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"Happy Days" Part 2: The CAR!

Posted Sunday, September 13, 2009, at 9:03 AM

This photo from my former classmate, Judy Adkins Gregory, gives a clear view of the car used to pull our Laverne & Shirley float in the Stoddard County Parade in 1960. Judy even remembers that the car belonged to and was driven by Noel "Butch" Murphy from Bernie.
As promised in my "Laverne & Shirley" blog, I am posting a photo of the car which pulled our FHA float in the Dexter parade in 1960.

Too bad the photo isn't in color, but you know how it was back "in the day:" We were doing good to have cameras at all; it never occured to us to want COLOR! Most of us didn't even have color t.v. back then. In fact, my family had only had black & white t.v. since I was in the sixth grade.

But back to that CAR! Is that not a gorgeous thing??? My Sikeston friend surprisingly couldn't put his finger on the exact make & model, but he thinks it was a Dodge. I'm willing to bet that the car was red & white! With our darling little Dutch maiden outfits of red, white, & blue, we must have been a brilliant spectacle!

Those fins are typical of the fifties, for sure, but I'm not sure what year the auto makers changed to a more rounded style. I remember Asa Dowdy, Jr. driving a brand new turquoise 1958 Chevy with rounded features, but it seems to me that the Fords may still have had fins in 1958.

Since the parade had to be in 1960 (that was the year Judy, Sue and I were elected FHA queen and court), I would assume that the car was either a 60 model or a 59 at the latest. I guess I could google the topic, but it would be a lot more fun to have my readers identify it.

Gas was cheap back then (anybody remember what it was?), so I'm sure this beauty had an enormous engine which fairly guzzled fuel. I remember collecting 50 cents from my girlfriends back in 1958, when we used to drive my dad's old green station wagon around the Pig on Saturday night with the fan belt squealing like a stuck hog. We could cruise all night on that fifty cents worth of gas!

Judy, I cannot thank you enough for these wonderful old photos which have taken me back almost 40 years! Now, as Dexter gets ready for the 2009 Stoddard County parade, I think back over the years and wonder where they went. So much has changed that I dare not think about it very long, or I'll sit here at the computer and cry like a baby...

Let's remember the good times, the Happy Days, when gas was cheap, and all we needed was a ratty old drive-in with pot holes and all the dime sodas we could drink!

From the sunny hills of remote Tillman, Missouri, this is your rural reporter Madeline, feeling 17 again, just for a fleeting moment!

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Ah, are those FENDER SKIRTS I see??

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Sep 13, 2009, at 9:13 AM

That's a 1959 Dodge Coronet. Check out this You Tube video for a great look at this car. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OMkHxlwv...

Then for a laugh, check out the actual TV ad for the 1959 Dodge at


-- Posted by no tea for me on Sun, Sep 13, 2009, at 12:18 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Ah, I had a feeling that Dexterite would know, but I didn't expect not one, but two, videos featuring our gorgeous car from the past!

Thanks for posting these videos, dhs73! And, actually, I think that the model in the TV ad looks about twice as long and sleek as the one in the youtube video, cute as that video is! The camera sure caught all the glitter and glamor in the ad copy! Slide out seats! I could sure use those in my Jeep!

You beat me to it, it is a Dodge Coronet and gas was probably .29 cents per gal.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Sun, Sep 13, 2009, at 12:47 PM

Those cars from the fifties still look so GOOD, but the beautiful 1956 Chevy that we had back then would be a real trial to drive nowadays. I'm sure it didn't have air-conditioning, and I'm not sure it had power steering. I could deal with everything else, I think, but trying to haul that heavy car around corners would just wear me out!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Sep 13, 2009, at 1:54 PM

Those fifties cars are so cool. Sometimes I think I'd like one now. Then I think how I'd have to modify it to include A/C, seat belts, cd player, nice speakers, power steering, power brakes, intermitent windshield wipers and seat warmers and I think, "why bother?" ahhhh, but they are lovely to behold and to remember.

-- Posted by mokath52 on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 6:41 AM

Oh, my! I forgot about the old windshield wipers and the lack of power brakes! On the stick shift, there's also that tendancy to roll back down the hill if you have to stop at the top and wait! It was always tricky to let off the clutch and give it gas, before it started rolling backwards!

