Getting Home Alive! Memories
of Car Collecting Before it Got Civilized, by Joe Puleo.
Published by "The Radiator Cap Press", a division
of Joseph Olney & Co. Soft cover, 65+ photographs
and 216 pages. Price: $22.00. ISBN #0-9754865-1-9. Available
Joseph Olney & Co., 67 Ridge Road,
Smithfield, RI 02917/ E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amazon.com - www.amazon.com
Mowbray Publishing, P. O. Box 460, Lincoln,
RI 02865 - www.manatarmsbooks.com
E-Mail: email@example.com / PHONE: 1 (800) 999-4697
"My friends and I grew up covered
in grease. We loved cars old ones, new
ones, disassembled ones ... it didn't matter to
us. But our favorites were the vintage autos from
before World War II. And the amazing thing is
that in the late 1960s and '70s you could actually
afford to buy a Rolls Royce or a classic Cadillac
on a teenager's budget. But we didn't just collect
them. They were our only cars and we drove them
literally everywhere from school to social
events, and in all kinds of weather."
"Those were the days when you could still
find great classic cars in barns and farm fields.
We didn't have a trailer, we didn't have proper
tools and we didn't always know how the engines
worked. But young and foolish, we somehow got
them running and drove them home trying
not to get killed or arrested along the way. No
brakes, no headlights, 60-year-old tires
"Let's take the Interstate!" Our adventures
were terrifying, but in retrospect they were also
pretty funny. And we sure did meet some odd and
"So if you, too, have some grease under your
fingernails, sit back and listen to this. I've
got a story to tell about how I survived being
a car nut in the old days."
for larger view
|The usual staff of G.
Pendleton & Company (left to right),
the writer, J. R. Guise and Paul Zangari
leaning on our lathe. Note the REO wheel.
We had more hair in those days.
Photo by Jack Connors.
|Another view inside the
shop at G. Pendleton, this one
showing more of the equipment. We are
leaning on the lathe
and to the right can be seen our large
antique drill press.
Though only part of one hand wheel shows,
there was a
Brown & Sharpe milling machine to
the left. In the foreground
is the lower crankcase of S193FR on
its engine stand and
an English Ford engine block that we
did much of our welding
and brazing on. Photo by Jack Connors.
|The peach and white
Rolls Royce Avon with the gold plush interior
and vacuum plated wheels. This is the car
that caught fire while the writer was driving
a wedding party.
||The 1912 Metz.
A note in Jack's hand on the back of this
picture identifies the people as Mr. &
Mrs. Richard Knies of Plandome, New York.
In place of a horn, there is a siren mounted
on the passenger seat. Photo by Jack Conners.
||The author with
friend, Jean Luzon, on the REO only a few
days before I left on the trip to Long Island.
I still have the boots, duster and hat. Photo
by Rita Luzon.
My initial reaction to this book was
that it is a "how-not-to" guide. But the more
I got into it the more I remembered my early experiences
which occurred at about the same time. By the end of
their story the boys and I had become fast friends.
From amateurs to professionals, this is the story of
failures, humor and successes dealing with old cars.
In Lincoln, Rhode Island, beginning in the early 1970s,
the author and his friends, with guidance from Andrew
Mowbray, began exploring the lifestyles of old car enthusiasts/restorers
and it led to fun and adventure. Their trial and error
approach initially gives the impression that they were
having more fun than success, but old cars were cheap
and plentiful. Their lack of formal training was overcome
by experience and, with the multitude of cars they worked
on, their accomplishments are impressive.
The cars ranged from an 1899 Panhard et Levassor to
a 1957 Imperial. There were dozens of cars, including
a Rolls-Royce Phantom I and Silver Ghost, 1934 Chevrolet,
Model A Ford, 1910 Reo, 1951 Citroen, 1931 Chrysler,
Corvair, Allard, Vintage Bentley, Jaguar XK120, and
many more. With so many cars there were apt to be many
interesting, sad and funny experiences. If you enjoy
working on old cars you will be rewarded with good entertainment.
On the other hand, a professional restoring a Duesenberg
today, may be appalled and distressed!
As I read through the book I found myself relating to
their experiences and remembering incidents that I had
tried to forget. I would have enjoyed being a member
of their crew and I wish to thank Joe Puleo for taking
the time to share his adventures with us. As I write
this at my workshop desk, beside my unfinished 1925
3-Litre Bentley, I can almost picture Joe handing me
a wrench and saying, "Enough writing! Let's get
back to doing what we do best."