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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

REMEMBERING MY '61 CHEVY AND BOWLING

LOOKING BACK

If you like vintage cars, the photo below should interest you.  It was taken in the parking lot of my Air Force barracks at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri in 1964.

The red and white‘61 Chevy in the foreground was mine.  I had recently traded in a 1960 Volkswagen bug for it as the Volks was just a bit too small for me at 6’ 5” in height and it didn’t have a radio or heater.  That was too Spartan for me but at the time it was all I could afford with an Airman 2nd Class paycheck from the Air Force.  I paid $1,400 for that Chevy and it was well worth it.

The Chevy was a great car with the small V8 engine of those days.  Gas at that time in Missouri never went over about 26 cents a gallon and was usually at about 23 cents so it was pretty economical to run on an Air Force paycheck.

Another interesting aspect of this photo is that many of the cars parked in the background, which were routine for the time, became quite popular in later years as some of the great wheels of the past.  From right to left notice the ’60 Chevy convertible, ’57 Chevy 4 door, ’55 Chevy Convertible, and at the end of the line, a ’57 Ford Convertible.

It was a great time to be young.  The kids of today don’t realize the benefits of serving in the military and enjoying the memories and friendships from it. 

I doubt very much if I would have ever been able to enjoy a summer in Germany but I did in 1963 thanks to the Air Force “Operation Short Spurt” program of that era. Not everyone got great duty like that but serving one’s country was a great feeling and I have great memories from it.

REMEMBER BOWLING?




I used to love to bowl.  My wife Barb and I bowled in many leagues in the Kansas City and Scottsdale areas and we would rarely miss the pro bowlers on Saturday afternoon TV broadcasts of the Pro Bowlers Tour. 

The attached photo was probably the high water mark of my bowling experiences.  Each July I joined a group of about thirty guys from Kansas City who bowled in the prestigious Petersen Tournament in Chicago and although most of them were better than I was, I was always invited to join them in the Windy City.  Fortunately for me, I upset all of them and won the Kansas City squad that day in July of 1987.  Needless to say, it was quite a thrill to pull an upset like that.  I only wish my hair today was as dark as it is in that photo! I also wish I could still average 200!

(PLEASE LEAVE COMMENTS BELOW.  THANKS!)



46 comments:

Jim McAllister said...

Thanks for reading! Please leave comments in space below.

Arizona Dave said...

Great article Jimmy Mac....remember all my cars during those magical years, the 50s & 60s...probably the best of the best.....I don't think the young people today have as much fun as we did....I think technology is part of the blame... who knows.

Also, I agree on your military statement ,,,,the best thing that ever happened to me...taught me the true meaning of the words respect, discipline, cleanliness, and friendship, etc.............

Bowling, I was pretty good at it, not as good as you, but golf was my big deal from 11 years old forward....Sadness last year losing my friend Arnie.

For your info, I'm in Scottsdale for a few weeks...maybe a game of golf with an old friend named Jimmy Mac.

Cheers!!!!

Rick Kepple said...

Great blog, Jimmy! I see that you had that Missouri dirt parking lot too! It was probably that "chat" gravel, which is really a mixture of dirt and rock. Yep, cars. Mostly Chevy's too. It's Missouri. Folks like them because they're easy to work on.

Jen, my friend and trusted assistant has an Impala and it's junk. She hasn't the time to drive me around and being a student of Jimmy and SN, I simply can't invest in her car since I don't benefit from it. Still off the CPAP machine, Jimmy. I sleep longer hours now. Take naps. Breathe better. Besides, no one's gonna hire a sixty year old writer. The world now belongs to the younger generations; God help us!

Rick Kepple said...

There's a bowling alley near Buckhorn, Mo., Jimmy. I never did see the point of sports, but I guess it's good training for holding society together and politics as well as the military. Teams.

Rick Kepple said...

Oh, golf. I haven't played since I was at Fort Rucker in 86. I might play golf again. Life is strange getting off CPAP for sleep apnea, which I figured out is key. Lots of dreams.

