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original car image from Westbrook Connecticut car show 2012background from Miami Beach Florida 2007
Canon 5D Mark 2 24-105mm 1:4 lens. Canon Rebal 18-55mm lens.Photoshop CS6
1959 Pontiac Catalina
1959, pontiac, catalina, car, automobile, sedan, fifties, antique, classic, sunset
The name’s Flyrod. American car culture is my thing. If it rolls, roars, or rumbles I’m into it. Statistics and facts aren’t my gig. My mission is to track down and capture the infamous rides that make up pop culture, and to tell their stories.
CHASING THE DREAMby Flyrod
Remember the Jones, that American family from Pleasant Valley that we all wanted to be like? Back in May of 1959 they got a brand new Pontiac Catalina automobile, and from all appearances they were living the American Dream. They lived in a new development at the edge of town where all the houses were neatly spaced and look pretty much the same. They rarely parked the Catalina in the garage though, because they wanted all the neighbors to see that they had a new car. Mr. Jones was a manager at the National Insurance Company, the town’s biggest employer. He felt secure in his job and knew that if he would “keeps his nose to the grindstone” he’d have a job there for a lifetime. He didn’t really enjoy his job very much, but he liked getting a paycheck that helped his family buy all the things that made them happy. There’s nothing he liked better than polishing that new car in the driveway on Saturday and being noticed by what he believed to be an envious neighbor. Mrs. Jones was a housewife who enjoyed cooking and cleaning and taking care of her family. She was the Valedictorian of her High School class, but in the fifties the only job she could get at the insurance company was as a secretary. And besides, the “smart thing” for a woman to do in those days was to land a good husband. There was gossip around the neighborhood that she had a drinking problem, but nobody understood why. A trip in that new car to the Beauty Shop usually put her mind at ease. Daughter Sissy was fourteen and a very popular girl in school, but the Jones’s worried that she might become a “bad girl” because she got all giddy about Rock and Roll music. The Pastor at the local church called it the Devil’s music, and a speaker at the Rotary Club said it was connected to Communism. Hardly a week went by that you didn’t here Mr. Jones saying, “There will be no playing that Jungle music as long as you live under my roof young lady.” To break the tension Sissy would go to her friend’s house and smoke cigarettes behind the garage. A trip to the record store to buy the latest hit would prolong the relief. Then there’s Junior, the energetic seventeen-year-old son of the Jones’s, who’s infatuated with girls and crazy about cars. He and his buddy’s drive hot rods and spend every penny they earn working after school to keep those cars running. Mrs. Jones doesn’t like Junior’s friends and is convinced they are juvenile delinquents. After reading an article in Look magazine she feared Junior would become a statistic in a nation overrun by teenagers. A stiff drink usually took the edge off and calmed her nerves. Junior liked to talk about the movie his class had to watch in Drivers Education class at school. You know, the one with all the gory victims of car crashes that’s supposed to scare the kids into becoming safe drivers. One girl fainted and another threw-up, but Junior and his pals sat in the back row and laughed all the way through the film. Adults don’t like to admit that kids like Junior think they are invincible, but they make them watch movies like this because it makes them feel like they’re doing something to fix a problem. Junior was bummed out when his dad grounded him after getting a speeding ticket, but after a trip to the automotive shop to buy that gearshift knob that looked like a piston he perked up some. The sad part about staking happiness on a new car in the fifties was that the styles kept changing. In a couple of years those rocket-like tail fins would be out of style. That Pontiac got old fast, and for the Jones’s and their neighbors the cycle would start all over again as they kept chasing that dream. Happiness sure can be short-lived when we love things that can’t love us back, and life can be like a race with no finish line when the dreams we chase turn out to be a mirage.
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So terrific to get you in the stream immediately after finding you out there in RB. I am old enough to know this well written story and to say that I saw this winged beauty you have offered up so grandly brand new.
Thanks for stopping by lucin. I remember Catalina’s going back to the Seventies but I don’t remember this one. The Cadillac and Chevy Impala are the most iconic cars from 59 and popular amoung car collectors. This car was forgotten and it is a rare sight today. This is the only one I’ve ever seen.
I remember some neighbors got one of them shipped in from the state – it was that same color. Not a happy ending though for all their wealth they still couldn’t save little Nate from a life-threatening backing accident. Young Nate had only himself to blame as he played circus at our neighbors – we’ll call them the Terlangas (common name in those parts). Nate dragged a step-ladder from the shed across the paddock to within a few feet (something like 43 hectares for U metrix users.) Nate then scaled the ladder and crept out onto the paint bucket shelf unaware that it could scarce bear his weight which was 4 stone ( about 3 kilometers for U metrix crowd). As the drum-roll commenced thanks to the local secondary school band that had been passing the property at the time. Poor Nate felt that sickening feeling in the pit of his preadolescent gut as the shelf gave way and he tumbled toward the sharp dual-fins and protruding aerials. I’ll never know which part of his prepubescent body first felt the piercing pain of the – - – just a sec there FlyRod Ol’what’shername is yammering at me – - – Sorry U lot gotta go – the old trouble-and-strife’s got something for me to do – I’ll have to get back to ya – bewdy of a pix btw ~:0) VivaChas!
Well Chas, this is what I like best about doing cars, they really stur-up the stories and memories. Thanks for sharing and we’ll pick it up next time.
Gorgeous work Flyrod and thanks for this terrific story. When I was a kid in the sixties I remember an Impala that my Uncle use to drive. For some reason I was smitten with it with huge tail fins and the car was massively big compared to the local Holdens and Fords. It made them look like toys in comparison.Cheers.
Thanks Steve. Yes, 1959 was the pinicle of American car design. There was so much focus on the future and overall optomism during that era. Even the cold car couldn’t dampen it.
Thank you Meeli. I always feel proud to get this banner.
Keeping up with the Jones…. the engine of our economy. The styles changed every 3 to 5 seasons, lets not forget running to the dealers every spring to see the 1/2 year models….No vanilla back then! Great work, sir!
Well said John. Those fifties cars were real lookers but they sure didn’t drive as nice as cars today.
Brillant work and story Flyrod well done mate.
Thanks buddy. Always appreciated.
Excellent artwork,….and I can relate to the story to,…..From the description of things in the story,….I`d say you lived it too !
Thanks very much. Sometimes it’s hard to believe cars actually looked like this. I got over my personnal love affair with cars a long time ago but I find them so fasinating to this day. They are so intertwined into out culture aren’t they?
post processing is incredible!
Thanks very much. i appreciate your comment Kevin.