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Was Anyone Here Actually There?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Tony Bones, May 8, 2005.

  1. I'd like to know how many HAMB'ers participated in the 40's/50's/60's car culture.

    This would mean you're in your 80's/70's/60's now, if my math serves me well.
  2. seldom scene
    Joined: Oct 9, 2002
    Posts: 867

    seldom scene

    I was there, I was lucky enuf to have seen a lot of american culture grow, and evolve, by being an active participant. Some might say too active for my own good, but by the Grace of God I have lived to tell the story. It sure would be nice if I could remember it.
  3. That musta been a helluva good time back then... Especially when you read in old magazines and stuff... It really grabs me I have to say..

    I bet Elmo Rodge can tell you some good stories...
    Doctor G likes this.
  4. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,758

    Member Emeritus

    I was there for most of the 60's and I just turned 60.

    As pimply faced snot nosed kid I worshiped the hot rod gods that drove the cool cars in the late 50s.
    lothiandon1940, bowie and czuch like this.

  5. I guess I can qualify since I went to High School 54-58 driving 30s, 32s, 34s, 40s, all Fords, except for the 47 chevy aerosedan tudor. Damn, never quite kicked the habit!!! OH WELL!! Elvis Lives!! I can even remember before Elvis, I think!!
    LOU WELLS likes this.
  6. Oh Ya, I forgot, in late 58 thru early 61, I was helping to build brand new "707s" in Renton driving a 34 Ford and a 56 F 100. Did a little Drag racing at Bayview at Mt Vernon and Arlinton and Shelton. Couldnt do much as Boeing only paid $1,88 an hour and gas was 18 to 21 cents at the "Lil Stinker" stations. Ballard Drive in was hot as was the Barrel in Renton.
    Was a charter member of the Nobles car club in Seattle and the King County Youth Auto Council. Used to have Fri nite grudge, "run what you brung", drags at "Thun Field" in Puyallup. Oh so long ago!! "And thats the way it was"!!!!
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2009
    warbird1 likes this.
  7. Bluto
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 5,113

    Member Emeritus

    I was a MF'n Biker I think I remember some-a-it :cool:

    Your Dad would hide your mom when I rode by!
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  8. Mutt
    Joined: Feb 6, 2003
    Posts: 3,219


    Yes it was. And it's a shame that no one who wasn't there can't really experience it, no matter how hard you try, by listening to music, wearing clothes, or building cars. Without the memories, it's just not the same. When I hear a song from back then, I'm transported back to a memory of growing up, at a time when the country was undergoing it's greatest period of change - the post war years. It was a better place back then, in my opinion, simpler and safer.
    When I look back on it now, it seems like a flash in time - but it was a lifetime of memories.

    As a side note - as I was typing this, "Sixty Minute Man" by the Dominoes started playing on my jukebox. Pure '50's...I just turned 61.

    48fordnut and hounddogjake like this.
  9. av8
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 1,716


    I started reading HOT ROD magazine in 1949 at age 12, my first NHRA membership card bore number 138 and I watched as Wally Parks signed it in the offices of Petersen Publishing on Hollywood Boulevard (when Wally was still editor of HRM), I was a co-holder (briefly) of a national A/Fuel coupe record in 1954 (when class A was small displacment motors -- we had a 221 flathead alky motor with a 180-degree crank, in a channeled '32 3W), I raced NHRA A Stock and Super Stock with a new Chevy "Black Widow" in 1957-1959 until I began motorcycle racing (H&H, TT, and scrambles).

    For me, hot-rod spectating back in the day included sportscar racing (Pomona, Santa Barbara, Paramount Ranch, Hansen Dam, Palm Springs, Torrey Pines), hydros and crackerboxes (Long Beach Marine Stadium), and jalopy (hardtop) racing (Western Speedway) as well as dry lakes and drags (as a participant). Raced at Saugus on Saturday nights and San Fernando (The Pond) on Sundays, occasionally ventured to Pomona, San Gabriel, Colton, Inyokern (for cherry picking) in the early days, later to Riverside, Lions, Irwindale, Carlsbad, Orange County, LACR, and Famoso.

