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emories of an evening back in 1957 flooded back to me when I saw pictures of the Dixie and read about Bulkhead, which was the intersection of Route 14, Pennsylvania Avenue and Broadway.
I lived on Route 14, two miles south of Bulkhead during high school. Remember that the legal drinking age was 18 in New York and 21 in Pennsylvania. Consequently, there was regular traffic on Route 14 into Southport and Elmira by the "ridge runners" and "stump jumpers" from PA, especially on a Friday night. On one particular spring Friday evening, I was walking and hitchhiking (remember when that was sort of safe?) toward Bulkhead aiming toward an evening of things kids get arrested for today with friends like John Gribbon, Denny Newnham, Paul (Off-Off) Oltohf, Dave Perry, and Dick Anderson. (I'm sorry if I omitted some of the other ne'er-do-wells I used to hang around with.)
Anyway, to make a short story long, there I am about a quarter mile from home when I hear a fellow named Richard from Fassett coming north at very high speed in his '57 Ford with the loud mufflers. You could hear Richard coming a long way off. He saw me and hit the brakes in his Fairlane 500 red and white two door hardtop (a teenager's dream). I got in and wished there were seat belts.
Richard had ordered the Ford with an overdrive transmission (three-on-the-tree, remember?) but with a standard rear axle. Consequently, the Ford was capable of VERY high speeds. He let out the clutch and accelerated to about 40 mph in first, let up on the accelerator and it shifted into overdrive. He revved it on up and shifted into second overdrive at about 80 mph. He shifted into third gear at something over 100 mph about the time we got to Wilson's Market at the top of the overpass over the Pennsylvania Railroad on Route 14.
We were at Dalrymple's Construction and the trailer court when Richard shifted down to second gear. Those steelpack mufflers let out such a racket that glass must have shattered at the old truck stop. He laid on the brakes and began the four-wheel drift into the curve before the bridge over Seeley Creek. Cars of the Fifties weren't especially good at being driven like they belonged on NASCAR race tracks, so Richard's Ford leaned big time going into the curve. I saw the road sloping upwards from where I sat.
The old bridge on Route 14 was a relic from Model A times. It was quite narrow and the curve leading into it was a decreasing radius turn making it even more tricky. Richard then double-clutched the Ford into FIRST gear just before the bridge and four-wheel drifted the car up to the traffic light.
Deciding that this was enough excitement for one evening I said, "Thanks, I'm just going over to the Dixie," and got out.
Richard won a lot of drag races with that Ford even though the hot car in our high school years was the '57 Chevy. Last I heard, a fellow from Southside bought it, missed a curve on the old Pine City road, and severely customized the underside of the car on the rocks in Seeley Creek thus ending the Ford's days.
Editor's Note: Readers may contact Dan
Reibson at his e-mail address:
© 2001 SHS Class of '58
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