Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Picture 6zephyr team dogtown west los angeles skateboard

ca. 1975, the original Zephyr (Z-Boys) skateboard team at the Del Mar Nationals, the first US national skateboarding competition — Shogo Kubo, Bob Biniak, Nathan Pratt, Stacy Peralta, Jim Muir, Allen Sarlo, Chris Cahill, Tony Alva, Paul Constantineau, Jay Adams, Peggy Oki, Wentzle Ruml – Image by Craig Stecyk.  While the Z-Boys non-conformist style and brash behavior did not sweep the winners podium, every major skateboard company took notice and came after their stars with lucrative offers and endorsement deals. Jeff Ho and Skip could not compete with the big brand’s deep pockets– within 6 months, the Zephyr team we be no more.

z-boys quote

Born out of the gritty Venice Beach surf slumtown called Dogtown– where you had better have eyes in the back of your head– the infamous Z-Boys were the motley badass boys of skateboarding assembled by the co-founders of Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions–Craig Stecyk, Jeff Ho, and Skip Engblom. This scrappy group of street kids, who gave skateboarding  teeth, were loyal disciples of their radical father figures who put Dogtown style on the map. These kids would carry the torch and create a skateboarding cultural revolution that started as an extension of their surfing, and grew into a distinctive Z-Boys style that forever changed the skating world.

Heavily influenced by Dogtown’s mean streets, Jeff Ho’s surfboard design and attitude was a direct reflection of the neighborhood’s tough low rider and graffiti lifestyle. Ho and crew thumbed their noses (or more accurately “flipped the bird”) at the mainstream squeaky-clean surf culture, and the Zephyr surf team fiercely guarded their turf against any invading non-locals who wanted to ride their waves. And if the locals didn’t get you by hurling chunks of concrete and glass as you surfed, the insanely dangerous conditions of the decaying Pacific Ocean Park would. The mangled and jutting pier pylons were there waiting for a screw-up so they could impale you, or snap your precious board to pieces.

dogtown zephyr surf team jeff ho

Dogtown’s legendary Zephyr surf team with c0-founder and designer Jeff Ho far right.

The Zephyr surf team was the mafia of the waves, and that same toughness and independent spirit was manifested in their talent and angst on the pavement. Jeff and Skip nurtured and forged this young gaggle of waifs and strays, many from broken homes or no place to go, into the world’s best skaters. The kids all found their role at Jeff Ho’s shop– whether it was sweeping the floors or rolling joints for Jeff– everyone found a unique way, on their boards and in the shop, to contribute, complement, and propel the Z-boys forward and keep the team as a whole at the top of their game. It was a wild environment for a kid to grow-up in– legend has it there was plenty of pretty crazy shit going on back then behind closed doors that no one on the outside needed to  know about.

This young crew of Dogtown skaters were driven ruthlessly to aggressive, competitive perfection by Jeff Ho and Skip Engblom. They reached the peak of fame, completely up-ending and innovating the the sport along the way– first with their unique surf-style skating, and then setting the world on fire with the epic pool sessions and radical vertical skating. Ironically through the deeply engrained drive of Jeff and Skip, and their own natural human desire for personal fame and riches, their star skaters would end up unraveling the group and ending the Zephyr organization as they knew it. Legends and brands rose like a phoenix from the former Zephyr team’s ashes– Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva, and the one whose talent and aggression most strongly epitomized the heart and soul of the entire Zephyr crew– Jay Boy Adams.

jay adams marina skate park 1978

1978 — Jay Adams, Marina Del Rey Skate Park — Image by David Scott

“In contests, Jay was simply the most exciting skater to watch. He never skated the same run the same way twice. His routines were wickedly random yet exceedingly tight and beautiful to watch: he even invented tricks during his runs. I’ve never seen any skater destroy convention and expectation better. Watching him skate was something new every second– he was “skate and destroy” personified.”  

–Stacy Peralta

Skateboarder Steve Cathey

“For me, skateboarding started in 1965, so by the time the Dogtown era came around I’d already been skatin’ for 10 years. When I started it was clay wheels and mostly home made decks. We were just trying to copy surfing. Everything about skateboarding had to do with surfing. It was all about fun and a way to surf when the waves were shitty.”