It will take me a lifetime to figure Jen out. A woman's mind is the mystery that can't be solved. I'm not to help with her car or her Harley (still in the shop). She's much younger, pretty and we get along pretty well. And she earned my trust.

Jen said 30,000 troops are coming into the Midwest military posts thanks to Trump, so up comes the local economy again! In their new fact sheet about marijuana, the DEA says that marijuana isn't medical in one sentence, then in the very next one, they said that THC is a legal medication and no one's died from it in recorded history.

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

That has to be good news about the 30,000 troops. Maybe Leonard Wood will be hopping again with a lot of jobs for the local economy.

Jim McAllister said...

Glad you like the blog, Rick. I figured that military parking lot would get your attention.

I kept that '61 Chevy until '70 when I traded it for a new Nova. Once it got over 100,000 miles it started to fall apart. Hated to say goodbye to it though.

Jim McAllister said...

Loved the 61 Chevys, never owned one though. Combination of power glide, a light foot, and a 283 made for reasonable mileage. I did also putz around in VW’s, the first a 63 convertible, black over red like my current 63 Corvair, and then a 67 coupe. The latter would do 85 on the highway as gearing was changed for 67.

I was still in college when you were driving the 61, I had a 52 Chevy 2 door hardtop with power glide. It served me well for 4 years and my only regret (s) is selling it for $100 to Morgensen Motors on Central, and not putting a split Fenton dual exhaust on it.

Now I play with the 63 Corvair convertible and relive what could have been, might have been?

Jim Johnson

Jim McAllister said...

Jim,

Sounds like you have had some fun adventures with cars. That's what it was all about for guys like us in the 50s and 60s. Today I notice most young guys could care less about cars and many do not even care about owning one much less working on one.

I'll take our era any day over theirs. I used to love the sound of a couple of glass packs on a Chevy or Ford V8. It's a long ago sound and a nice remembrance of the fun of youth in those days.

Jim McAllister said...

Hi Dave,

Great to hear from you; glad you liked the blog.

My golf game is really bad but I would like to meet you at a range somewhere and hit a couple of buckets and shoot the bull a bit. I'm always available for free tips of advice from a pro like you! I'll even buy lunch!

If that is convenient, let me know. I'm pretty wide open.

Mike Slater said...

Jim,

Nice car. Being born in 1951 I missed out on some of the classic cars. The closest I ever got was my Dad's 56 Ford F-100 truck but he sold it before I was old enough to drive.

I never cared about bowling that much But Deb did and would bowl on leagues for years. She talked into going one time but got mad at me when I bowled a 200 on the first try and she didn't.

We lost a true American hero last Friday when Lt. General Hal Moore passed away at 94 three days from his 95th Birthday. He co-authored the book "We were soldiers once.... and young. It was made into the movie later starring Mel Gibson about the battle of Ia Drang against the North Vietnamese in November Of 1965. May he rest in Peace.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I think I was about eleven when I first drove. My dad was old school and didn't worry about things like me having a driver's license or whether I would even be able to reach the pedals or see over the dashboard. We had a 1940 Buick Special 4 door with spare tires mounted on the front fenders. I had to look through the steering wheel to see where I was going.

I did a fair amount of bowling through the years although I haven't bowled since about the mid 1990's. I got pretty good at it and averaged around 200 plus I got an award for bowling a 297 game in 1991 at Via Linda Lanes in Scottsdale.

Barb was an excellent bowler and averaged about 175. I remember one night in Kansas City she shot a 707 for a 3 game series. That was 235 per game! Not bad for a schoolteacher!

I'm not familiar with General Moore but he must have been quite a stud to get 3 stars. I love those old guys like him, Ike, and MacArthur. They were real studs who took no shit from anyone. MacArthur was even fired by Truman when they disagreed over Korea. I think I was in the 4th grade at that time and all us kids hated Truman! We loved MacArthur and his corncob pipe!

Mike Slater said...

Jim,

I bowled for a few years but never really enjoyed it that much. When I was young I played baseball and softball until I was 40. After that I took up tennis. Being 65 now my only exercise is yard work and going to the Rec center once in a while.

