Status Symbol Extraordinaire – The White Sidewall

Fifties Cars - 109

In many cultures automobiles, as well as being a means of transportation of course, have also enjoyed being status symbols for the most part. And in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in particular one of the primary accessories for those automobiles that was foremost in contributing to their standing as a status symbol were white sidewall tires. And if you were unfortunate enough to not have white sidewall tires, well you could be assured that you were for the most part completely ignored by your fellow automobile owners.

Just about everyone was smitten with the white sidewall tire status symbol. You wanted them on your car, you wanted them on your motorcycle, your bicycle, your tricycle or if you were fortunate enough, even your pedal car.

White Sidewall Combo

It was easy to absorb the cost of such tires when purchasing a car but when it came time to replace those worn out tires, that was a whole different story. They didn’t come cheap because the tire manufacturers knew what the consumer preferred. Black sidewall tires were considerably cheaper but humiliating to have to put on your automobile, but in the end you had to go with what you could afford.

Walla, enters the Port-A-Wall….

Port-A-Wall Example

The Port-A-Wall was a stand-alone white sidewall that could actually be installed onto a black sidewall tire replicating white sidewalls. They were an immediate hit. Especially with those of us who were teenagers and were fortunate to even own a car. Nothing worse than being dumped by a girlfriend because your car didn’t have white sidewall tires! Whatever one chose to call them… portawalls, slap-ons, flappers, Mickies or just plain old fake white walls they saved our young collective teenage asses when it came to the women.

They did take some effort and a little work to install properly. You had to deflate each tire and slip the inside edge of the white wall under the wheel rim, then re-inflate the tire thereby securing the inside edge of the white sidewall under the rim of the tire which held the sidewall in place. Here is a short video for those who have any interest as to how it is exactly done.

In closing it should be noted that those subject Port-A-Walls are still available to this day. Last time I checked they were running on average anywhere from $50 to $75 for a set of four. White sidewall tires are no longer the status symbol they once were. Now days everyone wants black sidewalls and lots of ‘tire shine’. Go figure… :?

Looking back 60 years… it was July of 1954.

Young Elvis Presley - 01

Elvis Presley

No one should ever profess that rock and roll began or was founded with the advent of Elvis Presley onto the musical scene but in the day it would have certainly been fair to say that with the appearance of Elvis onto the scene, we now had the rising genre of rock and roll on steroids.

In retrospect it seems that July is surely a landmark month when it comes time to discuss Elvis Presley and the earliest beginnings of his career. After all, it was on July 18th of 1953 when Elvis made his way through the front door of Sun Records and recorded his first two songs. Sixty-one years ago on this month after walking through that front door he plunked down $3.98 and recorded a acetate demo of two songs; “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”. The seed had been sown…

Then in 1954, one year later during the month of July a combination of events would occur setting in motion a force that would elevate the relatively new genre of Rock & Roll to unprecedented levels driven by the talents of one young man….

July 4th – Elvis was trying to find a band to sing with and so Sam Phillips who just happened to be owner and producer of Sun Records and simply trying to be a nice guy and help the young kid out, arranged for Scotty Moore and Bill Black, two local Memphis musicians to audition Elvis to see if there might be some possibilities there for a band. Elvis got together with Scotty and Bill at Scotty’s house on July 4, 1954 but neither musician was particularly impressed with what Elvis had to offer. But they did agree to meet at Sun Records the next day and have Sam Phillips oversee a studio session to explore any uncovered potential.

July 5th – The three met the next day at the studio along with Phillips and rehearsed and recorded a few selective songs but nothing that made any impressions on anyone. During a break Elvis picked up a guitar and began playing around and singing “That’s All Right”. Phillips had Moore and Black join in and they all got their first real taste of the talent that lay beneath the skin of the young man. They recorded four songs during that session but the two standouts were “That’s All Right” and “Blue Moon Over Kentucky”.

July 8th – After the session on the 5th Sam pressed a few acetate records and took them to a local station in Memphis, WHBQ, and it was on this day the songs hit the airways to test the waters and see what, if any, public reaction might reveal. A week later Sun Records had received some 6,000 advanced orders for the record.

July 19th – And so it was that on this day, the 19th, in 1954 that Sun Records releases the first Elvis Presley record containing “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and “That’s All Right”. It should be noted that the song “That’s All Right” was considered the A-side of the record while “Blue Moon of Kentucky” the B-side. From its early release however through early December, “Blue Moon of Kentucky” was consistently higher on the local charts but then quickly after that both songs began to hit the charts across the South.

Thats All Right & Blue Moon Over Kentucky(Click On Players Below To Listen To Subject Selections)

 

At the time I was nearing my 14th birthday and ready to start the 8th grade. Given my hometown’s (Little Rock, Arkansas) proximity to Memphis we were certainly aware of this shape shifting, hip-shaking rock and roller making a name for himself but were not aware of what was to follow. But… if you loved music as I surely did, it was a hell of a time to be a kid and taking it all in… believe you me!

