Sunday, November 19, 2017

“A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”

Why is it every time some computer-app on this laptop rolls out some fancy-dan new version, that supposedly solves all the world’s problems, and I will find incredibly attractive....
....just happens to be when this laptop lobs some stinking hairball at me, announced with “NOW WHAT?” before my wife died.
My wife would come running, and together we’d figger things out.
My Internet-browser is Firefox, recommended to me long ago by a college classmate who is computer-savvy. That guy has since become mad as Hell because I had the awful temerity, unmitigated gall and horrific audacity (cue Sharpton) to dispute his implying I was inferior.
That’s how we were in college, but that was 50 years ago.
I fired up this laptop, then fired up Firefox, intent on doing online banking.
Flash-boom! “Firefox is all-new,” instantly followed by a dour-faced emoticon sobbing the 404 message.
“No Internet” I surmised. It didn’t tell me that; just sobbing dour-face.
Happened before. Drag out Big Guns, namely “guile and cunning.” I’m alone now; no more wifely cheering-section.
I tried “refresh;” again, old dour-face.
I fired up a second Internet tab, engaging a bookmarked web-address.
Again, old dour-face.
My Internet happens to be hard-wired, and the tiny plastic tab on my plug broke off long ago. Sometimes that plug wiggles out — no tab to hold it in.
Wiggle plug back in. Still, old dour-face.
It just so happens my cable modem is also a wireless transmitter, a vestige of my wife having her ‘pyooter in another room.
Turn on wi-fi on this rig.
VIOLA! No more dour-face.
Fiddle banking with wi-fi; figger out hard-wire hairball later.
Can they ever leave well-enough alone?
A fancy-dan new Firefox means figgerin’ out a new interface, which I can usually do, although it wastes time.
This new Firefox was okay, but not incredible.
Sorry I’m not easily impressed.
They promise incredible speed. I’m not playing Candy-Crush in cyberspace. My challenge, I guess, is streaming video. Any increase in speed is unnoticed by me. My streaming video seems same as before.
What I’m doing is streaming railroad video from Cresson, PA. The railroad is the old Pennsy mainline over Allegheny Mountain, now Norfolk Southern. Wait 25 minutes and a train comes, sometimes 10 minutes.
Now YouTube is putting up 89 bazilyun rail streams in cohorts with VirtualRailfan. I still prefer my Cresson rail stream. I play it whenever the classical-music radio-station out of Rochester, WXXI-FM, airs opera, which I can’t stand.
350-pound stringy-haired blonds screaming “Ride of the Valkyries” at the top of their lungs. Stabbings, murders, star-crossed lovers jumping hand-in-hand off sky-high castle parapets into roiling ocean. All to strident yodeling in some ferrin language.
Banking done, I moved on to figgerin’ the hard-wire hairball.
Viola again! Hard-wire Internet is back. I didn’t do anything except shut off wi-fi.
“A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
As ‘pyooter-guru at the Mighty Mezz said, “Works, don’t it?”

• “A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” is from a 1939 Winston Churchill radio speech: “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
The quote has found various iterations, including in movies, and the Simpsons.
• My beloved wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her immensely. Best friend I ever had, and after my childhood I sure needed one. She actually liked me.
• “Sharpton” is Al Sharpton.
• The dreaded “404 message” is a computer display one’s Internet browser can’t get the website. It may be due to “no Internet connection,” “site no longer exists,” or “you mistyped the web-address,” etc.
• RE: “What I’m doing is streaming railroad video.....” —I’m a railfan, and have been since age-2.
•“Pennsy” is the Pennsylvania Railroad, originally built from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh in the 1840s. Its greatest challenge at that time was Allegheny Mountain. Pennsy became a major conduit of trade between the nation’s interior and the northeast. Pennsy no longer exists, but its railroad continues.
• The “Mighty Mezz” is the Canandaigua Daily-Messenger newspaper, from where I retired 12 years years ago. Best job I ever had — I worked there almost 10 years (over 11 if you count my time as a post-stroke unpaid intern [I had a stroke October 26th, 1993, from which I recovered fairly well]). (“Canandaigua” is a small city nearby where I live in Western NY. The city is also within a rural town called “Canandaigua.” The name is Indian, and means “Chosen Spot.” —It’s about 14 miles away.)

