Friday, October 28, 2011

Blast From The Past

I haven't written in a while, mainly because I've been busy with problems that I'll be amused to bore everyone with later on.  Meanwhile, to assuage everyone's impatience, here are a few photos I found in a long abandoned dresser drawer.  These photos have been digitized from 35mm slides that haven't degenerated too much to use.  None were taken by your poor host (just check the framing for Heaven's sake), but I think all of these were taken prior to 1955.  I suppose there's a certain historical significance to be found somewhere here.  I hope you enjoy them.

This is the way people used to travel when they weren't taking the train or driving the distance.  Consider that the interstate highway system was still in the planning stages, so driving from Ohio to Miami, Florida was a real adventure.  Add to that the weather you might encounter in the mountains during the winter months and, if you were going to make the trip, you'd better be self-sufficient.

My paternal grandfather, Grandpa Parsimonious, worked for the United States government in the Interstate Commerce Commission, or ICC as it was generally called.  Back in those days the U.S. government regulated the trucking industry, and that included regulation of trucking routes.  So, if you owned a truck line and wanted to haul freight from, say, Columbus, Ohio to Detroit, Michigan via Ohio Route 315 North, you had to get permission to do so from the ICC.  Failure to obtain that permission meant risking the ire of a large government bureaucracy with an evil temper, which often translated into loss of revenue via fines, penalties and equipment being placed out of service by the ICC.  It also meant that a competitor might get permission to use that route and so pick up the business that you are now missing out on.

Some people thought that this was a bit heavy handed, but Grandpa Parsimonious worked with it from both sides of the fence (he owned his own trucking company for a while and sold it) and never had a problem.  My point is that if you owned a trucking company and if you wanted a proposed route approved for your trucks, it then behooved you to get to know someone from the ICC on a first name basis.  Someone who would be glad to see you show up around the holidays - or just any old time at all.  Such an owner was Charlie Hoke, pictured below standing in front of a (then) modern aircraft about to take on passengers for a little aerial peregrination to Miami, Florida.

Charlie Hoke

As I explained above, Charlie would have a hard time making ends meet if he didn't have a few friends in the ICC who were willing to help him out occasionally by approving the freight routes that Charlie needed.  Such a man was Grandpa Parsimonious, seen below with his wife Grandma Bourbon.  The two flew down to Florida once or twice a year and had a great time partying with friends, meaning Grandpa's business friends.

Grandpa Parsimonious and Grandma Bourbon

One place that few people missed seeing was the famous Parrot Jungle.  It's gone now, more's the pity, but I was fortunate enough to visit the original Parrot Jungle around 1960 or so.  This was an absolutely gorgeous place to tour.  I remember it being about 15 acres of carefully cultivated exotic trees and plants that were conducive to the macaws and parrots that lived there.  The birds were tame and would sit on your hand and eat sunflower seeds.  One attraction was the opportunity to have your picture taken with five parrots sitting on you.  The Parrot Jungle didn't charge for this.  They provided the birds; you had to provide your own camera and photographer.  Here's Grandpa Parsimonious and Grandma Bourbon holding up the parrots.

Grandma Bourbon with Parrots at the Parrot Jungle in Florida

Grandpa Parsimonious with Parrots at the Parrot Jungle in Florida
This is the way things were done back in the old days.  One hand washed the other, and I think the country was a little better off for it.  I'd like to note that Grandma Bourbon was quite a convivial bon vivant and something of a fashion plate.  The dress she's wearing in the photo was considered stylish back then.

Further North in Lexington, Kentucky there was (still is) Tattersalls Saddlebred horse auction.  Grandpa Parsimonious liked horses and knew Ed Teater, and so would attend the auction periodically, sometimes taking his son (my father, the Whiskey Man) along with him.  One character who never failed to show up is pictured below.  I don't know his name, but Grandpa Parsimonious and the Whiskey Man knew him, and not just by sight either.

Tattersall Regular
Note the men in the background.  All are wearing hats and coats, and although wearing a topper was de rigueur at that time you only wore your coat when the weather demanded it.  Our character has neither.

Tattersall Regular
The fellow cuts quite a figure, and he was featured in some major magazine around 1960 or so.  I remember pointing him out to Grandpa Parsimonious, who knew him and told me about him.  The man goes barefoot at all times; he's never worn shoes.  Although his clothing is old, both he and his clothes are always very clean, as is his hair and beard.  Amazing, what?

That's the way things were.  Thanks for reading.


Older School said...

Well, I for one, am a fan and have missed your regular posts.

You can spin a good yarn, my friend.

Excellent pics! Gotta love those blasts from the past.

Unknown said...

Great Pictures!

Mad Jack said...

Thanks guys. I've got a few more that will be digitized later on this week.