As a teenager, I would NEVER drive in Poplar Bluff!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 7:28 AM

Ladies, Ladies, Ladies, Please learn to drive, especially when you take your driving test in Dexter, in a stick shift and get to parallel park on the hill just upslope from Hall Buick, facing up the hill......not a hill in PB could bother me after that!!! As for Butch Murphy and the Dodge, I lived in Bernie when that gorgeous piece of American road iron was rolling and I'm sure if one of the Murphy boys owned it, IT RAN!! Can't really remember if he was dating a Dexter girl or not??? But you had to love cruisin' the Pig, potholes and all, just remembering Ruby's french fries is enough....and the price of gas!!!!! Ladies, I have bloviated enough for now, as I probably watched the parade in question, as we were out of school on "cotton vacation" at the time...and don't worry MD, the glasses were "in" in the day..molater, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 9:07 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Oh, wow! Talk about "pay dirt," this is a real "pay dirt" moment in the Blogosphere! I felt sure I would find someone who could identify THE CAR, but I didn't dream I would find someone who REMEMBERED the CAR and saw it first hand!

Thanks for sharing this with us, KK! You make the years disappear for one brief shining moment!

Haha! Kkcaver, I DID learn to drive in Dexter, driving a stick shift, and I'm sure I had to parallel park on that very hill, trying desperately not to roll back down the hill into traffic!

What's an old Dexter boy doing, using the word "bloviated"??? I'm sure you didn't learn that one on Elm Street!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Sep 15, 2009, at 7:15 AM

Goat Lady, I also parked on that hill, must have been a slow day tho, there sure wasn't any traffic. I remember Butch & that car too. It sure left my 56 chevy behind.

-- Posted by dhs56 on Tue, Sep 15, 2009, at 4:45 PM

There is a trick I use when I am stopped on an uphill grade...as I come to a stop, I go ahead and put it in first, then use the 'gas' to keep the vehicle from rolling backwards...then I'm only using the clutch and gas pedal and don't have to worry about 'killing' the engine or rolling backward into the vehicle behind me...and yes, I grew up in Dexter, but took my driver's test in the Bluff...in a '65 Rambler stick...three speed on the column...my first car..sweet ride..

-- Posted by BarbaraNTexas on Tue, Sep 15, 2009, at 6:44 PM

The intersection at Walnut and Stoddard was also a bit of a hill, if you were heading south with a stick-shift. (where the old Ringer's Hardware store was) I was always nervous if a car came too close behind me! I'm so glad I learned to drive a stick as a teenager though--I probably wouldn't want to learn now. Texas, our family Rambler had a push-button transmission. Once, I pushed too hard and "Drive" went right through the dashboard. Can you hear me now, "Uh, Dad, I kinda lost "Drive."??

-- Posted by GONENOW on Tue, Sep 15, 2009, at 8:34 PM

Gonenow...yes, I can see it now....at one point, my dad had a black Plymouth Fury with a push button transmission...I loved that car.

-- Posted by BarbaraNTexas on Wed, Sep 16, 2009, at 10:33 AM

My husband had a push-button Plymouth in the earlier sixties. Wonderful car!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Sep 16, 2009, at 4:01 PM

Push button automatics used to be common. I had a 1962 Corvair with a push button automatic. BTW, Ralph Nader was right, the Corvair was severely underpowered and it had dangerous understeer. Column shifters were also common.

I learned to type on a manual typewriter. Our instructor refused to allow us to use an automatic, explaining that if you learn on a manual typewriter you can always use one in a pinch, while if you learn on an automatic typewriter it is extremely difficult to use a manual. Maybe the same applies to cars. Those of us who learned to drive with a manual transmission, and non-power steering, brakes and windows can hop in an older rig and cruise right along -- while the sissies who learn to drive in an all automatic everything car would have a tough time of it.

Older cars have a personality that modern cars don't have. Just like older houses have distinct personalities that modern sterile track houses are completely devoid of.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Thu, Sep 17, 2009, at 12:50 PM

I believe you have a good point, FJ! Though, considering how the typewriter has now given way to the computer, I wonder if your instructor's wisdom has carried over into the modern world.

My dad was a typewriter mechanic at one point in his life. He could tear down a machine, oil all the parts, and put it all back together again.....but the repair wasn't cheap! Now the tendancy would be to throw it away and get a new one, which would be cheaper than the repair of the old one.

