TELL A FRIEND

Copyright © 2011 L. P. Baxter

Reg Baxter reflects…

The Cars

Cars and bikes play a big part in my collection.  It includes a 1955 Morris Cowley, a 1965 Morris Minor Traveller, which is popular at shows, and a 1983 Ford Cortina Crusader. My regular run-around is Vauxhall van, which I see as the workhorse of the fleet.  Having been a collector of bikes and cars for sometime now, my knowledge of motors and engines has grown significantly. I recall a time though, when fixing and maintaining was a scary new world.

Owning a car back then, everyone had to be an amateur mechanic and us lads would chip in with a bit of knowledge to help each other fix our cars. You had to run your car on a shoe-string budget and it was up to you to keep it going. Your social life/work life depended on it.  It really was ‘sink or swim’ and you had to learn ‘on the job’, fixing things any way you could! Nowadays, people just drop it off at the garage and let the chap at Halfords [help you out]

If there was one car in my collection:

I remember being out on the driveway one day fixing or cleaning my Ford… when Dean who was a proper man about town, cruised by in a MK II Zodiac Convertible, bright red with a cream interior.  It was a beautiful car, a proper lady magnet and I’d love one in my collection.  I remember watching it go by, then looking back at my car. I kicked my tyres and went inside.

It isn’t just about cars for me. The end of World War II saw war factories become toy and motor manufacturers.  Machines formerly used to make shells and tanks, started to make Lambretta and Vespa scooters, which had became big with the infamous mod movement of the sixties.

I had a Vespa scooter right up until last year  (2008) when I sold it.  I’m still kicking myself about that one.

The Brothers Baxter

I suppose me and Len kind of had the same relationship we had as kids with our dad, who never let us in on anything he was doing.  I didn’t really want Len in on what I was doing.  It was a big brother, little brother mentality.  One example of how things were between us, is I’d take him train spotting, but I’d make him wait for the trains whilst I went off and played football with the lads!.

Things are different now, though as the boys work hard to keep this web site growing, Len uses his computer wizardry to bring my ideas to life on the World Wide Web.  Len even makes contributions to my collections and one of my favourite items is a cigarette case Len got for me on my last birthday.

MUSIC AND THE AMERICAN POP CULTURE INVASION

As a member of the Boy’s Brigade growing up (a more regimented version of the Scouts), I recall on instance when my drum was confiscated because I hadn’t cleaned it.  The reason why? I had a hot date at ‘The Sunday Club Dance’…

As a lad, hitting the Club Dance once a month on a Sunday night was ‘the thing’ to do and growing up, it was all about Buddy Holly, Elvis and Frank Highfield.  Mr Moore and his record player ran the dance. He’d play a lot of stuff like waltzes and quick steps, but he’d also throw in the occasional pop tune, which everyone loved.”

I mentioned that I like my collectables, to have a bit of character in order to tell their own individual story. That’s one way I like to think, that helps document growing up.  Another is, and I think everyone can relate to this, music.  Music and good times, help define an era and a memory, especially of your teens”.

Well I saw the thing comin' out of the sky

It had the one long horn, one big eye

I commenced to shakin' and I said "ooh-eee"

It looks like a purple people eater to me

I remember a lot of American music on the boys Brigade jukebox.  In particular I recall Sheb Wooley, Motown and of course, The King.  I think it was about 1956 when the big kick off really happened for American music over here.  Before we knew it, it wasn’t just American music that was all over the airwaves, but American culture in general had taken a foothold over here too.  I remember a couple of kids, maybe from the American airbase nearby, turning up to school in Converse baseball sneakers and Levi jeans.

When you looked at what we wore as kids and then, and at the stuff the American kids were wearing, the difference was huge.  They’re clothes seemed so much more bright and more colourful.

It was the same with their cars too! They seemed more extravagant, and more ‘in-your-face’.  You could see the influence in British cars too, as our designs changed based on American designs, which was kind of sad really.  I think after the American invasion, everything from British cars to household appliances changed and maybe not for the best either.  They lost some of their subtlety and British reliability in pursuit of the trendy plastic look. American culture heralded the plastic throw-.way age. I liked British things, built to last and sturdy.”

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