Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunken Gardens Tourist Court

I noticed a few other people online looking for signs of the old Sunken Gardens, on highway 30, about 4 1/2 miles east of Gettysburg, PA. Since I had some old photos (and a post card) from my visits there in the 1950s and 1960s with my parents, I thought I'd post a few on my blog.

(As always, click on any photo to enlarge it.)

This post card was from our first visit there July 9-13, 1956.

Back in the 1950s, color film was pretty pricy
to buy and develop
so most people shot black and white photos.

Individual photo of a single, detached cabin.

My mom and me (on right) with two kids whose parents
ran the place; posed on a large rock in the
garden with a cabin in the background.

I remember there was a railroad that ran behind Sunken Gardens;
I used to go back there with some local kids and put pennies
on the tracks before a train came through to flatten them out.
If I can find them, I'll post a photo or two.

The line of cabins (singles and doubles)
with the great lawn in front.

A double (attached cabins) during our 1960 visit;
my father on left, uncle and aunt center and right.

My parents and uncle on "the rock."

My folks in the gardens (I believe the highway is on the left).

Overview of the gardens with highway on left.

I'm sure Sunken Gardens is no longer around
(at least not in the form I knew it).
If anyone knows what it looks like today
(or what's been built in its place), please let me know;
if anyone has current photos of the site, I'd be glad to post them here. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Orphans Car Show, June 22, 2014 - Massapequa, NY

The "Orphans" car show, for makes and models
not being made any more.
Some beautiful cars at the show this time around,
and most in excellent condition.

Above & below: 1941 Studebaker
looks to be in mint condition!

Below: This very rare 1951 Nash Rambler Custom is
the first rail-top convertible I've ever seen;
in amazing condition.

Below: 1951 Studebaker;
I've seen this quite often here on Long Island. 

Below: Extremely rare 1962 Ghia
(built on a Chrysler/Dodge chassis and driveline
 in Italy by Giacinto Ghia).

Below: Willys Jeepster.

And, of course, an AMC Pacer (below).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Class Act (of crime)

A Class Act (of Crime)  

For most of my life, I worked full-time as an automotive technician (aka: auto mechanic). I'd worked at gas stations, independent repair shops and various new car dealerships before landing a position at a Porsche-Audi dealer in the 1980s. When I first started working there, I didn't know much about German cars but they sent me to school and, eventually, I became a master Porsche-Audi technician... a pretty impressive addition to my resume, considering how complex those cars can be.

Of course, the owners of those luxury cars are usually pretty well-off and, over the years, I'd seen and heard of some pretty crazy things. One day, for example, a limo pulled up to our building and a young woman - probably just out of high-school - jumped out, ran into the showroom, and ordered a brand new Porsche: a graduation gift from her parents. After all the papers were signed, she hopped back into the limo before riding off into the sunset. Another time, some guy walked into the showroom and bought a new Audi paying all cash, dumping wads of bills onto the salesman's desk. Then there was the Porsche we were working on that required special parts so the job was delayed for a couple of weeks; the owner stopped by one day to check on our progress.

"Man, I'm paying $400 a month and I can't even drive the damn car," he said. 
"$400," I replied, "is that your monthly payment on the car?"
"No, no... the car is paid off; that's my insurance premium."

Throughout my career as a mechanic, I always took my lunch break. Sometimes I'd walk down the street to a local cafe, other times I'd get some Chinese food or pizza. Once in a while, I'd bring a sandwich from home or a deli; on those days, I'd usually sit in my van, eat my lunch while listening to the radio or reading something, and maybe take a nap afterward before returning to work.

On one of those days that I had a sandwich and soda in my cooler, I was sitting in my van in the back parking lot by work. A stretch limo entered the parking lot, rolled slowly past me as I looked up from a magazine I'd been reading, and I watched as it stopped by the back door to our shop. A well-dressed young guy got out of the limo, walked into the building, and a few minutes later, re-emerged, waving to the limo driver. He then walked over to a silver Porsche 911 that had been brought in for service, opened the door, got in and drove away with the limo following him. I continued to enjoy my lunch and eventually returned to work, looking forward to 4:30 and a chance to go home.