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Sep 17, 2009, at 1:16 PM

KKcaver -- Was the car in the picture red and white?

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Sep 17, 2009, at 1:18 PM

FJGuy, I'll take your point one step further...Your instructor was spot on about learning the manual way of doing things...how many of today's youth can actually do trig without a graphing calculator? or even make change (been to a fast food joint or retail shop lately?)

-- Posted by BarbaraNTexas on Thu, Sep 17, 2009, at 2:46 PM

Another aspect of modern "dummying down"--the language has been shortened 2! I can't believe I did that, even to make a point. Texting has ruined the ability to spell or recognize words. Spell-check has eliminated the dictionary as a spelling reference. The hardest one for me is this: "Mrs. __________ we can't read cursive. Would you print it for us?" Guess what? I don't. It's time they learned, if they haven't. My students are in high school! Some elementary schools have become so burdened with standardized testing that they no longer teach cursive hand-writing. They no longer see the need for learning the long-hand style of writing, as we called it when I learned back in the Stone Ages. Can you believe it?

-- Posted by GONENOW on Thu, Sep 17, 2009, at 4:34 PM

Oh, yes, I believe it! I had a very disturbing conversation recently with one of our local pastors, who tried to tell me that the "colleges were accepting the shortened language" (lol, FYI, etc!).

I think he's deluding himself! That jargon may be accepted in "social networking," but when it comes to formal papers, they're still going to have to write in complete sentences and use standard spelling!

And TexasBarb: I SO agree on the making change business! If the cash register doesn't give them the figure, the kids have no idea how to give change! When my class had the concession stand at school, I used to make them count back change!

AND there are even worse repercussions! You need to check out the most recent AARP publication! One of the articles pointed out how hard it is for the public to get good information about the health care debate. The point made was that people are no longer getting their information from the print media -- they're getting it from E-MAILS, TEXT MESSAGING, TALK SHOWS, and BLOGS!

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Sep 17, 2009, at 9:13 PM

I'm 100% opposed to kids being allowed to use any kind of electronic computing device until they are proficient at doing math calculations by hand. I'm also 100% opposed to kids through high school being allowed to turn in papers that have been printed from a computer. They should have to be typed on a typewriter or written longhand. Spell checkers are handy, but they deaden the brain to spelling correctly. Outside of school kids can do all the shorthand, and use all the electronic crutches they want -- but in school they should be learning the hands on basics that will stick with them for a lifetime.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Thu, Sep 17, 2009, at 10:05 PM

Old school style is the best style...several years ago when my son was a student, I stressed to him that when he learned to read and comprehend what he read, and how to do math the old fashioned way without computer or calculator, there would not be ANYTHING in this world that he could not learn how to do. Of course, writing and communications falls in there, too.

-- Posted by BarbaraNTexas on Fri, Sep 18, 2009, at 11:26 AM

Back in 92 when my oldest son went to college, I bought him a graphing calculator (cost about $70, I think). It was deemed acceptable in his pre-engineering classes (wish I could remember what kind it was...I want to say a "Sharp"), but when he went on to Rolla, his professors made fun of the calculator and said it couldn't do what the Rolla-approved one could do (At $200-$300). They gave him several problems, and he did them just as fast as his classmates. His teachers asked him how he could do it, since certain formulas weren't in his calculator. He said simply, "Oh, I have those formulas memorized."

When he told me that story, I had two conflicting emotions: 1) I was so proud of him, because he never took short cuts. 2) I felt so inadequate, because I didn't know enough about math to get him the right calculator in the first place!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Sep 18, 2009, at 5:01 PM

GL, Texas Instruments made some very fine calculators. I bought my youngest daughter one when she started college.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Fri, Sep 18, 2009, at 9:03 PM

Yeppers, the one I have is a TI and it is very nice.

-- Posted by BarbaraNTexas on Fri, Sep 18, 2009, at 11:41 PM

The one I bought him could have been a Texas instrument, but I'm sure the Rolla-approved one had a much more exotic (and expensive) name! Now I'm curious! I may have to call him long distance and ask!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Sep 19, 2009, at 7:38 AM

GL, it could be that the school has an exclusive contract with the manufacturer...that happens a lot at the major universities...sad.