Hal Moore entered West Point in 1942 and fought in Korea and Vietnam. His Sgt. Major in Vietnam was Basil Plumley who served in WW11, Korea and Vietnam. What's amazing is the fact they fought in all those wars and never got shot or hurt.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I played some softball on and off over the years and always enjoyed it. In KC it was slow pitch but in the Air Force our squadron was all fast pitch. We had a pitcher who could really hum it. I never could figure how they got so much speed on it throwing underhand. What I DO KNOW is that I think I got maybe one or two hits in two years. I think the plate was 45 feet from the mound so the ball got there quick! I was happy if I just fouled a couple off.

I have been running since 1974. I took it up to get in shape and am still at it although my marathon days are long over. Here I am in April 1978 when I ran the 1978 Drake Relays Marathon in Des Moines, Iowa . I manged to run the 26.2 miles in 3 hours, 40 minutes. Those were fun days. I still do an occasional 5K.

Rick Kepple said...

Yes, the simple times. Now, there's a huge dam busting in California. They're panicking because that wet stuff is falling from the sky now. Donald Trump is President and the universe is in chaos.

The honeybees are out, Jimmy, but it's too early. I need to feed the bees, dogs, cats and pony. Enjoy the bees, Jimmy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vft3XeEzUQA

The video's name is Moonrise, but it's renamed "Let it be Me," by Dell Mack and it's already been around the world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwWn2G3cOFo

I should buy an old car. Move to Colorado. Trout fishing. No drama. Just live in the mountains with the dogs and cats. Pony grazing in the front yard and my own private tee and one distant hole.

Nice comments, Jimmy.

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

Good photography of the honeybees. Very professional. A&W should use that in a commercial.

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

Love the Let it be Me" tune. Very professional, Dell still has "it." Nice photography too; reminds me of my USAF days to see that Missouri moon.

Rick Kepple said...

A&W won't invest anything in a video with just nine views. Most of the time, I don't make it out of 40. Practicing guitar and making films is therapy. Heck Jimmy, I'm turning 60 this year. Nobody's gonna hire an ancient writer, cause they figure I'm overqualified or undereducated.

Dell Mack should be on a judges panel for entertainment contests. He picks only winners! He knows psychology of songs. He's gifted! And the last of the ones taught my Sam Phillips, Smokey Joe and Sun Records and was recorded on the same albums with other hall of famers.

Oh, and on Friday's either a guitarist drops by or some famous music personality wants to talk on Facebook. There's a few on Twitter now too. My favorite is always SN. She's neat.

Rick Kepple said...

Jimmy, you've heard the press conferences, but have you ever read the transcripts? It's very different when put under a microscope. Trump is absolutely brilliant, until someone brings up the Russians and then it's like his mind is scrambled. He makes up any excuse possible that the Russians are great people!

I know how to verify.

Jim McAllister said...

Jim,you always write a very interesting blog and I appreciate receiving them from you. Do you still bowl? I know you are still running.

One of my friends in Washington State recently bought an older model Chevy, similar to yours. I cannot remember the exact year. They are still a good looking car, I think. My car is a '93 LincolnTtown Car and I have to wait one more year to get a classic license plate! I hope it lasts because I really like the car. I still have to pick up ladies and it is comfortable with lots of room for them!

Two granddaughters are coming to town tomorrow and will be with us for a few days - we are so anxious to see them

Yours,
Joy

Jim McAllister said...

Hi Joy,

Thanks for the nice words.

I haven't bowled since about the mid to late nineties. It's a game Barb and I always enjoyed and were fortunate enough to get pretty good at it. I was lucky enough to bowl a 300 game in 1983; a great memory and winning that Kansas City squad was quite an accomplishment for me. I was pretty good but there were a lot of guys there who were better than I was in our Kansas City bowling leagues. Fortunately, I happened to have the lucky timing to have it all come together in Chicago. It was great to win against those guys.

