The Times Journal & Russell County News
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Cruisin': Looking Back
In March 28 Issue
Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

A little over a year ago I was ask to do this article on the old cars and the old days. I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to do it. I had never done anything like this before so I just wasn’t sure. The more I thought about it the more I thought I would give it a try. It has turned out to be one of the highlights of my life.

I love the old cars and the old music and all the memories that come with it.  It seems like every old car I see or every old song I hear at one of these Cruise Ins or Classic Car Shows I have a memory that goes with it. Maybe it’s of someone special or a place I had been to, what I was doing, the car I was driving and wish I still had, or a nightclub I was playing music in at the time. I found it not only to be fun, but a total enjoyment to write about something that I am so fond of.

On top of that since doing this article I have met many people and made many friends. People just like me who love the old cars and the memories that go with them. I am still amazed each time I attend a car show and a total stranger will walk up and start a conversation about an experience he had way back when or a car he had that was just like the one we were looking at.

Looking back on my old car history there are several cars I owned I wish I still had. I had two Corvettes. A 1965 and a 1966.. I had a 1967 Pontiac GTO, a 1969 Chevelle 396 convertible, a 1962 Chevy 409, and my very first car a 1953 Cadillac..

 I bought that Cadillac for $50.00 complete with holes in the floorboards. If you were not careful whatever was on the seat might fall out of the car if it rolled off on to the floor. Both motor mounts were broken so you could not drive it up a steep hill. If you did the motor would cock sideways from the tork and make a racket like you never heard before. The exhaust was bad and fumes came up through the floor boards. By the time you got where you were going you smelled like exhaust fumes.

Needless to say I didn’t have that car long at all. One Saturday morning my Cadillac was last in the driveway. My father had to run to the store and I was still in bed so he just grabbed my keys and headed to the store. I can still see the look on his face when he came home and woke me and said “We need to talk”. That was the last time I drove that Cadillac. I drove my old Cadillac from my house to the junk yard where I sold it for $25.00.

The good thing about having the old Cadillac was that I had driven it to work long enough to save some money to buy a better car. I think my Dad felt bad that he made me get rid of my car. When he found out I had saved some money to buy a better car he matched what I had saved and I got a nice used (but new to me) 1960 Mercury. I got in the Mercury the first time to go to work and dropped my keys. I just reached down and picked them up off the floor. I didn’t have to get out of the car and crawl under it to get them off the road where they had fallen through the hole in the floor. I got on the expressway at Starr Ave. and drove right up that hill onto I 280 and the engine didn’t tilt. When I got to work I smelled just like I got out of the shower and not like the fumes form the old Cadillac. That’s just one of those memories I had when I saw an old Cadillac at a show last year. But the Cadillac was in a lot better shape than my first car.

From that time on I loved the old cars and had many along the way. And I no doubt will have an old car or two till I can’t take care of them anymore.

If you haven’t ever been to one of the Cruise Ins or Car Shows in the area you need to get to one this year. The people you meet, the memories you will have and the conversations you have will bring back memories of the old Hot Rod Days. Back when you cruised the burger joints and went to the drive in movies. Went to the Sock Hops after the football game at school.

In some ways progress and technology have made our lives better but in my opinion we were a lot better off when things were more simple. People built things in factories, not machines. When you had to call a business you actually talked to a person and not a recording. There was no “press one for English”.

 When you got gas your car was checked over by the attendant to make sure your tire pressure was OK, your oil level was ok, washed your front and rear window and at times even washed the headlight lens. That was all done free of charge also. Today that would be the $49.95 special.

I would like to thank those who send me emails about the column and make very nice comments when I see them on the street. It’s a lot of fun writing and talking about the “Good Old Days” and look forward to the next story.

If your Car Club is having an event and you would like us to tell everyone about or someone who you would like to see featured in this article send all information to, . All information on upcoming events needs to be in at least two weeks before the event.

If your Club or church or group is having an event and you would like to display some classic cars at that event let me know at least two weeks before the event. I will put you in contact with one of the clubs that will gladly bring their cars out for display.

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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