    Does any of this count?:)
  10. willowbilly3
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 4,356

    Member Emeritus
    from Sturgis

    I was a kid in the 60s but I lived in some hotrod dream world, pumped gas in 64 when I was 11-12. There were NO prewar cars of any sort left on the roads. I remember coming out of the movies and hearing one helluva rumble. Around the corner came a black 631/2 427 Galaxy with the dumps open, it had the name "Bad News" on the bottom of the fender. I've wanted one of those every since.
  11. In the 60's, when everyone was into the drug culture and its music, I was listening to the Beach Boys and running my dragster and circle track cars. I wasn't even aware of all that other crap. was a different time for sure.....and better !!
    hounddogjake likes this.
  12. You bet it does, all of it!! Another of the "LUCKY ONES" !! I would not trade it for any other time!! These were the best, only those of us that were there really know!!
    48fordnut likes this.
  13. I think so.I striped my first real car in 1957 after practicing for a couple of years on composition paper,the headboard of my bed,the old kitchen sink,and just about any other surface that would accept paint.
    My first real job working on a real car was helping a friend of mine's older brother install another engine in his 53 Ford hardtop.We had to pull the engine from a wrecked 49 Ford(which was standard shift)and then the one from his 53(a Ford-O-Matic),try and bolt up the trans to the 49(not fun)and then re-install the assembly into the 53.Only took a MONTH!
    My first car was a 33 Hudson coupe I bought for $5 from the local hot rod club that had visions of building a race car(only visions)and lost interest in the project.I managed to get the body work done presentably and running gear under it when I swapped it off for a 29 A sedan that had been made into a touring.Started putting a 52 Olds in that and swapped it off for the remains of 3 motorcycles(an AJS 500,a 350 Royal Enfield,and a 125 H-D).Too many parts were missing so those got sold off and I started with 50 Oldsmobiles.Had a couple of those until Uncle Sam called.
    Built everything mostly by swapping paint work for parts or services with very little cash outlay.
    Yes it was a very interesting period of time and I wouldn't change one bit of it even if I could.
    TigerFan likes this.
  14. Junkyard Jan
    Joined: Jan 7, 2005
    Posts: 739

    Junkyard Jan
    Member Emeritus

    Yep, I was heavily involved in the car culture of the '60s, but I didn't do the drive-in crap like you see in American Grafitti. That kind of stuff didn't happen in NE Ohio to the best of my knowledge. My family raced circle burners and I started racing myself in '68. I was also involved in the peace and love generation stuff. Smoked a lot of dope, but nothing heavier. I'd rather hear Jefferson Airplane than Elvis. We had a lot of fun back then, but considering all, the '60s were a rough time to grow up. I'm 54, BTW.

  15. mikes51
    Joined: Oct 4, 2001
    Posts: 2,195


    That means we saw Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show live. Before that, we had to settle for the "Hit Parade" tv music show with Dorothy Collins, Snooky Lansen, and Giselle Mckenzie.
  16. 51 MERC-CT
    Joined: Apr 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,594

    51 MERC-CT

    Was there in the early 50's B.B. (Before Bondo). That's when lead sleds were really lead sleds. Most Rods were Flathead powered and a few were Olds Rocket 88 powered.:) :D
    LOU WELLS likes this.
  17. I don't know if it counts as participation, I didn't build my first car until '68. But I was there for the whole '60s thing. Spent a lot of time around cars and builders. I'm in my 50s.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  18. seldom scene
    Joined: Oct 9, 2002
    Posts: 867

    seldom scene

    Those of us who were there have different memories according to the region we grew up in. When I read the stories 40 stude dude writes I remember the fights that teenage guys got in in the 5o's and early 60's. Happened here too, but in San Diego there was a lot going on, a lot of it was car related. The surf culture was alive along with affordable woodies. My friends had 40 and 42 ford woodies, and a surf rat 46 sedan delivery. I had a 50 merc woodie that my "good friend "wrecked and sold while I was in basic training. The bastard still hasn't given me the 50 bucks he got for the wreecked car! My first car was a 38 Buick w/2 chrome 97's on a big ass straight 8. Next came the first in a series of 50 Oldsmobiles, and lots of 49 Chevys. In about 58 my friend and I made a pact that we would never build a shoebox ford because there were so many of them they had become boring. Now that I'm typing this I'm starting to come to my senses and forgive Howard for the Merc fiasco, and keep my eyes open for a clean 51 ford custom for the wife. This is going on too long, there have been at least 100 cars since then, a 42 Cad hearse comes to mind, but it all started in the late 40's when I saw my first hot rod, I've been hooked ever since.
  19. derelict
    Joined: Nov 28, 2001
    Posts: 490


