Sunday, December 5, 2010

Some Local Boys' "Shoeboxes" ('49 - '51 Fords) from the 1960's

Up until now I've posted lots of photos of my own cars on this blog (and there are more to come) but very few of those belonging to friends and acquaintances back in the day. So, let's look at some '49 - '51 Fords (commonly known as "shoeboxes) that tooled around the streets of Queens back in the 1960s. These cars were plentiful and cheap so a very popular vehicle for guys with low budgets to customize and soup up.
(As usual, click on any photo to enlarge it.)

My memory is getting worse as I get older but, for some reason, I remember this guy's name was Paul. I met him at the White Castle on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn where we used to hang out .
Paul's '51 2-door hardtop (how rare is that?) was mildly customized and had the usual dechroming on the hood and deck. The center grille "peak" was removed and '50 Ford grille shell chrome surrounded what I think was an early 'Vette grille; '55 pontiac side trim was added to separate the black and mint green paint job.

In the rear, a continental kit, '59 Caddy tail light lenses, and fender skirts were added. After seeing my Mint Julep (see first post on this blog) Paul asked me to add some scalloping for him so we did mint green on the black and black on the mint green, naturally!

This '49 or '50 belonged to Billy Squire's brother, Sy, from Glendale. It featured a complete dechroming, tunneled headlights, and a DeSoto grille (a popular choice for these cars back then). I don't remember what was under the hood and I think this is the only photo I have of this car.

My friend Ken Szekretar, from Glendale, had quite a few nice cars during the '60s and this '51 was his second. Above is a scene from a typical Saturday when we would work on our cars in the front of my house in Richmond Hill.

Ken eventually dechromed the whole car, removed the outside door handles, and had louvers punched into the hood before rounding the corners over the grille opening. The grille was fabricated from '53 Chevy parts and the rear wheel openings radiused. Altering the front springs set the car on a rake. (Note my Mint Julep II parked behind Ken's Ford, down the block from the place where we worked in Glendale.)

While most of the photos on this blog are added from scanning original negatives, I couldn't find the one for the engine in Ken's '51; the scratches on the well-worn photo are evident. A near stock '56 Olds engine was shoehorned under the hood and mated to the ford three-speed trans. Note the external oil filter mounted on the firewall (to the left in photo) due to a lack of room under the car near the steering linkage. The electrical system was converted to 12 volts.

Ed Talerine of Richmond Hill owned this '51 2-door sedan. Featuring the usual dechroming and shaved doors, and a louvered hood with peak removed, Ed added '50 Ford grille mouldings surrounding another DeSoto Grille. Wheel covers were spun aluminum, another popular choice in the '60s.

In the rear, Ed took the chrome trim off the sides by the tail lights and placed it on top of the quarter panels, frenching in a set of '55 Ford tail lights.

This '49 convertible belonged to our paperboy, Bill Baggellar (?); while he was still in high school he worked on this car (just like I did, but I didn't have a paper route) a couple of blocks from my house . Once again, the usual dechroming and tunneled headlights are seen.
Obviously, a work in progress. (At the upper left,
in front of his car, my '55 Chevy convert can be seen.)

Bill replaced the 239 cubic-inch Ford engine with a Merc 255 c.i. flathead for a little more power (another easy and popular swap).

More cars to follow...


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Rest Of Ken's Cool Cars ('58 Impala)

One of the guys in a local gas station loved my red '55 Chevy convertible and offered to trade me his '58 Impala so I took him up on his offer. I started by dechroming the hood and deck and repainting the car (white again) with the center of the side moulding deep red. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)


I made up red plexiglas tail light lenses in the rear and added shims under the rear coil springs to put the car on a slight rake. It had a 348 cubic-inch engine with a four-barrel carb and dual exhausts when I got it, and automatic transmission.

I removed the lower center section of the front bumper and replaced the grille with a single chrome bar to continue that "slim" look in front. The parking/directional lenses were replaced with frosted white plexiglas.

I believe I only had this car from mid 1964 to early 1965 but I can't remember who I sold it to. It was replaced with a green '55 Chevy two-door sedan (see future blog entry). Hey! Check out the 1964 NY "World's Fair" license plate in the photo below.

I don't exactly remember all that I did to the engine; I do remember driving into Brooklyn to pick up an engine block from someone, that I installed in this car, and I believe that was a 409 block. I remember the heads had been reworked; I think it had oversized valves and larger ports.


