Cars and Their People
Remembering Friends and What They Drove
by Henry Friedl
I I know there’s more to it than I am about to share, but here goes. This will be much like riding a sled down “Girls Dorm Hill”. What I mean is that this will be a kaleidoscope of images that I remember from elementary, junior high (not “middle school”) and Athens High School. As Perry Hill used to say, “In other words”….this will be a fast ride. I’m recalling people that I knew in Athens and will do it by using the “make” of their car(s).
Does anyone remember Dr. Withers riding around town with his wife in the back seat?
My family owned the “Gray Ghost”. The ’48 Roadmaster (three-on-the tree) began in the color burgundy. It was used and badly faded. Dad had the color changed to gray. The car served the Friedl family of seven exceedingly well!
Dr. Gatherum always kept a Buick. The first one that skims across my “screen” is the gray and white ’57 Super 2 Door Hardtop. Next, he purchased the ’60 dark blue 4-door Electra. During this time Dr. Gatherum’s lawn was one of many that I mowed in town, and I saw that Buick go from his house to his “in-town” office many times. The ’60 was traded for a beautiful ’63 Invicta Estate wagon. Sadly, the car lived a short life because someone “plowed” it one night as it sat on Vermillion St. Promptly, a ’64 LeSabre wagon replace the wrecked ’63.
Dr. Henry Clay Hays, Ms. Ella Holroyd’s brother-in-law was a Buick fan too. Each new Buick in turn (’58, ’60, ’65) was ordered “Radio Delete”. Dr. Hays once counseled me not to wave to him if I saw him out driving. He added that he drove where he looked. I never waved at him when I was walking in town and he was driving his Buick at the same time. I liked working for him and his wife, Sally.
My haircut “of choice” in the fifties and early sixties was that of a “Buzz”. I, as many others in town had that “G.I.” performed by another Buick owner. Yes, you’re right that the barber was Doyle Litton. Mr. Litton seemed to me a wise and kind soul. His smile and his way with words lightened my day as much as he lightened my head.
I regret to this day of not having the next Buick owner as my typing teacher at Athens High. Lucille Hartman was “a Force” in many Athens High School students’ lives. She had lots t do with beginning the Athens Town Social, which I always try to attend. I am eternally grateful to see and speak with as many as I can who participate that second Sunday in August. Thanks, Mrs. Hartman!
Otis Mann, Sr. once drove a Peacock blue/white Buick “Special” in 1955. It was one of many Buicks that he drove. Another ’55 Buick Special was the town police car that was driven by George Gilliam. That white 2-door once followed me to my parents’ house. That one appearance convinced me to improve my driving skills right away.
My first grade teacher, Miss Louise Lipps owned a two-tone, 4-door, Green ’57 Bel Air Sedan. In her class I made sure that I could count from “one” to “one hundred” nonstop. I did not want to disappoint her nor myself.
I always liked Mr. Perry Hill’s blue and white 2-door ’57 210. I learned much in his math classes.
I remember the rumble of my neighbor’s ’60 Impala 4-door hardtop (Pancake) sedan with dual exhausts as it was driven CAREFULLY around the corner. That it was owned by two sisters, Pearl and Bertha Boggess cracked me up.
At “Athens Theatre” where I worked would sometimes have parked in front a ’60 Brookwood copper-colored Chevy wagon. The Chevy was owned by our manager, Mr. Robert Kyle. I remember him affectionately as a true micro-manager whom myself and others there were please to have with us. I loved working there!
I thought it was cool that Wayne Hopkins’ family car was a ’55 4-door Bel Air with “Powerpak”!
Mary Bowling Graybeal’s mom, Elizabeth Bowling, “got” to carpool in G.W. Keatley’s ’56 Bel Air Powerpak! That car was Billy Joe’s car for a while.
Anyone besides me that remembers that cool pair of ’56 convertibles- ’56 Bel Air BABY BLUE- ’56,’88 Olds, light green! Marilee Stein and her husband, Frank drove them.
Alice Hutchison’s dad and mom bought a pretty ’63 Impala 2-door hardtop. It was a burgundy and beige beauty!
Garland Elmore Sr. hauled Boy Scouts to camp in his trusty Suburban. It was friendly and tough like him.
When Virginia and Ken Gleason arrived in their peach-colored ’51-’52 Dodge they brought with them two nice daughters. I’m glad all of you stayed, Sue and Debbie.
Bob Beckett’s ’41 coupe that served him in his Maytag business.
My neighbors, Dr. Uriah Vermillion and Fred Cooper each bought desirable ’55 DeSotos. To add to that duo, David Baxter’s family owned a ’58 Firedome, I believe.
Carol Butler’s mom, Eileen, got some of us to Jacksons’ Mill in that mighty ’55 Chrysler New Yorker. 4-H “at State” was a special week. I was proud to be from Athens!
Mrs. (Elizabeth) Robertson had a daughter-in-law that knew how to use a screwdriver across the terminals(?) to start that big “Hemi” in the family’s ’54 Chrysler New Yorker. Impressive!
”Miss Ella” (Holroyd) kept her ’56 2-door Customline in a garage that was separate from her big house. She always seemed “high on life”, cheerful, positive, full-of-grace. It took me a long time to mow that lawn of hers, and I was glad to have the work.
Garland Elmore, Jr. had a ’49 that he got to drive in a field near his house. Without any formal instruction, he used it to learn to drive. Sometimes I was an eager passenger.
My initial driver’s license is directly tied to that ’63 Galaxie 4-door Sedan at Athens High School and Calvin Belcher, instructor. I’m glad that I learned to shift the three-on-the-tree for myself.
Occasionally on cold mornings Mary Bowling’s dad “Boney” would give us a ride in his ’56 Medalist. First we took turns pumping the accelerator pedal lots of times. Then, Boney would start the “Merc” and off we’d go.
Remember the Epley’s ’56 Colony Park wagon? I do.
My neighbor, Meade McNeil, used to rocket around the town in his green ’58 Dynamic ’88 also.
Dr. Bibbee owned that slick ’61 4-door hardtop Dynamic 88. He taught me some important pruning techniques on that interesting property of his.
My neighbor, Merle Ratcliffe, was the town policeman. Someone “sugar-cured” his hard-working ’57 Stratochief which ruined the engine. A beautiful turquoise/teal ’62 Catalina 4-door hardtop came next.
Mrs. Nancy Bailey, librarian at AHS had that efficient, blue ’60 American.
Instead of the Pontiac I wished for, dad traded our ’48 Buick for a ’61 Rambler Classic. Because it was our only car, I did not get to drive it a lot. Dad used it to earn extra money officiating basketball games, and mom needed it for home visits to her “home Economics” students. It turns out that the Rambler was a great choice.
There are three “Presidents” that I recall. Mr. Hamden AHS band teacher had a cool ’55 President. I liked Mr. Hamden’s classes and enjoyed being a member in the band.
My neighbor, Henry Crawford, also owned a ’55 President.
The Caruths owned a ’56 President Wagon. Fun car!