Later that same afternoon, I looked up from whatever car I was working on to see a couple of Nassau County cops walking through our shop. After continuing on to the area where the showroom and offices were located, they came back into the shop accompanied by our service manager; he called all of the service personnel to a meeting right in the middle of the shop and explained what was going on.

It seemed someone had stolen one of our customer's cars; a silver Porsche 911. He wanted to know if anyone had seen any suspicious-looking characters in our building or lot. As soon as I heard which car had been taken, I knew I was an eye-witness to the crime without even knowing it. Of course, I explained exactly what I had seen and described - as best I could - the guy who had taken the car. But I really didn't look very closely at him... why would I? I figured it was just another customer picking up his car. And, no, I didn't get a license plate number from the limo; why should I do that? Nothing that happened looked out-of-the-ordinary to me.

So, what made this crime so easy to commit? Well, whenever a car was brought in for service it was inspected for damage by a car-jockey, then a numbered tag was hung from the inside rear-view mirror and a same-numbered tag attached to the keys before it was parked. Whenever the car wasn't being worked on, the keys were hung on a large board (in numerical order, with all the other car keys) in the hallway leading from the shop to the showroom - an area open to anyone. Anyone with basic knowledge of the setup would have no problem walking into that hallway - especially during lunch hour when most employees are not around - and taking whatever keys they wanted. And, of course, the numbered tags, hanging from the mirrors of the cars in the lot, clearly identified each car.

I don't know if that thief or the Porsche were ever found. For all I know, the car could have been shipped to some South American drug lord or cut up and sold for parts. I do know that the key board was moved to the service manager's office after that day... yes, closing the barn door after the horse had escaped.

After working at many different places throughout my life, the job at the Porsche-Audi dealer lasted the longest: eleven years. I also learned a great deal during my time there – about cars and people – and how sophisticated criminals can be. I learned the true meaning of “white collar” crime.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sunrise Drive-In Theater, Valley Stream

I thought I'd post some of my original "coming attractions" flyers from the Sunrise Drive-In Theater; it was located on Sunrise Highway, just across the Queens/Nassau County line, in Valley Stream, Long Island (New York). Judging by the films being shown, these appear to all be from 1963 and 1964. They were designed to be folded into "thirds" so that the side with their logo on it would serve as a "mailer."

(Click on any image to enlarge it.)

Note the following flyer printed in green, to commemorate Christmas time. The drive-in was open all year long and offered "Free In-Car Heaters," among other things. Note the film, "Mermaids of Tiburon." That's a town in California that Hyundai named one of its cars after.

I had to include the following flyer since it includes the ad for "PT 109," a movie I sat through three times (on three different occasions) since I was dating three girls within the time period it was in theaters and took each one of them "to the movies.".

I found the following photo of the Sunrise Drive-In on two other websites devoted to old drive-in movies; it was submitted there by Dominic Scalzo.

For additional memorabilia on old drive-ins, check out:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hansen's Texaco Station - Richmond Hill - 1950s

I found this old newspaper clipping while cleaning
out our family home after my brother died.
The gas station was on 94th Avenue
(where Atlantic Avenue curves south,
just west of 130th Street).
Although the photo shows an outdoor lift,
by 1961 – when I was driving –
there were two enclosed bays on
the left side of the main building.

(Click on any item below to enlarge)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Woody's Cars, Through The Years

I became really interested in custom cars and hot rods by
1958, the year I bought my first Custom Cars magazine.
Around that time, I started seeing a particular car that
caught my attention as I walked down 129th Street,
in my neighborhood of Richmond Hill (borough of Queens,
New York). It was a '49 Mercury coupe, always parked in
front of the same house. Every time I saw it, however, it
had new and different modifications done to it but I never
saw anyone working on it.

One day, I finally lucked out and met the guy who
was customizing the car: Paul Wood.
It seems he was in the Navy but married to a girl
(Carol) who lived in the nearby house with her parents.
He only worked on the car while he was home on leave
and, because I was still in high school,
I kept missing him... until that day. 

We eventually became close friends and Woody
(as he was called) helped me with some projects
on my own car after he got out of the Navy
and lived with Carol in the area.
Back in the 1950s, I had created a photo album
featuring pictures of many of my friends cars so Woody
gave me some of his old photos seen now on this blog.

(Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

Woody's first car was a '41 Chevy coupe which he mildly
customized with a partial dechroming, adding fender
skirts and a two tone black and red paint job.
The engine was a modified 6-cylinder.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

Next came a '50 Chevy convertible
which was basically stock.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection;
photo restored by Ken.)

The '49 Merc Woody owned when I met him is seen
here outside a motel in New Jersey, while
Woody and Carol were on their honeymoon.
Although no other photos of the car exist – and
some modifications can't be seen here – the
car had extensive work done to it.
The headlights were tunneled, hood and deck
were shaved, the outside door handles were
removed and replaced by electric solenoids,
cruiser skirts were installed, and the car lowered.
The most impressive thing was that the coupe
was made into a hardtop by removing the
vertical posts on the doors and in front of the
rear side windows, and new glass cut to fit. 

A '51 Cadillac engine and 4-speed automatic transmission
were installed in place of the old flathead Merc.
The Caddy mill ran with trips or dual-quads at various times.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

Woody's next project involved this '53 Ford convertible.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

The headlights were tunneled, scoops were moulded
into the rear quarter panels, skirts were added,
and the usual dechroming performed and doors shaved.
The rear fenders were extended and flanked the
Continental kit in the rear. A Carson top was
installed and the hood had louvers punched into it.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

Back in the day, Woody had no garage and often
worked on the car in the street; this was shot on
116th Street, just north of Liberty Avenue,
in Richmond Hill, around 1961.
Mutual friend Sal Consiglio (standing) and Woody.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

A 1955 Buick engine was installed (sorry, but no photo).
The hood was pancaked and Woody revamped the
front end by added canted quad headlights flowing
into a new grille cavity over a rolled front splash pan.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

After I got married, Woody and I lost contact with each
other for about 10 or 15 years before getting back in
touch again. By that time, he and Carol were living
in Farmingville, (Suffolk County, Long Island) and
Woody was still building cars in his shop at their home.
The '33 Ford Pick-up (above) was his
"every day run-around" vehicle.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

The channeled body featured full-fenders.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

Under the hood was a 350 Chevy with a B+M air-induction
mini-blower, and a 350 Turbo-Hydramatic transmission.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

Woody's show-car was this beautiful chopped
and channelled '32 Ford 3-window coupe.
As with all of his cars, Woody performed all
his own body, interior, and mechanical modifications;
all cars seen here were original steel
production models – not fiberglass reproductions!

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

The engine was a Chevy 383 cubic-inch stroker
with a B+M 671 Blower at one point;
transmission was a beefed-up 350 Turbo-Hydro.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

The idea behind Woody's '39 Ford coupe was
to build a one-of-a-kind car that was also dependable
enough to take on a road trip and fairly easy
to repair, if necessary, during the trip.

Woody started by taking a 1979 Chevy Monte Carlo
chassis and drive train. He then grafted the
center section of the Ford chassis to the
front and rear sections of the Monte Carlo chassis.
The top was chopped two inches and extended
six inches to provide more room in the back seat area.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Note the louvered hood and frenched headlight treatment.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

The custom grille was fabricated by Woody's son, Michael,
using 3/8-inch stainless steel
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Once again, Woody created a hardtop out of a coupe
by removing the door and rear window pillars;
custom-made skirts were added.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

The radio antenna was mounted in a recessed cavity by the rear deck.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Ever-popular '59 Caddy tail-light lenses were
tunnelled into the rear fenders. Of course,
all fender seams were filled and front and rear pans rolled.
Note the notches in the rear pan for the dual exhausts. 
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

By utilizing the stock Monte Carlo 350 engine and driveline,
Woody was assured that parts to service the car
would be easy to obtain if needed during a road trip.
Likewise, the standard driveline and running gear,
including power-disc brakes, provided fine handling
and stopping power, while also being easy
to service with readily-available parts.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Perhaps the only impractical aspect of the car
was its extremely low ground clearance;
not a problem on the highway but
certainly a concern on steep driveways.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Before retiring to Florida in the late 1990s,
Woody sold the '33 pick-up and the '32 coupe.
The '39 coupe was driven for a while in Florida
before Woody built a customized golf cart to replace it
and the '39 was sold.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)