    I remember my sister going out with this guy driving a taildragger '41 Chevy. He belonged to one of the local Bay Area clubs. This was around 1954. I was about eleven and seeing this car hooked me, I was lost forever. Later I got to go to Kingdon Drag Strip, my first trip. Saw Garlits come out and get beat before he went to SoCal and learned about blowers. Used to go to some of the local car shows, San Jose, San Mateo, and Oakland. I remeber seeing the Ala Kart for the first time and knowing I had to get a '29 RPU. Finally did. Worked at Fremont Drag Strip when it first opened until I got drafted. Worked at the General Motors plant for ten years and saw the first GTO come through the line. Between that GTO (the portent of the muscle car deal) and Viet Nam things kind of changed, not that it was all bad. Now, though I see a lot of the values and tastes, the way of doing things instead of just buying things, coming back. You can see it right here the way people are building and racing the way they want too. Not the way they're marketed and told to do.
    wojojo and LOU WELLS like this.
  20. Got started in the late 40's when dad took me to one of L.A.'s first big car shows. Late models, roadsters - which totally fascinated me - and lots of interesting stuff.

    Ran the streets in the mid to late 50's in a variety of flathead and Olds powered 50 Ford coupes and one 49 Ford coupe.

    Late 50's to early 60's ran my own cars at the following dragstrips:
    San Fernando
    Santa Ana
    Santa Maria
    Long Beach

    Early 60's and beyond, drove little brothers built 54 Ford at Palmdale and San Fernando.

    Somewhere in the 70's and into the 90's, drove little brothers drag racing Henry J at:
    Terminal Island

    Spectated at:
    Orange County
    and most of the above named strips.

    Got to walk the shut down San Gabriel dragstrip after it'd been sold.
    A lotta ghosts there, that was for sure.
    Never got to drive there or even spectate, but walking the strip all the way to the end of the shut down area sure gave a guy time to think.
    I swear, you could still smell the nitro.

    We built our own cars, strong ones in some cases and had more fun than is legally allowed.
    Especially in the street racing arena.
    It wasn't smart nor safe, but it was a quieter time and there were many lonesome roads around.

    I'm still building cars and hoping Kingman gets their own dragstrip before long although Las Vegas speedway isn't too far away.

    As a few of you know, I knock out books and short stories pertaining to the era and usually about the kids I grew up with.

    I'll post a reprise of one of my favorite short stories in another post.
    I hope it will give some of you an idea of how it was - in my town anyway.
    Every town did it a little different and every story is a little different.
    Which doesn't make the way things went on in my town right or wrong, just that, that's the way it happened where I lived.

    The town had it all though.
    The beach, great weather, hot rods galore and beautiful young women.

    It was a time like no other and try as hard as we can - all of us - we're only gonna catch a taste of what it was really like.
    And maybe that's enough.

    Visits, even through the written word are pleasant, but living through it all was a whole other thing....
  21. OldRacer
    Joined: Feb 17, 2002
    Posts: 56


