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this email from Bill.....

FIFTY'S ERA ORIGINAL DETROIT RODDER---- THAT'S ME !!

I was one of the guys that bought a brand new ' 55 ' Chevy. hardtop convertible as they called them, Totally made it bad to cruise into the streets of Detroit with all my buddies along for the fun, radio running rampantly along the way.

The new V/8 sounded so nice with what were dubbed to be called hollywood mufflers back then. Of course I did the necessary California rake on the front end to give it the bad look and bobbled ride feel. I made many rides to the Hollywood Shop in Detroit, can not remember the street it was on, but think it was Plymouth Rd. I'd go there to get things like ' Jimmy Jones' bubble skirts, Tachometer, gauges .etc. I must mention a guy that worked there by the name of Don, He could tell you anything you needed to know about anything cars.

To me he was the guru of the Detroit Hot Rod Culture. I did all my own work on my car, also worked on couple of buddies cars too. Had my engine work done by a little machine shop on Edwald Circle St. in Detroit called Lishin or Lichen Engineering. Joe, the owner was very popular for exchange camshafts for fifty bucks you could exchange your stock cam for a reground grind of what ever duration range you wanted.

Back then if you didn't have a different camshaft than stock ya just might as well forget about looking for any racing challenges as you cruised the many drive-ins all around town. I used to burn up a whole tank of gas in a night of cruising. I could get 0 to 60 in 5 seconds with a powerglide. I was beating stick shifts as I didn't have to shift and lose r.p.m. as they did with stick shifts. Of course the reason I didn't have to shift was because I could go all the way up to 6000 r.p.m. in 1st. gear. That car was wonderful, It was what dreams are made of ! All for now, PS, anybody that wants to talk cars, this old rodder is ready to talk.

thanks Bill ........... 03/08/2002


This email from Patricia......

These were the most memorable years of my life. The horsehair petticoats and full gathered skirts. The cinch belts that made our waist look like Scarlet O'Hara's. The bobby socks and white loafers. the poodle skirts. the music and the cherry cokes and chicken salad sandwiches at Culpepper's drug store. Elvis, and Nat King Cole, Fats Domino, Johnny Mathis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bobby Darrin. James Dean, Sal Mimeo. The Hilltop Drive-In. The local radio station, with Bobby English. The movie theatres with Mr. Strange. The local park with the swings and picnic tables. Our town was wonderful and so were the fifties.. I wish I were still there.

Thanks Patricia....... 02/17/2002


This email from Ginny..... What an incredible era~the 50's

I really enjoyed reading through the letters from people who remember the 50's so well. I was born in 1940 and experienced my teen age years in the 50's and for that I am eternally grateful for the memories! I think it could be said that the 50's was about the "most incredible era" ever experienced.

I remember rolled up blue jeans and your Dad's white dress shirt tied at the waist and sleeves rolled up, collar up in the back, bobby socks and saddle oxfords, poodle skirts, sweaters and fake fur collars! "BIG earrings" ~ Pony tails, penny loafers, dancing on the run way at the airport to music blaring from the car radio~the drive-in theatre, the drive-in hamburger joints with juke boxes, Saturday afternoon movies, popcorn, a large dill pickle and a coke...all for .25 cents! "Pallet parties", hayrides, wiener-roasts, Fats Domino, The Hilltoppers, The Four Aces!!! The corner drug store with the old-fashioned coke counter and cherry cokes! Bon fires and pep rallies before the ballgames..parades! "Most popular, football queen, cutest couple".....THE YEARBOOK!

I also remember that when our home burned to the ground on Thanksgiving Day, a small town rallied around my family and before the day was over, we were in another house, had clothes, food and furniture!! When I was 14 years old and had Encephalitis and was unconscious for three days and not expected to live, a whole town gathered to pray in the high school auditorium and a chain of prayer was started in Kentucky and came all the way down to my home town! People cared about people and they were there to help when it was needed. I remember when doctors made house calls and did not charge much for it...you could give them homemade preserves or whatever and it was ok. I remember family picnics in the woods on blankets with fried chicken, potato salad and all x÷" the trimmings! I remember "before TV" and we listened to "Amos and Andy" on the radio or gathered around the piano while my mother played by ear and we all sang hymns for our entertainment!