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Welcome to Aging

“Well, that stinks as it puts me totally out of ideas or solutions… I do not know.”
So says my good friend *** ****** in Syracuse, who I once worked with at the Mighty Mezz. He’s extremely ‘pyooter savvy, and years ago helped me do a voluntary brochure for a park-board I was on.
It was bare-bones cheap; only one color = black ink on ivory card-stock. But between him and me it looked pretty good. ****** was a Graphic Designer at the Messenger.
Not too long ago I shot a short video of my dog barking to go for a walk. I shot it with my iPhone, then e-mailed to this laptop. It’s only eight seconds, and QuickTime plays it (I guess).
Last February my niece in Fort Lauderdale shot video of me being enthusiastically greeted by her dog. She shot it with her iPhone, then e-mailed to this laptop (I think), which I had with me.
I click-dragged it onto my laptop desktop; QuickTime could play it. I also cranked it on Facebook.
Her video is 29 seconds, yet e-mail flew it. As I understand it, video-files are humongous.
Now I can’t get my barking-dog video on my desktop. It’s in this machine somewhere; my QuickTime plays it (I guess).
****** inadvertently became my ‘pyooter-guru. I ply him with questions he usually solves.
So how do I get this barking-dog video out of my e-mail onto my desktop?
He suggested “save-as” the e-mail. I tried that, but all it saved was the text. —And there was little of that; just my iPhone e-mail “signature.”
He then suggested I try what I tried a week ago: “Control-click” the e-mailed video (that’s MAC, dear readers; Windoze PC is “right-click”) the e-mailed video, then “save-as” from the menu that displays.
Again, didn’t work.
“I don’t know what to tell you BobbaLew. That’s all I can think of.”
Welcome to aging, my friend. Frustration and failure become blessings.
My wife, who died five years ago from cancer, got this at work before she retired.
She was a computer programmer, and good at it. But because she was in her late 50s, she was declared clearly out-of-it.
No matter she was much more productive than a new hire, her employer wanted recent ‘pyooter techies = people with little experience getting a job done.
She retired throwing up her hands. Her employer was continually badmouthing her age. Only her immediate boss knew how valuable she was — but was overridden by higher-ups.
I get this myself. Millennials claim I’m so old I must be clueless.
For the moment my barking-dog video remains in my e-mail; and also on Facebook. I’m sure I will continue lobbing stinking ‘pyooter hairballs at ******, expecting he, like me, will fight “aging.”

• Since this was written yesterday, November 14th, Yrs Trly successfully saved the video to his desktop. I guessed there were more options on that “Control-Click” menu than just “save” — like ”save to download-folder.” It worked. There was the video-icon in my downloads-folder, so I dragged that to my desktop.
• The “Mighty Mezz” is the Canandaigua Daily-Messenger newspaper, from where I retired almost 12 years ago. Best job I ever had — I worked there almost 10 years (over 11 if you count my time as a post-stroke unpaid intern [I had a stroke October 26th, 1993, from which I recovered fairly well]). (“Canandaigua” is a small city nearby where I live in Western NY. The city is also within a rural town called “Canandaigua.” The name is Indian, and means “Chosen Spot.” —It’s about 14 miles away.)

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Monday, November 13, 2017

“No Dr. Phil for this kid!”

