Still crazy after all these years… (for XKE’s especially!)

There was a place called Tink’s Auto Mart on South Sheridan when I first moved to Tulsa. I was a lot younger then, and having sold the Chevy van I’d acquired to haul our music equipment around, I was pedaling to and from work on a ten-speed.

THAT’s enough to put the fear of the automobile in you, let me tell ya’. It was NASCAR-style driving in Tulsa even back then, but at least the streets (with exceptions) have been widened since then.

I worked in the shopping center across from Tink’s, and looking out of the plate glass windows of the store’s showroom, I could ogle the British sports cars set out on display. Nearest the street was a tiny little car, which looked like a toy from my vantage point. Sleek looking, but little.

Also facing sideways (to show it in profile from the street) and parked just behind was another sporty model – a little boxier, but quite a bit larger. It was displayed on some sort of raised ramp, so it could be seen over the smaller car.

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Behind the other two, also in profile, was long, torpedo-looking car – parked on a step-up concrete pad. It was gun-grey and about the sleekest looking thing I had ever seen. And believe me, I looked it over.

Rode my ten-speed across the street several times a week, after leaving work, just to look at those British sports cars. Particularly that grey-coloured (British spelling) work of art. It had twelve cylinders, which to me added up to – FAAST. It had a convertible top. Shifter. Wire wheels, sort of James Bond style, without the razor-tipped knock off caps.

I was working away at my day job, saving up some cash toward another vehicle and really imagining myself in that Great Grey.

Oddly enough, I didn’t even look at the price stickers until I had saved up enough that I thought it might cover a down payment. When I had stashed that amount back, I rode my bike over and looked at the cars, and the prices.

The Jag? The XKE grey beauty? Six-thousand dollars. Six thousand dollars, and I wondered who could possibly afford to spend that much money on a car. It was a wonderful machine, but clearly not for me.

The Triumph TR6 was also a good looking ride, I thought. Not so sleek as the Jag. Kinda boxy if truth be told. Six cylinders instead of the Jag’s twelve. Still, a nice top end on that wood-dash-mounted speedometer. Three-thousand dollars and change. And change, because the big number was the three, followed by the word ‘thousand.’ Still out of my league.

And so, I found myself peering into the cockpit of a Spitfire, the little brother Triumph sports car with the four cylinders and a top speed of eighty with a tailwind. It also had a nice wood dashboard, though. Shifter. Convertible.

And a price tag that started with a ‘one.’

I was still looking into it when the salesman sidled up and looked me over, gave a loud guffaw (pretty sure it was a guffaw…) and laughingly asked if I was going to use ‘that bicycle’ as my trade in. He might have meant it as a joke, but if he had intended it to be a snide and cutting remark, he could not have delivered it with more aplomb.

After mentally responding, I mounted ‘that bicycle’ and rode nearly seven miles through the NASCAR traffic to the other Triumph car dealer at 11th and Delaware. I was out of breath when I pulled up in their lot and was still gathering myself when the salesman approached me and said, “I think I have a Spitfire exactly the color of your bicycle.”

I think you just sold it, I replied.

I had a wad of cash in my pocket, and it turned out to be enough to get a set of keys placed in my palm.

If I had placed that car in storage instead of driving it for the next few years, it might be worth six thousand dollars today – maybe a little more to an excited collector. Remember, six-thousand? The price of the new Jaguar back then.

The XKE in the picture is a 1974, a used car, meticulously restored, and – excepting the color – pretty much the car I had ogled all those months from across the street. Asking price for this red beauty listed on Craigslist this afternoon?

$139,000.00

Plus fees. Man.

Although I’m considerably older now and have met some folks who could – I’m still wondering – who would spend that much money on a car? (Then again, just think of my profit margin if I had scraped up the money back in 1973!)

I can always imagine myself running through the Jag’s gears with the wind in my thinning hair, even while I’m actually behind the wheel of that thirty-year-old van…

Where the Sidewalk Ends and PC Begins…

Googies? Oops, is it safe to reference them that way in this age of political correctness?