I remember Friday and Saturday nights when one of the mothers would open their home to a group of us kids and we could dance to records and eat popcorn and just hang out.

I remember when the milkman delivered milk to the back door and the grocery man delivered your list of groceries that you called in on the phone and you signed a tab and paid the bill at the end of the month.

I remember two double beds in one bedroom and one bathroom in the house for a family of four...and somehow, it all worked!!!

I remember Christmas morning when all the gifts were out in the open in the living room, you didn't unwrap things or worry about whether someone got more than you..it was like walking into a toy store in your home!!!! So exciting!

I remember "three digit phone numbers" and party lines!! WOW!! What memories. I would go back there in a "heart beat" to a time when things were so simple and so much fun. Yes, parents were strict and you had curfews, but who did it really hurt? Not me!

Thanks for allowing me to "remember" all the neat things I have listed here. There are so many more...I could go on and on!! I think your site is wonderful!

Thanks Ginny.... you made my day!..... 02/10/2002


I went to H.S. in the mid 60's. Don't remember much about the 50's but do know that the best cars were built then. All the best music came out in the 50's to mid 60's. Here is a couple of my car pictures. The first is when I bought it and the second is 4 years of off frame restoration to the mid 60's hot rod look. In '65 I owned my first '57 chevy and it was a convertible. Why did I ever let it go!!!

1957 Chevy 1957 Chevy

thanks Ken ..... 12/22/2001


You gotta love Norm's Sunset Red 550HP 1966 Dodge Charger from Maui, Hawaii. It's won a lot of trophies and will win a lot more before this beauty retires....Run's in 11's in the quarter.

550hp 1966 Dodge Charger 550hp 1966 Dodge Charger

thanks Norm ..... 12/21/2001


This email from South Africa....

In the Fifties I was at school here in South Africa. I am white, of European descent, and our teenage culture was pure American! We had no TV in this country in those days. (TV only came to South Africa in 1971). If we were lucky, we saw short snippets about our various film and singing idols during the black-and-white newsreels which were shown before the main film at matinées or the evening show. Our greatest heroes were Stewart Granger, Rock Hudson, John Wayne, all cowboy stars, Yul Brynner, James Dean (already dead in a car crash) -- too many to remember. Us girls bought movie magazines like Photoplay and Silver Screen, even if they were 3 months old by the time they reached our shores. We faithfully bought the local equivalent, which was sold at the movie house: Stage & Cinema.

Our music was, of course, rock 'n roll! There was nothing else we wanted to listen to: this brand-new trend was all ours to embrace. We were an entire new generation, forever free of our parents' "slow and boring" light music. Even the word "teenager" was newly minted, and gave us a sense of self-esteem and separateness from what we considered the fuddy-duddy generations which came before us ...

First of all we listened and bopped to Bill Haley and The Comets, Elvis, Ricky Nelson (sooo beautiful!), Fabian, Frankie Avalon, and many, many others, including the groups who belted out the songs of those days which had catchy tunes and piquant words.

Most homes had a battery-operated -- later transistor -- radio, and a hi-fi. Local radio stations were most conservative, and refused to play rock 'n roll music, which was "of the devil". One lone commercial station at least gave us a request program and a "Hit Parade" late on Saturday afternoons, when we sat with an ear glued to Dad's radio to listen to the hits ... But the station we surreptitiously listened to most of the time (most parents disapproved) was the old Lourenço Marques Radio (LM Radio) in Moçambique, on our eastern border. (The Portuguese handed this colony back to the Moçambicans in the 70's, and Lourenço Marques is now known as Maputo. LM Radio is no more). LM Radio, in those heady days, played rock 'n roll all day long, and most of their programs were request programs.

