I guess I live in the past too much. As I travel through the towns of this area, I can’t help but think back to days long gone.
There was a time when I used to cruise these same streets. A time when my automobile made more noise than a rock band drummer does today.
Be that as it may, the towns have changed. Sure, some folks probably think the towns look the same as they have for years, but they do change. Sometimes for the good, sometimes not.
Take Madrid, for instance. Many buildings have disappeared from their business district. That’s progress and I guess that’s what to be expected. Problem is, along with the building’s passing, often goes its history.
A good example of that is the building that once housed the old Chevy garage. Where it once stood now rests a parking lot. I recently stopped there to take a closer look.
I parked my car and walked through what was once the front entrance. I strolled over an area where, in better days, the showroom was located, and out into the garage area. It was as though Ryan Chevrolet had never been.
But my mind wouldn’t accept it. As I stood there looking toward the south, I could see my 1958 Chevy convertible on display where only the best used cars were kept.
A glance to the west and I visualized my grey 1960 Chevy sports coupe — a mechanic’s feet dangling out the door. I was patiently waiting for him to finish some last-minute details so I could take possession of my very first new car.
A couple of stalls further west was where I saw my first Corvette. It was a 1954 white beauty — with three carbs and a bright red interior.
Over against the far wall, the roar of a wedgefire Chevy motor being tuned was enough to rattle the windows.
Back in the showroom, I could hear myself bartering with Bob over the price of a 1965 Chevy convertible. I was good but he was better.
As I glanced around the room, many memories caught my attention. On the wall, next to the door leading to the garage area, dangled an old hand-lettered sign, “While others squirm and squeal, we continue to wheel and deal!”
Parked in the showroom were two sparkling new 1957 Chevys. A bright red two-door hardtop and a black convertible. The hoods were open, displaying a fuel-injection motor powering the hardtop and two four-barrel carbs driving the convert.
On the walls, around the entire room, hung pictures of all the new cars and trucks – it was a young man’s paradise.
That was 60 years ago! The cars I was dealing on are now collector’s items – with a price tag to match.
Thinking about that 1960 Corvette I traded for the 1965 Chevy brings tears to my eyes. Why didn’t I keep it?
It’s hard to believe that the 1958 Chevy convertible I drove out of that garage for $2,500 in 1959 would probably fetch $50,000 today.
It’s doubly hard to imagine that the building — which housed a dealership once said to have sold more Corvettes than any other in the United States — is no more.
Yes, times change and so do we. I guess I’d probably have looked at those cars differently if I would have been in my 70’s instead of my teens and 20’s. Maybe they’d be just so much metal and plastic — like today’s vehicles are to me.
I doubt it! Those old cars were — and still are —fantastic automobiles.
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife, Sharon, live near Cambridge.