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190909 September 9, 2019


Our Car Club

 Musings of a Car Guy
Don Wynn
LHS '67

    I am one of those old guys that you see walking around car shows taking time in front of every car no matter what it is.  If it has wheels, I am interested in it.  Shiny paint, wheels and engines are fine but I like old rusty cars too.  The more unique a car is, the better I like it.  I am guessing that many of our classmates suffer from the same affliction.

    In high school, we dreamed of girls most of the time but when we were not doing that, we dreamed of cars.  Car Guys can describe in detail the first car they ever owned including specs about the car that nobody else cares about; other than maybe another Car Guy.   Over time, our memories of that first car have probably taken on mystical features.  Even memories that were initially negative become positive over time.  For example, Steve Campbell’s (Class of '66) dad had a 50’s vintage Mercury that he let Steve use sometimes.  We spent a lot of time in that car. It would over-heat especially in warm months.  The heat under the hood caused the gas in the fuel lines to vaporize making the car inoperable until it cooled down. Unless accelerated somehow, that cooling process usually took a few hours.  Being creative guys, we learned that we could shorten the process by putting ice on the fuel lines near the carb. Ice wasn’t always available so we sometimes had to just sit and wait. Looking back, that was an adventure but at the time, it was really irritating.

    In our memories, a window that leaked or that wouldn’t roll up is just one of those attributes that made a car almost beautiful.  At one point, I had a 1962 Buick Special. It was originally red but over time, the paint faded to a dull pink.  The car had a few other eccentricities that also have endeared it into my memory over all these years.  Reverse gear didn’t work all the time and I never knew when it was going to stop working.  With this knowledge, I tried to park in places where I would not have to backup but couldn’t always do that.   A gear-head friend of mine told me how to temporarily fix the problem by removing the transmission, then an inspection plate.  With that plate off, I could push a bearing back into place with my finger.  That usually fixed the problem for a few days.  With all the practice I got, I could take the transmission completely out of the car, push the bearing back into place and reinstall it in the car in about 30 minutes.  Looking back now, I loved that car but not so much at the time!

    Some people even named their cars.  My favorite car name has always been “the Blue Goose”.   My brother Collins Wynn (Class of '64) ran around with a bunch of guys including  Milton (Jim) Shelton (Class of 64).  They took turns driving but they were most often in the Shelton family car.  I think it was a a mid to late '50s white over blue two door Mercury coup.  Somehow, these guys decided to name that car “Blue Goose”.  Quite naturally, they named themselves the “Blue Goose Boys.”  The guys who hung out together also had nicknames for each other.  Collins was “Fuzzy”, Walt Thomas was “Droop”, Mike Chisholm ('64) was “Chis”.  To cap it all off, they called Milton “Goose”.   That car was a prominent feature in many of the adventures that those guys had at Lee.  If the “Blue Goose” could talk, it would have some great stories to tell.  On second thought, it is probably better that it can’t talk even if the statute of limitations has expired by now.

    TV shows and movies added to the mystique for car guys by featuring cars in their programming.  In Thunder Road, Robert Mitchem drove a souped up '55 Chevrolet to deliver moonshine.  Tom Selleck drove a red Ferrari in Magnum PI.  Edd Byrnes drove a 1923 Ford Bucket in 77 Sunset Strip.  Martin Milner drove a Corvette Convertible in Route 66.   He also drove a cop car in Adam 12.  Steve McQueen drove a Mustang GT in Bullitt and the bad guy drove a black Dodge Charger.  Together, those two cars were in the greatest chase scene in movie history.  Herman Munster drove two different custom cars.  One was called the Munster Coach.  The entire Munster Family could ride in that one.  The other was a dragster made from a coffin. It was called Drag U La.  James Bond drove an Aston Martin DB5 that had rocket launchers and an ejection seat.  Batman had his own custom car and you can go back to the future in a DeLorean. The Blues Brothers even made old cop cars cool and redefined what going to the mall meant.

    Cars were in music too.   Car Guys can hear the melodies and words to Little Deuce Coup; 409; The Little Old Lady from Pasadena; Hey Little Cobra; Fun, Fun, Fun; and many others.  Musical Groups are closely associated with specific cars.  Elvis had his Cadillacs and ZZ Top had their red coupe.  

    Cars are just a part of the DNA of our era.  All of this is in the memories of old car guys.  We can describe our first car, our favorite of all the cars we’ve ever owned and our dream car that we have always wanted to own.

    My first car: 1965 Plymouth Barracuda (273 cu in V8 engine, 235 horsepower, 4 speed manual transmission, cream color with two gold stripes)
    My favorite car:  1931 Ford Street Rod named Woodrow (350 cu in, Chevy V8, about 300 hp, chopped top)
    My fantasy car: 1964 Shelby 427 AC Cobra (Aluminum English AC Body, 427 cu in, Ford V8, at least 500 hp, 0 to 100 and stop again in 14 seconds)

    My brother Collins was really lucky as far as cars are concerned because his first car, his favorite car and his fantasy car were all the same.  He bought a 1965 GTO just after graduation and drove it hard for several years before insanity and marriage forced the sale.  It had a 389 cu in V8, 335 hp, 4 speed, and bucket seats.  This car was one of the first cars in the muscle cars era.