Oh boy, what a battle it was to listen to the marvelous "LM Hit Parade" on a Sunday night at 8.30 -- in peace!! That Godless music on a Sunday night was simply not allowed by most parents, so we pretended to be reading a school book or scribbling homework (actually also forbidden -- no work on a Sunday) in front of the radio, and we learnt to be very quick in clicking off the radio when a parent came in. For years I kept a faithful log of all the hit songs and I still have that somewhere. Some have been forgotten now, and I wonder why.

I grew up in a grape-growing valley, beautiful, but boring to a young teenager living in the most exciting time ever -- the late Fifties! The world of the teenager had come alive! Rock 'n roll had been born! Our parties were held in farm barns, where the grammophone or hi-fi would play long-playing vinyl records -- "Rock Around the Clock", Elvis records, Ricky, Pat Boone (considered a bit of a square, but some songs were nice), and others. Sometimes the local boys would make up a band and play those same tunes, and we would bop until curfew time ...

My best friend Julie only "discovered" James Dean after his death. We were in Grade 9. She saw each of his three films many times over. Unfortunately the nearest movie house to our farming valley was in a bigger town 20 miles away. Julie shamelessly phoned all over the Valley to beg rides over there to see "Giant" just once more. She often found a farmer or his wife who happened to be planning on going "into town", much to her parents' chagrin. She bought stacks of so-called James Dean albums, and would turn up at school some mornings, red-eyed, declaring tragically: "Last night I did not sleep a wink, again! I cried for Jimmy Dean all night long." She was totally, completely in love with him.

Once she wrote a bad verse on the blackboard at the back of the class, in impressive crayon letters, with pink crayoned roses as a border. I can't recall the whole of this "deathless poem", but the last lines read: "Goodbye, my Jamie boy! As they change the scene/ our voices join together: Goodbye to you, James Dean!" The science teacher came into the classroom after this "masterpiece" was completed, gave Julie's "tribute" one look, fixed her with his scary green eyes, and shouted, "You stupid, silly girl, how macabre! The bloody man is DEAD!" Whereupon Julie burst into noisy tears and had to leave the classroom.

We only wore lipstick which had the brand name of Tangee, and we favoured the apricot-coral colours. We learnt to tease our hair and wore it in bouffant styles, but Julie, ever the rebel, went the other way and had a cut and perm called the "Italian Boy Style" which made her look like a very silly, misplaced Cupid. We were not allowed to wear any make-up at all to school, but we dreamt of owning that thick Max Factor Pan-Stick foundation. We secretly applied mascara -- at the time it came in a small black block like compressed soot, with a tiny brush, in a little plastic container. You licked the brush, swept it over the soot block, and applied it to your lashes. Unfortunately it quickly smudged, giving you eyes like a Panda, which was very embarrassing.

The bane of our lives were the brassieres. No such bra's as really small or training bras! The smallest available were 32A. Of course they never fit. We were all slender with small busts, and ALL bras came with stitched, pointed, cone-shaped cups into which only Jane Russell ever fit. Or maybe even she didn't. We would stuff the points of those impossible cups with cottonwool, otherwise, as we found to our deepest embarrassment, we could not dance close to a boy -- our perky "busts" would become flattened when the points of the bra was squashed against his chest, OR you ended up with one flat titty and one cone-shaped one. The cottonwool stuffing was just as embarrassing, because if a boy got amorous and pulled you really close, there were these two hard bits between you. We could not win.

Girls aspired to look like Sandra Dee or Anette Funicello. We had nipped-in waists and the skirts of our dresses flared out over starched petticoats. Looking at old photographs, I think the Fifties and early Sixties were when girls were still real girls -- we looked deliciously feminine. Boys all tried to wear their hair combed like Elvis and other teen idols, but of course not everyone had hair which behaved, so a lot of Brylcreem was used, and also a strange substance called La Pebra's, which was grey-white in colour, came in a bottle, and had the consistency of snot.

Having sex was, by and large, impossible. We were too young for the Pill (and later too old for the computer!). The Pill was in its early years, with lots of side-effects, and only available on prescription. Pregnancies out of wedlock was an unthinkable scandal. Condoms had to be bought at a pharmacy. It was sold either in little tins, or singly. All a schoolboy could ever hope for was to buy ONE at a time .... The task was nearly impossible. Where we lived, you knew everyone and everyone knew you. Even if a boy could manage to sidle up to the counter, evading the female staff, the pharmacist was still bound to ask out loud: "What? WHAT? And what would you want to do with it, my boy?!"

