High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer Means Fun, Part 9 : The Giants That Ruled Gino's


In the 1960s I spent many summer 

evenings sitting in the parking lot of 

Gino's 15-cent Hamburgers 

watching the endless parade of 

high performance muscle cars going by.

All evening long hot wheels in all shapes and sizes would turn off East Market St. and crawl through the U-shaped lot.

The men in the cock pits drove their vehicles nice and slow...

giving the assembled multitude an opportunity to gaze in envy at the kind of machines that real men drove.

The Pontiac G.T.O. was one of the more common species
to gather at nightfall around the watering hole. In the late summer of 1964 Ronny & the Daytonas reached the top 5 on Billboard with the biggest hit of their career, a tribute to their little "G.T.O."

"Little G.T.O." - Ronny & the Daytonas 
(September 1964, highest chart position #4) 

That same summer Jan & Dean put a killer bee about the same make and model on the flip side of their smash hit
"The Little Old Lady From Pasadena."

"My Mighty G.T.O." - Jan and Dean 
(August 1964, uncharted B side of 
"The Little Old Lady from Pasadena) 

A guy like me, who sat in shame behind the wheel of his dad's Nerdmobile, had two choices. He could wear a paper bag over his head (recommended), or get defiant about it.

Hey mang, you think your Vette's bad? 
Word up!  My little Nash Rambler's got 
push-button automatic.  Eat your heart out! 

"Beep Beep" - Playmates 
(February 1959, highest chart position #4) 

If you've ever owned a lemon, a clunker, or a heap, you can relate to the way I felt behind the wheel of a schlock rod!

Unlike miserable me, Bruce and Terry were sittin' pretty in their "Custom Machine." Future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and Doris Day's son Terry Melcher were right in the thick of things during the California surf rock and car craze of the mid 60s. The duo also made hit records as The Rip Chords. I like Bruce and Terry's rendition of this great car song better than the Beach Boys' original!

"Custom Machine" - Bruce and Terry 
(March 1964, highest chart position #85) 

In the summer of 1963 the Beach Boys got decent chart action out of two car song killer bees. "Shut Down," which narrowly missed the Billboard top 20, was a released on the flip side of the Beach Boys' top 5 single "Surfin' U.S.A."

"Shut Down" - Beach Boys (June 1963, 
highest chart position #23) 

At the end of summer 1963 the Beach Boys placed two more back-to-back hits on the chart. "Surfer Girl" cracked the top 10 while the fab flip "Little Deuce Coupe" finished its run in the top 20.

"Little Deuce Coupe" - Beach Boys 
(Sept. 1963, highest chart position #15) 

Earlier this summer Gary Lewis and the Playboys unveiled "Little Miss Go Go." Not to be outfoxed, the Hondells take us on a "Sea Cruise," covering the 1959 Frankie Ford hit and uncovering their own set of go go gals along with a mermaid! What does this titillating Scopitone relic have to do with fast cars and drive-in restaurants? I haven't the foggiest idea!

"Sea Cruise" - Hondells (October 1965, 
highest chart position #131) 

Stick around! More classic cars and drive- 
in memories are coming up in Part 10 of 


Have a Shady day!


  1. Wow- I never realized there were so many great car songs! I remember when I was growing up in the later 70's, a friend of mine discovered the Beach Boys and we listened to them often. I still love their sound. Now, those vintage muscle cars are worth a pretty penny. Too bad more people didn't hang on to them-

  2. I had a few photoshoots in the "environment" of oldtimer cars, so take a look if you want, here's the example:

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  4. I've always envied you, american people, your awesome cars from the 50's, 60's and 70's. I remember Lee Marvin driving Cadillac and Steve McQueen driving Ford Mustang (I suppose) in old movies:-). There are many other examples of the mad car chases in old films, f. ex. Blues Brothers, Convoy, Vanishing Point. I like to watch them again when I'm in the mood:-)

  5. That was awesome Shady, loved them all. It made me remember back when I first started dating and had to drive my dad's "old" Chevy which I still to this day think was probably the ugliest car I have even been in but that was all I had. My first car was a Plymouth Valient with push buttons on the dash. Bought it from a GI when I was out at Ft. Ord, Ca. in 1968. Sold it before going home prior to Viet Nam and bought my first real car, a 68 Impala. Wish I had it today, restored of course. Have a super day.

  6. Shelly - My brother owned a 442 Olds and took me on a few white knuckle flights in it! A high school friend owned a Chevelle 396SS and we nearly bought the farm one day when the accelerator pedal stuck to the floor and it went into warp speed in a 40mph zone. He had to turn off the ignition to slow his rocket down and get it safely off the road. Muscle cars are collectible and if I had one I'd probably never drive it. I'd keep it in a dust free environment where I could just gaze at it all day. Thank you very much for your comment, dear friend Shelly!

    Wanilianna - I followed the link to your November post. It brought back memories, not only of vintage automobiles, but of the earliest days of my friendship with you. It makes me very happy to know that you still read my blog and I'll always remember your kindness the day that you posted pictures of your Labrador just for me! Happy Sunday to you in Poland, Wanilianna!

