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Folks Of Interest The Road Rebels of Saugus Massachusetts circa 1957

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by safariknut, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. Remembering the old days today I got to thinking about the first car club in Saugus and some of the members and their cars.Don't have any pictures but perhaps someone on the forum here may have some to contribute.For now it will just have to be a trip back in time.
    In 1957 I was in the 8th grade going to Saugus Junior High and had been striping for about two years but had yet to do an actual car.That was to happen in the summer of that years but that is a story for another time.
    Right next to the junior high school there was a guy who worked for a local Ford dealer and drove a brand new 56 Ford F-100 small window.It had a 272 in it with a 3 speed.The body was painted a beautiful blue metallic and he had the interior done in red and white tuck and roll.A white tonneau cover with a red and white pleated diamond in the middle.The finishing touches were red painted wheels with 56 Mercury wheel covers and a set of chrome stacks coming up just behind the cab made for a beautiful sound as he backed out of his driveway as I walked by in the morning.Sometimes he'd see me looking and chirp the tires a bit as he took off.His name was Jack Husler and he was one of the founders of the Road Rebels.Jack is still alive and living in Florida and I talked with him a couple years ago and he is still into hot rods.
    My cousin Dick Manley was another member who started with a custom 47 Plymouth sedan;worked up to a 51 Merc and eventually went on to have several hot rods;a couple of which were featured in many magazines.
    Another was Jack Keaney who had a great little 50 Ford coupe in red primer that had a pretty serious flathead in it until he decided to put a 265 Chevy in it in 58 or 59.He opened a body shop in the early 1960's doing mostly Corvettes(I worked for him for awhile)and his last good car was a 62 Corvette he bought new and three weeks later lost his license for a year.I could write a book just about the goings on at his shop!
    Some other members were Al Rohrbacher who had a great 53 Ford Victoria semi custom;Alvin Sproul who had a nice custom 55 Merc 2 door sedan;Ledger Little who owned a black 40 ford coupe with a full house flathead and never had a hood on it.
    Paul Bourque had a beautiful chopped 52 Olds hardtop custom painted metallic green with a 54 Chevy grille and later built a beautiful chopped and channeled 32 Ford pickup full fendered with sidemounts.His brother Bill had a fuel injected 57 Chevy 2 door sedan that was a real sleeper.
    The membership flucuated over the years and by the mid 1960's it was pretty much history. There were also a lot of cars in town whose owners did not belong to the club.The Hohmann brothers(Charlie and Jimmie)had a 50 Chevy hardtop and 50 Olds convertible respectively. Cherlie bought a 61 Corvette new (315 hp FI)and his license plate was the first "vanity" plate that actually wasn't.Charlie had polio when he was a kid and wore a leg brace on his left leg.(there is an interesting story about him racing the Corvette at Thompson CT and them having to duct tape his foot to the clutch pedal so it wouldn't fall off)so he qualified for a handicapped license plate.The Massachusetts plates started with the letters HP and his number was HP315;coincidentally the horsepower rating of his Corvette.
    His brother Jimmie's Olds was a semi custom and sported a louvered hood.He finally had to tape a thin piece of metal under the hood to block off the louvers as the engine had so much blow-by it would cover the windshield with oil after several miles of driving!
    Anyway I could go on but my two typing fingers are getting cramps so I'll save some stories for another day.Hope you enjoy reading some old duffer's memories and feel free to chime in.
  2. GordonC
    Joined: Mar 6, 2006
    Posts: 2,401


    I love to hear these old stories as I grew up in Mass. from about 1963 on. I now live in in NC. As a kid I worked at a Citgo station for cokes, wash a car for a buck, clean the station, pump gas on occasion. One time Fred Steel pulled in in one of his roadsters, maybe a purple 31 Model A, not sure as it was a long time ago, but that car just about blew my mind. He came back sometime later I think in a T bucket. Seems the guy had all kinds of cars! There were some crazy characters in the area I lived as well but I was only 12 years old and they were older so I just heard the stories about their crazy exploits and occasionally helped one or two of them work on their cars when they came into the station. Thanks for the nostalgia trip!
    Joined: Aug 22, 2011
    Posts: 1,247

    from mass

    Great read, thanks man. Hope someone has some pics to add !!!
  4. Good read,a little spacing would have made it easier to read.;)

    But very interesting early history,hopefully someone has some old photos. HRP

  5. Church Key
    Joined: Nov 30, 2004
    Posts: 1,513

    Church Key

    Ray, Nice story... Here is a scan of one the club courtesy cards. Road Rebels card front.jpg
  6. Church Key
    Joined: Nov 30, 2004
    Posts: 1,513

    Church Key

  7. Thanks for the suggestion HRP; I'll try double spacing;maybe that will help.

    I spoke to my cousin Dick awhile ago to ask him about one member's name that I had forgotten and he said

    That he had a group picture of the club taken around 1959. He is going to try and e-mail it to me and it will

    be posted when I receive it.

    A couple more members were Dick Knight whose first car was a yellow and black 55 Ford Sunliner that

    he got brand new while he was a senior in high school. He later purchased a 57 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser

    (with the optional quad headlights) that was painted white and orchid (!) and sported a continental tire on

    the back which made it about as long as a Greyhound bus. A rare car even then!

