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Friday, July 29, 2016

EVERY GUY REMEMBERS HIS FIRST CAR

A friend and I were reminiscing the other day about the first cars we ever owned.  I doubt if there is any guy who can’t fondly recall in detail his first “heap” and I am no exception.

Mine was a 1954 Ford “Mainline” two door business coupe.  I loved that car; it was a “stick shift” with a 6 cylinder engine and because it was a business coupe, it had no bells and whistles.  It was designed to get salesmen from A to B with no frills. 

I was 16 and the thought of luxuries like whitewall tires, a radio, or an automatic transmission were unheard of on the Mainline model.  The driver was the only one who got an armrest, an outside rear view mirror, and a sun visor.  As far as a radio, I had to get a cheap AM from Sears after I saved the few bucks to afford it. Those were the days before cars had FM radio so it was only AM and didn’t even have push buttons to find the stations.  I had to dial them in.  As far as air conditioning, Cadillacs were about the only cars that had it then.  I used the 260 form:  2 windows open and going 60 miles an hour. 

Electric windshield wipers were unheard of then also.  They were vacuum operated which meant that every time you pressed on the gas pedal, they would stop!  If nothing else they forced you to drive VERY carefully when it was raining!

My heap looked like this only without the side chrome strip
There were 50,000 miles on that Ford in an era when cars were pretty much used up if they made it to 80 or 90 thousand miles.  But, with only $600 saved up and borrowed from my parents, I wasn’t expecting the world.  Besides, I now had wheels, which was a lot nicer than hitch hiking or walking.

My parents made it clear that they wanted their loan paid back ASAP.  It was the 1950’s and the term “work ethic” meant something.  If you borrowed money under the terms of an agreement you were expected to pay off that loan per the agreement.  There were no special dispensations for family members in most cases as integrity meant something then.  Hence, I got a summer job doing delivery work throughout my hometown Cincinnati area.  It paid $60 a week and gave me the opportunity to learn my way around the metro area.  When school resumed, I worked part time in a grocery store.  I still remember my last payment on that Ford and my receiving the title free and clear.  I felt like a big shot!

The 1950’s seem like a million years ago now.  In most homes, dad was the bread winner and mom ran the house.  When kids came home from school mom was there to greet them while dad usually rode the bus to and from his job.  Many vacations involved family trips to the seashore or the mountains in the family car for a brief respite from the typical workdays. 

The mandatory military draft was also in effect so when boys tuned 18 they had to get a “draft card” which meant that they eventually would have to serve in the military.  They could wait until they were called or voluntarily join but either way, there was usually no way to avoid serving.  The military did a lot of guys a lot of good whether it offered them a career or taught them some valuable lessons about life which with many cases I see today, are sadly lacking.

48 comments:

Jim McAllister said...

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave questions or comments. I will leave replies in space provided.

Jim McAllister said...

From "Doc" Bamberl

My first car was a red and white 55 Chevy coupe. If I still had it I could probably trade it in for a Ferrari

Jim McAllister said...

Hi Doc,

If only we had known, huh? A clean '55,'56, or'57 Chevy today is worth plenty.

At the time the '57 Ford was really THE car in '57. It took a few more years before the Chevys took off in popularity but when they did, they really became a hot item.

nativekentuckian said...

Hi Jim!.....Mine was a snow white 1952 Olds Super 88 Convertible....Since it had a 6 volt system you had to almost build a fire under it to get it started during the winter in Cincy....I ended up selling the car for $200.00.....last time I checked it was worth $50k...if you can find one...lol

Rick Kepple said...

My first car was a 1959 Cadillac with bullet tail lights and big fins. A fender skirt fell off going around a curve one day. I think I paid $600 for it. I saw one recently priced at $17k.

I had this other car that was perfect! A 68 Dodge Coronet. I think SN helped me buy it. The fuel pump went out at a stop light in a city and I was a farm boy. Naive. Parked it in a lot. The owner threatened to tow the car, have me arrested and I sold the car for $25.

I bought cars from this one lot and one didn't have reverse. Another, something in the transmission would slip into neutral and I had to stop, restart and it would drive again. It was about the time some rich chick taught me to eat lobster with a tiny little fork. She taught me that I could do anything I wanted and I wasn't what the world said I was. And now, I don't own any car.

Jim McAllister said...

Ray Wiseman

Jim, was your first car the same color as that blue car? I thinnk it is nice looking - even blue on the wheels!

Joy

Jim McAllister said...

Hi Joy,

My '54 Ford has the same colors as the one in the picture. The only difference was that the chrome strip on the side was not on my car since it was a "Mainline" and the picture shows a "Customline" which was one step above mine. I was surprised I found that photo; it is very close.