    I was there.Probably before a lot of others on here.I'm 74 yrs young now, and of course memory is one of the first things to go!!!
    My first car was a 34chevy 4dr, I remember a few of us guys piling in and going to a dance a few towns away. rod tried to let go on the way home, pulled into a late night station, put it on the rack, cleaned out the old babbit, inserted a well oiled hunk of my belt and off we went, made it to withing a mile of the house when the rod exited the side of the block.
    Next car was 32 highboy roadster,nice car till i channeled it and made a mess of it. next was a 41chevy cpe, nosed and decked it, lowered the ass end, skirts, flicker hubcaps, spots, pearl white, myalltime favorite car!!! About this time the principal thought it a good idea if i joined the army since i wasn't at school much anyway.
    Ended up in Ft Bragg NC where some california buddies and i formed a cc called the TarCalTachers, a great timeterrorizeing the local boys, ever rented our own shop.When i left for Korea I GAVE away a cherry 32 3 windows i had just started on to a buddy who was left there.
    After the service i had several cars, 53 olds, 50 merc, had a 34 5 widow with a big flatty, 3 7/16 thaqt i ran in A/Altered. Was at Madera calif in 54 for the Northern Calif Nationals, made it to the final four till i blew a shift. Art Chrisman was there, as were the bean bandits.Mickey Thompson showed up with a paper mache liner type dragster, every run a few more pieces of the mache flew off. his tow truck was a beautiful 40 ford pu, and the push truck was a twin with spare motors on racks in the back, quite an operation.Nitro was kinda new then so it was interesting watching the big boys come back from their runs and secretly huddle around the nitro jugs with their measuring stuff. Later put the flattie in a 37ford sedan hardtop that i built and raced at vallejo speedway, won my first race with it too!!!
    We had a club in Vallejo called the NorthBay Rodsters, held road races in the closed up federal shipyard housing projects, put on 1/2 mile drags at an abandend airstrip near Davis calif.
    Married a ready made family and worked my ass off for several years, go back into racing with supers and sprinters in the seventies, off and on for the next years till a few years ago when i built another 37 sedan hardtop that i race a few times a year now. Actually built it after Mike (av8) started a thread on here and most everyone else backed out.
    Had some great years, some great times. Certainly a different world out there now and i don't envy you guys trying to raise a family in this day and age, I salute you!!!!!!
    Sorry for the manuscript!!!! didn't mean to ramble so.........
  22. Everytime when I come back at places like El Mirage, Bonneville, Famoso, Palmdale, or Whittier Blvd, whatever..!! I try to imagine how it would've looked 50 years ago... And I think of all the cool stuff that has happened there...

    Just plain fuckin' bitchin'!!!!
    LOU WELLS likes this.
  23. JimC
    Joined: Dec 13, 2002
    Posts: 2,234

    from W.C.,Mo.

    I grew up with a dad that was into the 30s and 40s,So I was too. Then Since I graduated high school in 1958, I was into the 50s and 60s and so on.

    It is enlightening to me to find out now that it was different (just listen to the 19 to 35 year old guys tell you how it was) than it was while I was going though the time of my life.

    My sincerest wish was and is to be a high school senior with a great car and some spending cash all ny life.

  24. I remember being pissed when Rod and Custom went from a quarter to 35 cents an issue. I also remember painting my first car useing the exhaust end of my Mom's vacuum cleaner for a compressor.

    On the good side, I can remember the first of the glass surfboards. Very cool.

    But hell man, that wasn't toooo long ago. Hahahahaha
  25. Droptank
    Joined: Jan 15, 2004
    Posts: 122


    I worshiped hotrods in the 50's and got my first car in 1963. It was a 1939 standard Ford coupe with a 1948 Mercury flathead. Offenhauser heads and four barrel manifold, 39 trans and banjo rear. We use to change the trans out about every other weekend.
  26. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,758

    Member Emeritus

    I graduated in '62. Saved for 6 months at 2.30 an hr (good money then) to buy my first car..


    Before I got it tagged, I had portawalls, baby Moons and beauty rings on it in the back yard. I blew the 318 up and dropped a 63 383 in it with an Isky cam. It sounded great but with no gears, it was no racer.

    I was a "Mo rat" for many years every night at the Mighty Mo just like Happy Days but no roller skates. Lots of street racing. We had some pretty bad cars that hung out there. 55 Chevy, tilt glass front end, plexiglass windows with every interior metal panel looking like swiss cheese. He claimed it was a 301(no side motor mnts) but it had a stoker in it. A sixty impala was one of the first to get a big block from a Corvette in 66 and of course all the GTO's SS Chevelles. We even had a Buick with a BB that surprised more than one visitor from the neighboring city's Mos. Several L-79 Chevy IIs and Chevelles. A few Mopars but mostly stage 1 stuff. Not very many Ford muscle cars that raced anyway.

