Thursday, August 27, 2015

CARS and Junior and Senior years and more CARS! Episode ll

Back to the story of the 1940 Chevy. It wasn't long before Ken wanted more power than the old six cylinder  would give him, so he did some more trading and sold his model A and ended up with a almost new fuel injected Corvette engine and transmission. He also found a 1948 Pontiac rear end at the local junk yard. He put all of these things together in the Chevy and was rewarded with a very fast street racer. Street racing was common in the 50's  and it usually began with a cruise down Hawthorne Blvd. On any night of the week we wouldn't go past more than two or three signal lights before we were challenged to a 'drag'. And since the 40 Chevy still sported a single exhaust pipe (the other one was cut off short of the bumper and couldn't be seen) almost every competitor assumed it would be an easy victory for them. Ken would keep it in low gear all the way up to 60 mph and stay slightly behind them. Then, when they thought they had an easy victory, he would shift into second, leaving a patch of burned rubber as he did it, and leave them far behind. His car was soon the talk of all the drive-ins. Dan and I were only passengers but we basked in the attention that the car received. 

Ken decided that he had enough money for the next step; paint and upholstery. The car was painted a metallic blue and then we made plans for a trip to Tijuana for some of the famed south of the border tuck and roll upholstery. We left around midnight as we wanted to arrive early in the morning. There were no freeways in 1957. We arrived around 7 in the AM and parked in the inner courtyard of the upholstery shop. There was no one around. About ten minutes later, two kids on bikes rode in and without a word began to remove the seats from the car. They told us not to worry, that the shop owner would be there soon. They did their job and sped off on their bikes. So we sat. And sat some more. It was ten before anyone arrived to do the work and once the price and design was agreed upon, the work began. It was twelve later before we drove off. Once we arrived home, we slept for at least twelve hours. It had been a long, long day...and night and day again.  

During my Junior and Senior class years, I was fascinated by all things mechanical, especially cars. At the same time, I was getting grades of A and A+ in English and History. But, those were the only classes where I shined. In Chemistry I was a D student and in Spanish ll I was only a C- student. My teacher, the former Miss Murphy, had married an officer in the fascist Army of Spain. She was now Mrs. Ramirez-Cardenas and was quickly angered by any perceived criticism of Franco's government. We all had to think twice before we spoke because she was very sensitive to the kind of criticism we all felt towards that government. 

The point I am trying to make is that while I was 'car crazy' I was also into more intellectual interests than most kids that were drag racing down Hawthorne Blvd...I still had my library card and used it often.

I just realized that as I write these stories down, I am recalling even more stories from this period. I could write for days it seems. I won't. But I may come back at some later date and write about this time in my life. 

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