–Jay Adams

Jay Adams at the Dogbowl — Image by Glen E. Friedman. The mid 1970s in California were the scene of unprecedented drought conditions where residents were restricted from watering their lawns, and it wasn’t  long until hundreds of swimming pools across L.A fell prey and were drained to conserve precious water. The Z-Boys revolutionized skating by repurposing empty pools for vertical skating and in the act invented innovative moves like the frontside air (Tony Alva). The “Dogbowl” is the most legendary, named for the owner’s dogs that were seemingly always at the pools edge checking out the Z-Boys in action. It was the Z-Boy’s friend Dino’s home, and he was terminally ill. His parents allowed the pool to be drained so that his friends could come and hang out, skate and party. Glen Friedman took a ton of shots that are iconic to any skateboarding fan out there. Read more here…

“I went to the party at Dino’s house and saw the pool before we drained it the next day. It was kinda like a dream skatepark because there weren’t any rules. Only the boys got to ride.”

–Jay Adams

Jay Adams at the Dogbowl — Image by Glen E. Friedman

“I was a P.O.P. local from birth. The ORIGINAL MASCOT. My dad rented surfboards under the Northside of the pier. All the guards at the park used to let me in for free. FUCK Disneyland, I had P.O.P., surf and all. I surfed the cove with Mickey Dora before leashes were invented.”

–Jay Adams

craig stecyk skater quote z-boys

“Jay Adams was not the greatest pool skater, nor was he the greatest bank skater, or the greatest slalom skater or the greatest freestyler. The fact is, Jay Adams’ contribution to skateboarding defies description or category. Jay Adams is probably not the greatest skater of all time, but I can say without fear of being wrong that he is clearly the archetype of modern-day skateboarding. Archetype defined means an original pattern or model, a prototype. Prototype defined means the first thing or being of its kind. He’s the real thing, an original seed, the original virus that infected all of us. He was beyond comparison. To this day I haven’t witnessed any skater more vital, more dynamic, more fun to watch, more unpredictable, and more spontaneous in his approach than Jay. There are not enough superlatives to describe him.”

–Stacy Peralta

L.A.’s vastly paved architectural valleys, canyons, and reservoirs fenced-off and separated the varying neighborhoods, and would became a massive cement playground of unlimited potential seen through the eyes of young skaters years before skate parks were around or readily accessible. 

“He (Jay Adams) didn’t give a shit about money, and I don’t think that’s why he did it to begin with. He never was interested in any of the material rewards that came from skateboarding. I think that he just basically had a total Fuck You approach to the whole commercialism of skateboarding.”

–Tony Alva

Jay Adams — Image by Glen E. Friedman

“Once pool riding came in– that was like ALL we wanted to do.”

–Jay Adams

1976, Jay Adams — Image by Glen E. Friedman

“People just wanted to have what he (Jay Adams) had, you know? They just wanted a piece of him. “

–Jeff Ho

This low-slung, surf-influenced, fluid style was the hallmark of early Dogtwon Z-Boys skating– which was all about style. If you didn’t have great style, and looked good while you skated– you weren’t anything– you were stinking the place up. “(Surfer) Larry Bertelman was the fundamental impact on the Z-Boys thing– the Z-Boys thing was Larry Bertelman on concrete. That’s what we were all trying to do, because Larry Bertelman just blew the doors off everybody.” –Nathan Pratt. And then the Z-Boys set the bar again with vertical skating, and the world has never looked back…

“Jay Adams may not have been the world’s best skater, but he was the man, the real deal, the original, the first. He is the archetype of our shared heritage.”

–Stacy Peralta

1976, Jay Adams — Image by Glen E. Friedman

“I missed a lot of good times, doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing. There are certain mistakes I’d like to change, but I’m not going to trip on it to hard.”

–Jay Adams 

Jay Adams, King of the “Bert-slide” — Image by Craig Stecyk. The Dogtown Z-Boys skating style was heavily influenced early-on by Hawaiian surfing badass Larry Bertelman. “I remember being in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and watching Hal Jepsen’s surf film ‘Super Session’ and a young Hawaiian surfer named Larry Bertelman came on the screen…” –Stacy Peralta. “He, like, put his hands on the wave– he was one of the first guys that I remember doing that. So we started copying that on the ground.” –Jay Adams. 

“I believe this photo of Jay (above) is the most stunning and strikingly clear representation, of any photo ever taken, of modern skateboarding. It contains all the elements that make up what modern-day skateboarding has become: awesome aggression and style, power and fury, wild abandon, destruction of all fear, untamed individualism, and a free-spirited determination to tear, shred, and rip relentlessly. Jay should’ve had it all, and it makes me so sad that he didn’t.” 

–Stacy Peralta 

1978 — Jay Adams at Marina Del Rey Skatepark — Image by David Scott

“Some kids are born and raised on like, graham crackers and milk– Jay was born and raised on surfing and skateboarding, you know.”