Jim McAllister said...

Very interesting! My first car was a 54 Ford 4 door Custom line ($350) with radio, three speed on the column with overdrive, and a 239 cubic inch overhead valve V8, the first year for that engine. It was worn out with who knows only how many real miles on it and I did not get home before one of the tires blew out between Alamogordo and Mescalero. It lasted 6 months till I rolled it on black ice near Price, Utah going home for Christmas to Brigham City, Utah after my first semester at UNM. My parents had lived at Mescalero on the Apache reservation for two years till he was promoted to Superintendent of Intermountain School in Utah which had 2,000 mostly Navajo students off the reservation. He retired after that 2 year gig. I transferred to Utah State for my last three years of college.

The car was big enough in the back seat for adventures or lots of beer. Or to hold a case of oil.

Jim Johnson

Jim McAllister said...

Hi Jim,

Wow! You had the fancy one, the Customline! Sounds like you had some harrowing experiences on the black ice and with bad tires. I think in those days inspection of used cars was a bit spotty to say the least. It's always a flip of the coin as to whether the previous owner took care of the car. In most cases it appears they didn't. It's the same with my'54 6 banger. I used to buy gallons of oil at Sears in an effort to keep up with the oil that thing used or leaked.

I know what you mean about thew beer in the back seat. It's amazing that we lived so long with all the drinking and driving. Sometimes it pays to more lucky than good! LOL

Jim McAllister said...

Sonny,

I remember those Oldsmobile's from the early 1950's. The Rocket 88 moved out pretty good and the 98's were full of luxury. That's around the time they introduced air conditioning in GM cars. They had one on display one summer in Cincy and I remember thinking how great it was to have that AC. Today, you can't find a car without it. I don't know how we made it through those sticky Cincy summers before AC.

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

It's amazing how much better cars are today than in the past. I never hear of fuel pump or transmission problems on cars anymore. In the '50s those problems were common as were those damn flat tires that just seemed to keep happening.

But, cars were a lot cheaper then. You could get a Caddy new for about $5,000, today it's at least 40M but probably worth it to avoid the annoyance of the old heaps.

Arizona Dave said...

Outstanding article of the 50s which I remember so well...my first car was a 1955 Red & White Ford Fairlane 500...took it to Ole Miss and was very popular because most students didn't have cars...I was lucky and being an only child helped too...my pride and joy had two antennas on the back even thought one of them was a fake.

Loved that car...will never forget it....than after that a 1960 MG convertible...exciting too but will never forget the '55 Ford,

NOW to military service in December, 1960, what a wonderful experience to learn discipline, honesty, and the many attributes of life that people without military experience never learn. I still remember my sergeant's name in the basic training at Lackland in San Antonio, Sergeant Milton Thatcher.... and then on to Air Police school, also at Lackland.

Little did I know how it would positively affect my entire life...too bad we don't have some sort of military program today to positively affect the youth...would be so beneficial.

Now...to golf...I'm think maybe Henrik Stenson does it again...proud of Phil making the cut after making 7 on first hole yesterday.

Raining this morning in Elvis land...no golf today.

Thanks for the memories!

Glo said...

My first car: well, I learned to drive on my om's 1966 aqua-colored Tempest station wagon (no power steering), but MY first car was the brand new 1971 forest-green/black vinyl top Ford Maverick that she surprised me with as a high school graduation gift ($2700, which she financed through her credit union). I LOVED THAT CAR!!! The one odd thing about it was that there was no door on the glove compartment: it was simply an open shelf. When I got it I drove it over to my brother's house to proudly show him.

I had the car until 1976; by that time, since the Tempest went bust, I had a new car, a 1973 copper-colored Mustang Grande (also mom-financed through the credit union). That one became my heart and soul, and I regret to this day ever selling it. However, we bought a V-8 1972 Cougar for mom to drive, so I sold my Maverick to my 16-year-old nephew for $500 (he wanted the Mustang, but no way). He had it painted black and customized, and the very first night he took my refurbished Maverick out for a spin he got drunk and totaled it. Not sure I've ever really forgiven him for that.

As an aside, when I win Powerball, my first material purchase will be a fully-loaded, customized, copper-colored Mustang convertible. You can't have the past, but you can sure customize the future to sort of simulate it!

Jim McAllister said...

Hi Dave,

In Cincinnati we used to call those Fords with two antennae "trolley buses." They were great cars and Ford had some neat color combinations like the purple heliotrope, the red and white and the pink and white.

