Monday, November 26, 2012
The Trotters Hot Rod Club
Several years ago, as I was perusing through the stacks of my local library, I found a brief history of a car club from Middletown, Ohio. What struck me about its contents, however, was a photo taken of a dragster that was built by an African-American car club from Columbus, Ohio known as the Trotters. I found a few photos of the Trotter’s cars on the Web, and I posted them on my blog, but nothing else. Lately, however, two of the members of the Trotters contacted me and gave me their stories of the club and their role in the membership.
The Club began around 1952 with 5 members and one car, a 1932 Ford 2 door sedan powered with a Chrysler hemi. During the early 1950s these 5 friends, including George Wingo, from the Dayton area, and Larry Williams, approached the Pipers Car Club from the East side of Columbus, but were rebuffed from joining. So the Trotters emerged as a primarily African American, but also interracial club that built, owned, and maintained a show and go trophy winning B dragster, and a screaming 34 3 window coupe. Their cars and members were featured in Hot Rod Magazine and Ebony, but their very success ultimately led to their end.
The Trotters organized an annual custom car show in Columbus, appropriately named Trott-A-Rama, that proved to be a tremendous financial success. So much so, that the true car guys in the club were purged by a group not nearly as obsessed with racing machines. Charles Bryant, his brother, and Larry Williams were all removed from the club, a fatal move in the long run. And what happened to the B rail dragster? Apparently one night, after being left behind before a race, maintenance chief Bill Richardson, out of anger or frustration, took a torch to the frame of the dragster and cut it in two, thus ending the Trotter’s presence on Midwest and national drag events in 1966.
Only five members of the Trotters are still alive, the rest having gone “through the pearly gates.” During the Golden Age of the 1950s and early 1960s there were many hot rod clubs active from coast to coast, and like the Trotters their members are now either getting up there or deceased. With their passing we are losing historical accounts of great value. If you were once a member of one of these clubs, or know someone who was a member, please get your recollections down on paper, as they are a valuable part of auto history.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Hi folks -- I got two emails in my box this morning from members of the Trotters Hot Rod Club, an African American group that was very competitive during the 1960s. From the short messages, it appears on 5 members are still alive, as the rest "have gone through the pearly gates." I'll try to call my two contacts today and get back to you with some interesting history. Until then, here are a few new photos I dug up on the web. See a previous post of mine on topic if you are interested, but I'll report back soon.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Unless you are in New Jersey where they have mandated gas station attendants (what a bunch of quasi-socialist bullshit -- let's give all morons a job!), filling your own tank is a reflection of the democratic ideal.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Friday, November 16, 2012
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Hi folks -- an interesting news report tonight -- 45 cars have hit houses in Dayton this year. For a number of different reasons, including drinking, the hitting of accelerator rather than brakes, distractions, etc. WHIO-TV has a a link to a map on their website that seems to indicate this is for the most part taking place in poorer neighborhoods, and probably a reflection for the most part of lower socioeconomic class behavior tendencies. But as the attached photos seem to indicate, this accident can happen anyplace, at any time, and with any class of driver.
Song and Car Theft
Unlike the medium of film, song has rarely exploited the topic of automobile theft. Its conspicuous absence is an irony given that particularly since World War II the car has been at the center of popular music. Yet, on the few occasions where stealing cars has been featured in lyrics, themes common to those used in motion pictures emerge, but with a far more desperate and dark tone. Car theft as connected to adventure and sexuality stand out in Joe Bonamassa’s “Tennessee Plates” (2011) and Sting’s “Stolen Car,” but then so does failure, the end of relationships, and loneliness.
The highs from the reckless abandon gained by illegal mobility, however, eventually leads to dire straits. Employing a story not terribly different than that from Bonnie and Clyde, Bonamassa (first performed by Randy Travis in 1998) tells the listener of a girl “shivering in the dark” on a cold night, and how that begins a tale of bank robberies, car thefts, an exhilarating ride crossing “the Mississippi like an oil slick fire,” and a man left for dead on the interstate. Yet the trip ends in confusion, for the hero wakes up in a hotel room “in original sin,” with no answers to his current dilemma.
