My mom always told me I was drawn to cars and trucks even before I could talk, and she's not surprised my love of cars, combined with the blessings from above, led me to a fun career in automotives.

My mom always told me I was drawn to cars and trucks even before I could talk, and she's not surprised my love of cars, combined with the blessings from above, led me to a fun career in automotives.


By the time I was 4, I had a nice collection of F.W. Woolworth plastic and metal cars, as my mom worked at Woolworth's in downtown Shamokin. Yet it was my grandfather's economy store where I really got and see all the cars as the customers knew I loved cars. Thus, it was a daily experience for me to see close-up and sit in many of the cars that came for groceries. I would always tag along with the help as I grew older, carrying bags so I could see the interiors and trunk layouts and how they were all different.


I especially loved when Monsignor Bartol from nearby Saint Anthony's Catholic Church would stop by in his new 1956 Mercury Montclair. It was two-tone orange and white, and was one of the nicest in the small coal mining patch where we lived (Ranshaw, Pa.). Monsignor would let me sit behind the wheel, and show me where the hidden gas tank inlet was behind the license plate.


"Hoople" Markowski, a noted area baseball umpire, had everyone's attention when he bought a new triple color '55 Dodge. At that time, two-tone models were the norm, but that '55 Dodge was the first I ever saw with three different colors of blue, black and white. What a beauty.


It was standing on our porch in Ranshaw, however, where just about every car caught my eye. The bullet nose Studebakers, bathtub Packards, "Superman" Nashes, Kaiser Manhattans, Henry Js,  Plymouth Belvederes, Ford Sunliners, Lincolns, Caddys, and Chevy BelAirs all paraded by daily. It was a big part of how I enjoyed the day back then, just waiting for all the cars to come and go. Other favorites included heavy duty trucks, where I could see the driveshaft and rear u-joint assembly actually turn.


By the later 1950s, I was aware of high performance cars, especially the Fords with the big V8, fuel injected Chevys, Chrysler 300s with the 383 Cross Rams, Pontiac Catalinas, the Olds Rockets. The main teenager car of the day was a '49 to '51 Ford with a chopped top, lake pipes and moon discs. Matter of fact, if any car had lake pipes and moon discs, they were tops in my book.


The memories of that store and our porch will go on with me forever, but I have to stop for now and promise more in future columns. I'd also love to hear from readers on your favorite cars of the day, so write me at greg@gregzyla.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.


Greg Zyla writes weekly for GateHouse News Service.