-- Posted by BarbaraNTexas on Sat, Sep 19, 2009, at 1:16 PM

I just called my son & found out the details on that calculator. I was right the first time. It was a Sharp programable calculator. The Rolla-recommended (almost required) calculator was made by Hewlett-Packard, and it had more capability, so it required a textbook, and the students had to take classes to learn how to use it.

My son was in a surveying class, and he had figured out how to program in a "level loop" needed to shoot an elevation. His professors couldn't believe he could do it on a Sharp calculator!

Texas Barb, I'll bet you're right on that contract situation. Rolla must have had a contract with Hewlett-Packard.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Sep 19, 2009, at 5:52 PM

GL, when I took a physics class here in Abilene at Hardin-Simmons University, I was required to buy a specific brand and model, even though I had an older version of the same brand...and it cost me twice what I had paid for the one I already had.

What degree is your son working on? When I was getting my associates in drafting and design technology, I had to take a surveying class. I loved it..and we learned surveying using the old manual ways...transits, rods, etc...that way, we really learned how it was done and when we got to use one of those digital, one person pieces of technology, we realized just how far technology has come. I loved that class.

-- Posted by BarbaraNTexas on Sat, Sep 19, 2009, at 6:05 PM

Well, he's actually finished with all his degrees, after 3 universities and about 10-15 years of education. He has a Phd in Environmental Engineering, but he started out in Civil Engineering. He finished up the Phd while his wife worked, and he stayed at home with their two young children. He did his lab work at night.

My other son went an easier route at a community college & got an associate's degree in surveying. I'm proud of both of them! Back "in the day," their dad started out in engineering and was pretty good at drafting (did the blueprints for two of the houses we've lived in) -- but he said he couldn't stand the detailed drawing. Something about the regulation width of a line!

Their dad would be so proud of them. He died when the oldest boy was taking his final exams at Rolla.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Sep 20, 2009, at 10:05 AM

gl, that's so sad, your boys did see the value of an education, dad would justly be proud.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Sun, Sep 20, 2009, at 11:24 AM

GL, I agree with Dexterite1...I know you are a proud Mama and I am just as sure Dad is proud also...he may not be here physically, but he knows...

-- Posted by BarbaraNTexas on Sun, Sep 20, 2009, at 3:04 PM

I like to think so. Our families really pulled through for us that year - mine went to my older son's Rolla graduation and my husband's family went to the younger son's high school graduation the same month. It was a memorable time, and we felt my husband's presence everywhere. He died in April and the boys graduated in May.

Oh, boy, this blog started out about parades! How did we get to calculaters and graduations??

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Sep 20, 2009, at 9:04 PM

FJGuy. I agree with your comments about the use of electronic computing devices.

However, I find that spell checkers are really only useful for picking up typing errors. If one cannot distinguish between "their and there" or "to, too or two" then a spell checker won't be of much help. A grammar check would be better but it's all too easy to rely on such props.

-- Posted by wartz on Mon, Sep 21, 2009, at 3:49 AM

One more comment about "the parade car". If my memory serves me correctly I believe it was black & white.

-- Posted by nrgregj on Mon, Sep 21, 2009, at 9:02 AM

Wartz, a grammar check will still let some errors creep through. I've never seen one that can compete with the human mind! English rules of grammar are just too complex to program into a computer.

Ah, nrgregj, I was hoping it was red & white, but no matter what the color, it was a beautiful machine!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Sep 21, 2009, at 5:17 PM

gl, I didn't notice your little 'goat-mobile' in the Fair parade today. Better luck next year.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Tue, Sep 22, 2009, at 8:26 PM

GL; sorry, I was not suggesting for a minute that a grammar checker would be idiot proof and I am well aware of its shortcomings. After all, we have one of our very own bloggers who cannot distinguish between "your" and "you're". A bit of a worry is it not ? Also sorry we lurched off the discussion about old cars and especially the musings about push button gear shifts - I don't recall seeing any of these vehicles here in Further Down Underland !

-- Posted by wartz on Tue, Sep 22, 2009, at 10:22 PM

Oh, Wartz, you are a very perceptive person!!

Ah, Dexterite, when the time came, I was just too tired to make myself even go to the parade!! Besides which, my goats absolutely refused to let me hitch them up to the wagon!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Sep 23, 2009, at 7:12 AM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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