That '61 Chevy was a nice little car. I had it from 1964 to 1970 when at 100,000 miles it was pretty worn out. At the time we really didn't have enough money to buy a great new car so we bought a new Chevy Nova stick shift which lasted us until 1977. It was a nice little economical car when we needed one.

Your Lincoln is a neat car. I always liked the Town Cars. A good friend of Barbs who she used to bowl with always drove them. They were good looking luxurious cars with lots of room. That will be neat to have that "Classic" plate on yours next year.

Take care; my best to your family.

Rick Kepple said...

VA gave a flu shot last year. This second flu has lasted for a few days. Jen confirmed we have night intruders. Should buy an old truck. Fewer problems. Trump might bring back leaded gas. Lol

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

No matter what we say or do shit just keeps happening.

I can honestly say that in my almost 76 years on this planet, I have never had what is generally called the "flu." I hope I don't jinx myself by saying that!

I love the Hollywood rantings over Trump. More power to him pissing off those artificial losers. How would you like to spend an evening listening to people like Meryl Streep and George Clooney cry in their beer? I'll take Trump any day.

Mike Slater said...

Jim,

My computer finally fixed. It cost $380 to get it to work. Computers are great when they work.

Jim McAllister said...

Good to have you back online, Mike. I always enjoy your comments. $380 well spent. I don't know what we would do without computers; quite a convenience.

Rick Kepple said...

Five day flu! Wow! I thought I was gonna die!

I'm thinking of giving up the film and music business thing, Jimmy. The flu seriously burned my bacon! Plus I sleep very little anymore. I can always make films and practice guitar for fun.

I was tracking how that pipeline company got started. Pipeline owns gas company; gas company owns pipeline company; pipeline subsidiary owns gas subsidiary of nearly the same name and one keeps owning the other in SEC reports and investor reports. Finally, the company that created that entire mess is a professional company that specializes in making corporations. They've made 500,000 companies!

I came to realize that it's an illusion to believe that I can even compete with mainstream when all those companies are created by the same entity and they all work with Hollywood entertainers. I will never ever be allowed to succeed. At least I found proof that there is no fair opportunity, unless you suck up. I'm retired.

Rick Kepple said...

Sick again, Jimmy. Now I'm wondering if it's really the flu. I've been having trouble with one of my lungs for some time. My friends think I have pneumonia. I can talk to you guys since no one wants to be around me. Doctors are sending everyone to the emergency room. I don't do hospitals, Jimmy. Might have to. Got no one really to count on.

When you got nobody that you can count on to run the place in your absence, jam it out! Ain't Got Nobody - Santana. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSlNt_hbJk8

That's a nasty flu, Jimmy. Starts out as sinus running. Apparently it did a pretty good number on me. Watch yourself. It messed with my heart and lungs. Be careful.

Jim McAllister said...

Take care, Rick and get better soon.

Mike Slater said...

Jim,

Looking at the cars in the picture makes me wish I would have been older at that time. Growing up in the 50's and 60's I would study the cars of that time and try and guess the make and model and year. It was easier back then especially for the trucks of that time. Plus people could work on them.

We bought a Nissan Rouge SUV last November and it looks like every other SUV. I looked under the hood and decided I couldn't work on it. I long for the days of the 50's and 60's.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I know what you mean. I knew you would enjoy those photos as the parking lot was full of great cars from the 50s and 60s. On the attached photos, enlarge the lower right picture of my two AF buddies and a fellow airman's '57 Chevy. That guy was a great mechanic and saved a lot of us guys money by doing repairs for us. That '57 of his was really a great car. It was a Chevy 210 stick.

I talk to a lot of people who are in their 50s and even 60s who tell me that they have no idea how to drive a stick shift. It's amazing how times change.

Rick Kepple said...

Hey Jimmy. Tornadoes came through the area and of course, I awoke with a wet mattress after once again, the fever broke. I went to the doc and was given lots of drugs and an inhaler. Everyone's got this, so be careful folks, cause it's put people in the hospital! Sinus drainage and turns into pneumonia! I have a heart murmur now, Jimmy.

