s what they did. Attention to detail made all the difference as you were parked at a drive-in burger joint or drive-in movie, even down to what was hanging from the rear view mirror. Rubber shrunken heads were popular decorations. Fuzzy dice were for the West coast, not being very cool covered with Mid-West dust. However, naugahyde dice were cool …especially if they matched your tuck and roll seat covers. Today, many people won’t even buy a vehicle due to the cup holders. Heck, the first (and still best) cup holder was sitting next to you really close.

Draggin’ Main Street in your own home town was okay, but when your ride was ready you had to expand your borders. Neighboring towns were cool, and often dangerous….especially if the local female persuasion was involved in any form or fashion.

T-town was the place to go to see really cool rides. The drive-in eateries were the place to be on a Saturday night. Norman Angel’s Drive-In, and Cotton’s Drive-in were on the North side of Tulsa. They were early day hangouts for the car clubs, black leather, greased hair, and trouble eventually since not all car clubs were friendly to one another. One never knew as to what the night might hold. Ambulances, patrol cars, and knife fights were all common patrons along streets named Pine and Admiral.

In later years the Brookside strip of T-town became popular for many. Places like Webber’s, Boot’s, and Pennington’s all added to the ambiance of a Brookside week-end. Good eats, cool cars, lights, action, and drama all could be found once the sun set on the horizon.

After Nam, my brother, Paul, and I cleaned up our old 58 Impala and headed to Brookside to see what had changed over the past few years. We chose a spot with a view, and were soon trying out the Blackbottom pie on the recommendation of the car hop, when a cutesy little Mustang pulled into the spot next to us. It was easy to guess they were High School age rich social kids cruising in a car his daddy had bought for him. It didn’t take long for the girl to begin talking to Paul about how much she loved our old car. Needless to say, her boyfriend was the typical wannabee tough guy that was quick to talk trash. It didn’t take him long to exit his underpowered excuse for a car and quickly walk around to my brother’s door where he told us it was time for us to take our car and leave. Paul listened to the guy’s frothing a few moments, and then calmly rested his arm on the Impala’s door and motioned the wannabee to bend down to hear what he was about to say. The next few moments in time were Classic Paul.

“Sir, my brother and I only stopped in here to grab a bite to eat, and ain’t lookin’ for any trouble”, he said.

Seeming pleased with himself, the Social again told us to leave, and then slapped the car door. Once again, Paul motioned him to come closer to hear what he was about to say.

“Sir, I realize you are here with your girlfriend,” he quietly continued, “and my brother and I are finishing our dinner. I also realize you probably will never go to Viet Nam…” as the talking end of a 1911 appeared from under his arm, still resting on the door, “but if you don’t get back into your car and leave so we can finish eating, I will put a hole in your belly large enough for you to stick your arm into and scratch your back”. Yep, that was my soft spoken brother.

The wannabee wilted like a drained cock, ran back to his Mustang and left in a hurry. We shook our heads, had a chuckle, and finished eating. The Blackbottom pie was very good.

Brookside didn’t last for very much longer. The parent purchased muscle cars, wannabees, and Social stupid people finally nailed the lid shut on a once golden place to be. Mutual admiration and respect were gone.

Car clubs took to cruising the highways and byways trying to relive days gone by. In order to cruise, one had to have the right music. Do-wop was only one of the great genres we had available. The 50’s and early 60’s were alive…and then the surfing crap began to come over the air waves. Dang..WTH was that? Proper cruising was a thing of beauty, if not an art form in itself. Cruising would have to be a story best told by itself.

The days of King Cars, fender skirts, spot lights, lake pipes, continental kits, and cute cup holders began to fade away the same as Route 66. Today, if a guy has a great line of credit and a fairly good job, he can order one of the new super cars that he can’t work on and can’t really drive. That may be….but to many of the old dudes, he just ain’t a car guy.

Ahh, so many memories…once lived…now locked away in time, but to a few of us they were part of the fabric that made us who we are. Old school car guys are fewer now, but can still be found if you look hard enough.
 

Glock 'em down

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That was awesome! :clap3:

I'm obviously much younger than you (49) but my dad was a big car guy. He always had an old Lincoln, Olds or Pontiac in the garage. I can still see him under the hood, twisting on a wrench with a drop light hooked under the open hood and a cigarette in the crook of his mouth while Waylon and Willie filled the air in the garage.