    Odie - My family had a beetle back 1950 Chevy which had that old school look that harked back to the late 30s and 40s. Then, in 1955, we bought a cool, modern looking 1955 Chevy sedan. I can still remember the excitement at age 5 the day my dad brought it home from the dealership. Later on we owned a Plymouth Satellite which was another "eye car" of the period. Thank so much for stopping by, Odie, and give Rocky a biscuit for me!

  7. Ahh Shady didn't everyone have a place like Gino's in the 50's? New Orleans had quite a few. Rockery Inn, Lenfants, Ye Olde College Inn...the list is quite extensive as was the fun! Once again you delivered on quality music and memories! Thank you and

  8. Hi Shady - I just had to come by and visit. You are always so supportive of your friends' blogs and leave such lovely comments. Wow! Gino's sounds like such a great place to hang out and just look at all those awesome mean machines! I did smile about you in your dad's nerdmobile. A lot of my life has been spent with a paper bag over my head. LOL!! Little Old Lady From Pasedena really was one of my favourite summer sounds. Great photos today. We certainly didn't have anything like that here in England. Like Odie, I bet a lot of us wished we'd hung on to certain cars that we had all those years ago, and then renovated them! Take care dear friend.

  9. The Nash Rambler is way cuter, or perhaps that's where the problem lies...;) Hope you are well dear Shady!

  10. Sush - I would love to travel back in time, experience your hometown of New Orleans as it was in the 50s and 60s, and compare it with my experiences in York. I'm sure that I would find as many similarities as differences. I actually applied for a job at our East York Gino's and got the position, but for one reason or another I never reported for duty. I think it was because I simultaneously got another job as a shoe store clerk and thought I might enjoy that more than flipping burgers. Thank you for your vist and comment, dear friend Sush, and have a fabulous Sunday!

    Thisisme - Hello, dear friend! Think of all the things that we owned in our youth that could fetch a pretty penny on eBay if we still had them, or if we would have kept them in pristine condition. It's hard to think ahead when you're young. You live in the moment. When I was a teenager I had a nice collection of 45rpm records but I wrote my name on all of them, an act that instantly rendered them worthless as collectibles. "Oh to be young and foolish again," quipped DJ Hunter Hancock. "Now I'm no longer young, just foolish." Thank you very much for your comments, dear Thisisme, and I hope that you'll be feeling better soon!

  11. They don't make cars that beautiful anymore! I can see why you would want to sit and look at them. The closest I've come was driving in a classic Buick that is used to advertise a chain of American style restaurants here in Ireland. It was a great experience to see how completely different cars are now compared to those classics.

    Emma x

  12. Gawgus - Hello my dear Parisian friend! I forgot to add to my post that my family also owned a push button AMC Rambler which was not exactly a prestige automobile. We finally added a VW Beetle which became the vehicle that I drove the the Dell every evening. It was the polar opposite of a muscle car and yet it had farfegnugen as well as a certain... what's the French word that I'm looking for?....

    Anyway, thank you very much for coming by, G-T, and give Alfred a great big hug and kiss for me!

  13. Emma - Those cars were chrome dinosaurs, weren't they? They exemplified the post WWII era when freedom, independence and mobility flourished and people, especially the young, developed a passion for bigger, flashier and faster vehicles. My older brother spent many hours each week thoroughly cleaning his high performance car inside and out including the engine block which remained shiny as a new penny. Thank you very much for visiting me today, dear Emma, and I wish you blue skies and green lights in the coming week!

  14. Loved the Gino's commercial. We had something like that in Redlands, Calif. It was called The Burger Bar. Hamburgers were 15 cents. It was near my high school and we all gathered there after school each day and then on the weekend nights. We didn't eat inside, it had picnic tables and a huge parking lot.

    Little Deuce Coupe is my favorite Beach Boys song. I liked all of these and remember them. I laughed so hard when "Beep Beep" came on. I didn't recognize the title, but when they started singing it all came back to me!

  15. Belle - I'm glad you remembered and liked "The Little Nash Rambler" song. Think of all the food you could buy for a dollar back then at those 15 cent burger joints. Think of all the fat and calories we consumed at those fast food places and yet managed to stay skinny as a rail! I don't get it! Thanks so much for your kind visit, dear friend Belle, and have a wonderful day and evening up B.C. way!

  16. Boy, they just don't make em like they used to, huh? My husband still morns the passing of his 1979 Camero that he bought with money meticulously saved from his convenience store job! Now, every time we pass one near that era, I can hear him loudly sigh!!

    Great pics and great music, as always, Shady! Makes me want to go throw on my saddle shoes!!

  17. Hi, Joanie! It's great to see you blogging again and I'm always pleased when you swing by for a visit. I'm reluctant to admit that I never owned a car with an 8 cylinder engine, nor do I remember ever driving one. If I had I'm sure that I would miss that experience and sigh like your husband does every time I see one of those dream cars. Thanks again for your comments, Joan, and have a wonderful week ahead!