Lackland was quite an experience. You were there about 10 months before I did as I got there in Sept. of '61. I'll always remember Sergeant Morris, Billy V. He was a little black guy who liked to whack me on the chest with his clipboard. Since I was the tallest guy there, I was 4th squad leader and easy to see!

I agree on the benefits of guys doing a hitch in the military. I see a lot of young punks today who could use the discipline that Sergeants Thatcher and Morris dealt out to the recruits. I remember some guys in basic who seemed incorrigible early in the basic but wound up being pretty good troopers. Some actually re-enlisted!

That match between Stenson and Phil was classic stuff. I've always liked Stenson and felt he should have a major by now. I'm glad he got one although I am a Phil fan. Good to see he made the cut this week after hitting that tee shot in the street. That's golf; no matter how good a guy is, those shots happen sometimes.

Take care, thanks for the comment.

Jim McAllister said...

Hi Glo,

Tempest, Maverick, Cougar....Wow! Great names of great wheels from the past! Are you sure you didn't have a Kaiser or a Hudson along the way? How about a Nash bedmobile? LOL

I remember all those cars; it's sad that some ran their course and are now discontinued. One car that I think will never be missed is the Ford Pinto. I never had one but I knew people who did and said they were really junk. When talking about crappy cars, the Chevy Vega sure would have to be included!

Always good to hear from you. I think of you when we go to the Red Truck in Cave Creek for lunch and I pass your Carefree digs.

Mike Slater said...

Jim, My first car was a four door 1962 Plymouth Valiant with push button tranny and no A/C for $200 after I graduated from High School. It was good enough to yet me to college and work but wasn't exactly a babe mobile. It had a straight line six but the problem was the distributor was down close to the road and would get flooded when it rained. Believe it or not it's the only car I ever got a speeding ticket in.

After that I actually bought a Ford Pinto in bright red. Only had it a year. When I got into hunting it was four wheel drive after that. Mostly Fords, Broncos and trucks.

The dumbest car I ever bought was a bright orange corvette, which was my fault. When Deb and I were married she had tow girls and I had a girl from my first marriage. I always wanted a son so I told her if she had a son I'd buy her a vette. Neddles to say I got a son and she got a vette. Living in New River at the time with three kids and a vette didn't work out.


Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I'm still laughing; great story!

I remember those push button trannys. We used to call them "typewriter drives." Chrysler was always trying something weird in those days. Remember when they put a record player in the glove box? They also were the first to put big fins on their cars.

I think it was the Pinto that kept catching on fire. The Pinto and the Vega were good examples of why Ford and GM needed to stay out of the small car business.

After my Ford Mainline I had a '57 Chevy and later a '61 Chevy while in the USAF. I ran the '61 up to 100,000 miles before it started to fall apart.

Jim McAllister said...

Jim,

I got my years mixed up.....it was a 1957 Ford, not 1955.....probably hitting Podo golf balls.....they were 3 for 99cents only at Walgreens.

HaHa,

Jim McAllister said...

Dave,

3 for .99? That sounds like a great deal. I imagine you knocked those "out of round" in a hurry. LOL

Remember Spalding Kro-Flites? I managed to hit a lot of them out of bounds in the 70s.

Jim McAllister said...

Jim:

You're not going to believe this....I found this ball at TPC Southwind last year...

....and remember the A. E. Penfold golf ball made in England....a little smaller than the American ball which made the hole bigger.

HaHa again

Dave

Jim McAllister said...

Dave,

That is definitely a funny coincidence. I haven't seen a Kro-Flite for many years. I guess they still make them or else that one has been dormant for a LONG time.

I do remember when the English ball was a little smaller. I don' think it is used anywhere anymore.

Jim McAllister said...

Talk about cars. How about Mr. Key's !!!

Dave B.

Jim McAllister said...

Ah, yes! Nobody goes anywhere without Mr. Key. Whoever has him rules!

Glo, Mustang Lover said...

No Hudson or Kaiser, but Mom did have a green Rambler that my dad bought for her in New Hampshire in the early 60s. He had a vanity plate with her name - Helen - registered on it, and she hated that because guys were always calling out "Hey, Helen!" when she drove by. On my Mustang I had a plate with my initials and birth year: I have those CT plates (two at the time)framed on my guest bedroom wall in a shadow box, and have the same vanity plate on my current car, a 2014 Nissan Rogue.

Rick Kepple said...

I had lunch with Abraham Lincoln today. The actor was in town. I pitched a script idea and he wants to do the comedy.

The cars have more complicated problems now. The old ones are simple.

Used to drive cars out in the pastures. They were tanks!

Jim McAllister said...