–Tony Alva

jay adams bowl

dogtown z-boys craig stecyk quote

zephyr skate team z boys skateboarder

Z-Flex skate team, back to front, left to right– Marty Grimes, Jimmy Davies, Eric Andersen (Froggy), Solo Scott, Jimmy Plummer, George Wilson, Shogo Kubo, and Dennis Agnew (Polar Bear). — Image via Venicepix

Credit: The Selvedgeyard



Posted: October 17, 2014 in History


“Hell’s Angels love to fistfight. There’s never a shortage of drunks or foolhardy motherfuckers willing to take us on, and  a lot of times we’ll take on each other. Armond Bletcher stood  6″8″ and weighed 350 lbs. He was so strong he could pick up a couple motorcycles  and put them on the back of a pickup truck. In the early ’70s Armond could bench 705 lbs., but he had to arch his back to do it. He was never in competition, but he took steroids and was unbelievably big.”

–Ralph “Sonny” Barger


Jesus-H-Christ this was a big ass dude. Depending on who’s telling it, Armond Bletcher was somewhere between 6′ 3″ – 6′ 8″, and tipped the scales around 300 – 350 lbs. A friend of the Fresno Hells Angel, and a feature favorite with the staff at Easyriders magazine, Armond was literally a giant among men and a controversial figure to this day. There are many colorful tales– It’s reported that as a doorman he got away with shooting a man to death, that he was a known hitman, also Frank Sinatra’s bodyguard, and that he took horse steroids to achieve and maintain his enoromous size.

He met his match at the wrong end of a .357 when a baseball bat beating couldn’t diffuse his anger– just pissed him off more. He was dead at 33 yrs old. Armond had allegedly gone after his cousins to “mess them up” when they refused to put him on their shop payroll, which he desperately needed to show an honest source of income while being investigated by the Feds for numerous illegal activities. Having his personal lifestyle and exploits plastered on the pages of Easyriders magazine probably didn’t help matters much.


armand bletcher easyriders magazine harley chopper

“His willpower is strong enough to put down wine, women, and song in pursuit of his occupation, but his chopper remains his achilles heel.” –Easyriders magazine article, ca. 1976

“Anyone who has been on a 500-pound Hog knows that it is one heavy machine to handle– and because of its weight. If for any reason you get off balance, it’s really a bitch to get it upright. Flop it on its side and it usually takes two guys to stand it up again.

With this in mind, flash on Armond Bletcher, a 6’3″, 310-pounder who dwarfs his big 80, and makes it appear as if he’s putt-putting around on a Yamaha 125.

He earns his coins by being a strong-arm bodyguard –strong-arm meaning that his bad news, mangler-of-men appearance, and obvious capability is used instead of a gun to protect his clients.”

Armond Bletcher achilles heel harley easyriders

“Armond lives the good life of his wealthy clients while on duty and manages to spend three to four hours lifting weights everyday on his own time, while chug-a-lugging quarts of milk along with his five meals a day. ‘Not huge meals– just five spread out across the entire time I’m awake.’

His chopper, as with most chopper riders, is his “escape”– so much so in his case that he won’t even allow himself near it until after his workout, and most of the time he restricts his riding to weekends because, ‘Once I get on it, I want to go, and keep on going– and the hell with everything else.’” 

armond bletcher chopper harley easyriders

“He’s been lifting weights for seven years, since he was 20with 60-pound bells, and has maintained a daily schedule except for “A couple of times when I broke my fist in fights.”

Really ape for his lifting and good health, he doesn’t drink or smoke, has 22″ biceps, can press 350 pounds, can bench-press — “I cheat a little with an arched back.” — 590 pounds. His daily routine consists of four sets of each exercise, sets of at least six reps– such exercises as curling 270 pounds.”

Armond Bletcher harley easyriders

“He alternates his lifting schedule to workout different parts of his body, every other day, and increases the amount of weight as the exercise becomes too easy. He doesn’t workout for the usual definition and small waist, but rather lifts to develop and maintain overall brute strength. As he puts it, “A bear has a gut, and you know what he can do to a guy.” (His waist is 38″.)

Working out in his own gym (“Because I don’t like the creeps that frequent the public gyms”), he puts his lifting before anything else– he feels it’s vital to his occupation. An occupation that requires he stand near his client, and merely from his size and looks, be able to discourage most people from hassling his client or even think about attempting anything, yet at the same time being physically able to do battle if the occasion calls for it.

