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Once again we found ourselves in that special age of a nation. After the war automobiles started to become less expensive, the automobile manufacturers had to find something to build instead of jeeps, trucks, and tanks. All those young military men coming home with cash accumulated during the war and just greatful to be alive couldn't wait to get a new automobile and travel. Driving was the new "American Pastime". One of the great things of the time is that the auto manufacturers really cpmpeted and each one had a very unique looks to their products. It was easy to distinguish between Ford and Chevrolet and Buick and Oldsmobile, etc..
Being a rural town, many of us learned to drive in pickups. I learned on a 1946 Chevy pickup. I was 10 at the time. I would back the truck down the driveway and then pull forward. Well I tried to pull forward. My success was directly proportional to how well I released the clutch.
Just as we had learned to recognize the cars everyone drove, we could also identify just about every one by the sound their mufflers made. Each car made a different sound, depending upon the number of cylinders, whether it had a split manafold, and how old the mufflers were. I can't recall any of the Algebraic Theroems we were taught, but I can still recall the sounds of the various guy's cars..... During the course of my driving that car during high school I never got a speeding ticket, but.......I did accumulate 7 tickets for "noisey mufflers". Thankfully they were not considered "moving violations" and therefore didn't count against my auto insurance!
On the next page we'll take a look at the WHS Parking Lot and see who from our class might be there... just by identifying their car....
The 50's were a time of "Hot Rods" that were fast and low and loud, and of course we all tried to follow suit. My brother and I had a typical "machine". It was a bronze colored 1955 Chevrolet Belaire Sedan. The stock V-8 engine had been rebored and oversized pistons inserted (thanks to our Dad, who was a tractor mechanic), along with a 3/4 race cam.The head was swapped out for a 1962 Corvette head with 4-barrel carberator (I'm not sure it increased speed that much but it could certainly drink twice the gas..@ $.27 a gallon...but who had $.27 ? ). It had a 3 speed Hurst floor shift (converted from the column to the floor), twin glass packed mufflers, and outside "lake pipe" external cutout exhausts. The car had been lowered by 4" all around. It mounted beautiful "Spinner" hub caps. It had been "slicked", where all stock chrome ornaments on the hood and trunk were removed, and the holes filled and painted. It wasn't particularly fast, but it looked and sounded good. Our PRIDE and JOY!!
The starter was a button beside the foot pedal that you learned to press while pumping the footpedal to get it started. Almost all of us learned to drive a "stick shift" transmission. Pickups usually had the shift rod on the floor and passenger cars had them on the column by the steering wheel. Learning how to release the clutch smoothly while giving the car gas was a real challenge at first. Windshield wipers ran off a vacuum hose attached to the carberater. If you had the wipers turned on and gave the car more gas, the wipers slowed down or stopped all together. Top highway speed limit was 50 mph. he cars could easily go faster but the roads just were'nt designed for higher speeds.Highways were merely paved two lane roads, with no shoulders, and a dashed white stripe in the middle... no yellow stripes or anything to show no-passing zones. I remember the family loading up in the car and making a special trip to Dallas just to see the new ultra modern 4-lane highway they called Central Expressway. City stop signs were brass markers that said STOP and were on the ground in the middle of the street at the intersection.
Not only was gasoline relatively cheap, but when you went to the station, the attendant would clean your windshield, check your oil and gas, and check the amount of air in your tires. Sometimes you even got "trading stamps." Although gas was relatively inexpensive, no one had the money to buy much. Usually there would be several riders with you and you'd take up a collection to buy gas. If you could buy 5 gallons of gas it was considered a good day. One phrase I always wanted to say but never got the chance my entire time in high school was "Fill it up please".....