PC isn’t a new thing, although back in 1974, the initials would be first associated with Personal Computers. Political Correctness as a recognized phrase wouldn’t begin popping up semi-regularly until the late 1980s.

It was in 1974 that Shel Silverstein’s book Where the Sidewalk Ends was published by Harper & Row. It’s an oddball sort of book with the collected poetry and writing of Mr Silverstein.

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Here’s a sample:

My skin is kind of sort of brownish pinkish yellowish white. My eyes are greyish blueish green, but I’m told they look orange in the night. My hair is reddish blondish brown, but its silver when its wet, and all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet.

On page 50 came the controversy. In the earliest printings, the poem on the page was titled The Gypsies. The term has been used to describe the Roma (or Romani) ethnic group of Europe and elsewhere.

I have read an article in the recent past that referenced the Roma people and mentioned gypsy as a pejorative term. Apparently the discussion started before the ‘recent past.’

It may be that the exact story is known to someone, but I could only gather that some objection to the term was brought forward, and Mr Silverstein (as the author of the poem) declined to make a change. In later printings, Harper & Row substituted the word Googies for Gypsies, but left everything else in place.

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I learned all this today, when an early printing copy of the book came into the shop, and sure enough – there are those G——s at the top of page 50.

My question is: Isn’t it likely that the Googies are just as negatively stereotyped now?

(Fortunately, I didn’t have a copy of this book when the kids were young. Those Googies/Gypsies might have come across as a little scary at bedtime…)

The book is one that I get calls for regularly, and own copies of infrequently. This one probably won’t last long, so if you’re in the market for an early (non-PC) copy, come on down!

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Secret Fame? News to me, anyway.

We’re usually quick to claim famous people who are from our town or state. Named a performing arts center for one here in Broken Arrow. Plenty of cities have streets named for the famous (and infamous, as indicated in latterly-published stories). Here’s one I missed completely.

David T. Walker

Maybe I’m just late for the bus, but I’ve followed music and musicians all my life to one degree or another, and I can’t say I ever knew about Mr Walker – much less the fact that he was born in Tulsa.

I don’t know how I happened to see the YouTube video, but there he was in a live concert in Tokyo, playing with jazzman Larry Carlton. The grey-headed bearded guy was playing some nice licks and I couldn’t figure out who he was.

David T. Walker

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Thank goodness for technology. Otherwise, I would have never run across him, or figured out who he was once I heard his music. Mr Walker has his own website, and Wikipedia has a nice entry about him.

The Tulsa World recently ran a pre-Emmy Awards story about Oklahomans who have been nominated or have won television’s top honors. I was familiar with most of them. The newspaper has done the same thing in the past when the Grammys or other music awards are being handed out. I read those articles, but don’t recall running across Mr Walker’s name.

He has a new album being released later this month (Sept 2017), which – I’m guessing – would be his sixteenth solo record.

Here is a partial list of the folks who had him play guitar on their own albums over the years: the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Diana Ross, Four Tops, James Brown, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Cannonball Adderly, Herbie Hancock, Donald Byrd, The Crusaders, Sergio Mendes, Boz Scaggs (a McAlester Oklahoma resident when he was young), Billy Preston, Bobby Womack, Lou Rawls, Barry White, Bill Withers, Mamas & Papas, Nancy Wilson, Barbara Streisand, Gladys Knight, and Sarah Vaughn. Legends like Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr, and Dean Martin. The Isley Brothers (another favorite of mine from the radio days). Carole (‘bout wore that album out) King.

You know the guy has to be something when you see the company he runs with.

Maybe you have heard of him before. Least-ways, you’ve heard of him now. Got some years on me and he’s still jammin’. Music – good for what ails ya’.

And books. Don’t forget books!

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District, 122 South Main St Broken Arrow OK!