He’s a protector, an enforcer, a collector, and yet he has one admitted weakness– his chopper.”

armond bletcher harley motorcycle

Armond Bletcher’s Harley chopper photographed at the Malibu ER Ranch. Late ’70s or early ’80s Frank Kaisler (via)



young Armond Bletcher

“…A shot of Armond when he was probably 19, in Santa Cruz, and I am the chesty blonde. :)” –Indian Sue (via)

young armond bletcher motorcycle 1963

Armond Bletcher’s prized motorcycle and car, ca. 1963


young Armond Bletcher car 1963

A young Armond Bletcher with his prized car, ca. 1963

Credit: The Selvedge Yard

An option for the 1954 Mercury passenger car was a roadlamp or fog light kit.  These lights mounted in the front bumperettes.  What makes them of interest to me is that they later became a rare option for the 1955 and 1956 Ford Thunderbird. 

 Shown below is an NOS kit used in these cars.  The switch is a sought after item as not many have survived.  The switch allowed the headlamps to be operated in conjunction with the roadlamps, as required in some states.  The lamps could either be clear or amber.


Ghost Car

Posted: March 15, 2012 in Art, History
Tags: ,

This is one that has been around a few times on the internet. I have been sitting on it for a bit, so I thought I would post it for you guys:

World’s only remaining ‘Ghost Car’ heads for auction. Incredible images of the Plexiglas Pontiac expected to fetch almost $500,000.


Unveiled at the General Motors Highways and Horizons pavilion at the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York, the Pontiac ‘Ghost Car’ was buit on the chassis of a 1939 Pontiac Deluxe Six. In collaboration with Rohm & Haas, a chemical company that had recently developed Plexiglass, the concept for a transparent car was conceived and it was the first one ever built in America.

This one-of-a-kind vehicle will be put up for auction on July 30, 2011 by RM Auctions in Plymouth, Michigan. The car is estimated to fetch between $275,000 – $475,000. Additional information and photographs of this beautiful vehicle below, enjoy!











– The highlight of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York and the first transparent car ever built in America – Series 26. 85 bhp, 222.7 cu. in. L-head six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. – The structural metal underneath was given a copper wash, and all hardware, including the dashboard, was chrome plated. Rubber moldings were made in white, as were the car’s tires – Cost a reported $25,000 to build (using Consumer Price Index to estimate inflation, it is approx. $388,000 in 2010 US dollars) – Car still rides on its original white tires with odometer reading of 86 miles (138 km) – Does not have a conventional vehicle identification number












CLEAR LAKE, Iowa–At 1 a.m. Friday, a handful of people will gather under a waxing moon on a gravel road about 5 miles north of here.

 As they listen to Don McLean lament “the day the music died” in his 1971 song American Pie, they’ll walk, as they do every year, to the site of the plane crash where singers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died a few minutes after 1 a.m. on Feb. 3, 1959.

At a memorial in a farm field, the fans will say a prayer and sing a couple of songs. “We give thanks for the lives of these people that brought us all together and thanks for the music,” says Paul King, 66, a retired businessman from Northampton, England. He is a member of the British Buddy Holly Society and has made 24 pilgrimages to Clear Lake, including 17 for anniversary celebrations.

The after-midnight procession is the culmination of an annual celebration of the legacy of the three young rock ‘n’ roll singers and the survival of the Surf Ballroom, the venue in this town of 7,777 where they performed their final show.

The Surf, built in 1948 — after its first incarnation across the street on the shores of Clear Lake burned down a year earlier — is a shrine to the 1950s and the early days of rock music. It has its original ticket window, wooden dance floor and booths and a meticulously restored seashore-and-palm-trees motif. Faux clouds still roll across the black ceiling.

The ballroom, which will be packed this week during the annual four-day commemoration of the Winter Dance Party that brought the three young stars to town 53 years ago, has been designated a historic landmark by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was listed last year in the National Register of Historic Places.

It is, says Jay P. Richardson, The Big Bopper’s son, “a temple of rock ‘n’ roll. If you want to pay your respects to Elvis, you go to Graceland. If you want to pay your respects to Dad, Buddy and Ritchie, you go to the Surf Ballroom.”

Once a hot spot

Clear Lake is a summer vacation hub in the middle of farm country, a two-hour drive from Minneapolis or Des Moines, the closest big cities. It’s the sort of place that’s bypassed by many national acts now, but in the days before everyone had TVs, musicians regularly toured small towns by bus, drawing capacity crowds from miles around to places such as the Surf.

The original ballroom, built in 1934, hosted all the famous acts of an earlier era: the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Count Basie, Lawrence Welk. By 1959, the new Surf was rocking.