Glo,

I almost forgot about Hudson and Kaiser. I remember a kid in high school whose parents had a new 1950 something Kaiser with a bamboo looking interior. Then there was the Hudson Hornet and Wasp. Bless the 1950s and its cars.

That's neat that you kept those CT vanity plates. They have to be a nice memory

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

We had a 1940 Buick when I was a kid and "Tank" would be a great description of it. In the mid 50s some guy T-boned the damn thing and barely pushed in the front fender. The other guy had to be towed away. Good old pre-war metal!

Mike Slater said...

Jim, Deb sure loved that vette and hated to part with it.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I can imagine how she felt. The Corvette has always had kind of a magical aura to it; much more than the T-Bird.

In the mid 60s a friend of mine had a '62 Vette in Cincinnati. He offered to let me drive it one day and it was quite an experience compared to the heaps I owned. It was a stick shift 4 speed and I could hardly believe the power and speed it had. I took off and when I hit 3rd I was already going about 65!

If I was still into cars now like I was then, I'd have another Vette for a toy.

Rick Kepple said...

Jen and I talked about buying another car, but we decided to put the money into her 2006 Impala. We're finally getting on the same sheet of music. I've always liked the Impala, but they are nothing compared to the classics of the 60's. There was just something magical about cars back then.

One of my uncles had a car that a mechanical alarm could be set if he went over the speed limit. That thing was always going off.

Mike Slater said...

Jim, I never cared for the vette because it sits so low to the ground I couldn't see any thing. Deb, on the other hand, thought being 30 years old and driving a vette was a status symbol. She liked the attention it brought. Of course some of that attention came from the police.

In my younger years I was a Ford guy. Mostly 4x4 trucks for hunting. They came in handy more than once when hunting in the middle of nowhere especially before cell phones.

I have a Chevy 4x4 now but don't use it and am thinking of selling it and getting a small SUV.

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

I once had a '61 Chevy, one of my all time fave cars. (The photo is me with that Chevy in 1964 at Whiteman AFB, Mo) My brother had a '63 Chevy that was a great car too. I agree with you on those 60s cars.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

It's funny how our tastes change in cars over the years. There was a time when all I would own was GM cars. Probably my favorite was a '98 Buick Regal with a supercharger.

In 2001 I was in the market for a car when my big Chrysler that I loved started getting expensive to own. I loved that car with all its luxury but it had 120,000 miles and was finished. I wound up buying a new 2001 Hyundai which I drove 80,000 miles and traded it in for a 2005 model. Two years ago I traded that 2005 with its 125,000 miles in on a Hyundai Genesis. Like my other two Hyundais, it has been a great car.

I'm sold on Hyundai, something I would never have thought I would never say but they are really great cars.

Mike Slater said...

Jim, our daughter bought a small Hyundai a couple of years ago for her work. She's a financial adviser and travels all over the state. It's already has 70K on it but runs great.

Our 2005 Chevy truck has 114K on it and I've probably spent $3 grand in the last few years on repairs. Rebuilt tranny, 2 water pumps, new brakes and tires.

Deb"s in Montana but when she gets back I'll put a for sale sign on it. I figure with all the Mexican landscapers around here someone will want it.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

As I mentioned before, in late 2001 I went down to the motor mile on McDowell in Scottsdale looking for a year end deal on something new to replace my '95 Chrysler which was over the hill at about 120,000 miles. I thought I may get a deal on something like a Pontiac or Buick but there was nothing to be had. The fleet buyer at Pitre threw me the keys to a new Hyundai XG300 and said to take a spin. I was surprised at the luxury it had and it was a good sized car. I bought it and went through a 2005 and am now in my Genesis. I am now a poster boy for Hyundai. LOL

Being a city guy all my life, I've never had much experience with trucks but I've heard from people who have and they seem to think Ford makes the best trucks. Doers that sound about right?

Rick Kepple said...

I think Jen and I might be going to a movie theater this week ... she was talking about it! Never thought an ambulance would charm her ... wow. The stalling car trick wouldn't work with her, because she also works on heavy equipment and she'd fix it.

That 59 Caddy that I had at 17-years-old had bad spark plug wires so I'd drive through a mud hole on a date, the wires would short out and the girl and I would have to wait for them to dry out. Sweet talking. GREAT BIG CARS!! Nice.

I pity these kids nowadays. A Kia Volt. Those tiny cars should do their part in keeping down the numbers of unwanted teen pregnancies!

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

I agree on the Kia Volt. It would be damn hard to get some in one of those little things. I don't care how good the gas mileage is.

Mike Slater said...