The Rest Of Ken's Cool Cars ('55 Chevy Convert)

After the Mint Julep (my first car/see the first post on this blog) I had traded or bought several cars to simply drive or fix up to sell, including a '54 Ford and a '56 Olds. The first one I came across that I really wanted to keep for a while was this '55 Chevy BelAir convertible, previously owned by the minister of a local church. It was red and white with a 265 cubic-inch engine and powerglide transmission; a really sweet car. I owned this from about the spring of 1963 until mid 1964 when I traded it for a '58 Chevy Impala (see future blog entry).

(Click on any photo to enlarge.)

I nosed and decked it, removed the short vertical pieces of chrome on the rear quarter panels, the small "V8" emblems under the tail lights, and all of the vertical chrome bars in the grille except the center one. (The dark vertical lines on the door in the photo below are the shadows of utility wires above the driveway.)

I heated and molded new tail-light lenses from red plexiglas to replace the original tail & back-up lenses, and had it painted Garnet Mist, a red GM color. I moved the rear license plate from the trunk lid to the bumper and occasionally drove with some fancy Oldsmobile wheel covers.

I added dual exhausts with scavenger pipes out the rear, a Duntov 3/4 race cam with solid lifters to the engine, and an SW tach on the dash, leaving everything else stock.

Although it was no speed demon, it did manage to take a first place trophy at Islip's 1/8 mile drag strip in A K/S (Automatic "K" Stock class).


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trip Back To Richmond Hill, Aug. 25, 2010



I was in the old neighborhood and had my camera with me so I took a few shots of some things you might remember if you grew up there. Sorry this may not be of much interest to you if you weren't from the area.
(Click on any photo to enlarge.)

The corner of 127th Street & 95th Avenue, with the Youngs' house on the corner.

A full view of Youngs' house with Mc Cauley's house to the right of it.

Youngs' house from the front.

My old house at 127-04 95th Avenue.

Hattie & Nettie's old "general store" has been renovated again;
looking really nice!

Hattie & Nettie's place with Walsh's old house on the left.

Jones' Candy Store is now a deli/bodega.

Smokey Oval Park is now officially
"Phil 'Scooter' Rizzuto Park" because
he played a few high school baseball games here (!?)

Looking along the walkway at the park,
looking west toward Jones' candy store corner at 125th Street & 95th Ave.

The basketball & handball courts.

We used to play stickball on this large flat area
in front of the park house; it's been planted over for many years.

The north side of the handball courts, looking toward the park house.

Looking at the ball field from the handball courts.

Chuck Johnson's old house stood on the corner of
127th Street & 94th Ave.
His address was 127-04 94th Ave.
even though it took up two lots and faced 127th Street.
(Above photo copied from Google Maps online,
which still has the view from about the late 1990s or early 2000s.)

These new homes have just recently been built on the site of the
Johnson property and are still unoccupied
(at the time of this post)
but the addresses are 94-01 through 94-11, 127th Street.

These two houses were built on the vacant lot
we use to play in next to Chuck's house, on 127th Street,
but they've been there for many years now.

There is another new house a little further up the street
on the right in this photo.
I don't know if it's on the site oif the old Dowd's place
of if the old Dowd's place is the house next to it, on the left.

Below is a video of the park, taken from the corner of 95th Ave. & 126th Street.

video

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

From The Vaults of the Museum

I love old stuff, especially things I remember from my childhood or earlier. First of all, they're historic in their own way and, most often, much better made than things are today. Many items in my Nostalgic Museum are from the house I grew up in; other things I found at garage sales, flea markets or eBay. Sometimes, I receive gifts from people who know how much I enjoy these old objects.
Let's take a look at some of the stuff in the Museum's Vaults
(click on any photo to enlarge it):

An old friend and neighbor of mine had been a postal carrier (mail man) and came home one day, telling me about this great old stand-up radio that someone on his route was throwing away and had put it by the curb for trash pick-up. I asked him where it was, because I really wanted it, but he had anticipated that.
"I asked the homeowner to move it to the side of his house, in the driveway, because I knew you'd want to go and get it."

I was at a flea market in Pennsylvania many years ago when I spotted this item on somebody's table. "It's a tail light lens from an Oldsmobile," the guy said.
I replied, "No, it's from a '55 Buick... how much do you want for it?"
Later, when I met up with my wife, she looked at the lens and asked, "What did you buy THAT for?"

I replied, "For twenty-five cents!"

This Boraxo can was a recent gift from a friend who knows how much I appreciate this kind of stuff. He found it at an antique shop where he was doing some work and bought it for me. It brought back real memories; it's just like the can we used to keep on a shelf in our kitchen when I was growing up in the '50s & '60s.