Karen Spratt, 69, grew up on a farm near Clear Lake. “We milked cows twice a day and had a radio in the barn,” she says. “We learned all the words and sang along. My idols were Buddy and James Dean.” She was barely 16 when the Winter Dance Party came to the Surf, but her mom said she could go. Admission was $1.25.

It was, she says, “a fantastic night.” When she heard about the crash the next day, “we all cried. How could they be gone?”

Holly, the headliner, Valens and The Big Bopper had been touring the Midwest by bus. Dion and the Belmonts and Frankie Sardo also were on the bill. Holly was not accompanied by the Crickets, his original backup band. Instead, Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup shared the stage with him.

The lineup included some of the hottest performers of the day, Allsup says. “Elvis was in the Army in Germany, Little Richard had retired … and Jerry Lee Lewis was at the bottom of his career,” he says. “There weren’t that many rock ‘n’ roll stars running around.”

Holly’s hits Peggy Sue and Rave On were radio staples. Valens’ La Bamba was a Top 40 hit in 1958 and the Bopper’s Chantilly Lace was released that summer.

The Surf was sold out that night to its capacity of about 2,000. In his 2011 book Dion: The Wanderer Talks Truth, Dion Dimucci described what happened. Holly, he wrote, decided he couldn’t take another night on the tour bus and chartered a plane to fly to Moorhead, Minn., for the next stop on the tour.

The small plane had four seats: room for the pilot, Roger Peterson, and three more. In the dressing room, Dimucci wrote, a coin was flipped to see who would fly with Holly and who would ride the bus. DiMucci and The Big Bopper won, but DiMucci opted out after he was told the flight would cost $36 each. “I said to Ritchie, ‘You go,’ ” he wrote.

The plane crashed minutes after takeoff; all four men were killed. Light snow was falling as the plane took off. Investigators concluded the crash was caused by poor weather conditions and pilot error.

‘Not a sad place’

Bill Wobbeking was at the Surf that night. He had just turned 18 and was attending college in nearby Mason City. After the show, he and a friend talked about Holly’s performance. “We kept saying over and over, he’s better than Elvis,” says Wobbeking, 71, a retired bank controller who lives in Urbandale, Iowa.

He has attended several reunions at the Surf and says it’s a joyful place. “My last memory of being in there that night was a happy time,” he says. But Wobbeking can’t bring himself to visit the crash site.

Bob Hale, who was a radio DJ in 1959 and emceed the Winter Dance Party, has tried to walk into the field to the crash memorial, but he had to turn back. At the Surf that night, he says, Holly asked if he could touch Hale’s pregnant wife’s belly. They talked about Iowa’s tough winters, and Holly promised he’d come back in the spring to perform and go water skiing and swimming.

“As he was getting into the car to go to the airport,” Hale, 78, who lives in Park Ridge, Ill., recalls, “he said, ‘I’ll see you in the spring.’ ”

Richardson, who was born a few weeks after his father’s death, first visited the Surf in 1988 and met Maria Elena Holly, Buddy’s widow, and Valens’ siblings. “I never realized my father had the impact he had until I went to the Surf,” he says. He first performed there in 2000 and will host this week’s events.

“It’s not a sad place to me,” Richardson says. “The Surf is the last place I know my father was having a good time.” He recently loaned some artifacts to the Surf’s museum, including his father’s brown leather briefcase engraved with the initials “J.P.R.” It was recovered from the crash site.

Restored to glory

The Surf went through difficult times after the events of 1959. A succession of owners and managers neglected it and some skipped town leaving unpaid bills, says Jeff Nicholas, president of the North Iowa Cultural Center and Museum, the non-profit group that has managed the ballroom since 2008.

Over the years, the iconic pineapple murals in the lobby — a symbol of hospitality — were covered by wood paneling and carpet. When it rained, trashcans were arrayed on the dance floor to catch leaking water.

The day the music died

Pilot Roger Peterson and three stars of early rock and roll died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, on Feb. 3, 1959:

Buddy Holly Age: 22 Hits: That’ll Be The Day, Rave On, Peggy Sue Note: The Beatles’ name was inspired in part by Holly’s band, The Crickets

J.P. Richardson Jr., The Big Bopper Age: 28 Hits: Chantilly Lace; wrote White Lightning, Running Bear Note: Credited for coining the term “music video,” he recorded videos for his songs

Ritchie Valens Age: 17 Hits: Donna, La Bamba, Come On Let’s Go Note: The Beach Boys, Carlos Santana and Los Lobos cite Valens as an influence

In 1994, the Dean Snyder family, owners of a Clear Lake construction company, bought the ballroom and began restorations.