“Sling together more than five words, and you’ve exceeded the attention-span of the average person.”
I said that to **** *********, who I previously worked with at the Daily Messenger newspaper in nearby Canandaigua. He was a reporter/editor, and I was a “typist” — although I never typed anything. What I did were computer-tricks that generated reams of copy.
Page-editors loved it when I cranked a school honor-roll. That would blow an entire page.
My statement isn’t a complaint; it’s an observation. With TV and now the Internet, instant gratification became more possible. I’m guilty myself. Reading, though pleasant, became too time-consuming.
Yet here I am slinging words. The Messenger somewhat determines how I write. “Keep it short,” an editor used to say. I think the world of her; she could write extremely well, yet wasn’t elitist about it.
I look at some of my long-ago blogs, and shout “enough already!”
I also hew to a retired fellow bus-driver who tells me “you didn’t need to say that.”
“Don’t bore us; get to the chorus,” ********* says.
I’ve also noticed what I write often comes across more curt than originally perceived.
What e-mails I get are usually 25 words or less. Occasionally I get a “War-and-Peace;” what a pleasure to rummage someone else’s brain. Usually I congratulate the author with a word-count: “874 words, you win!”
“What’s the best book you ever read?” ********* asks.
“That would be ‘Moby Dick,’” I always say. “I also read ‘V’ by Thomas Pynchon, then started ‘Gravity’s Rainbow,’ but gave up. ‘Ulysses’ was beyond-the-pale.”
“Most important?” “‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.’ It gave me the confidence to try automotive bodywork, which I did successfully = a ‘quality’ job. First time I reversed my parents’ convincing me I was not only rebellious, but stupid.”
Books like that are history. More important are -1) Don “Big Daddy” Garlits in his Double-A fuel dragster burning rubber the entire quarter-mile, -2) P-51 Mustang “Old Crow” doing 500 mph power-dives and hammerhead stalls at an airshow, and -3) and restored Nickel Plate steam locomotive #765 bursting out of the tunnel atop Allegheny Mountain, throttle-to-the-roof, and whistle screaming!
So where does all that leave me with this pen?
There seem to be 10-20 constant-readers, and slinging words became a way for this retiree to pass time.
No Dr. Phil for this kid!

• Almost 12 years ago I retired from the Canandaigua Daily-Messenger newspaper. Best job I ever had — I worked there almost 10 years (almost 11 if you count my time as a post-stroke unpaid intern [I had a stroke October 26, 1993, from which I recovered fairly well]). (“Canandaigua” is a small city nearby where I live in Western NY. The city is also within a rural town called “Canandaigua.” The name is Indian, and means “Chosen Spot.” —It’s about 14 miles away.)
• For 16&1/2 years (1977-1993) I drove transit bus for Regional Transit Service (RTS) in Rochester, NY, a public employer, the transit-bus operator in Rochester and environs. My stroke ended that — I retired on medical-disability. I recovered well enough to return to work at the Messenger newspaper.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Back to the Future


Lucy the Margate elephant. (My motorbike is parked in front — you could go up top.) (Long-ago photo by BobbaLew.)