Of all the songs on car theft, perhaps the best known – and the one with the deepest psychological overtones -- is Stings’ “Stolen Car” (2003). About a poor boy hotwiring a rich man’s car, the song's lyrics coupled with its rhythm reach deep inside the listener, evoking a sensual experience involving adultery, the lingering smell of cologne, and the coming into light while surrounded by darkness.
Late at night in summer heat. Expensive car, empty street
There's a wire in my jacket. This is my trade
It only takes a moment, don't be afraid
I can hotwire an ignition like some kind of star
I'm just a poor boy in a rich man's car
So I whisper to the engine, flick on the lights
And we drive into the night
Like that of Sting, Bruce Springsteen’s “Stolen Car” (1980) possessed a dark angst, perhaps connected to adultery. The common everyman protagonist agonizes over a marriage gone bad, riding in a stolen car during a “pitch black” night, horribly fearful and alone, desperate and at the end of the line. Yet, as Springsteen laments, “Each night I want to get caught. But I never do.” Similarly, but in the context of a very different urban environment, the Beastie Boys posit their own take on the matter with their hip hop genre title “Car Thief” (1989). As in all of the above songs, our character’s life is coming apart “at the seams,” the consequence of violence, plenty of drugs and a disconnected urban lifestyle that has resulted in human worthless, with incarceration at the “Mountain,” while Ricky cuckolds his girl.
 Joe Bonamassa, "Tennessee Plates," written by John Hiatt and Michael Stuart Porter, http://www.songlyrics.com/joe-bonamassa/Tennessee-plates-lyrics/, accessed 12/8/11.
 "Stolen Car," Sting, http:///www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/sting/stolencar.html, accessed 1/18/2012.
 Bruce Springsteen, "Stolen Car," written by Bruce Springsteen, Columbia Records, 1980, http://www.metrolyrics.com/stolen-car-lyrics-bruce-springsteen.html, accessed November 11, 2012.
 Beastie Boys, "Car Thief," written by Beastie Boys and the Dust Brothers, Columbia Recoreds, 1989, http://www.lyricstime.com/beastie-boys-car-thief-lyrics.html, accessed November 11, 2012.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Monday, November 5, 2012
It seems to happen every few days in the Miami Valley (Dayton and vicinity). 7 students killed during hte past week -- 3 in Darke County, 1 in Springboro, 3 in Greene County. This time three young girls from Bellbrook, Ohio, just a few miles from where I live. And the driver survived and is home. What a call for parents to receive late in the night. How do we stop this from taking place as much as it does? Should parents just be more aware of their children's activities and not let them stay out so late? Should teens be restricted from driving at night? Speed?? Should there be more mandatory driver education? No other technology takes as many lives as automobile. We are against wars that kill a few thousand Americans a year. But auto accidents take many more from us. Cars can be engineered to be only so safe, and then it is up to the people who drive them, including young people.
Ed Garten's account after visiting the site of deadly crash :
This afternoon I drove by the Bellbrook teens crash site on Wagner Road (not too far from where you play tennis) and there were two Sugarcreek Township police cars there sort of guarding the crash site already strewn with dozens of flowers and teddy bears and such. I stopped and talked with an officer and he said they were there because they expected teens from Bellbrook to stop by and because it was a dangerous stretch of highway they wanted to slow traffic down if young people were mingling around.
The truck they were in was coming from Kettering and across the bridge that goes over I-75 and makes a sharp curve. As soon as one rounds the curve the road immediately has a high crown to it and one can see that any vehicle at a high rate of speed would hit the crown and become airborne in a split second. The officers speculated that this is what happened and the truck then wrapped itself around a very large and old tree.