2012-Cruise Night Yearbook

Another year is gone, and I haven’t published a single car feature. This album has every cruise night I attended this summer. The crop of cars this year were great as they always are. I had opportunity to photograph some really nice antiques and hot rods. The Frankfort Car Club and the Chamber of Commerce sponsor Cruise Night as a weekly event on Thursday evenings throughout the summer. Attendance is very good on balmy summer evenings. This summer we had a disproportionate amount Thursdays when it threatened to rain. Rain always keeps the cars and the crowds at home. Some of the nights were too hot to walk around, even in the evening. 

 

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, It’s Always a Day Away

Our first visit to Frankfort Cruise night was a huge disappointment. Usually, the place is jammed with cars. Hot Rodders begin streaming in as early as two o’clock to get a prime spot. The parking lots, and streets are all filled with classics. People come from all around just to gawk, talk to the owners, and to enjoy a pleasant summer night out. This night there was but a smattering of cars, and even fewer people.

Why? All I can figure is that our record setting temperature of 103 degrees did it. The heat was oppressive, and we got there too early. The sun was still too high to get any good pictures.

I snapped a few photos before Peggy and I escaped into the new ice cream shop called Mamma Rosetta’s for a peach gelato. Next week promises to be a better day. How did that song go from the musical Lil Orphan Annie, “tomorrow, tomorrow, it’s always a day away. . . .”

An early VW truck with air conditioning.

1960 Cadillac with loooong tail fins

Cadillac tail fin point at a Corvair van

A Revolutionary Car Design Era

the character Fonzie from the sitcom Happy Day...

Image via Wikipedia

Ford revolutionized car design in the nineteen forty-nine era. The forty nines were amazingly streamlined and beautiful. The stodgy look of the earlier designs lost favor to smooth flowing lines. The Mercury Division of Ford  hit a home run with its body style. The nineteen forty-nine through fifty-two Mercury is a favorite among hot rodders around the world. When chopped, Frenched,  and smoothed beyond its original flowing lines, the car transforms into fluid motion.

In the sit-com Happy Days the character Fonzi reminds me of a friend from my old neighborhood. The kids nick named him Dago. Dago’s  jet black hair swept back into a duck’s tail. He wore a black leather jacket and engineer boots decorated with chrome carpet tacks.  Dago became the inspiration for “The Fonz.” Dago drove a nineteen forty-nine Mercury coupé, jet black; what a car, what a character.

Recently, I had occasion to visit with Dago during a meeting of the kids from my old neighborhood in Burnside. His real name is Bob, and he is still a vibrant character with very black hair, and the same panache he had as a teen. This one is for you Bob.

My collection of Mercury’s from 1949-1952

The Thief Got Away With the Crime

Photo from myoldpostcards' photostream


During one of my jobs in high school I served as a soda jerk at the Woodlawn Café.  The owner, Joe Fejes let me work evenings.  My job was to make shakes, malts, sundaes, ice cream sodas, pour coffee, and serve pie. Near closing time, I cleaned the fountain and took out the trash.

On this particular night I drove Dad’s green Buick to work. This Buick was the newest car he ever owned even though it was ten years old when he bought it. The nineteen thirty-nine Buick became his favorite.

Woodlawn Cafe sat on the corner of Ninety-fifth Street and Woodlawn Avenue, less than a mile from home. On this dark, cool October night I got permission to drive to work. I wasn’t old enough for a license, but I was driving around the neighborhood on special occasions.  I parked the Buick on Woodlawn next to the restaurant, right in front of the back door.

The Buick had a defect which we tolerated.  The ignition did not work with the key.  All we had to do was turn the knob on the key port, and the starter jumped to life. We continued to stick the key into the switch as a security measure and as a place to keep it while driving.

That evening, business was normal.  It was never super busy at night, but a steady stream of customers came in for coffee and pie, or an ice cream soda.  I also filled some orders for banana splits and sundaes.

At eight p.m. it was time to take the garbage out to the alley.  I opened the door fully expecting to see the Buick standing there, but  it was gone!  My heart jumped into my throat.  Where was it?  I ran to the alley and to the parking lot around the other side of the building, but there was no car.

I rushed into the building and told Mrs. Fejes what happened.  She told me to call the police to report it stolen.  I ran home to make the call.  How would I tell Mom and Dad that someone stole the car?

I fumbled through the phone book to find the number for the Burnside Police Department and dialed. It seemed like forever before I got an answer.  The officer asked me a lot of questions about the car to get a description.  One thing they asked which I couldn’t answer was the license plate number.  I had to get Dad to find the number in his papers.  The police said they would keep their eyes open for it, but until I called them back with the number they couldn’t do much.

At nine o’clock, Mrs. Fejes called us from the restaurant. She saw a car like ours parked by the back door of the restaurant.  I ran all the way back there to check, and sure enough the Buick stood  right where I had originally left it.  I drove it home and parked it in the garage. Early the next morning, before I left for school, two detectives came to the front door. They were following up on the stolen car report.  I told them the story, and showed them the car in the garage before they closed out their report.

I never did find out who took it or why. The only story that makes sense to me is that someone who knew the about the quirky ignition switch took the car for a joy ride and quietly brought it back. They may have enjoyed the ride, but I sure as hell didn’t have any joy that night.

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