Friday, November 16, 2012

1955 Chevrolet - The Dream, The Possibility and The Reality

If you were brought up in a General Motors family, a 1955 Chevrolet Convertible was every kids dream....well not exactly a dream, because you could build yourself a $1.98 model of one with the actual dream of possibly owning one at some point in time during your adult life.  As most of you know I became a hard nosed hot rod builder through the years, but MY dream was to own a 1955 Chevrolet...not just any '55 Chevy, but a convertible.  Read on and click all pictures to enlarge them.

This following photo is the start of the story.  By clicking on this picture, you can see a building here on the corner of Syndicate Ave. and Donald St. called Noll's Motor Company.  This is a photo of the 1939 King George Visit and motorcade as it cruised through Fort William many years before I was born, but Knoll Motors(a Studebaker dealership of the day) would be the place I would view my first 1955 Chevrolet years later.
 If you look closely at this photo and the one below, it is one and the same building.  Kam Motors, where my father was the body shop manager for 30 years had purchased this building in the early 1950s.  They later filled in the gas pump fill area to make a show room and called it Kam Motors Depot(the main business was on Leith Street)......story to continue below.

This is how the corner looks today!

In late September of 1954, Kam Motors was having their annual new car showing and 1955 was a banner year for Chevrolet as they were introducing their revolutionary new design and new V8 engine that became the iconic V8 that most hot rodders used until this very day.  My father had taken myself and a couple of friends to the depot a few days before the showing to give us a teaser of what we were to see in the show-room a few days later.  The cars were all covered up and when he took the cover off one of the cars, it was the very one shown in the brochure page below.  It was a two-tone Tahiti Coral and Charcoal Grey Iridescent 2-door hardtop with which I instantly fell in love with and still feel the same about to this day.

 Here is the RM page 1 and 2 colour charts  showing both colours on the second page.  I was only 10 years old, but I knew from that time forward that I would love the '55 Chevrolet.  The following portions of a mint brochure and these colour charts are in my collection.

Before we continue, check out this cool 1955 Chevrolet commercial, and if you had a colour television at the time, this is what it would look like.  If any ads appear while watching this, just "X" them out, and click on the arrow to view.

I made many drawings from this brochure and had it tucked into a school book or two to admire it back in the day!


So here I was 10 years old....6 years to go to drive and wanted one of these.....Now that was a huge DREAM for sure.

 Well....this is what I found so many years later right here in Fort William, well actually rural Port Arthur.  A wonderful friend of my dads and my own who just passed away earlier this year, Ed Maybee had this great but rough '55 Chevy Convertible.....and of course I had to bring it home.  WOW...look at that '57 Chevy more-door hardtop up on the hill...It looked just like the one I owned in 1964.

 I did bring it home to find that the exterior was in fairly good condition, but the chassis was terribly rusted out as well as the floor boards and trunk.  It also had a ton of bondo(body filler) all over, with chunks actually falling off.  This was the mid 1970's and there wasn't much in after-market components....just a few patch panels and that was it.  Today you can purchase every single individual part on this car if you could afford it.   Well...Yes, I did purchase it for only $100., but however, spent about $600. on it and turned a hundred dollar profit and sold it for $800.  I wish I had it today as it would have been a lot easier to restore, but alas, I didn't keep it and went on to build some hot rods.

The only 1955 Chevrolet I owned was a sedan delivery, back in the late 1960's while I was still dreaming of my convertible.  My wife and I loved this car.  We used it for camping and also for hauling my stock car to Riverview Raceways

Well here I am...still a gearhead at heart and would still like to own a 1955 Chevrolet Convertible......which is pretty much out of reach now, but not for trying.
I hope I didn't bore you with this little story but it does fit nicely into the title of "Hot Rods and Jalopies"
Thanks to all of you that send emails from near and far....I always read them all, enjoy them immensely and answer what I can.....Dave

Monday, November 5, 2012

REMEMBRANCE DAY in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Sunday November 11, 2012

REMEMBRANCE DAY 2012 - the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - WE WILL REMEMBER.....

      This is an aerial photo of a Curtis Helldiver flying over Fort William in the mid 1940's.  See if you can identify some of the landmarks in this picture. The ones I have circled are as follows:
BLUE - CNR Station on Vickers Street near the present day Fort William Gardens.
GREEN - Chapples Ltd department store the front of which is now inside Victoriaville.
YELLOW - The Capitol Theatre - building now empty.
ORANGE - The Royal Edward Hotel - now Royal Edward Arms low rental housing.
RED - The old City Hall building on the same site as the present day New City Hall.
LIME GREEN - The Fort William police department and city jail - now the Thunder Bay Museum.
      I have left this picture in high definition so be sure to click twice on it and scroll around to see all the buildings.  Also be sure to click on all the photos for enlargements.

These are ads out of a program from the Thunder Bay figure skating club "ICE FANTASY of 1945".  Please take time to read them especially the Canadian Car & Foundry one on the left.
The following two ads are typical Canadian war propaganda posters from the WWII era.

 The above photograph showing my father circled in red is of the Non Permanent Active Militia taken here in Fort William near the Canadian Car & Foundry site(note, Mount McKay in the background).  This photo was taken in 1940 when my father was a mere 21 years old.  The photo below lists most of the names from the photo above, so you may be able to recognize others that you know. 

 The following are four more very interesting WWII propaganda posters.

Here's a great photo of local women working very hard collection metal for the war effort for the Fort William Salvage Company.
The following two photos show what a Canada Meat Ration token looked like.  It was about the size of a quarter.


The following is a four page history of "The making of "In Flanders Fields".  This is a very compelling story and a must read as REMEMBRANCE DAY 2012 draws near.  Click on all the pages individually to read them......and REMEMBER!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Leading up to Remembrance Day 2012...WWII films...

Thoughts of  Remembrance Day on November 11th next week(Veteran's Day in the United States), conjures up many memories and stories of death destruction and intolerable acts that took place in all wars but specifically the Second World War era.  Many people our age had parents who suffered hard times during those years, who witnessed atrocities beyond our belief, many of which our parents can hardly even speak of to this day.
The film industry however captured some of WWII issues on the silver screen, bringing the reality of that hard life for us to witness as children then and adults now.
Many of the following films are still available today on DVD or VHS.  They were not so much propaganda, but the reality of life how it was, when many of our fathers and mothers lost their lives to preserve the freedom that we experience today.
We watched these films mostly in the 1950's and 1960's at our favourite theatres here in Fort William and Port Arthur, such as the Odeon's, the Paramount, the Royal, the Capitol and of course the Intercity Drive-In to name a few.

 I remember what an impact this 1957 film made on me when I was a mere 13 years old.  The following film is the trailer for The Bridge On The River Kwai.  Click on the arrow to view and turn up the volume.

Another great film I remember from that era(actually released in 1955) was the Dam Busters.  On May 16th and 17th of 1943 a truly major event in the history of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command took place.  This film brought another true story to the Silver Screen. 

The Following is a short film on a bit of the Dam Buster story.


The following two films, Men of the Sky and Across the Pacific were both released 70 years ago this year in 1942.  Most of the other films shown below are still available to view today at video rental stores or at your public library.

Bambi, also released in 1942, 70 years ago gave the fliers some "Nose Art" ideas.