Stuart and I had a great time at the June 2 show. We visited with longtime friend Bob “Bikini” Keeney. Bob’s father was a magician. He had given Bob lessons, and Bob was becoming a pretty good magician. We attended Edgewood Grade School at the time, and Bob was already mastering the skill of pinstriping.
He has pinstriped and painted cars for many years. He was also involved in cleaning up, painting and striping race cars that were being stored at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the opening of its museum.
He was one of the speakers several years ago at the Perry Township/Southport Historical Society’s program on the Indianapolis 500.
After visiting with Bob at the cruise-in, I started thinking about my first car, a 1952 Ford, which I purchased from Dr. Moriarity. The doctor, whose practice was at the corner of Madison and Dudley avenues, was one of my father’s customers at his Sunoco Station on Madison.
I had my money saved up, and we made a deal. It was cool to be able to drive to school and to work at Dad’s station.
I was thinking about this car a few weeks ago during the Indy 500. Just as it is now, the race was not shown live on television back then. I would set up a radio outside and clean and wax my car.
A few months before Dr. Moriarity decided to buy a new car and sell me this one, he purchased a full set of new tires from us. A few months after I purchased the car from him, he stopped by the station for gas.
We visited briefly while he looked at his former car. I noticed him inspecting the tread on the rear tires before saying, “I don’t think I’ll be buying anymore Kelly Springfield tires. The tread doesn’t seem to last very long.”
I made no comment. I was pretty sure Dr. Moriarity understood that young male drivers liked to accelerate quickly on occasion and that was hard on tires.
At some point later, Bob Keeney started lettering names in the rear fenders of cars. It was important to some of us that our vehicles were given names. Bob set up shop in the Standard Gasoline Station just south of the Tee Pee Drive-In restaurant on Madison.
I saved up some cash and made an appointment with Bob. He lettered my car’s name – Beetle Bomb – on the back corner of both rear fenders.
I have given names to a few other vehicles. For a few years I drove a charter bus – Old Gracie – around Indianapolis on a part-time basis. When I started driving Bus No. 5 for Beech Grove Schools, I named it Ursula, which was named Ursula Mayes, the model who carried briefcase No. 5 on the TV show “Deal or No Deal.”
Even some of the state police who performed the yearly inspections on school buses knew her name. I was walking behind a couple of them one day and heard one explain that they were going to visit with Ursula, whom I sometimes see when I stop by the school’s transportation department.