The Surf hosted 40 concerts and events in 2011, including shows by 16 nationally known artists, and the annual February commemoration brings about $2 million to the area, says Nicholas, who owns the farm where the plane crashed.

“There just seems to be a mystery and a magic” about the Surf and its place in music history, Nicholas says. He once encountered a man standing near the crash site with tears rolling down his face. “Lots of memories,” is all the visitor would say.

A few weeks after the crash, a pistol that had belonged to Holly was found near the site. In 2007, Richardson asked that his father’s body be exhumed to resolve questions about whether the gun was discharged during the flight and whether The Big Bopper, whose body was found further from the wrecked plane than the other victims, had survived and tried to seek help.

The autopsy found that The Bopper died on impact and found no evidence of gunfire.

Nicholas says he gets goosebumps every time he walks into the Surf, and executive director Laurie Lietz says, “I come in every morning and I say, ‘Good morning, boys.’ Every morning. The Valens family swear they feel Ritchie’s presence here.”

‘Beyond nostalgic’

Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top felt the history of the Surf when his band performed here for the first time in October 2011.

“To see it and walk through it was really a treat,” he says. “It’s a period-perfect piece of unintended leftover architecture. There’s something beyond nostalgic about it. There’s something quaint that is a standing reminder of the way things were.”

ZZ Top left with a Surf souvenir, Gibbons says: a vintage candy-striped popcorn machine on wheels. “It’s now in our recording studio in Houston,” he says.

This year’s Winter Dance Party, which begins Wednesday,  features concerts, dance lessons, memorabilia and art shows and a bus trip to the memorial site. Allsup will perform, and Pat Boone is the headliner. King and other Surf fans who created a music scholarship fund in 1999 plan fundraising events.

“I can’t wait,” says Jack Dreznes, 63, a Chicago record store owner who serves on the scholarship board. “It’s the music and the camaraderie of the people who love the music. It’s fun music, it’s innocent music, it reminds us old-timers of our youth.”

Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, says everyone should visit the Surf. “It is living history,” he says. “The music didn’t die.”

Allsup, who stood beside Holly onstage that fateful night and will stand in the same place this week, agrees. “The music lived,” he says. “The guys died, but their music lives on and on.”

Despite his genius and popularity, Dutch never made any money from striping. Money was something he detested. In this quote from a 1965 article Dutch explains his thoughts on money.








“I make a point of staying right at the edge of poverty. I don’t have a pair of pants without a hole in them, and the only pair of boots I have are on my feet. I don’t mess around with unnecessary stuff, so I don’t need much money. I believe it’s meant to be that way. There’s a ‘struggle’ you have to go through, and if you make a lot of money it doesn’t make the ‘struggle’ go away. It just makes it more complicated. If you keep poor, the struggle is simple.” – Von Dutch

Every so often he would double his rate just to weed out the undesirables. So many were demanding his services that he just couldn’t stand it anymore.   It didn’t work! No matter what he charged, they just kept on coming! He hated the commercial aspects of what he did. He believed that you couldn’t focus on doing good work if you worried about the money, and ‘good work’ was everything to Dutch!

Von Dutch was a multitalented artist. In addition to pinstriping, ha was also a gunsmith, kustom painter, knife maker, sign painter, inventor, customizer, and a fine artist. Von Dutch also did a lot of special effects for movies, and was a consultant for period movies because he was a gun expert. The man was a genius, and could make something out of anything. He was mostly interested in motorcycles, but did also customize some cars. One of the cars he restyled was based on a Cord and a Cadillac, so he named it the “Cordillac”. Another automotive creation by Von Dutch was his truck the “Kenford”.

Von Dutch was known as an eccentric artist. In an interview with Hot Rod Magazine March 1977 he tells about a guy visiting his shop bugging him to stripe his car. He really got him mad, so he decided to give him a little surprise, as he put cobwebs and spiders all over his car. Another customer who was foolish enough to pressure Von Dutch into a quick job he didn’t want to do got a striping job that wouldn’t dry, as Von Dutch had mixed a lot of oil into the paint. In Hot Rod Magazine April 1989 Pat Ganahl also tells stories about a fire truck Von Dutch was hired to do traditional pinstripng on for a station in Arizona. Once completed Von Dutch had flamed the truck instead. When racers brought him grille inserts from Model A’s or 32s, half the time he would stripe them upside down. Pat had also heard a story about a customer that got a car striped. When the customer got back to the shop Von Dutch had pinstriped one side of the car differently than the other. When brought the car back to Von Dutch, Von Dutch would tell him: “Who can see both sides of your car at the same time? Why should they be the same? This way, you get two different designs on your car to enjoy for the price of one”.Also if somebody tried to dicker on price, Von Dutch would raise the figure instead of lowering it.