Dad's 82 now and he's given up on the old cars of yesteryear, replaced them with "one of the new super cars that he can’t work on" like you said in your post. It's sad. He took such pride in his cars. He taught me words that most kids nowadays have never heard in their life. Words like suicide doors and rack and pinion. Kids today don't have a clue.

My daughter asked me one day what she can do for fun. I told her, "sorry sweetie...but we've used up all the fun."

Ain't it the truth.
 

John6185

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A great synopsis of your youth! I was poor, so poor that..well never mind. Any way, in 1960 or '61 I bought a 1948 Ford convertible for $25.00 which had a bad engine. I was poor and scraped up $25 dollars more for a used flathead engine and put it in and it still wouldn't run. No more money was to be had and disgusted, I sold the Ford for $25.00 and have regretted it since. If I had the money I could have had it roadworthy in short order but back then men were making $1.00 per hour working and haircuts were 50 cents. I was 16 going on 17 and worked downtown OKC on Main St and some nights I walked as far as the old Skyview Drive In theater before I managed to get a ride the rest of the way to Nicoma Park. Those were some hard days that the youth of today probably couldn't fathom. It was so hard that...well, I joined the military and went to Viet Nam in a KC-135-"flying tomb." And I never looked back.
 

mightymouse

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Not all hot rodding died in the '60s. A buddy of mine built a T-bucket roadster in the early '80s. A roller-cammed 327, a 6-71 GMC blower running 1-to-1, and a pair of 750 cfm Holleys set it apart from all the other T-buckets on the road. It had a two-speed Powerglide and a 3.55 rearend turning 17 inch wide Firestone Sprint Car tires. I was in it one night when he punched it from a slow roll on a deserted road. He ran it up to 7000 rpm in first gear, shifted into second and let off the gas. That thing would wrap your stomach around your spine in a heartbeat.
 

Chuckie

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Had bought a 55 Ford Country Squire and spent a couple of years 'fixing' it up. Great times spent under that car while my girl passed wrenches to me. Also got a couple of tickets with that car, all from the same cop we called 'Speedy', who rode an old Harley just looking to bust us 'punks'.
I joined the Army when I got old enough and eventually went to Vietnam. Before that happened though I had driven several days to drop it off at my Uncles house in Washington for safekeeping while I was gone. When I got back I found out that he had sold it to a junk yard for a few bucks just to make room in his garage for his new car. Still miss that beauty, car AND girl!
 

SdoubleA

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Not all hot rodding died in the '60s. A buddy of mine built a T-bucket roadster in the early '80s. A roller-cammed 327, a 6-71 GMC blower running 1-to-1, and a pair of 750 cfm Holleys set it apart from all the other T-buckets on the road. It had a two-speed Powerglide and a 3.55 rearend turning 17 inch wide Firestone Sprint Car tires. I was in it one night when he punched it from a slow roll on a deserted road. He ran it up to 7000 rpm in first gear, shifted into second and let off the gas. That thing would wrap your stomach around your spine in a heartbeat.

I still see some wicked tees around today. Some are reasonably priced.

I never really had the desire to own one, as I preferred something more comfortable and easier to steam the windows up at the drive-in movie. :blush:
 

dennishoddy

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Had bought a 55 Ford Country Squire and spent a couple of years 'fixing' it up. Great times spent under that car while my girl passed wrenches to me. Also got a couple of tickets with that car, all from the same cop we called 'Speedy', who rode an old Harley just looking to bust us 'punks'.
I joined the Army when I got old enough and eventually went to Vietnam. Before that happened though I had driven several days to drop it off at my Uncles house in Washington for safekeeping while I was gone. When I got back I found out that he had sold it to a junk yard for a few bucks just to make room in his garage for his new car. Still miss that beauty, car AND girl!
My first car was a 55 Ford customline. 272 CI, Y-block 8 cylinder engine, not a V8. Stromberg 1 barrel carb. Took a lot of time, and a lot of money that I had to work my butt off for, but it turned out to be a decent 1 block street racer while dragging main street.
The cop who had it out for me was nicknamed Woody. (his last name was woods) I think he was determined to set me straight or something, giving me a couple of tickets I richly deserved, and following me while dragging main street.
I had some dumps from JC Whitney on the exhaust with cables and handles in the car so I could open them and also had plumbed in a pump type oiler that held kerosene for the exhaust headers. I could give some squirts of the kerosene, which generated TONS of smoke, blocking the view of anybody behind me, open the dumps and haul ass. I loved that car.
 
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