Sunday, November 22, 2009

Damn, I miss old fashioned antique car shows

Today a my wife, a friend and I went to a huge antique & classic car show in Pompano.
It wasn't of the best I've been to in Florida...but there still wasn't the magic of car shows i went to with my old lady and old man when I was a kid.

This show was about 60% muscle cars and hot rods (and Covettes), 25% Pre 1965 non-muscle cars and 15% hoopdies (70's cars with 22" rims through new cars customized). You could pic your year, engine and color for 'Vettes and 'Stangs. You could count the pre-war antiques on two hands.

When I was a kid, '57 Chevys were only around 20 years old, and 60's muscle cars were 10-year-old junk that only greasy kids that hung out in shop class wanted. You could take your pick of 50's finned cars, because most people thought of them as old, gas-guzzling, out-of-style clunkers. I knew a guy who lived in a 40-foot trailer, and had three '67 Caddy convertibles. He tried to sell me one for $300, and I remember telling him it was too much because the seat was ripped. So car shows in the ’70s & '80s were filled with line after line of Model A Fords, '32 Chevys, '30s Cadillacs and LaSalles, and rare cars from the '50s and '60s like the '58 Caddy Eldorado Brougham and the '63 Lincoln Convertible. There were always big-fendered cars from the '30s, and even a few bullet holes from the Prohibition era. Novelty cars like the Amphicar and odd-balls like American Bantam of the '30s were usually featured. Hot rods were generally cars that had been hot-rodded in the '50s, and still looked the same. And almost everybody did a good amount of the restorations themselves.
I also used to love the shows that were held at old-style locations. In particular, there was a show held in the Historic Towne of Smithville in South Jersey. The whole town was made up of houses and shops from the 18th century. Somehow those Tin Lizzies and fat fendered Fords looked pefect next to those old houses. Another was held at a little place called Gravely Run, also in SJ. It was a group of buildings from the turn of the century, and had the same appeal. One of the best was held throughout the city of Wildwood, NJ, a town that grew up in the '50s and 60's and has a the largest collection of "Doo-Wop" style mid-century motels and diners in the world. THAT was fantastic (I drove to it in my '56 Buick Draggin Waggin)
This show we went to today was held at the Festival Flea Market, a temple of modern, cheap commercialism. Not that it's a bad thing, but there was just something off-kilter about seeing a '53 Cadillac next to a 2006 Custom Escalade, in front of a plastic & aluminum modern sign for the mall.
Don't get me wrong, I still had fun today. There were a lot of cool cars and even a couple of antique motorcycles. But I don't think I'll ever get to go to a car show like the ones I went to as a kid again.
To see the photos from this show, over 100 with great views of the best cars, go to

Sunday, November 1, 2009

REAL Ghosts of Halloween

A few encounters with the 'other side' I decided to print, even if no one reads it...
Halloween has always been a big deal for me. I decorate the whole house, drive my wife & friends insane, have a big Halloween party and cap it all off with scaring the living daylights out of trick-or-treaters. Halloween was always my mother's favorite holiday, and that made it my father's favorite too.
My mother passed away fairly young in 1996. She was very much into the occult, and always said that if there was a way to come back from the other side, she would. I truly expected her to do so, but besides a few dreams, she seemed at peace. Then, on Halloween 1996, two strange things happened...although I had no spice cookies (or anything like them) in the house, I smelled the aroma of these cookies several times throughout the night. Spice cookies were my mother's favorite Halloween treat. Also, she would play around by biting the tops off the candy corns and throwing them back in the bowl. Although I checked them all before putting them out, by Halloween day several candy corns were missing the tops. This happened several more Halloweens since.
In 2002, my father passed away. On the day he died, he told the nurses his wife was coming to get him later, to take him dancing. He insisted she had been there and was coming back.That was Halloween day, October 31, 2002.
About two weeks before, the lightbulb blew out in his room in our house. He was too week to change it himself, and got me to do it for him before I left for work. This was very traumatic for him; he was always a very strong, independent man, and went on about how he'd be sitting in the dark that night if I hadn't been able to help him. Since then, every year around the middle of September right up to Halloween, bulbs start blowing. Even the 7-year jobs. It's always in his room first, then a few more around the house. I've had the wires checked, they're fine. I use quality bulbs that should last for years. This year six bulbs blew out in three weeks, including one on Halloween morning, just after a loud crash made me jump out of my skin. The crash was cauldron decoration that broke loose from an 8lb test line (it weighed less than a pound). It fell in a very strange place...and broke a middle eastern drum that my father used to play for my mother, who was a belly dancer.
In 1996 I bought small bungalow in Northfield, NJ. Built in 1928, this cute little house featured glass doorknobs, 12-pane windows and a modernized basement which I turned into a rec room. I bought it from the great grand daughter of the home's original owners, who told me the house originally had a penny candy store in the front room. Her grandfather still lived next door, and came over a few times with stories of how he lived there as a young boy during the great depression...the candy store barely keeping the family afloat, he and his brothers and sisters sleeping in small sectioned rooms in the basement. He seemed sad the house was no longer in his family, but at the same time was happy he was so close. He passed away a few years after I moved in, and soon after that I started having strange feelings of not being alone, usually around 11pm and lasting until around 3am. One night while sleeping in my bedroom (which would have been his parents' room), I awoke to find a shadow of a figure, about 4 feet tall, blocking my bedroom door. It was a solid shadow, and as I always slept with a light on I could see it clearly. I don't know how I know this, but I knew it was the shadow of a young boy, standing in the doorway looking at me. I looked back right at it, at first thinking I was waking from a dream. But this was no dream. I stared at it for about five seconds, and then it simply faded away. A few nights later, I was lying in my bed trying to fall asleep, and could not. I decided to get up and get a little snack; when I opened my eyes, a cherub-like face was staring into mine from about two feet away, between me and the ceiling. I was startled, but not scared as the face was smiling. It disappeared in a blink, but after that I didn't have any more uninvited visitors to my room.
When I was a kid, my grandparents and aunt & uncle lived in two houses a block away from each other in South Philly. I hated both those houses. Strange noises, eerie feelings, visions, and a sense of dread hit me every time I went to visit, especially in my Uncle's back bedroom and basement. Once, while my wife and I were staying in that back bedroom during a visit, we both woke in the middle of the night to witness the far end of the room morphing, changing into something else, then back again. Another time I felt the room was collapsing in on me, and could see the walls moving. In the basement (which was a nicely done rec room with a bar), I'd suddenly fell as though the room were full of people...even behind me. Then it would go away. Years later I found out that in the mid to late 19th century, the Philadelphia Alms House had used most of South Philly as a grave yard for unclaimed bodies. When they began to build streets and homes at the turn of the century, they basically built right over the unmarked graves. With most basements only dug four feet into the ground (with two or three feet above ground) they didn't have to worry about hitting the bodies six feet under. In the late 90's or early 00's, some south Philly-ans found coffins and remains when they decided to deepen their basements. I feel strongly that there are bodies buried under that basement floor in my Uncle's would certainly explain a lot.