Friday, September 23, 2011

Billy Squires (2/27/41 - 3/27/97) Memorial

I have been trying to reconnect with some old friends over the past 10 to 20 years and, with the internet making the job so much easier, I've succeeded in many cases. However, one of the people I had been looking for, for a long time, was William H. Squires–known to everyone as Billy Squires–from Glendale, Queens. I always remember him as being a really great guy, very personable, always fun to be around, and always willing to help you when you needed it, especially when it came to cars–our common passion.

After all the years of searching for Billy, hoping to reconnect and relive some of the good times we had, I finally learned he had died. I usually don't make a habit of creating memorials to people on my blog, but I'm making an exception this time around. Maybe this tribute will serve as some kind of closure and keep Billy's memory alive a little longer.

I don't know how I acquired this photo
(from about 1961) but it was probably given
to me by one of the guys in the photo.
Left to right: Billy and his '34 Ford coupe;
Eugene "Gene" Ormandy; and Mike Conlon,
with his '53 Ford.
The '34 coupe was powered by a '53 Olds
engine with four carbs;
the '53 Ford had a '59 Buick engine.

(Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

The first time I remember seeing Billy, I was getting out of Richmond Hill High School one afternoon around 1960 and he was driving his '34 Ford coupe down 114th Street, stopping to pick up a girl who was also attending my school. Billy was a couple years older than us and already had his senior driver's license by that time. Of course, I admired his car and eventually found out from some other friends who he was. Some time later– probably through Phil and Andy Turano–I met Billy and we all became close friends.

Billy stopped by my house in Richmond Hill one day,
in late 1963, driving this '55 Chevy two-door sedan.
(My red '54 Ford with a white racing stripe
is parked in front of it.)

In the 1960s, Billy had quite a few cars;
this early '60s photo of his '54 Merc was from
my friend Ken Szekretar. The car was
purchased as a wreck from a junk yard
and in the process of being rebuilt by Billy.

This color photo from my personal collection
shows the in-process paint job;
the car was lowered all around,
had traction bars, and 14-inch wheels
with '57 Plymouth wheel covers.

The 312 cubic inch engine had a Ford Interceptor
cam, three carbs, and dual exhausts.

Billy's dark green '55 Chevy, from May, 1964;
it is described in detail in my June 23, 2011
blog entry regarding '55-'57 Chevy's.
(This may have been the same '55 Chevy as in
the 1963 photo, shown in a finished state.)

These June, 1965, photos show Billy's '34 Ford
Roadster during its construction. The body was
channeled 11 inches and the frame "Z'd".

The engine was a '53 Olds, bored out to 324 cubes,
had a roller tappet cam, and six carbs.
The transmission was a '37 Caddy and
the rear end was from a '64 Ford.

When Ro and I got married in 1965,
Billy was in our wedding party.
(Guys: me, with Ro; next to me, Tony Nocerino;
Billy Squires; Andy Turano; Ken Szekretar.)

Billy is at far right in the above photo.

After getting married in '65, I moved to Elmont but still worked a regular job in Forest Hills, Queens, and a part time job in Richmond Hill. This had me back in the old neighborhood quite a bit so I kept in touch with many old friends. By 1973, we had two children and moved further east; I got a job closer to home and gave up the part-time job in Queens. As a result, I didn't have the time to get back to the old neighborhood much and slowly drifted apart from many friends–including Billy.

After posting the photos of '55-'57 Chevy's (including Billy's) in an earlier blog entry, I got a message from Carol Froreno, the daughter of one of my cousins, in North Carolina. It seems she and husband Steve had been enjoying my Nostalgic blogs for some time. She wrote to tell me that Steve was originally from Glendale and had once bought a motorcycle from Billy. They gave me the names of some other folks who were from Glendale and knew Billy quite well.

Tommy and Mickey Dillworth, and Mickey's sister, Terry, told me that Billy had gotten heavily into airplanes and moved to Florida. He even owned an airfield in Rockledge, Florida, and had been married and divorced. Sadly, I also learned that he had passed away in 1997. They also sent me some photos of Billy from the early years in Glendale as well as the later years in Florida (many thanks, guys!).

At Vinny Littman's house, late 1960s:
Mickey Dillworth with cigarette (left);
Mickey's sister, Terry (center);
and Vinny's girlfriend, Gayle.
Billy is at far right, behind the bar.
(Photo courtesy of Tommy & Mickey Dillworth.)

Billy and then-wife, Marcia, at the Dillworth's
home, in the 1980s.
(Photo courtesy of the Dillworths.)

Billy, with Tommy Dillworth, at
Tommy's house in Mastic, Long Island,
in the 1980s.
(Photo courtesy of the Dillworths.)

Billy moved to Florida and owned the
Rockledge Airpark, (also known as
Shawnee Airpark, or Rockledge Flypark),
located near the east coast, about
50 miles east/southeast of Orlando.
(Maps downloaded off the internet.)

The formal address of the airpark
–and that of Billy, while alive–
is/was 500 Barnes B'lvd. (Cty Rd. 502).

The entrance to the airpark is through
Flypark Drive.

Billy, talking with a woman in a car at the airpark,
late 1980s/early 1990s (?)
(Photo courtesy of the Dillworths.)

Billy, with some of the planes at his airpark
in the background.
(Photo courtesy of the Dillworths.)

According to FAA listings of registered aircraft
in Rockledge, Billy was the owner and pilot of a
1959 Piper PA-25, similar to the one above.
(Photo downloaded from an online site.)

Also according to the FAA, Billy owned and
piloted a 1963 Cessna 172E, similar to the one above.
(Photo downloaded from an online site.)

A friend of ours, John Rensing, currently living
in Rockledge, drove over to the airpark
recently and took a few photos
of the way the place looks in 2011.

Some of the buildings on the airpark property
that Billy used to own.

One of the current businesses operating out of
the airpark grounds; Aero Adventure builds
aircraft kits that people can buy
and assemble at home.

If anyone would like to post corrections about information contained within this blog, offer feedback, or contribute additional data and stories relating to Billy, I look forward to hearing from you. –Ken


Ken B said...

Andy Turano wrote to say, "I liked what you did with the tribute to Billy. Just a bit of further information: I bought that red '54 (Merc) and ran it into the ground. Also, his '34 coupe had an Olds with four twos on it, which I also bought, and still have in my garage attic." (The manifold & carbs, not the engine... –Ken)

Karl-Erik said...

Very interesting! (And touching)

Ken B said...

Ken Szekretar wrote to say, "Oh man. I just spent the last 25 min. walking (or should I say driving) down memory lane. Neat stuff for sure. That was a great tribute to Billy. I never knew him as well as you but do remember has a very friendly and helpful guy."

Ken B said...

Bob Koenig emailed to say, "Ken, a true labor of love...very informative. Nice to see your wedding pictures."

Stephen (Steve) Hughey said...

I knew both Bill and Marcia Squires and although not extremely well, have flown with both of them (Bill in a Cessna 172 and Marcia in an Aeronca Champ (7AC) which I later soloed. During this time, my primary instructor was Kent Young. I miss those times. Bill seemed to always stay busy doing the maintenance tasks, working on the airplanes. They were so much fun and including socially...but serious in the airplane.

Ken B said...

Steve: Thanks for your input and for adding to Billy's legacy.