    One memorable night on 295 with the Washington Monument lit up in the back ground, an altered wheel base 56 Chevy sedan (yes the rear wheels were moved forward) offered to spot my buddys L-79 Chevy II 2 cars. It was hard to get any takers with an altered wheel base. He was used to dusting the box stock L-79s This Chevy II had a rear and some additional work done and pulled 2 more cars on him out of the gate. The BB 56 pulled the front wheels and looked impressive but the Chevy II was gone.

    I was building a 38 Chevy coupe gasser style for the street not to race (that was too expensive) just a cool looking hot rod for the street. I had a Kellison roller that was too much for me to handle back then. Then Uncle Sam said son I want you! yes sir!
  27. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,728


    Like AV8 I started with a magazine, but it was Hop Up in 1951 and I was 11. I've been into it ever since, although more as a wannabe/spectator than as a builder/racer.

    My first car was a '41 Studebaker Champion, before I had a license. I've had 35 other cars since -- American & foreign, prewar & postwar, sportscars & muscle cars -- most of them customized or modified in some way.

    In high school I belonged to the BlockBusters car club of West LA, and occasionally raced at San Fernando and elsewhere, but rarely won a race.

    Went to Art Center to study automotive design and became interested in sports cars and road racing. Worked in Europe for a year as an apprentice at BMW and Frank Costin. After returning home, went to a lot of races and worked as a tech inspector for Cal Club. Raced a Lotus Super 7 in vintage races in CA and MN.

    After several years working in aerospace, went to work for Mattel in '68 and remained in the toy industry for most of the next 35 years. Worked on toy cars at Mattel, Zee, Tomy, Aurora, Tonka, Cox, Galoob; finally returned to Mattel and retired as VP Design on Hot Wheels in '03.

    While I was living in the midwest (1979-92), my old enthusiasm for hot rods and customs came back with a vengeance, and I've been in that part of the hobby ever since.

    Being a car guy was a lot cheaper way back when, but it's never been any easier than it is now. The number of publications and vendors, eBay and the internet, shows and clubs and repro parts make it very easy to find even obscure stuff, to share knowledge, and to hang out with kindred souls. How amazing that guys we BS with every day about old time customs are in Holland and Germany!!

    I still have that 1951 issue of Hop Up. My most recent car acquisition is a '24 T track roadster. I'll be 65 in a couple of months.
    Hnstray and lothiandon1940 like this.
  28. buffaloracer
    Joined: Aug 22, 2004
    Posts: 801

    from kansas

    First car in 1961. Was hooked way before that. It was a great time. The HAMB Drags last year brought back a lot of memories. It may not have been exactly the same but it sure was a great time. Still have some of the old stuff and hope to get something together for this year.
  29. av8jon
    Joined: Dec 3, 2004
    Posts: 607