25 years ago Yr Fthfl Srvnt set out on motorcycle for his original home in south Jersey. —I live in western NY.
My motorbike was a 1989 Yamaha FZR400, only 400 cc’s. Double overhead-cam, four cylinders, four tiny valves per cylinder.
To get by with only 400 cc’s it had to be wound to-the-moon. About 9,000 rpm at 60 mph. (Seemed unnatural.)
I got saddlebags and a tankbag. I also bought a rubberized rain-suit.
It began raining not long after I started. My route was good old Route 15 toward Harrisburg, then east to northern DE.
I drove that route hundreds of times. College was in western NY, and we later lived in Rochester (NY). Back then my parents still lived in northern DE, so Route 15 was the way home. (My parents eventually moved to south FL.)
I remember stopping at the infamous Campbell rest facility (“Kamp-bell;” not the soup), inadvertently parking in the handicap zone earning the anti-biker wrath of the curmudgeonly facility manager.
That meant parking 100 yards south of the facility next to its dumpsters. This encounter prompted snide remarks on my part, fulfilling my duty as a “biker” (gasp).
I was amazed at how well my rain-suit worked. 60-65 mph in a drenching downpour past Mansfield University. I had a glowering-intimidator on my tail — a Dale Earnhardt wannabee in a Chevrolet Astrovan.
Back then the infamous Blossburg Hill was still in use. It’s been bypassed.
By Williamsport the rain let up. I remember stop-and-go traffic around Williamsport due to the Little League World Series.
On Route 15 one passes all the hoary landmarks: the small golfball water-tower just south of Williamsport, Clyde Peeling’s “Reptileland,” Bucknell University in Lewisburg, and what used to be three-lane highway next to Susquehanna River. “Pass safely” = “Put the hammer down!” Seven or eight cars zoom past a slow truck in hopes of completing before “No passing.” (The center lane was for passing.)
On Route 15 one also passes “Green Shingles” restaurant just north of the NY border. It’s been bypassed. I wonder when I’ll see it burned out.
The next day I decided to visit my old boys-camp in northeastern MD on Chesapeake Bay. Many fond memories; I started there as a camper in 1954 at age-10, did four more times as a camper through 1958, then was on camp-staff 1959-’61.
The camp is perhaps a mile-and-a-half in from the highway. I’m on motorbike. As soon as I rode in, I hit the familiar smell that always greeted me if car-windows were open.
That aroma is right up there with seashore smell. No idea what it is, although it may be the woods you first encounter as you begin the road to camp.
My camp’s name was “Sandy Hill;” I blogged it. (That’s a link, dudes.)
Sandy Hill was a religious camp — my going there was compliments of my hyper-religious father. But Sandy Hill was much more than religion.
I was on horsemanship staff, and did a lot of canoeing.
25 years ago, Sandy Hill was still related to the religious institution that also had a nearby conference center. Sandy Hill was sold when that organization almost tanked.
Sandy Hill still exists, but now has different owners.
When I rode there it was still a religious institution, but the camp season was over. The camp was being used as a retreat for zealots. All I could do was ride in.
I rode to the old mansion-house, the palatial abode that once was a duPont family summer retreat.
All I could do was savor the smell. I was there maybe 10 minutes; I dared not dismount lest some zealot preach at me. The fact I was on motorbike made the zealots nervous.
From there I rode to my original home in south Jersey = Erlton, a Philadelphia suburb.
I lived there until age-13, moving to northern DE when my father got a better job.
We lived at 625 Jefferson Ave. in Erlton. and I visited Mrs. Walton in next-door 627. She was still alive in her 80s, and still in her original home.
She’d been my Sunday-School Superintendent, and did her best to convince me all men, including me, were disgusting.
That I was unworthy of any girl she didn’t approve of; certainly not the slatterns south Jersey generated.
She took me to our old church in Erlton, but it was clear she was upset with the pups running it. She still had a key to her beloved Sunday-School addition, but that addition no longer passed muster.
From there I rode to my Uncle Rob’s in Pennsauken, north of Camden, the south Jersey extension of Philadelphia. My Uncle Rob was my father’s younger brother.
He told me anyone named “Robert” in my family is automatically disapproved. That included him, my paternal grandfather (his father), and now me.
(Scuttlebutt had him disapproved because he preferred Fords over Chevrolets. He was even a life-long Ford salesman.)
He called my Aunt May — his baby sister — to come visit. “MayZ” arrived and started nattering me, just like my grandmother used to do with anyone named “Robert,” although not me. (With me it was my parents.)
My Aunt May is divorced from her first and only husband. “Is this why Al started frogging around?” I asked — his name was Al. “He couldn’t take the constant yammering?”
My Aunt May went ballistic. She started yelling at me. “Don’t furrow yer brow at me,” I said. “My father used to do that. Compared to some of the goofballs I parry driving bus, yer angelic!”
I felt bad. Now I had my Aunt May all bent outta shape.
“She had it coming,” my Uncle Rob said.
That night I rode to Swedesboro (NJ) and stayed with my Aunt May. The FZR stayed parked outside.
Next day to the south Jersey seashore. Again, many fond memories.
Like “Lucy” the Margate elephant (pictured above).
Lucy” was originally a beachside hotel, that turned into a tourist-trap.
(Two different Lucy links, readers.)
“You ain’t goin’ up in no Margate elephant!” my father shouted angrily. “That’s 25¢; WE’RE BROKE!” My paternal grandmother got my sister and I up in Lucy; 50¢ total.
I stopped for breakfast at a roadside diner, and started crying on my pancakes. I was alone as always. I feel like I never had loving parents; they were always badmouthing me.
I think my mother eventually realized my father was turning me away, but it was too late. She was a zealous partner at first.
Beyond that I was way too smart; they had no idea what to do with me. My father was smart too, but apparently more suckered for religious zealotry.
My first stop was Lucy, but that was after hitting the wonderful aroma of the Jersey seashore. I got that riding the causeway out to Longport, south of Margate and Atlantic City.
On motorcycle smells are strident.
Then south toward Ocean City (NJ). The barrier island Ocean City is on is now connected to Longport by drawbridge over a bay inlet.
In Ocean City I set out for 59th Street beach. Of all the beaches I’ve been to, Huntington and Manhattan near LA, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Daytona; 59th Street is still the best.
But ya gotta wear shoes, lest the sand burn yer feet.
I still have a container of 59th-St. beach sand under a window in my kitchen.
My first girlfriend and I did 59th-St. beach back in 1962. Did it again in 1968 with my new wife.
“Where is Sea-Isle City, anyway?” said a guy’s tee-shirt in a nearby grocery.
“I know where Sea-Isle City is,” I said; “south of Ocean City, and north of Wildwood and Cape May.”
And we all know Wildwood is the plastic pink-flamingo capital of the entire known universe.
I bet he never wore that tee-shirt again.
Maybe 10-15 minutes at 59th St. beach. Park motorbike, then walk out and collect sand.
In the ‘50s my Uncle Rob bought an unheated summer-cottage in Ship-Bottom, north of Atlantic City on Long Beach Island.
I stayed there often with my parents when my Uncle allowed us to use his cottage.
Me at age-10, severely sunburnt.
Sleep was difficult, the salt-spray aroma was so heavy.
We were there when Hurricane Carol passed offshore, lashing the beach. (I think it was the Hurricane Carol of 1954 — there was also one in 1953.)
My mother took us all up to the beach in our ’41 Chevy. Its wipers couldn’t cope. My mother got out wrapped in a bedspread, but had to get back in. Her bedspread was soaked.
After 59th Street I headed back inland to visit my Aunt Betty and Uncle Irv, still in south Jersey. My Aunt Betty was my mother’s youngest sister. Irving died not too long afterward, then my Aunt Betty. My Aunt May is my only living Aunt; she’s 87.
After Aunt Betty I rode back home = a journey goin’ to my grave. My roots hadn’t changed hardly at all.