Jim, it depends on who you ask. I bought mostly Fords and had good luck with them. My dad was friends with a salesman at Sanderson Ford and he would give me a good deal. The old joke about Fords was it stood for fix or repair daily.

My son-in-law is a GMC guy. Won't buy anything else. My son on the other hand is a Dodge guy.

Having a truck can be handy. My son and son-in-law both pull travel trailers plus having 4 wheel drive can be a life saver. I don't do that anymore but it's nice to go to Home Depot and pick up some lumber or sheet rock. On the flip side having a truck means family and friends are always wanting you to help them move or what to borrow the truck which can be a pain in the ass.

Rick Kepple said...

Since the last ambulance visited, Jen and I hang out a lot. She's my bodyguard. Riding in style in an Impala. We're working together to buy what the farm needs. Heavy equipment for her business. She had her eye on a 1968 dump truck in great condition. Jen. She reminds me of AN. I listen to her.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I've never owned a truck but many guys over the years have endorsed Ford as having the best.

I've had Ford and Chevy cars and in '77 bought a new Pontiac with a huge V8 engine. That baby would really go! Kept it until '83 and got an Olds Cutlass Ciera. Decent car but nothing like that Pontiac. Now I'm with Hyundai.

Mike Slater said...

Jim, the reason I want to get rid of the truck is it has a V8 that sucks gas plus it's to long to fit in the garage. I need something smaller to fit in the garage especially in the summer time. I'll let Deb pick out the one she wants since she does most of the driving.

I turn 65 next month so it's time for a new drivers license with an eye test because I have to wear glasses now. It's hell getting old.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I'd kill to be 65 again. I turned 75 last March. It sure goes by quick but I just had a physical and was pronounced to be in excellent shape. I hope so since I watch my weight and what I eat plus I still run regularly like I have been doing since 1974.

I wore glasses for many years then went to contact lenses. A few years ago I had a cataract removed from my right eye and now have perfect vision in it for distance. My doc wants to do the other eye too. I'm going to do it as I always hated glasses. I just use them for reading now. If you have vision insurance, it's sure worth it.

I know what you mean about getting old but it sure beats the alternative! LOL

Mike Slater said...

Jim, my brother will turn 59 in October and jogs all the time. I never got into that. I watch my weight and what I eat also. The only meds I take are for high blood pressure.

I have to wear glasses for up close like reading. Far away is fine. I watch TV without the glasses. My left eye has had two laser procedures and a cataract removed. The right eye is ok.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I started running in 1974 when it was the current craze for those wanting to lose weight. Needless to say most people discontinued running after a while as the fad wore off but I stayed with it and met a lot of other runners at various races and other places.

We started the Kansas City Track Club which is still in existence and going strong. Running just became a way of life and really helped get my health numbers back on track along with watching my weight a lot better. I still hit the bricks 3 to 4 times a week.

I started wearing glasses at 15 in 1956 and in later years switched to contacts which were great. Now they have eye surgery where they can implant a lens into your eye and not need glasses at all except for reading. I've had it done on my right eye and it's like a miracle. I still have a contact in my left eye but will probably have it done too.

Medicine is amazing!

Rick Kepple said...

Got word that a Branson music star is considering using my studio for a video. Housekeeper is coming, because he could show up at any time. They don't give warnings half the time. Still no money coming in, but I keep plugging away! JJ's on crutches. Dale, the engineer's truck is down and he's stranded. Sounds like a famous band's backstory, don't it?

Probably need to buy a tour bus. There's one for sale in town. Probably junk. It would make for an interesting guest house. LOL

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

When you guys are rich and famous you will laugh about all your current hardships.

Keep plugging!

Rick Kepple said...

Here Jimmy, this is the somewhat true story of how the studio REALLY got started. When I created this film, I was amazed at the series of coincidences. Weird. Oh, and the Goddess of Rock makes an appearance! That chick is on fire! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiYUWGVmr_I

You're cruising the block, ain't ya? I'll bet you are. Rollin' slow ... got that Lawrence Welk music blasting from the speakers.

Rick Kepple said...

Here's a news story about Jen being made CEO of DR J. https://indiemusicmoviesnewsdotco.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/dr-j-studio-ceo-appointment/

Jimmy's gonna realize real quick that Independent Music and Movies News is actually written by me. It says right at the bottom that it's written by me and DR J. Ain't trying to fool anyone.

So Jimmy, I went to look at cars today. They had a really nice Ford 650 with a Cat engine, but cash only for $60,000. I think I have the writer's version of a mid-life crisis. Hot CEO, Studio in the barn/home and now I'm looking at vehicles to impress folks. Yep, hormones. But that's what sells cars, isn't it?