Those cars you speak of, are often lawn ornaments in the Ozarks.

I don't drive because sometimes I get confused and I don't want to be that guy who gets on the interstate going the wrong way like that guy I saw today. No tickets since 1983 or so. Rather go out on top, you know?

Jen has been very nice lately, Jimmy. A few folks have been very nice in helping out.

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

I know what you mean about the sinus drainage; I've had a lot of that lately too. It's been a weird winter; lots of rain and cold in AZ but forecasts are in the 80s coming up. I'm ready for the heat!

I can only imagine some of the great old cars that are hiding in the Ozarks either in the open or in the barns. It would be fun to be able to check out some of those places. Could be some real gems under all that hay.

Good to see that Jen is treating you OK.

Mike Slater said...

Jim,

I grew up on driving stick shifts because that's all my parents drove. It came in handy when I went to work for the Phone Company because that's all they bought. Most of my early cars and trucks were stick shifts. I didn't have an automatic until 1980.

Driving a stick shift is like learning to ride a bike. Once you learn it you never forget. I haven't owned a stick shift in years but if I had to it would be a piece of cake.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I knew people who claimed they were unable to drive a stick because they couldn't get used to the clutch, shifting gears, etc.. I told them that if they were unable to drive a stick they should not be allowed to get a driver's license because an emergency could occur where transportation was needed and a stick was the only thing available. They didn't like hearing that and, of course, these days it is not a problem since everything is automatic anyway.

I knew many people who just couldn't handle all the shifting, using the clutch, etc. I loved it but when I learned to drive at 11 years old in 1952 I loved going through the gears, etc. At 11 my only problem was seeing through the steering wheel since I was so short at that age. My dad was strictly "old school" and thought it was fine that I knew how to drive so young. He figured "The hell with the law."

I got my license the day I turned 16 and the examiner have me a weird look as if to say "How the hell do you know how to drive on the day you just TURNED 16?" I didn't dare try to be a smart ass and tell him I was a quick learner! lol

Rick Kepple said...

I learned how to drive in the cow pastures and fields, Jimmy. There was a drivers ed teacher, but he remembered my older brother, a hell raiser, and everyone treated me automatically like I was bad. That brother later became a preacher and said I'd turned out to be more reckless than he was!

People think I'm delusional for sitting around and talking about SN, the Army, elk hunts, writers that I've known, and then I pointed out to the younger folks a universal truth. When we are old and most of our glory days are behind us, we sit around the council fire and talk of the great hunts, all metaphorically speaking. Younger folks take us for braggarts, not knowing that we took the risks before computers existed. Today, there is automatic braking so they don't lock up. We had to pump them manually. Life is safer now, but at what cost?

Yah, feeling some better. Still can't lay down or I drown in my own fluids.

Jim McAllister said...

Rick,

In the immortal words of the great Will Rogers: "Gettin' old isn't for sissies."

That pretty much says it for guys like us who are a bit long in the tooth: We've "been there and done that" and we realize that at our ages we can't do what we did at 20 but we try to face facts and get by the best we can. You and I are pretty much in the same boat. I definitely don't feel like I am 20 anymore.

Steve Kloscak said...


Jim, its funny you mention some people can't drive a stick shift. Now driverless cars are coming out. Imagine in a few years, most people will not even be able to drive a car. You just sit there like an idiot in a pod. Another skill lost to humans. I feel sorry for kids growing up now. Future kids will never know how much fun driving can be.

Jim McAllister said...

Steve,

I think you are right. Lifestyles are going to be like the old Buck Rogers of the 20th Century stories. Our lifestyle is becoming a version of the old horse and buggy days giving way to cars. When a car broke down the old timers would holler "Get a horse!" Ultimately, cars did take over and the horse and buggy days ended as kids fell in love with hot rods. Now, the car days as we knew them are disappearing as we knew them. People still use them but, as you said, the pod days are around the corner.

Young people today don't care about cars; they just want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. They live in downtown areas in high rise apartments with no garages. No one wants to be in the suburbs seeing a garage full of kids hanging around a guy working on a '57 Ford. Most of them don't even have driver's licenses and couldn't care less. The allure of the American garage has faded.