• A “golfball water-tower” has the water vessel atop a single pylon, spread at bottom resembling a large golf-tee. I always notice because I helped paint a golfball during a college summer job. That golfball is pictured below.

The “golfball” water-tower in Ventnor, NJ. (The golfball near Williamsport is much smaller.) (Long-ago photo by BobbaLew.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

“Before I go.......”

“Gotta do it,” I told myself as I climbed out of the pool at Canandaigua YMCA.
I just finished my hour-long aquacise class.
“Gotta walk all the way over and talk to that lifeguard. She seems to like it, and if that puts her off, it ain’t my fault.”
Yrs Trly is a graduate of the Hilda Q. Walton School of Sexual Relations. Hilda was my Sunday-School superintendent and next-door neighbor. She convinced me all pants-wearers, including me, were unworthy of female attention. That girls would avoid me like the plague.
My parents, as hyper-religious zealots, concurred.
My wife was inadvertently complicit in this. The fact she liked me made it possible for me to avoid females — she made other females unnecessary.
Now my wife is gone; she died over five years ago.
Way too late I’m discovering Mrs. Walton, and my parents, were flat wrong.
Every relation with females doesn’t automatically have sexual connotation.
A while ago I had a really pretty physical-therapist. Intimidated at first, I got so I could look at her. In my head Mrs. Walton was nattering me, but cutie was disproving her.
So on-and-on it’s gone. A couple weeks ago this lifeguard seemed to like I said hello to her.
So I walked over and started jawing. She smiled. Mrs. Walton is spinning in her grave — 14,000 rpm!

