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Cruiser's 38 Special

"New Flame" 1938 Buick Special Photo Circa 1999

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Hello,  I'm Ron,  A.K.A. Cruiser. 
I am born and raised in the Chicago area and I AM an "Old Car Nut".
There I said it!  Now can we forget the other 11 steps?

"...But Mom I Wanna Drive!..."

(Click Pic to enlarge)
If the area in the picture on the left looks familiar, you must be from the old Italian neighborhood around Taylor Street.
This picture was actually taken on the 2700 block of Polk Street between California and Washtenaw circa 1956.
Have a Taylor street area story or any pictures? 
Think you remember me?   PLEASE
EMAIL

The 1953 Buick Special (shown above) is 3 years old here and my dad's first new car.
Powered by a Straight 8 with a "3 on the tree" manual transmission.
I am just a few years older than the car and like some of the kids of my generation I got to sit on dads lap and steer and then shift before I was 6.
By the time I was 7, I could either steer and shift or work the gas, clutch and brake. I was just a little short of doing both.
Around the summer of my 8th year I got tall enough to do both but at the cost of not being able to see over the hood!
Dad to the rescue, he cut blocks out of 2x4's added hardware and bolts and mounted "peddle extenders" to all 3 pedals so I could drive.
Since we lived in the city, I could only drive on Sunday mornings, inside the cemetery at Hillside, IL.
What a wait,! First we had to drive to the suburbs to pick up grandma, and then all the way out to Hillside,
But it was worth it because I got to drive to all 9 family grave sites.
Just like a real chauffeur I'd get out and open the door for grandma and dad. 
Ah, Sunday mornings my favorite time of the week. 
I'm a professional driver at 10!
My interest in old cars really got a boost when a neighbor asks 10 year old to me to help her get her 37 Buick started.
She rewards me with a ride in the front seat.. 
I'm hooked on Art Deco / Streamliner 37 -38 Buicks - I gotta have one -someday!
Also bought a 57 Ford Fairlane 2 door HT 312 automatic before I turned 16 or even had a license.

OK, enough, you get it, I like Cars, I like to Drive, and I started very young.

And then, I discovered motorcycles (see some of my later ones here)

Being only 10 and too young to buy one  I convert my 3 speed "English Racer" bike to a motor bike.
Using the family lawn mover engine, salvaged parts and a few real motorcycle parts it all came together.
It ran well, stayed mostly together but 25 miles per hour got boring except for the thrill of dodging the cops!

I kept the home made motorbike and around age 11 when I got a basket case Whizzer and put it together.
The Whizzer was the 26 inch Schwinn with "Springer" front fork which worked fairly well.
At 12 I sold my homemade motorbike and used the money to buy a 1950-something tired but road worthy BSA single
trading the Whizzer also as part of the deal.

Got my first Harley (49 Hummer) at age 13 (long story coming soon)
A 49 Moto Guzzi 500cc Single around age 16.
About the same time I found a basket case early 1949 HD Panhead  "Dresser" which I put back together as a "Chopper",
the kind we now call "Old School".

Oh, the list doesn't end here, not even close - BUT like when you visit with friends and they pull out their vacation and baby pictures,
Uh, I'll stop here, for now, But, Ah, Well, since you insist,  just 1 or 2 more then.

Then the next "gotta have" SPEED, Drag racing, street or strip. Skips Fiesta, Tops, Dukes, Bus's anywhere the hot cars and babe's hung out.
Built my 60 Dodge Phoenix 2 door hard top fast back, 361 D500 option dual quad, built torqueflight, etc, etc so next up was a real drag strip,
my first way out in Oswego, Illinois.

No pics of the 60 Dodge but here I am in the Chevy powered bucket T
             

Picture Credit goes to my friend "Bondo" Billy Raichart from Berwyn, IL

who passed  away way too young, more about Billy later.

Another of my creations
No pictures of the finished car, but here it is in my then rude and crude garage
This mess would soon be a 1932 3 window 392 dual quad 375 HP (from a 57 Chrysler C)
and my first CHOP TOP project, from Nov 1968. (old Polaroid's)
          
This project taught me how to NEVER  chop a top this way again.
Done in the style we today call  "Rat Rod".

Speaking of Oswego Drag Strip -- I'm looking for pictures for this website. Any and all pictures, info and personal stories will be greatly appreciated.
If the pictures are yours I'll photo credit you, if they were published just send where you got them so I can give photo credit to the publication or photographer.
If unknown just state that.

Picture wish list;
Any Oswego or US 30 Drag strip or area hot spots. I am especially interested in pictures stamped
"track photographer" or "Bill (Billy) Raichart" as for a few years he was both official and unofficial track photographer.

Any pictures by or of Billy Raichart and/or his cars.

Most of what I'm interested in and looking for is from the Chicago Illinois area - all era's and timeline
especially the 50's 60's and early 70's and "what happened after" stories of people and dissolution and any reuse of property, cars, and the following:

Any pictures of area Drag Cars from US 30 - Oswego - Union Grove - Street racing
Chi-town Shaker (pro street Vega)  owner Billy "bondo" Raichart
Vitamin C (61 Chevy )  owner Gene Rosen
Grim-Reaper ( Mopar "the Worlds Fastest Wedge" ) owner Sonny Stephels
or of me in the "T" or my 60 Dodge above circa 60's.

PLACES - Any pictures of info about

Skips Fiesta Drive In on North Ave Melrose Park, IL
Big Boy's both on Ogden Ave in Berwyn and Downers Grove, IL
Bus's on 95th Street Oak Lawn, IL
Dave's Burgers - Franklin Park, IL
Bishops Chili - 18th & Damen Chicago, IL
A & W - Any
Hires Root Beer Stands - Any
Dog & Suds - Any
Henry's Burgers - Any
Come Back Inn - Melrose Park, IL

Music Related Places, Venues & Events
The In Motion 51st and Kedzie Ave - Chicago, IL
The Purple Twigg - Lyons, IL
Louie's Lounge - Cicero, IL
It's Here Coffee House & The Place Upstairs - Both about 6400 N Sheridan Rd - Chicago, IL

Thanks for visiting,
Cruiser

 

Interesting stories published here always get a "by" line credit all photos
will get credit with or without your contact info, up to you.

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Have a related Story?
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