Von Dutch got a little too moody and eccentric for Barris Kustoms, so he moved his operation uptown to “The Crazy Arab’s” Competition Body Shop at 7201 West Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles in 1955.  After Von Dutch moved, George Barris asked Dean Jeffries, aka “The Kid” if he would sublease a shop space in the Barris Kustoms Lynwood shop. Dean Jeffries used to hang around Von Dutch in the beginning of his career. In the book Dean Jeffries 50 Fabulous Years in Hot Rods, Racing and Film Dean admits that it was Von Dutch that learned him to pinstripe. As Dean spent a lot of time around Von Dutch, the duo became known as Von Dutch and “The Kid”. Before Dean “Jeff” Jeffries rented space at the Barris Kustoms shop he was working out of George Cerny’s Custom Shop.

In 1955 Von Dutch made a personal appearance at the 1955 Motorama where he striped a 1927 Studebaker for 10 days, he achieved national fame in Car Craft February 1956.

According to his sister Virginia Howard Reyes most of the stories being told about Von Dutch are just stories. Some are somewhat true, but almost all of the stories on him are all different because he never gave a straight answer, and liked to play with you. When he told you something, you believed it, and he got a kick out of it. According to Virginia he never lied, he hated liars, and was very honest. He wasn’t eccentric as a young boy, but since he was quite different from the norm, his family always knew he had something special in him.

After a controller from the building inspector’s office started bugging Von Dutch for having antiquated machinery in his shop, he decided to move into a 1954 public transportation bus, since there is nothing in the vehicle code  that says anything about how old the machinery can be.

One of the things Von Dutch enjoyed doing most was building and working on machinery. Building an engine from scratch, see it grow, have it make heat, and power, would beat Frankenstein’s monster to Von Dutch.

Born in 1929 as Kenneth Howard, Von Dutch was the man who brought pin-striping as a high art from motorcycles to automobile bodies. He took his nickname from his stubbornness. “Stubborn as a Dutchman” is a by now quaint ethnic slur. But beyond stubborn, Von Dutch became insufferable. He was the quintessential cliché romantic artist, selfish inside his own vision, alienating family, friends and customers alike. Part romantic, part beatnik, part general pain in the ass, he was a racist and prima donna, he managed to irritate almost everyone who admired him—and in the best esthetic mode, somehow made them admire him more in the process.

He died in 1992, leaving two daughters. At the end, he was drinking heavily, holed up in an old Long Beach city bus. For years he lived at the museum called Movie World, Cars of the Stars and Planes of Fame in Buena Park, California. He had become paranoid and he spent time elaborately engraving and painting knives and guns as well as cars.

 Michael Cassel, a maker of surf clothing, established a company called Von Dutch Originals in 2000 and opened the store on Melrose Avenue a year later. He brought in a man named Tony Sorensen who in turn hired designer Christian Audigier. Audigier worked for Diesel and Fiorucci. Casel’s notion was to tap the hot rod set; but Sorensen and Audigier aimed at wider, fashion audience.

From what he have heard through the grapevine the clothing line was started by his daughters  in 1996 with Michael Cassel with the rights being sold in 2000 and  Tony tossing Cassel out around 2001. The  family business the “family”  honestly,made NO money compared to what that company made and is still making.

No discussion of Von Dutch would be complete without touching on the subject of his famous Flying Eyeball logo. According to Von Dutch, the flying eyeball originated with the Macedonian and Egyptian cultures about 5000 years ago. It was a symbol meaning “the eye in the sky knows all and sees all”, or something like that. Dutch got a hold of this symbol and modified it into the flyin’eyeball we know of today. He always believed in reincarnation, and the eyeball, somehow, was tied to that.There have been numerous “incarnations” of this design over the years. It still remains an icon of the ’50s and ’60s street rod crowd.

1995, DJ Wolfman Jack died of a heart attack. Was the master of ceremonies for the rock ‘n’ roll generation of the ’60s on radio, and later on television during the ’70s.









1956, Elvis Presley appeared on NBC- TV’s ‘The Steve Allen Show’ and performed ‘Hound Dog’, to a live Hound Dog. US TV critic John Crosby panned Elvis’ performance, calling him an ‘unspeakable, untalented and vulgar young entertainer.’