• “Q” stands for “Quincy.”

Saturday, November 04, 2017

“I got a live one here!”

“So what’s ‘4-F’?” asked the Zappos service-rep.
Ever since my wife died, I’ve gotten my footwear online from Zappos, which is based in Las Vegas.
Mainly my running shoes, although I stopped running when my wife died. She’d take our dog.
Zappos probably wants twice the price for running shoes, but saves me the time needed to research maybe a 40-dollar saving.
“‘4-F’ was my draft classification,” I said. “‘4-F’ wasn’t draftable. It indicated a medical condition that made me unsuitable for military service, in my case a duodenal ulcer.”
“So what was ‘the draft’?” she asked.
“During the Vietnam War, a military draft was in effect requiring service. Military wasn’t volunteer.
College was a deferment, but after I graduated I was draftable.”
“So what were the other classifications?” she asked.
“No idea,” I said. “I think ‘1-A’ was draftable, ‘2’ and ‘3’ I have no idea; that was 50 years ago.
What does any of this have to do with a shoe-return?” I asked.
“I’ve learned all kinds of things as a service-rep.”
“Useless facts,” I said.
“But interesting,” she said.
What prompted this was my Asics running shoes were manufactured in Vietnam, “once our enemy,” I commented.
“You should also know yer talking to a stroke-survivor,” I said. “It’s why my speech is a little wonky.”
“I don’t hear anything,” she said.
“Of course not,” I said; “but my brothers do. They heard the before.
It’s called ‘aphasia’,” I said. “Google it.”
“How do you spell it?”
“A-P-H-A-S-I-A.”
“Aphasia is impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain — most commonly from a stroke.” —She had already Googled the same site I use.
“It can be so bad the stroke-victim can’t speak at all. In my case it’s slight.
Again, what does any of this have to do with a shoe-return? We’ve blown at least 20 minutes so far.”
“Interesting,” she said.
Her name was ******, at Zappos in Las Vegas.
“Where that horrible massacre occurred?” I commented.
“Supposedly The Donald was gonna end all this, but ‘thoughts-and-prayers’.”
“And now they’re using rental trucks,” she added.
On-and-on it went. Neither of us would shut up.
So Zappos can allow ****** to waste time jawing with a customer?
Is that worth 40 extra smackaroos for a pair of sneakers?
Ever tried tech-support at Microsoft?
“We’re deeply, deeply sorry” from wannabees in Indonesia with no technical savvy whatsoever, and little command of English.
“Next,” they say.
A while ago I tried to solve some ‘pyooter hairball by calling Adobe. Their techie suggested I purchase a Photoshop upgrade.
I go to tech-support and get a salesman.
After 70+ years I’ve learned to just say it. I don’t always get a ******, but often I do. And they seem to love it.
“I got a live one here! Speaker-phone for this dude!”

• My beloved wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her immensely. Best friend I ever had, and after my childhood I sure needed one. She actually liked me.
• I had a stroke October 26th, 1993, from which I pretty much recovered. Just tiny detriments; I can pass for never having had a stroke. It slightly compromised my speech. (Difficulty finding and putting words together.)