        Memphis, TN -    Thanks to Don Wynn for contributing this week's feature story. He sent along a couple of pages of photos to illustrate it, but I could not work them into the article due to other things taking up valuable space.

    I am actively soliciting your own "car" story should you care to share it. I plan to run mine next week, but we will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy any which are submitted.

Name That Tune

Last Week

Name That Tune

    We only received one reply to the songs offered last week, but he named them all. I have to admit my knowledge of Carolina Beach Music is lacking and I was only able to name two of the five songs myself - Barefootin' and I'm a Girl Watcher.

    Jeffrey Fussell, LHS '66 worte, "A couple of years back, we were booked to play a wedding reception by a couple requesting “Carolina Beach Music”. I couldn’t recall ever hearing that term before, so we pulled down a list from a web site.  Most of the songs on it were familiar, but I never considered them as a particular genre. "
The 5 tunes on this week’s list are great examples of “Beach Music”:

39-21-46 (Showmen)
Barefootin’ (Robert Parker)
I’ve Got Sand in My Shoes (Drifters)
Sixty Minute Man (Dominoes)
(I’m a) Girl Watcher (O’Kaysions)

This Week's Name That Tune

Name That Tune


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Your Comments in Last Issue

Jim McBride

LHS '65


Hi Tommy,

          Your comments in last week’s edition of the TRAVELLER were very much appreciated. I believe we all have God given talents and a purpose in this life. When we discover what our talents are and use them to the best of our abilities, I believe HE is pleased and we help make the world a better place. Adept bank robbers, con artists and counterfeiters do not fall into this category. Whether in the home, hospital, courtroom, retail store, office, factory, school room, truck cab or thousands of other places, we all have a job to do. I can’t do your job as well as you do and most likely I can’t do it at all. It took me until I was thirty years old to realize God gave me the innate talent to write songs and that was what I was supposed to be doing. This was years after many of you had started jobs and/or finished college and were already doing your life’s work. I’ve always been a little slow out of the starting gate. 

          Many years ago, Interstate 440 was built as a by-pass around downtown Nashville. It ran right behind my house and even after a barrier wall was built, the decibel level in my back yard was still pretty high. One afternoon a dear songwriter friend of mine was visiting and as we walked to the backyard I complained to him about the traffic noise. He said “Jim, all those people driving those cars and trucks need something to listen to so we need to write them some great songs, that’s our job.” He was so right and I never complained about the noise again. My job is not more important than your job, it’s just my job.

          My first publisher in Nashville told me a well written song, once out in the market place, would outlive me and most likely be recorded by other recording artists long after the original release date. Now nearly forty years down the road, this is happening for me.  I am getting old songs recorded by mostly newer artists. Some of them are in another genre, Bluegrass for example, which is a real treat for me to hear them recorded in a different manner. Since the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame induction, it seems I have been somewhat re-discovered because of my song catalog. Though retired, I’m getting requests for interviews a little like the days when I was just trying to be relevant. I was, still am, and will aways be perfectly happy to be Jeanne’s husband, yardman and traveling companion. Only wish I had re-discovered her sooner. 

          Now, let us talk of our great FAMI-LEE. Tommy, I was pleasantly shocked to see you at the Jackson, TN show. It was great to have you there. I didn’t do a songwriter show the first nine years I was writing songs on Music Row. Shyness kept me off the stage for a long time. I never wanted to be famous anyway, just wanted my songs to be accepted. I finally conquered that fear and have enjoyed playing my songs for people in many places throughout the country. It has been such a wonderful thing to see classmates in the audience at several venues including many a long way from home. I won’t mention names for fear of forgetting some one. You know who you are and I appreciate every one of you being at the shows. To the classmates who recently did the trip to the Florence, Tuscumbia, Muscle Shoals area, thanks for mentioning me and I hope you had time to visit the W.C. Handy home. He is a huge figure in American music and once taught at Alabama A& M University.

          Finally, I am so proud to have been born and raised in the time and place where we  all came together at good ole Lee High School. I was not a great student but I am a General for life. 

    God bless us every one. 

Subject:   Jim McBride, etc.
Escoe Germany Beatty
LHS '65

    I have loved you talking about Jimmy and his accomplishments.  He has always been a great guy - in high school, as a mailman, and as a celebrity!  Jeanie is a sweetheart and don’t you ever worry about giving attention where attention is due!!  Also, you are right up there at the top of my list for receiving kudos for all you have done and ARE doing.  Thank you for being YOU!! 

Subject:    Jim McBride's Interview
Pam (Goatley) deLuca
LHS '65

    Thanks so much for including the interview with Jim McBride in this week's Lee's Traveller.  While I didn't know Jim in high school, I had come to learn of his success, so the interview helped fill in the pieces of his remarkable story detailing so well his journey and how hard he has worked to achieve his dream.  What an inspiration for all of us! 

    Kinda made me think that maybe someday, Tommy you may find these little acting gigs you love so much turning into a nice gold statue on your mantle.  We all need to heed Jim's advice...follow your dream!!

Hugs to all.



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