You know what happens when you get left home alone, especially for long periods of time. You do things you wouldn’t normally do…or wouldn’t take the time to do. So for our last column I did a lot of digging through my voluminous photo files. But I didn’t get nearly as far as I wanted. So I’ve kept going. I got kinda nuts about it. That’s something that happens when you’re cooped up at home for weeks. But I had to find a couple of other things, anyway. And I knew I had quite a few funny, odd, weird, or wacky photos, mostly in files marked “Miscellaneous-something-or-other.” So I thought, yeah, what we need right now is a little light humor. Some amusement and diversion. These are photos (and other things) I’ve never had occasion to use anywhere else. Now’s the time. None of these are meme-worthy. But if they give you a chuckle, lift your spirits, offer a little relief, that’s the intent.
You think you look stupid in your mask? I’ve looked that way for years (obviously). Plus I will mention that I’m not home alone. Anna’s here with me (thank goodness!) and we’re doing this “stay-cation” together. And not only does she like goofy photos–she takes them. She snuck in the garage and snapped this one many years ago (that’s the grille for our ’32 roadster hanging on the wall) when I was quite literally in the middle of rebuild no. 2 on the Old Reliable yellow F-100–of which you will see more.
But what really engendered this column was a file marked “Office Photos.” Way back when I actually had an at-work office (and Petersen Publishing was still called Petersen), I thumbtacked funny photos, and all sorts of other things (many that readers would send me) on the walls for both amusement and diversion. Like this:
This was sent to me by longtime photographer Andy Southard Jr., along with a full feature on Dick Eaton’s bright green, Jag-suspended ’32 hiboy. To say that Dick was a hot rod character with a healthy sense of humor is an understatement. And when Andy asked him to sit behind the wheel, this is what he did, and of course Andy got the photo. And sent it along with the rest of the feature, which ran on three pages in the June ’77 issue of Street Rodder magazine, and which ended with a great shot of Andy and Dick standing between their two similar Deuce hiboys, parked side-by-side. And, oh yes, Andy was one of the promoters of bathing-suit-girls-with-cars photos.
Speaking of offices at Petersen Publishing, I had several, but nearly all on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, where you were bound to see most anything on any given work day. This was one of my favorites, which we’d see parked in front of the 8490 building on several occasions. Never saw who drive it. But this is Hollywood humor, for sure.
And so what is it with these barge-size ’60s-’70s Cadillacs? I was on a work-trip somewhere in the Midwest in the ’80s and actually saw three of these in one day, but this one with the tail and paint job was best.
So, is the bigger “rocket car” a Cad or a Lincoln? Hard to tell. This was some suburb of Chicago in the ’70s at Mike’s Custom Body Shop, and Mike was more than happy to show off his winged wonders, not to mention the 6-wheel, shingled van in the background. Stranger yet, signage on the silver Firebird states that Mike’s serves up Beer & Pizza, Beef & Ribs to go with your land-bound space ship.
I hope enough time has elapsed to finally show this one:Yes, that’s a very young Tom McMullen in a slightly oversized suit standing next to his first custom creation in his hometown in (I think) Connecticut. I also think this was around ’55-’56, and those three carbs were on a Y-block. He drove this out to California, straight to Barris’ shop to get a job. That didn’t work out, and I’ll say no more other than I got this photo off someone else’s wall early-on at Street Rodder. You can add your own caption.
Of course I got a lot of neat stuff from readers, more of which I wish I could share. This arrived from an artist named Mark Balfe, as a much better suggestion for what I could do with my Grandpa’s Chevy, after I expressed how much I loved the ’40 Merc convertible sedan Dick Bertolucci and Harry Westergard built for Buddy Ohanesian. No, this one’s not funny. In fact I still think this would be the perfect thing to do with a 4-door Fleetmaster (if I had a small fortune). Especially note the curved chrome side-window frames–including the very sneaky little rear quarter window–a la Hirohata Merc.
In the same vein, though a little later, this is just one good example of envelope art that came in the mail at R&C. At first I thought this was from Harry Bradley (who always added some art), but this is by someone else, whose signature I can’t quite decipher.
Yes, this one is definitely funny. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that Pete Millar has always been one of my favorite cartoonists, starting with his monthly “Arin Cee” toons in the little Rod & Custom of the ’50s. I had him do some story-lead illustrations when I was at Hot Rod. The problem was, he’d fill up the whole page.
This goes way back to one of our early road trips, possibly in Idaho. But I remember seeing this out of the corner of my eye as we passed, and telling Anna, “We gotta go back and get a picture of that.” Given the tow truck and other junk cars in the background, the caption for this one has to be: “Hey boss, I got a good one. It’s a ’54 Chevy Bel Air hardtop, and the whole front end is perfect.”
Speaking of photo captions…. There’s no way I can fully explain this one, except to say that when I did the infamous Swimsuit Issue of Hot Rod, I hired excellent photographer Randy Lorentzen not only to take the photos, but also to hire the models and set up the scenes. That’s Randy loosely fitting one of the models with a firesuit for a special PR day arranged by one of the local L.A. TV stations. That’s the Miller & The Mob Fuel Altered Fiat behind them, along with my F-100 and another yellow one. I took other photos but this one, well, just turned out this way. And it came from my office wall.
I can’t remember if someone sent me this, or I cut it out of the Sunday comics myself. If you look closely you can see the pinholes where it was tacked on the wall. And while you might immediately surmise it was a reference to my height, no. To me, the immediate reference was to the size of my boss. In fact, two of them. The trouble was, I had a hard time getting myself into that position. In fact, got fired for not doing it.
Let’s find a more uplifting topic. Well….I guess I can’t pretend that there’s anything humorous about this photo, but just the fact I’m showing it here proves I can laugh (a bit) about it afterward. That poor old pickup has served me long and well–and still is. The worst part is that I had just rebuilt the whole thing, and that’s what actually caused the wreck. Besides lots of other things, I had replaced the tailpipes and the rubber brake hose from the frame to the rear end. There was six inches of clearance…until I added the trailer with the dragster, which I had just got running and was taking to the Bakersfield Reunion to fire for the first time. The truck has air shocks on the back, which I usually pump up with the trailer. But it looked so good sitting low I left it that way, not noticing that the brake hose was then just barely rubbing on the exhaust pipe. Enough that it chafed a tiny hole in the hose, just as I turned off 99 at the Famoso offramp. I didn’t touch the brakes until I came up behind a tractor-trailer stopped at the light and–nothing. No brakes at all. Thank god it didn’t happen going over the Grapevine or anywhere else on the freeway. It never gave a hint. And I was only going about 35-40 mph when it hit. Squashed the nose and the hairpins on the dragster, too. But I was wearing my seatbelt. And the truck (and the dragster) got rebuilt again. So it has a happy ending.
Anna threw a giant 40th birthday party for me while I was at Hot Rod, and the number of people who came was quite impressive. But for some reason Tom Medley couldn’t make it, so he made this birthday card for me, instead, in very typical Tom Medley fashion. I have no idea where the cowboy hat came from. I’ve never had one. But that’s typical Medley, too.
Of course the two parts of the card are taped together, so after you take it out of the envelope, the bottom half folds down to create the complete 6′ 8″ picture. The whole thing’s close to two feet long. And it’s one of my more treasured mementos.
Believe me, there are plenty more where these came from. As I said at the beginning, these aren’t meme-funny. In fact, a few aren’t funny at all. But I offer them for your amusement and/or diversion just in case you might have any of that there “cabin fever.” I hope not. I hope you’re doing well. And that this helps a little bit.