MY OLD YELLOW CAR
This one is gonna ramble a bit but that's why I Web GLOB rather than just blog. Trust me it will all make sense and come together at the end. Regular web site readers have probably read about my Old Yellow Car before on the PAT & MIKE'S page. There is also a small badly damaged photo of it on there too. It went through a washing machine about 1966 . The photo not the car and that was all I had to remember it by. Since 1994 I have been on the trail on and off of the guy I bought it from in 1965 because he had two very nice professional photos of it. He loaned them to me when I first put a deposit on it and of course I gave them back when I took delivery.
In August of 1966 I traded the car for a Leslie Tone Cabinet (It's part of a Hammond Organ) as I was in a band then that did a whole lot of Rascal's music. I always missed the car cause it was not your ordinary automobile. It was a 1933 Ford Vicky Hot Rod with a full house and fully exposed 1954 Caddy Engine. No fenders, cut down with a ground clearance of about 3 inches. In other words it was as bad as it gets and it was yellow.
When the movie American Graffiti came out in ? 1972-73 I went to see it and those who did shurely remember "Milner's Coupe" the yellow hot rod that was the car star of that flick. Well that caused me to get nostalgic and want to see if I could find it. So I naturally called the guy I sold it to, Steve Bordone who was an organist in another LI bar band, The Crestmen. He told me he sold it to John Benedetto in Shirley who I knew.... sort of. The Benedetto brothers were long time drag racers and had several real hot cars through the years. That was the good news. The bad was ... they pulled the Caddy Engine out of it, and put in a Pontiac. Then it got worse. They flipped it on the Westhampton Dragstrip and totaled it. Last Steve heard about it was, that it was laying in the Mastic dump covered with tree limbs.
The next day I was down in the dump (it's just across the road from the William Floyd High School) looking for it but could find no trace......end of story ? Not quite
In 1994 I was on Long Island doing an interview with Newsday for my first book "Long Ride On A Short Track". They had sent a photog and a reporter to watch me meet one of my childhood racing heros, Gentleman Jim Hendrickson of Freeport, who was considered to be one of the best Modified Stock Car Drivers ever to come from Long Island. Jim suggested we go look at his last race car which was stored in a garage just a few blocks away. With us was noted racing historian Marty Himes of the Himes Museum. When we got there I felt a sense of Deja Vu and mentioned to Marty that my Hot Rod came from this neighborhood. Marty who lived in Freeport for years said "Well Johnny O'Hare lived on the next block" And that's when his name came back like it was yesterday. Yep that's him.I can still see his name on the registration.
Well Marty has tried to find him for me ever since.We would get reports he was in Tennessee, then Florida , he was here, he was there etc. Marty talked with many members of Johnny's former car club, The Rod Snappers and kept showing a copy of that same washing machined photo. (BTW one of their club cars is on the cover of the very first Stray Cats albums).
Late last fall Marty got a line him again and said he was living in Denver, Co. This past January I was able to access a data base called Find USA that was made available through a research library I use for my Knapp stuff. I found two address' for Johnny and sent off letters. A few weeks later one letter came back....and in a few more weeks the other one did too.
Well I remember Mr. Turpin my high school English teacher used to quote "Will" Shakespeare a lot. One of his pet phrases was "Beware of the ides of March" from Julius Ceaser. Well this past Ides of March (two days ago as I write this on St Patrick's day) I happened to check my guestbook on the Knapps Lived Here site and there was an entry from John!!!!
But it wasn't from John O'hare.....It was from John Rutigliano or "Rut" as he was known at Floyd. I always called him Jacky as did his mother Gertie. Rut and I palled around in 7th and 8th grades and stayed pretty close after that too, until he left school for the Army in 1963. We had us some times together! We also were in first year Auto Shop together. That's us in September of 1962 on the front bumper of that '39 Chevy. Years later Russ Pahl a studio musician saw that photo on my studio wall here in Nashville and quipped "I didn't know you did time"! Musicians are like that always joking.
When Rut signed the guestbook he didn't know it was my website, he just knew there was a lot of stuff about Mastic Beach on it. After all last time we saw each other was 1966 and I was still Ken Joseph ...Ken Spooner was a stranger to him. Well I fired off a quick e mail to him along with the above picture mentioning I had tried to find him several times but couldn't . My most recent attempt was just a month ago using the same database I did for Mr O'hare .... I called and asked for Jack and was told Wrong Number.
The next day I got an e mail back and I didn't even read it for included in the body of it was.....
In My Driveway at 90 Medford Ave Patchogue Spring or Summer of '65
I picked myself off the floor, quickly scanned the e mail for a phone number and dialed away. Two hours later we were still talking. I also have gotten to meet other members of his family via e mail like his sister Dottie and her Daughter Terri who have become fans of the website and all the Mastic Nostalgia on it. Dottie's photo is in the 1949 MBFD Marching Band pics along with her brother Mike that I'm going to have to go back and ID....
I had never even seen this photo of my old yellow car before. It beats the hell out of the ones I would of got from John O'Hare too , because it captures a time, and a kid ( I was just 18) and more importantly was taken by an old friend that 40 years has done nothing to but age us both. Apparently we were both camera happy that day as Jacky tells me I took this one of him in his 57 Ford then. Looks like I took it on a Mastic Beach road . Probably on Cyprus Drive.
"The Rutiglianos Lived Here"
204 Cypress Drive Mastic Beach, NY
Michael, Gertrude, Mike, Dottie, Bob and Jacky
Mr. Rutigliano built the place himself in the late '30's early '40's. I had my first taste of Anisette in this house. And Jacky and I built a few models cars and planes in the basement. His Mom and Dad were in the Fire Department when mine were.....in short we got a history together. E mails criss crossed the country through the evening and it is about to continue as I learned today from Maggie his lovely wife of 39 years that Jack is coming to Nashville to visit with me in two weeks!!!!! I'd write more now, but I'm going to hold off till we meet again....trust me there will be more tales to tell. I can't say how good it is to write about finding an old friend that I don't have to eulogise for a change.