Did you ever think back about the cars you owned in years past and wish you still had them. Of course you have, we all have I don’t know about you but just seeing an old car in a movie or watching a car show on TV can transport me back to a place I call back-in-the-day.
Well it’s a Friday and its raining. Its also supposed to rain Saturday and Sunday. So, no car shows for me this weekend. Bored, I crank up my TIVO and start watching the American Muscle Car TV shows I had recorded. Somehow I can’t bring myself to delete these shows after I watch them, so there are 22 of them on my TIVO waiting for me to watch them again and again. I randomly pick a show and start it up. Half way through the show, I see my car, a yellow 1969 Torino GT. Not really my actual car, but close enough to cause me to flash back to the cars I used to own back-in-the-day.
I was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania. My first car was a 1949 Ford 4-door flathead V8. It was our well-used family car that was handed down to me when I was 16. My Dad was a coal miner and a backyard mechanic that had raced cars on dirt short tracks, so he helped me make the 49 a bit faster then stock.. I rewarded him by blowing out transmissions on an average of once a month. Actually after I blew the third transmission, a not so subtle warning told me that this would be the last transmission I would blow.
However, by this time my “speed shift” into second gear was famous throughout the neighborhood. Kids marveled at the bent shift lever and the missing ball from the end of the lever that had disintegrated during one of my famous speed shifts. Kids would borrow their father’s car and come looking for me and the 49. And away we would go down to a little 2 lane road behind the burning coal dumps. This was our drag strip. At night the burning dumps lit up the area with vibrant multi-colored flames running up their massive sides, creating a surreal atmosphere that still lives in my memory. Drag racing, partying, parking, all in the glow of burning coal dumps were my teenage years.
OK, back to the 49. The 49 was the common Ford dark blue color of that era. I painted it a light blue. Actually my Father and I painted it, actually my Father painted it. In any case it was light blue. My after school job, in my uncle’s store, provided the money for light blue seat covers. I also bought some white vinyl material and covered the door panels and package tray. I came across a pair of 57 Mercury Turnpike cruiser skirts, a kid down the block had. He said he found them on the side of the road. I traded him a 2 carb. “Y” manifold, I had somehow acquired, for the skirts. The light blue 49 with it’s Turnpike Cruiser skirts became famous in the neighborhood, and it was quite a sight as it rolled on through the neighborhood with its glasspaks blaring. Life was good, back-in-the-day.
I don’t have any pictures of the 49, except in my memory. The Turnpike Cruiser skirts out lived the 49 and ended up on my next two cars, a 50 Ford and 54 Ford. I sold the 49 to a neighborhood kid for $90. He paid me $40 up front. I never saw the rest of the money. Hey, that was my neighborhood, and that’s how it was back-in-the-day.