5.07.2012

Did your parents have a Chevy when you were growing up?


I'm pretty sure that most of my European and Asian readers did not.  But in Texas the various full sized Chevrolet sedans, like the Impala, the Belair and the Biscayne were all over the place.  We had a brown, four door Biscayne that eventually became the car my older brother and I were allowed to drive in high school.  After my junior year in high school I worked a Summer job so I could buy my own car.  It was a normal thing for boys to do in Texas in the early 1970's.  I made just enough money to buy a 1965 Buick Wildcat with an enormous V8 engine and an equally big set of bench seats.  If you were my height you could comfortably sleep in the backseat.  And on the occasions, when vast numbers of my fellow high school students flocked to the Texas Gulf Coast for vacations and long weekends I often did, choosing to spend what would have been "motel money" for food and fireworks.  I fondly remember the bottle rocket battles on the beach.  Always fun...until (according to someone's mom) someone gets their eyeball shot out.

We'd finish school on Friday afternoon, skip swim practice, fill up our tanks with thirty-two cents per gallon premium gas, try to cadge $20 of spending money from our indulgent parents and then head south with a pair of surf shorts and a couple of T-shirts.  We brought our flip-flops so we could go into the Whataburger restaurant in Port Aransas.  We'd live on burgers and Cokes.  Some of the kids would live on beer.

After spending the weekend slathering our half naked bodies (and the bodies of our wonderful girlfriends) with Johnson and Johnson baby oil---to promote tanning, and eating trash, and trying to look cool and getting stung by little jelly fish we'd wait until the last ray of sun bounced off the water and then get back in our cars and head back to San Antonio Sunday night.  We'd be cranking the Moody Blues or Jethro Tull or Led Zeppelin on our cassette players and drive 80 miles per hour with the window all down so we could feel the warm, salt air wrap all sticky around us.  We were American kids from comfortable families. It seemed like it would be this way forever....

Those are the memories that flooded into my brain when I walked into a Cinco de Mayo festival on 2nd Street yesterday and came face to face with a beautifully restored Chevy Impala.  One look at the tail lights and I was humming the Beach Boys, Good Vibrations, all over again.

I saved a telling memory of my high school vacation history in one snap of the shutter.  I'll print this one and put it next to my desk to remind me that there's always something more fun to do than work.

Tech notes: Sony a77 camera.  ISO 50.  Big and Meaty Jpeg setting. Hasselblad 80mm Zeiss Planar lens at f4 with the Fotodiox adapter.  Post processed in SnapSeed for a bit more "structure."

"Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world."

Austin Texas Portrait Photographer.

26 comments:

Thomas Hill said...

Someone's Mom was right. It was 1979 in Midland, Texas when I was involved in a bottle rocket war. Guess who the casualty was? My right eye! It sure was fun shooting those things back and forth out of launching pipes though:o)

kirk tuck said...

Sorry to hear about that, Thomas. Lots of stuff we did back then we'd never, never let our kids do now.

Michael Ferron said...

Cars like this are one of my favorite targets Kirk. There's a restaurant near my place of employment in Round Rock that has a vintage car event every Wed. evening. If you want to impress these folks show up with a vintage TLR like I did. Must have heard "nice camera" about 10 times.

Dave Levingston said...

We didn't do the bottle rocket wars...but when we were a little younger...what we now call middle school age...we did put on our winter coats in the summer and play war with our BB guns. And then there was the game with bows and arrows. On a windy day when there were lots of gusts we'd shoot arrows straight up in the air. Then you had to run around and get the arrow to pass between the bow and string as it came back down to the ground. We all lived, but it's a miracle.

Thomas Hill said...

I don't know. Kids need the freedom to play and explore. I wouldn't change a thing if I had to do it over again. With life there comes risk. Things maybe were too dangerous then but it seems that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. Parents now don't let their children do anything, sequestering them in their 'safe' homes for fear of them getting hurt.

Thomas Hill said...

Oh, and I received my OM-D today so everything that might have happened to me in the past is forgotten. Everything is now right with the World:o)

Carlo Santin said...

It seemed like it would be this way forever...yes indeed. Pretty much sums up the memories of my youth. I had a little Honda Accord, gas was 20 cents a litre (metric here in Canada, it's $1.35 right now). I could drive around all week on 5 bucks worth of gas. In winter we played street hockey, in summer we played street hockey with our shirts off (yes the stereotype is true, Canadians are obsessed with hockey). We would load up my little Honda and my buddie's rust bucket and head north to the lakes and beaches for the weekend, Van Halen and the windows down. I miss my youth.

kirk tuck said...

I've inspired myself. I'm going to gas up the gas and head to the beach next week for a couple days of mindless, cheap fun.

Gregg Mack said...