So we didn't have sex, we just fumbled around. Maybe that was the charm which has now been lost. We were (in general -- there were many exceptions!!) forced to enjoy only the hors d'oeuvres, and to keep the dessert for marriage! These days youth have it all, and there's no sweet mystery of life any more.

But above all we secretly wanted to be American, not South African. Our society was fairly puritanical. We had to be in church every Sunday. We girls dreamed of being a leather-clad ducktail's sheila, and of rides upon the back of a Harley. Alas. There were ducktails in all our cities, but we were country teenagers. We would probably have run a mile if approached by an actual duckie.

The farmers bought new American cars every year after the export grape season was over and the money rolled in: Buicks, Mercury's, Chevrolets, Fords, Lincolns, Studebakers, Hudsons. In the middle and late Fifties they came with lots of gorgeous shiny chrome and high-rise fins, and they were beautiful.

Our parents believed, in a desultory sort of way, that American music, especially, were corrupting their children. Elvis was the worst! Rock 'n roll was of the devil! But I think they were rather overwhelmed by the new trends, and there was nothing they could do to stop it. We were wildly enthusiastic and laughed at our parents'concern. And we grew up just fine, anyway.

One afternoon when I was in Grade 11 I was doing my homework in front of the only radio in our house, which was in my dad's study. I did not hear Dad come in. It was tuned to LM Radio, and Elvis was singing "Summer Kisses, Winter Tears". My dad stopped in his tracks, listened, then asked me, in quite an awed voice, "Who was that, singing?" Cautiously I asked, "Why, Dad?" He answered, "Hey ... that man has a most beautiful voice!"

"Dad,"I said, "that was Elvis Presley." My dad went quiet, then said, "You're kidding." And my battle was won. Elvis was no longer on a par with the devil. My father is now 90 and still thinks Elvis has a beautiful voice.

The Fifties were actually the last days of innocence: there were no drugs, no disco scene, no raves. Drugs were medicine which the doctor prescribed when you were ill. The farm workers sometimes smoked marijuana (called dagga here) and later the hippies would too, but we thought it a low-life habit, like rolling your own cigarettes, and would not have dreamt of touching it. The boys' worst vice was smoking, sometimes "stealing" their dad's car for a furtive drive down the vineyard paths, and getting drunk once in a while.

Those were the days, my friend ... We thought they'd never end!

Greetings from South Africa!

ZURI

Thank You ZURI .... this is a great contribution... added 10/20/2001


This is the way they were built in the 50's.... contribution from Bill

50 Ford Barris 50 Ford Barris
This vehicle is a 50 Ford Barris custom with a carson top Barris custom with carson top, Spotlights and Lakes Pipes

Thank you Bill........... added 10/20/2001


Looking back .............. unsigned email

Hi, I found your site be accident, but have enjoyed it tremendously. Lots and lots of memories. I was born in '47, so I do have memories of the 50's although the 60's were mostly my time. I do remember all those things that were of that era and yes it was a gentler, nicer time, no doubt about it.

Although now living on the east coast, I grew up in Oakland, Calif. I remember going to Mel's drive-in, carhops, driving the "Strip" in San Leandro, getting dressed up to go to the City (San Francisco), going to Stension Beach. Always wearing dresses, until later in the 60's. Having what they call now "muscle cars" , '57 chevy's, my brother had a 61 Plymouth Fury, it flew. Somehow we managed to survive without seatbelts, helmets, elbow and knee pads when we roller skated, and wearing your skate key on a long chain around your neck.

Going trick or treating with your friends WITHOUT parents tagging along and staying out until 10 or 11. I pity my children, they cannot know the freedom or peace of mind this generation grew up with. Truly it was a wonderful time and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Thanks for this site, I hope people continue to find it and keep it going. It is such fun to read others same comments about how they feel about that time of life.

Thanks again.

Thank You ..... added 10/20/2001

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