    I was there through all the 50s. I grew up around race cars, and racing as my dad had hardtops, then supermodifieds running flatheads. I helped get a hot rod club started in my small home town at age 14. I bought every rod and/or custom magazine that hit the news stand and really learned hot rodding through them, my friend's cars and helping my dad work on the race cars. I had a 39 merc sedan that I couldn't drive on the street because I wasn't old enough. It was in rough shape but ran good. Of course I managed to sneak in several miles driving it on the old rural roads as we lived on the outer edge of town. My first car after I had my license was a cherry 48 Ford Two door with a flatty...............6 cyl. that my dad thought was a good deal! UGH I made the best of it and soon had it nosed and decked and flamed the hood and trunk to cover the body work. During my teenage years I laid out a lot of flames and scallops for panel painting and did a lot of pin striping after they were sprayed. I soon traded the 48 6 cyl for a 47 V8 that was totally devoid of chrome, gray primer, no front bumper, lowered the max in the rear, dual pipes, 39 tranny, fender skirts, white walls, red wheels, chrome lug nuts, and no hub caps. I gave $25 to boot. I painted "The Gray Ghost" (I also did sign painting as a teenager) on it as names on cars was becoming a fad. That was my ride through School years. When I graduated and had a better job I gathered pieces to build an "A" roadster and worked in a metal fab shop where they let me work after hours on my project. It didn't get near completion because I was soon married and had a couple kids and no extra money for toys. After a number of years I started road racing with the SCCA, then Midgets, Then bought a hotrod T bucket......not fad T. Fast forward to 98 and I got a copy of the Bishop/Tardel book and decided it was time to do a roadster project very similar to what I had started as a teenager with the same kind of mill my dad ran in the supermodifieds. My dad's racing and reading every rod magazine I could get my hands on were the reason I've always been a gearhead. I wasn't deeply involved in rodding "hands on" in the 50s but there sure wasn't anything going on in the country that I wasn't reading about and dreaming about.
  30. I graduated high school in '66. I can remember my car-buddy and I walking downtown to the Chevy dealer in late '62 to see the new Corvette Stingray. I also remember riding my bike 10 miles [last 2 miles were gravel] to work on the Model A coupe my dad's cousin gave me early in '62...{Where were you in '62?}
    Built a flathead [my first engine rebuild] in '64 for my 50 Ford Crestliner..tried to do some streetracing but the other guys had OHVs....So I got one too.
    Bought a decent 245 HP 56 Olds convertible for $250...I was makin 75 cents an hour bussing dishes in a Chinese food resturaunt...
    Usta ride around "the gut" in Gary Meyer's 63 Impala SS [300 hp 327, 4 speed] in Redmond, Oregon listening to Wolf Man Jack on the AM radio......if it was a clear night, the radio reception was good all the way from "XERB IN CHULA VISTA CALIFOHNIA, BABYYYYYYYY!" 100,000 watts.
    Streetraced my dad's new '64 Ranchero with 260, 4 speed but the boys with the 283, 4 speed 55 chevys [and there a LOT of 'em] would beat my ass after 2nd gear.....Hung with my pardner, Jim and street raced his 56 Pontiac 317, 4 barrel, hydro car..surprised a lotta chevy guys.....only 1 competitive y-block ford in our little town.........Bobby Audrain's 312, 4 speed '56 Vicky.
    Only 1 girl in our high school got pregnant in the 4 years I was there...never saw pot 'til I went in the service in late '66.
    Had to buy Chrome reverse wheels and cheater slicks on time in 65 at the local Les Schwab tire center for my 55 ford mainline 2 door. The 272, 3 speed OD wasn't man enough to spin the slicks unless it was wet out but it looked fast....
    Came back from Europe [Thanks, Uncle Sam] in '69 and immediately dropped a 389, 4 speed in my 57 Pontiac 2 door sedan I'd bought home on leave in '68. Usta cruise it on Broadway in Portland, Oregon. What a time that was!!! You should have seen it..........cruisin Broadway in the late 60's was fuckin insane! Picture this:
    It's late summer in 1969, in Portland, oregon......warm summer night with 3 lanes of one-way traffic for about 2 miles...Led Zeppelin screamin from the stereos..stop light every single block. All 3 lanes are completely full of hot rods and muscle cars........for as far as you could see.....chicks in daddy's Ramblers and Oldsmobiles and wall-to-wall 55-57 chevys, 442 olds, Chevelles and 'Vettes. Vegas and pintos hadn't been invented yet. VW bugs were hot.Max wedge plymouths and cudas with was sensory overload, man!!!
    Everybody had a beer or bottle of wine or a bong...parked cars were lining both sides of the "gut" for 2 miles going south, around the block and head back up the hill for 2 miles, around the block and back down the hill 2 miles..over and over, all night.
    Races were arranged downtown and run out on the freeway or on Marine was crazy! Some idiots would even block off the street for one stoplight cycle and run 3 wide for a block.....and pray your brakes were good.
    Girls were met and asked to ride around with you for "awhile".... and they went! There were always chicks willing to cruise with you in your hotrod...
    I met my first wife right there on Broadway...cruising with her girlfriend in the G.F.'s light green 65 impala and I was stylin in my jacked up 57 Poncho sedan [with the 389, 4 speed] with my buddy, Rick ridin shotgun.....
    Somebody, STOP ME! Help, I've fallen into the 60's and I can't get up!
    It was a lotta fun, alright
    bowie, buhdbuhd and lothiandon1940 like this.

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