Ornamental my dear Watson.


I like ’em rusty. And slightly dented. I like to find them abandoned in fields and backyards. I like to imagine the life they have had. I imagine Sunday drives, and trips to the market. Drive-in theaters with friends hiding in the trunk. Making out at The Point. Driving away from home for the first time, on the way to college. All these memories and more.

I’m not sure when I first started my love affair with rust, sometime in the early 70’s I guess. I’m sure my father was involved. He liked classics too. Only he liked them all shiny and spiffy. I remember a 65 Mustang convertible with a 289 V8, four on the floor, Pony interior and Rally pack. I remember a 56 Chevy two-tone Bel-Air with a 40-acre backseat. While I appreciate the glitz and glean of refurbished and meticulously kept classic vehicles, I can’t see the character in them. A long life lived. A full life of new drivers slipping clutches and grinding gears. Of 3 on the tree and hi/lo switches on the floorboards. Of real glove boxes and trunks with actual size to hold things. Things like real spare tires and tool boxes. A Sunday picnic basket with adult libations. Camping gear for a really nice 4th of July.

A lot of the vehicles I have photographed over the years no longer exist. Not only do I mean that the companies no longer are in business. I also mean that the cars have been towed to the junkyard. Or even worse to the scrapyard where their bones are ground to make new, unimaginative cars. . While the current choices of vehicles are much more safe, technologically advanced and far easier to drive. They seem to lack the attention to detail compared to the cars of the 50’s and 60’s. Really nice curves and meticulous chrome. Cars with real names, not numbers. Cars with emblems that you could see from across the street. Instantly recognizable. Not the ‘me-too’ cars of today. Where one companies sedan is hard to tell from anothers.

So it is easy to see my nostalgia. How I wish that a 20 or 30 grand vehicle would bring out the passion in me. How I want a vehicle to do most everything I want to do, like my  $500 ’72 Chevy Nova would. Something with really nice lines and actual hood ornaments. Less plastic and more metal. A radio I could actually adjust without having to open a manual. And a real carburetor. (heavy sigh).

I miss really cool hood ornaments.