Back in the days when you'd bring your shoes to the shoe-repair man in your neighborhood, he would use Cat's Paw heels to make them like new again.

I found this not TOO old stamp machine at a flea market in Cape Cod. The guy selling it wanted sixty bucks for it; there was no way I would have paid that much for it. Besides, all I had in my pocket was a twenty. Just before leaving the market, I went back and offered him the twenty for it.
"Make it forty and it's yours," he said.

"Nope," I replied, "twenty bucks is all I've got and all I'd pay for it even if I had more."
I guess he was tired of carting it back and forth to the flea market 'cause he finally said, "Take it away."

My older brother bought this TeleTone Model TV220 portable television sometime in the early 1950s; it was manufactured in 1949. It still worked into the 1960s and I managed to salvage it from my brother's house after he died. It makes a great conversation piece!

The top machine is an original Sony Betamax that my brother owned; it worked into the 1990s but, for some reason, won't play any more.
The machine beneath it is the first VHS machine I ever bought, probably in the 1970s; made by GE, it sold for $639 when new. At the time, blank VHS tapes cost $14 a piece!

This old piano stool was in my brother's house when he died. During the clean-up before selling the house, I had to throw out a lot of stuff; we utilized four thirty-cubic-yard dumpsters! One of the items I wanted to keep was this piano stool, which I remembered from my childhood, but I tossed it anyway.
About seven years later, I was at a flea market in Wallingford, Connecticut, and spotted a piano stool just like the one I threw in the dumpster. Upon closer inspection, I found the diagonal saw cut I had made in the seat while cutting a piece of wood, as a teenager. Of course, two stools might have had the same kind of cut in them. But this one also had the "K" I had carved in the wood surface many years before.
Of course, I bought the piano stool back for five dollars.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sittin' On The Side Of The Road

Many times when we visit our daughter in Wallingford, CT, I drive down Pent Highway as a shortcut around traffic to Route 5 (North Colony Road in that area). And, every time I do, I'm greeted by this view on the side of the road, of a bunch of vintage cars just rusting away. Most of them are from the 1940s or 1950s and have had work performed on them but most are in need of a lot more work before they could be put back on the road.
(Click on any photo to enlarge it)

After some snow hit the area this past winter, I happened to have my camera with me so I stopped to take some photos. I also met the owner of G & J Body Shop (whose name I've forgotten) who also owns all the cars. I asked him if any of them were for sale. He said, "They're ALL for sale; I'm looking to sell them so I can buy more property."

So, if anyone is interested in a project, you might call (203) 265-7066 and tell them you're interested in one of the old cars. The body shop is at 17 Pent Highway, between N. Plains Industrial Highway and Route 5; the cars are in a nearby yard by J & J Custom Cycles (next to the railroad tracks).


This '47 or '48 Ford convertible is in probably the best shape of the cars from that decade. It's got a chopped top, some dechroming, but not much else has been done to the body.

This looks like a '65 Ford Fairlane but I could be wrong; that's not one of the cars I consider myself and authority on. Actually looks like it's in the best shape of any of the cars.

Judging by the rear window in the first (overall) photo, this looks like a '50 Merc two-door sedan that has a chopped top and some radical headlight treatments that were never finished. The hood corners were also rounded but the trunk lid is missing and there's lots of work needed to put it on the road again.

Next to the Merc, you can see a '52 or '53 Ford two-door hardtop which I forgot to get a photo of. The body looks pretty good but I think it needs interior work.



I believe this is a '41 Ford Coupe and, if I were younger and had a little extra cash, I'd have bought this thing and taken it home already... I always wanted a '41 Ford coupe! It looks stock as far as I can tell.

The original engine is under the hood but needs some obvious work (including a carburator, which is missing).

In the back of the building are more old vehicles; judging by the fenders and grille shell, this looks like a '34 Ford truck to me (possibly a dump truck).


Judging by the parking lights, this is a '46 or early '47 Ford coupe in pretty much stock (and rough) condition.

And, again from the parking lights, this is a late '47 or '48 Ford coupe. If I remember correctly, this one had some damage to the right-rear quarter section.

This looks like an old Ford frame with a late-model Chevy engine; whatever it was, it looks like it caught fire at one time.

Also on the property are some garages that people rent from the body-shop owner. One of the renters owns this '55 or '57 Studebaker pick-up truck. (This one's used every day and NOT for sale.)