My 70's:  My old friends, Where I grew up, My first love, Odds and Ends

My first love was.... a car!

A 1969 Sedan DeVille Cadillac!

It was a beautiful chocolate brown, with plush brown brocade interior and a cream colored hard top. It had a few loving nicknames such as the "Jew Canoe" and the "Party Boat". It got a whopping 8 miles to the gallon and I ran out of gas 13 times in it. Most importantly it could hold 11 teenagers! Crammed in like sardines, of course! Four guys in the back seat, three girls on their laps and four kids in the front. Four could also cram in the trunk to go to the Queen's Chapel Drive-in, where they charged by the person. We needed the extra money for popcorn and hot dogs and beer. ;) Read it and weep kids, the drinking age was 18 back then.

The Caddy had a 472 cubic square ft engine with 375 horsepower. I used to drag race it down Rt. 29 (near 495, the Capital Beltway). It was slow on the pick up, because it was so heavy, but once it got going, it took off like a bat outta hell and could blow the competition away! Alas, all that drag racing and the car only lasted a year with me before the transmission dropped out and it had to be towed away to car heaven. I drove it 35,000 miles, raced it continually, did "spinnies on ice"... go to a parking lot that is ice covered... turn the wheel hard to the right and hit the gas... and spin like an ice skater.

Oh yes ...and how do you lay a patch, 'squeal wheels' and make the tires smoke? You put the car in neutral, rev the engine as hard as possible and then slam it into second low. ;) All the car guys are rolling their eyes right now.

The history of my Cadillac:
I'll never forget the first time I laid eyes on that car, it was truly "love at first sight". The year was 1969 and I was in 6th grade and my Mom came to pick me up in the car. I had been gone for four days for an over night 6th grade school trip to Summit Lake, in the Catoctin Mountains near Emmitsburg, Maryland.

I said to my Dad later that day, "When I am 16 years old, I WANT THE CADILLAC!"  He said "yes" when I was eleven or twelve years old, he probably thought I'd forget or something... (His mistake!) My Dad would take me to the Montgomery Mall parking lot of Sundays, when the Mall was closed and let me drive around the lot. We drove to Florida in that car and he let me sit next to him and steer for hours. He knew I was fixated on driving in general and that car in particular and he was very accommodating.

I would often "count down the days"...I remember bugging my Dad and saying "In 3 years, 7 months and 23 days, you are giving me the keys to the Cadillac."  I would do things like put notes inside the refrigerator on my birthday and when he opened it there'd be a note stating: "One year from today I'll be 16 and I get the Cadillac!!!" (It was a 6 year long, all out assault campaign.) So... on my 16th birthday, April 16, 1975, he ceremoniously handed over the keys to the Caddy, never mind that I only had a Learners License!  In Maryland, you can get a Learners License at 15.9 months old, so I did that on the day I turned 15.9. which was January 16, 1975. But you had to wait until your 16th birthday before you could sign up for Drivers Ed.

The photo to the left is my mother at Blair High School on my 16th birthday. My Dad gave me the keys, I took the car, drove home to get my mother (they were separated, lived 10 minutes away from each other.) I picked her up in my Cadillac which had been her Cadillac, until they split when I was 13, drove her to the High School which was only one minute from our house and made her sign the consent forms so I could take the summer Drivers Ed. LOL -- Persistence pays.  Of course, I drove myself to Drivers Ed for the summer school class.  Drivers Ed at that time was a free course at High School. I used to park next to my teacher!  It was the 70's and back then you could do things like that.

Here's a story my friend Leslie wrote about my 1969 Cadillac.
Thanks, Les!

Click here to launch a page of stats on my 1969 Sedan DeVille Cadillac.

I'd been 'into' cars for my entire life. I loved playing with matchbox cars when I was little, (fours years old and on) and did not own any dolls --ever! Whenever someone gave me a doll or a Barbie for my birthday, I'd cut her hair off, color her face and then chop her head off. Dolls, bad. Cars, good.

Wheels. Give me wheels, man --I was "b-o-r-n  t-o  d-r-i-v-e". My mother was the same way in the 50's, I was that way in the 70's and my daughter, who turned 16 in 2001 inherited the "born to drive" trait so the circle remained unbroken.

Auto Mechanics
When I was 16, I wanted to take auto mechanics,  so I had to campaign all summer (1974) and switch high schools (From Montgomery Blair to Northwood, Silver Spring, MD) to get into the class, which I took the first semester, from Sept.-Dec, 1974 and then switched back to Blair after the winter break. My friend Leslie and I were the first girls to ever get into auto mechanics. The teacher, Mr. Williams, was not happy at all about having girls in his class, he was very hard on us.

Everyone in the class was issued a pair of coveralls. I am 5'2 and at that time weighed 115 pounds. Mr. Williams issued me a pair of coveralls that would have fit Godzilla. The crotch went below my knees, I had to roll the legs and sleeves twenty times. God, I wish I had a picture of that! He did that on purpose to illustrate that girls do not belong in his class.

We had to take apart an old broken lawn mower engine, scrub and soak every piece in a noxious liquid. Every single part; the screws, the nuts, pistons, everything...We documented where all the parts went, added new gaskets and made the engine work by the end of the semester. I had a couple guy friends in the class who were helpful, and that ticked the teacher off, he didn't want them helping us. I only ended up with a C for the semester, but I learned a lot, then I switched back to Blair.

The information that I learned in auto mechanics has been helpful for parts of my life. Mechanics always assumed that a woman had no idea what was under the hood. That was not the case with me throughout the 70's and 80's. I could explain mechanical problems pretty well. However, with the new cars now, everything is computerized and much more compacted, I haven't a clue anymore. I still love looking at old engines and I will always be a "70's chick".

My cousin Debbie, in front of my Cadillac the day I got my license.