    Another member was Dickie Clark who had a magenta and black 55 Ford Fairlane 2 door hardtop that was

    mildly customized. Also Phil Devonshire who owned a custom 53 Chevrolet 2 door sedan(light blue and

    white if I recall correctly).

    He also mentioned someone I had forgotten completely: Frankie Lee who had purchsed Paul Bourque's

    chopped 52 Olds and painted it a light orchid (!). I guess that was a popular color then;I remember buying

    a pair of pegged pants that were charcoal gray with a light pink insert in the side. I'm sure all the old guys

    reading this will remember pegged pants.

    After he tired of it he sold it to a friend of mine(Paul Adams) who before he got his license managed to blow

    the engine in it going up and down his driveway ! I had a chance to buy it in that condition for $50 but at

    16 fifty dollars might as well have been five thousand. Paul had to get it out of his driveway so before it

    got sent to the junkyard he and his brothers jumped up and down on the roof and smashed all the windows.

    Towards the end of the club there were a few more members that joined the club. Richie LeBlanc had a

    black 57 Ford 300 2 door sedan that was an ex- State Police car and was really fast. Another member was

    Jack English who had a custom 53 Ford convertible bright red that I put a bunch of white striping on.

    He also had the "club car" which was a 33 Hudson coupe that the club had bought with the idea of building a

    drag car. That idea fizzled quickly as club participation in anything was dwindling so he was trying to get

    rid of it. I wound up buying it for $5 (just a body and frame) and I started building it in my back yard which

    didn't make my grandfather all that happy. It got as far as being a roller with a non-running Olds engine

    when I swapped it off for 3 motorcycles (in pieces and not all were there).

    As an aside the car sported a dropped beam axle with split bones and 40 Ford brakes that I had swapped

    ny friend Ken for striping his T roadster. The T was the first car I striped that wound up in a magazine

    (Hot Rod November 1963).Although I had striped it in 1961 it took nearly 2 years to show up in print which was

    pretty much standard back then. Not like today when it may only be a month or two.

    Anyways that is it for tonight;I have an early day tomorrow striping a PT Cruiser.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  8. deadbeat
    Joined: May 3, 2006
    Posts: 522


    just cant get enough of these stories,,thank you
  9. Rob Leal
    Joined: Apr 2, 2017
    Posts: 3

    Rob Leal

  10. Rob Leal
    Joined: Apr 2, 2017
    Posts: 3

    Rob Leal

    I believe there is a book in the works written by the founding member's daughter aptly titled, "Finding the Road Rebels" in which she tells of her search to find out about her dad and the club. I can't wait til it's available.
  12. Ray, I love your stories as I live in the Middlesex county of Massachusetts and witnessed some great times here in the early 60's and 70's.
  13. I was surprised to see this post at the top of the page today;I thought it had faded into oblivion. Here are a couple of pictures of Road Rebels members' cars. The first is Jack Husler's 56 Ford pickup.This pic was likely taken around 1957. The second one is my cousin Dick Manley's 34 Ford roadster turned coupe around 1960. This car was originally built by Fred Manning starting around 1952. JackHusler's1956FordTruck.jpg Dicks34CoupeRoadster.jpg
  14. Missed this thread Ray. Did we ever speak about their car club plaque. Well so happens I have the original pattern that was used by Chicago Metal Craft to make their original plaques: upload_2021-3-30_21-38-48.png
    lothiandon1940 and kidcampbell71 like this.
  15. 32 hudson
    Joined: Mar 5, 2005
    Posts: 759

    32 hudson

    Thanks Ray for the great stories and memories. Following and subscribed.
  16. WOW! I cannot believe that this post surfaced again! First posted it almost 7 years ago and people are still reading it.
    Since the original post I got in touch with Jack Husler who was one of the original members and had the 56 Ford pickup I posted the pic of. I also got in contact with Bill(Grubby) Lawrence who owned a sleeper 55 Chevy.
    My cousin Dick Manley unfortunately is not doing well health-wise but still hanging in there.My very good friend Jack Keaney sadly has passed away as has another member(Al Sproul)who had a really nice semi-custom 55 Mercury. Still haven't found any other members of the club.
    Here are a couple of pictures I found on one of the hometown web sites that was posted by a girl who dated my cousin back then.
    The car show pic I believe was taken at either the commonwealth Armory in Boston or the Topsfield Fairgrounds;both of which held car shows around that time.Probably 1958 or 59.EDIT:Just noticed the 1960 Mass inspection sticker on the windshield.
    The picture of the 51 Mercury was taken before that ;probably 1957. The picture of Dick and Jack Husler was probably taken around 1960 as Jack had gotten rid of the truck and bought the 57 Ford which was an ex-State Police car(never knew why they had a 2 door)and re-painted it light blue and installed the 59 Ford grille and the accessory quad headlights.
    Hope you enjoy the pictures and thanks for bringing back some old memories! DickManley34Ford.jpg DickManley51Merc.jpg DickManleyJackHusler.jpg DickManley34Ford.jpg DickManley51Merc.jpg DickManleyJackHusler.jpg

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