  18. Hi, Shady! I think that "Beep Beep" will always be one of my favorite songs. I could always imagine that guy in the Cadillac freaking when he found out the guy in the Rambler is only in 2nd. The Playmates later did a more romantic song I liked also, "Wait For Me". Man, looking at those cars I sure miss my 1968 Chevy Camaro 327 Rally Sport with dual carbs. I was dating a girl at the time in college from Gettysburg and had her convinced that the "rs" on the side were my initials I had specially put on there. That was probably the only outragious piece of crap I've ever gotten away with. Liked the Rip Chords first song (that I heard), called "Here I Stand", a cover of an R&B song by Wade Flemons that walked all over the original. Always happy with any Beach Boys songs. You have got to be the king of vanilla music. I got the Hershey's syrup, though.

    Your friend,

  19. Ron - I chuckled when I read that you convinced a girl that the letters RS on your Camaro were your initials. The letters on my car stood for "Very Wimpy" and believe me, all the girls knew it! (LOL) I might be the king of vanilla but there's a Thrilla in Manila coming soon when you bring us a much needed dose of soul music in your next feature. Thanks for your comment, Ron, and stay cool in Tulsatown!

  20. Shady, I sure did enjoy this post! In the summer of '68 I had a huge crush on a guy who drove a Nash Rambler. "Beep Beep" was a cute song and video. It seems we all have some emotional attachements to the cars/vehicles of our lives. My favorite memory was the attention my family received as we drove through town in the brand new Edsel my dad bought. (1958) My grandfather named his son Edsel after Edsel Ford. :-) Always loved "Little GTO" and "Little Deuce Coupe"

    About the can of Mermaid Bait in the Sea Cruise video, the "bait" looked like a shell necklace. It is surprising to me this attracted her, shells would be so commonplace for her! ;~D A big THANK YOU, Shady! Excellent!

  21. Cindy - You're the only one to comment on that "Sea Cruise" Scopitone film. Hundreds were made and most are so bad, they're great. (Most of them also feature young, scantily clad maidens dancing about.) If a guy who drove a little Nash Rambler could turn the head of a girl like you then there's hope for all men, including those of us riding Mopeds, bicycles and tricycles! (LOL) Thanks so much for coming by for a visit, dear friend Cindy!

  22. I must admit, I am not much of a car person. I tend to describe cars solely based on colors (ie you know Kevin..he drives that black car). That being said I would have loved being picked up from school from a James Dean lookalike in hot mustang. :)
    how do you find all these tunes?! One day I hope to behold the music knowledge that you have.

  23. Amber Blue Bird - Come into my luh-BOR-uh-tory, my dear. I'll attach electrodes to your head and mine, connect us with a cable, flick the switch, send a massive jolt of electricity through us both, and my vast musical knowledge will transfer directly into your brain. Sound like a plan? I can picture you being picked up from school by a James Dean lookalike in a hot 'Stang. Given the fact that I rode around on a unicycle wearing a propeller beanie cap and a Woody Woodpecker T-shirt, I didn't get any takers. Thank you very much for your visit and your comment, Amber!

  24. How cool! Loved the reminances. The adm reminded me of Fred McMurray in 'My Three Sons.' My dream car is a Woody...

  25. I Wonder Wye - Hello and welcome to SDM&M! I'm delighted by your visit and comment. If Shady Del's picture reminds you of Fred MacMurray on My Three Sons it's probably because of the pipe. That photo was taken my senior year of high school and, in all fairness, I've changed a lot since then. (I look more like Bub now!) Thanks again for coming by, my friend, and please come back soon!

  26. Hi Shady,
    A follow up I had to make...I drove a Rambler pushbutton station wagon to school. But I thought it was cool as did my friends. Maybe because it was pushbutton or because it was a board worthy? Just FYI never wear a paper bag on your head it didn't work for the Saints and now they walk with pride!

    Hugs and laughter...

  27. Hi, Sush! Thanks so much for stopping by in the middle of your turtle watch. I had a wagon but the girls didn't think it was cool. (It was a Radio Flyer.) In reply to your comment I think it was a guy thing. Push button automatic was a modern innovation and most women, including my mother, loved it. However, the culture in which I came of age dictated that cool guys drove cars with manual transmissions so that they could lay rubber in all four gears. Real men burn rubber, right? (LOL) Have a wonderful Wednesday, dear friend Sush!

  28. Ha ha I am totally loving 'Sea Cruise'. Mostly because of their matching outfits and the mermaid. I think I should bust out some of those moves at the next weird dreams gig. x

  29. Kelly-marie - I don't know how your boyfriend and his band would react to your go-go dancing at their next gig but you just might start a hot new trend. Weird Dreams could even shoot a retro style Scopitone promotional film and get it circulating on YouTube and the web. Thank you very much for the visit and comment, dear Kelly-marie!

  30. TWO Beach Boys songs in one list! Excellent! Love them.


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