Friday, November 03, 2017

1954 Corvette


1954 Corvette. (Photo by Dan Lyons.)

A 1954 Corvette is the October, 2017 entry in my Tide-Mark “Cars of the Fab ‘50s” calendar.
The 1954 Corvette was introduced in 1953, a stretch for staid Chevrolet.
(I learned how to drive in a ’53.)
At that time Chevrolet was marketing very pedestrian automobiles, pretty much devoid of glamor. Attractive to those who preferred reliability over glitz — like my paternal grandmother.
My grandfather wanted a Packard, anathema to my grandmother. Packard was more class than glitz.
In the ‘70s my grandmother was living with my parents, more-or-less separated from my grandfather. I showed up in a used red 1972 Chevrolet Vega GT, somewhat sporty in appearance.
“Is it a Chevrolet?” she asked plaintively.
Her ability to weigh in was compromised by old age, but not her values.
My uncle, my grandmother’s second child, was in deepest doo-doo, perhaps because he sold Fords for a living. He used to get dealer loaners. Once he showed up at his seashore cottage in a top-down ’55 Thunderbird.
Yet droll Chevrolet brought Corvette to market.
The Corvette was just a sports-car wannabee at first. It even had Chevrolet’s tired six-cylinder engine, the “cast-iron wonder” from 1937. It was slightly “souped:” two carburetors.
The car pictured is probably the six. But Chevrolet was developing it’s fabulous SmallBlock V8. When debuted for the 1955 model-year, Zora Arkus-Duntov, an old hot-rodder, noticed.
Zora.
Replace the Corvette’s six with the new SmallBlock. and you had more than a sports-car wannabee.
Duntov was off-and-running. He became Corvette’s chief-engineer, and made Corvette more a sports-car.
The first Corvettes, 1953, were only available white. The car pictured is red, but it’s 1954.
A family in our neighborhood had an early Corvette, white, but 1954 I think. Totally impractical; of course. Just posturing — not for groceries. A daughter in that family, two classes ahead of me, went on to become “Miss Delaware” in the Miss America pageant. That ‘Vette was part of her image, or so it seemed.
Not long ago I glimpsed a car-chase on TV. The car chased was an early ‘Vette, 1954 I think. —It was also red. Ford “Crown-Vic” Police-Cars crashed or exploded in flames. The ‘Vette was always zooming away, to the sound-track of a high-winding American V8, although it was probably only the six.
“Look at the tires on this thing,” I exclaim. “Mere rim-protectors; bias-ply no doubt.” The Crown-Vics probably at least had radials. In reality, a ’54 Corvette would be no match for a ‘90s or later Crown-Vic.
Except for looks, and even that’s debatable. Compared to a Crown-Vic an early ‘Vette has glitz.
With Duntov at the helm, Corvette became an attractive sports-car.
This ’54 is a first iteration of the C1, which lasted through 1962. What made early ‘Vettes attractive was that SmallBlock V8.
An experimental ‘55 is in my area. It’s red, and has appeared at car-shows. It’s essentially the car pictured with a SmallBlock V8. I don’t know how experimental it is; that’s the owner.
From 1956 on the Corvette was rebodied. No more recessed headlights behind screening, or jet taillights. And I think they were all SmallBlock, tuned for performance.
But underneath was pretty much the Chevy sedan chassis, poorly suited for racing. People raced those ‘Vettes, but their only advantage was that high-winding SmallBlock.
It wasn’t until the 1963 model, the C2, that Duntov was able to work his magic. It was still the SmallBlock, but independent-rear-suspension under an attractive new body. How well this all worked is debatable. The IRS was rudimentary.
For 1969 the C3 was introduced, with body influenced by the Mako Shark/Manta Ray (whatever). It was still essentially a C2 underneath, rudimentary IRS.
By then the ‘Vette was available with Chevrolet’s “Big-Block” V8. I’ve seen 454 C2s. Compared to the SmallBlock, a Big-Block weighed much more. Corvettes balance better with the lighter SmallBlock, but won’t win straight-line drag-races.
Compared to what Corvettes became, how humble is this ’54? Yet there it was beating all-and-sundry in that movie car-chase.
In my opinion Corvette is still being made largely because of Duntov, even though he’s gone. Would that other Chevys were as good as the ‘Vette, now at C7.

• RE: “Bias-ply” versus radials. —Originally tires were bias-ply, with the casing made of cross-hatched plies across the tread at about 45 degrees from tire-rotation. “Radials” had the casing at 90 degrees from tire-rotation. Bias-ply weren’t as compliant as radials, and were slipperier. Now all tires, since the ‘70s, are radial construction.

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