My Dad was a Chevy man, and we sort of looked down on our neighbor" Ford Galaxy 500... Big pea-green 1964 Chevy Impala - great memories of a 2 week vacation in in from Central Illinois to Southen California and back. Moving from Illinois to Dave, CA in a brown 1969 Chevy Impala and and 1967 Chevelle station wagon. Took my drivers license test in that Chevelle. I always lusted over the souped up Camaros and the Chevelle SS's that I knew my Dad would never let me have, but that's OK, I was more into motorcycles as a teenager anyway. Later in life I had a 1994 Chevy Corvette. Pure white, and the most trouble-free car that I have ever had (and I've had several Hondas and Toyotas....).

Like your music choices of the period, too. I'd have to add Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Doors, and even The Guess Who to my varorite 8-track selections....

This is a photography blog, so I'll stop my reminiscing now - but you did ask!

Tony's Vision said...

I agree, Thomas. I heard the term, "Nature Deficit Disorder", used recently, a bit tongue-in-cheek, but recognizing the real problem that kids don't know what to do outdoors on their own, like building dams in creeks, hunting pollywogs, building forts, playing cowboys. They're always being whisked off to some structured "activity". Try being a grandparent trying to spend time with them, and at best you will be sitting in your car alone with your Kindle waiting to pick them up from dance class, soccer practice, etc. The solution, as you've found, is to "fogetaboudit" and play with a new photographic toy, which I expect UPS to bring me today.

steveH said...

1956 4-door Chevy station wagon with the 265 Blue Flame straight 6. Unfortunately, by the time I was dating, it had been replaced with a '67 VW bug... And I didn't get interested in photography for another couple of years, so no pictures from that era. Still the music brings back memories, too.

wjl (Wolfgang Lonien) said...

We as a family had an Opel Rekord. But this story reminds me of a VW Beetle, and a night drive to Paris, with friends. The front window had a thick ice crust which we tried to melt with lighters, but still we arrived. Oh, and Paris war great as well - but that's another story, and not really SFW ;-)

Marco Venturini-Autieri said...

I am a fan of 50s' Perry Mason TV series. Every time I see these cars, I can't help but being admired by what I call the "spaceships".

Thomas Hill said...

Right on Tony. I couldn't have put it better. As much as I tried to get my kids outside I found I was fighting a losing battle. It got to where they would say "but there are bugs out there". I find it really sad. That's one of the things I love about photography. It helps me to get out, connect with my environment and to see the the beauty around us. Enjoy your new delivery!

Lanthus Clark said...

I am from South Africa, and what you described could have been straight out of my own more youthful days! A friend had an enormous Ford V8 that sucked more money for petrol than we could spend on beer! But I never seem to remember anyone being bugged about it. Happy days!

Ron Nabity said...

Kirk,

Your photo is of a 1965 Impala, my family had a '65 Bel Air (the poor-man's version). Imagine a straight-six cylinder engine and 3-on-the-three manual shift in a boat like that. Although it was a great car for drive-ins. :-)

Thanks for the cruise down memory lane.

- Ron

Richard said...

My dad had a '64 Impala, straight six, and 3-on-the-tree, in Daytona Blue. My mom had a '67 Torino GT with a 400-4bbl gold with a black vinyl top. Yep had the whole Chevy vs Ford thing going on in the same house.

kirk tuck said...

Our Biscayne had the 350 cube inch motor and automatic. I always coveted my friend's brother's Chevelle SS396. That car could squeal through tires in a month.

Jim said...

My father was an Oldsmobile guy but my first car was a yellow '63 Buick Invicta convertible. It had the Wildcat 445 engine and sucked gas down at the rate of 11 miles/gal. Of course high test (remember high test?) was all of 25¢/ gal. when I bought the car in 1966 so $2 worth was almost half a tank full. Oh, and the car payments were $49.52/month.

Jim said...

My father was an Oldsmobile guy but my first car was a yellow '63 Buick Invicta convertible. It had the Wildcat 445 engine and sucked gas down at the rate of 11 miles/gal. Of course high test (remember high test?) was all of 25¢/ gal. when I bought the car in 1966 so $2 worth was almost half a tank full. Oh, and the car payments were $49.52/month.

atmtx said...

The red is so candy coated and beautiful. Sounds like a great carefree time, great story.

Keith I. said...

I love cars like these, but alas, my childhood was spent riding around in a tan 1980 something AMC Hornet Wagon! Good luck running into one of those.

Richard said...

Positively yummy, just like the candy apples we used to get at the fair.

Scott said...

"Lots of stuff we did back then we'd never, never let our kids do now."
True I guess, but once you turned 16 or so, how much of that stuff did you TELL your parents about? I think Rule Number One for teenagers is "The less parents know, that happier everyone will be."
Worked for me as a kid, and probably worked for me as a parent. But of course I don't know what I don't know.

Scott said...

Oops. "the happier"

Unknown said...

Yep, growing up in the 60's (dob 1961) my parents, well my mom 'cause dad didn't drive had a 1964 Impala. I still remember the plate, CJK356. Seat belts, nobody wore them. I still look for that plate whenever I see a '64. Lot's of people used to ask my mom to sell it... I remember putting a STP sticker on the side to cover up a scratch I made. :-)