One of my most exciting pastimes these days is channel surfing. Turn me loose with a remote control and I will travel the world in a matter of minutes.

One night, not long ago, I came across a travel show promoting cruises to Cuba. What really caught my eye were the many vintage American cars serving as taxis. Wow, it was like I’d returned to the 1950s.

Of course, the cars soon disappeared as the moderator got down to the serious business of trying to attract the audience to the colorful night life available in Havana, and how the locals are looking forward to Americans visiting the country and bringing with them plenty of American dollars.

As the screen filled with scantily clothed dancing girls and gallons of rum being served in the local casbahs, my mind was still picturing the classic cars with their opulent chrome accessories.

With that in mind, I was transported back in time to the southwest edge of Slater and a farm that took up most of the land between there and Sheldahl.

Back then we called my friend who lived there Dunta. Actually, he was one of the luckiest kids in Iowa. You see he had three older brothers who – among their other traits – had great taste when it came to automobiles.

Not only did the boys have that blessing, the father was also gifted with a keen eye when it came to what he was going to drive when he decided to come to town.

It was in this wonderful world Slick and I would find ourselves when we visited Dunta for a night of cruising the streets of central Iowa.

You see, when we walked out into their barnyard we would have the unbelievable choice of either a blue or green 1951 Ford Victoria 2-door hardtop, or a red 1954 Ford Convertible, or a red 1955 Ford Thunderbird or a coral-and-white 1957 Pontiac 4-door hardtop powered by a triple-carburetor motor.

As I remember, the determining factor in picking our ride was which car’s tank contained the most gasoline.

No matter which vehicle we eventually chose for an evening of teenage pleasures, you can bet we drove it home with the fuel gauge needle bouncing on empty — after all, gasoline was all of 30 cents a gallon.

As the vision of old cars and Cuba started slipping from my mind, I couldn’t help but wonder what that barnyard of vehicles would be worth in today’s money.

Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.