1962, Gene Vincent plus up and coming local group The Beatles appeared at The Cavern Club, Liverpool.


                                                                  STUDEBAKER HISTORY

On this day in 1933, American automaker Studebaker, then heavily in debt, goes into receivership.  The company’s president, Albert Erskine, resigned and later that year committed suicide. Studebaker eventually rebounded from its financial troubles, only to close its doors for the final time in 1966.

The origins of the Studebaker Corporation date back to 1852, when brothers Henry and Clement Studebaker opened a blacksmith shop in South Bend, Indiana. Studebaker eventually became a leading manufacturer of horse-drawn wagons and supplied wagons to the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Around the turn of the century, the company entered America’s burgeoning auto industry, launching an electric car in 1902 and a gas-powered vehicle two years later that was marketed under the name Studebaker-Garford. After partnering with other automakers, Studebaker began selling gas-powered cars under its own name in 1913, while continuing to make wagons until 1920.

Albert Erskine (1871–1933) assumed the top job at Studebaker in 1915. Under his leadership, the company acquired luxury automaker Pierce-Arrow in the late 1920s and launched the affordably priced but short-lived Erskine and Rockne lines (the latter named for the famous University of Notre Dame football coach: Before his death in a plane crash in 1931, Studebaker paid Rockne to give talks at auto conventions and dealership events). During the early 1930s, Studebaker was hit hard by the Great Depression and in March 1933 it was forced into bankruptcy. (In April 2009, Chrysler became the first major American automaker since Studebaker to declare bankruptcy.) Erskine, who was saddled with personal debt and health problems, killed himself on July 1, 1933.

New management got the company back on track, dropping the Rockne brand in July 1933 and selling Pierce-Arrow, among other consolidation moves. In January 1935, the new Studebaker Corporation was incorporated. In the late 1930s, the French-born industrial designer Raymond Loewy began working for Studebaker: There, he created iconic and popular models including the bullet-nosed 1953 Starliner and Starlight coupes and the 1963 Avanti sports coupe.

By the mid-1950s, Studebaker, which didn’t have the resources of its Big Three competitors, had merged with automaker Packard and was again facing financial troubles. By the late 1950s, the Packard brand was dropped. In December 1963, Studebaker shuttered its South Bend plant, ending the production of its cars and trucks in America. The company’s Hamilton, Ontario, facilities remained in operation until March 1966, when Studebaker shut its doors for the final time after 114 years in business.

Of course we know that for the most part organized drag racing started on the West Coast but not to be denied, the other states caught on quickly.  When the guys back east decided to go drag racing, they really got serious.  Unlike the West Coast where there was good weather almost year round, when it closed in on them, they did what any rabid racer who suffers the dreaded “Nitro Methane In The Blood Disease” would do, they built an INDOOR drag strip.  Yep, that’s right, an indoor drag strip.

In 1962 those crazy guys from Chicago built the “Chicago Area Raceway” – INDOORS.  It was located in the old International Amphitheater at 42nd and Halstead in Chicago Il.  It was built in ’34 as a livestock showplace and in ’68 housed the Democratic Convention and at least one Beatles concert and one Elvis show.  Advertised as the world’s only indoor drag strip, it was open about 2 years  and featured a 440 ft. strip with a 660 ft. shut off and included a pit area. 

The United States Auto Club (USAC) sponsored it.  Don’t ask me what they did for ventilation but that’s the way they did it back in the good ole’ days.









































   So, Chevrolet, being GM’s big sales and profit division, campaigned to GM to “kill” this car. When Chevy was coming out with its 6-cyl. sports car with its 2-speed  “powerglide” transmission and side curtains, here was a sports car from Olds with a big old V-8 and power windows.

GM said no to Oldsmobile on building this car. The world’s rarest automobile:  a 1954 Concept Old’s Rocket F88 – the only one in existence. John S. Hendricks, (Discovery Communications founder) paid in excess of 3 million to acquire this 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 Convertible Concept Car .

After spending decades as a collection of parts stuffed into wooden crates, the F-88 was reassembled.  In 1954, the F-88 was a Motorama Dream Car, and was one of only two, or an unconfirmed possible three, ever created.  The F-88 seen here is literally the only car left of its kind, and was sold to John and Maureen Hendricks at the prestigious Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale , Arizona , for an unbelievable $3,240,000. 

This acquisition made automotive history, and is the cornerstone of the Gateway Colorado Automobile Museum, in its own special room in a rotating display, worthy of the F-88!