It's a shame for us because we loved those days but that's life I guess. Everything keeps changing. I swore at one time that I would always drive a stick shift but I haven't owned one since 1995 when I had a 1990 Chevy Cavalier hatchback stick shift. Great little car; I was doing DJ work in those days and that little heap would hold all my equipment.

Dylan was right: "The times they are a-changin' ".

Mike Slater said...

Jim,

I also got my drivers license on the day I turned 16. I used my grandmothers stick shift Plymouth. Passed the test easily, even the parallel parking.

Both of our kids learned to drive on a stick shift. Of course the only have automatics now but could drive a stick if they had to.

Cars today are much safer and get better mileage but the cars of the 50's and 60's sure looked good.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I took my test on a stick 6 cylinder '54 Ford. I always thought that if someone couldn't drive a stick, they shouldn't be allowed to get a license. Hell, anyone can drive an automatic.

Sticks were great if the battery went dead. Just give the heap a little push and pop the clutch and it would turn over. Never happen on an automatic.

Remember the old dimmer switch on the floor for the headlights? Hell, we don't even have that.

This is just like the car I took my test in in 1957.

Mike Slater said...

Jim,

I popped the clutch a time or two back in the days but the batteries seem to last longer back then. I had the same battery in my 73 Ford truck for 7 years. Today I'm lucky to get 2 years out of a battery.

I do remember the dimmer switch on the floor. I also remember the oil bath air filter on my Uncles 56 Chevy truck. It also had a starter system where you turned the key and then stepped on a little pedal on the floor to start it.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

My first car was a '54 Ford Mainline business coupe. It was a stick, no air, and was a six cylinder. I drove the hell out of it that summer of '57 as I had a full time summer job doing deliveries all over Cincinnati. It really burned some oil so I bought it at Sears in those big gallon cans.

I remember the starter pedal on cars. My heap had a starter button. I'm not sure if the turn key starter was around yet in '57.

I think about those days a lot when I drive my 2013 Hyundai these days. Quite a difference from those days. I doubt if a stick shift is even available on most cars today.

Mike Slater said...

Jim,

My first car was a 62 Plymouth Valiant with a push button automatic with no air and a six cylinder. No air in the Valley is a bummer in the summertime. That was the last car or truck I ever bought with no air.

When I started at the Phone Company in 71 they only bought trucks with no air or radio. They were all painted dark green which meant you didn't dare put your arm out the window in the summertime.

It wasn't til the mid 80's the company bought trucks with A/C and radios.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I almost forgot about the Valiant. Another mistake by Chrysler that failed. We used to call the push button automatic drive the "Push Button Drive." They should have put that one on the shelf next to the glove department record players they put in the '58 Chrysler products.

That must have been fun travelling the Valley in the summer in a truck with no air or automatic. I guess the bright side of was that the cold beer sure tasted good when you got off work.

I was lucky in that the first selling job I had included a '68 Ford wagon with air conditioning. Those Kansas-Missouri summers would have been brutal getting in and out of a hot car all day.

Mike Slater said...

Jim,

What makes you think that I waited until after work to have a cold beer? The ride from Phoenix to the Palo Verde Nuke plant about 4 in the afternoon made one real thirsty.

The biggest problem with the Valiant was the distributor was down low on the side of the engine and would get wet when you would run into water.

I suppose Kansas-Missouri summers had high humidity. The one thing about Arizona it's usually a dry heat until August.

Jim McAllister said...

Mike,

I remember when drinking beer while driving was typical. When a carload of us GI's would go to Kansas City, we always loaded up on a few $1.00 6 packs of Bud or Schlitz to drink on the way.

You're right about the Kansas-Missouri summers: Hot and humid! It was great to have cheap beer and 24 cent a gallon gas. With what we made as GI's we needed all the cheap stuff we could get. I used to stay in a hotel in KC for $2 a night and it wasn't even a dump. I wish we could bring those 1962 prices back.