If you check out the “Featured Music Selection” for this week you’ll see I have posted a selection titled “Birth of Rock and Roll”. The song was released on an album in 1985 titled “Class of ’55′” and features another one of those Sun Records artists from those days days of renown with lyrics actually chronicling Elvis and those early Sun Record days. That artist being none other than Carl Perkins who was another of the great talents to emerge from the Sun’s record label.

Movie Review – “Gravity” (2013)

3-Star Post MasterGravity - 2013 - 01

I was finally presented the opportunity to watch the film “Gravity” a couple of evenings ago so I settled in to give it a watch. Before even watching the film I had noticed something about it I already liked and that was its running time – only around 85 minutes or so if you exclude closing credits. In my opinion we need more films like that!

The general public endured a lot of hoop-la over the film after its release and prior to the Academy Awards. In the end the film won some seven Academy Awards along with tons of other various awards but the only award it got from me was the middle-of-the-road 3-Star award.

Sandra Bullock & George ClooneyA bit unique was the fact that there were only two on-screen actors in the entire film, that being Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. The action kicked off almost immediately, no long drawn out drama for the impending crisis. But for me it all seemed to crescendo downhill from that point till reaching the midpoint of the movie where my concentration was beginning to wain and thoughts of reaching for the remote were slowly creeping into my mind. But then just at that moment there was a tapping on a window in the current movie scene and it drew my immediate attention back to the film. A bit of a unique twist unfolded and I was immediately drawn back into the film where I comfortably remained until it reached its final conclusion.

For me it’s simply one of those movies you have to watch, given all its media exposure, but after its over opinions are bound to vary….

(Docudrama Review) – “The Men Who Built America”

5-Star Post MasterThe Men Who Built America - 03

I am usually highlighting and reviewing a film I have recently watched but today there will be a bit of a change. It’s more a ‘made-for-television’ feature that I choose to chronicle than a film as it were.

I recently watched a documentary on the History Channel, and for a second time I might add, and thought perhaps I should share how much I personally enjoyed it, both for its educational value as well as the gleaned entertainment.

The 6-hour docudrama or mini-series was first broadcast in the fall of 2012 and is presented in four – 90 minute segments. It chronicles the world’s greatest economic expansion and technology innovations produced over a period of some fifty years of America’s history from the close of the Civil War to the Great Depression and World War I and focuses entirely on the five men who were at the center of it all and portrayed by the character actors shown below ….

The Men Who Built America - 01

There does seem to be, in my view, something eerily familiar about it with many similarities to the America that we live in today. Perhaps in some ways it seems somewhat reflective of the current class struggle being exploited and debated within this country as I speak, in particular regarding the wealthiest 1% and the collapse of the middle class. And… they even bought themselves a President! Check out this intriguing video preview – “Presidential Election of 1896″.

If you are a history buff and/or enjoy watching these types of documentaries, I highly recommend this one. If you click on this link, Video Exclusives, you will be able to choose from several short video excerpts from the docudrama to give you some idea of content. As for me, well it’s getting a 5-Star review….

The Cost of News Going Up, Up, Up….

Newspaper Headlines - 01Every July the yearly prescription renewal bill arrives for my local state newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Not normally a significant household event and the financial repercussions are pretty much non-existent. Well, at least that has been the case until this year.

I about keeled over when I opened my bill last week to see that the newspaper had increased it’s rate by over 50%. I subscribe to the 7-day a week, on-line version of our state newspaper. I find the on-line version both easier to read and I enjoy the convenience of being able to easily save articles or even the whole newspaper if I so choose and in ‘PDF’ format.

The cost of my yearly subscription has been $80 a year for the past three years. That’s a little over $6.50 a month for the daily paper delivered right to your computer. Not a bad deal at all for sure! But my new bill reflects a yearly increase of from the $80 to $132 a year. Classic “Sticker Shock”!

Now understand I am fully aware of the dire straits most newspapers find themselves in these days with waning readership due primarily to the intrusion of the Internet. And I consider myself somewhat of an advocate for the need of newspapers which for the most part still continue to be the gold standard with regard to upholding the journalistic standards in reporting and printing of the daily news. That of course is my humble opinion but I think to some degree it is supported by others who are more likely to garner one’s attention for their opinions. :)

I suppose in the end it really just boils down to being more about the principal of the thing rather than the financial factor. Certainly incremental increases would have been much more palatable than one such as this which momentarily increased my risk of triple bypass surgery. On the one hand I want to insure myself that I will always have legitimate and reliable news sources but at a cost that doesn’t seem a bit inflated. You know… like healthcare!

Well fortunately I know there are at least a couple of news gurus/editors who visit here from time to time who can perhaps share a few encouraging words as I flounder through my latest crisis of conscience. :?

Remembering Eva Cassidy….

Eva Cassidy - 01

Eva Cassidy

Although I don’t suppose it has been all that long ago, I can still remember the first time I heard Eva Cassidy’s recording of “Over the Rainbow”. I, like many others perhaps, was musically awestruck at the voice and the measure of passion contained within that wonderful vocal presentation. It was the song that would bring her from obscurity to the limelight even though it was some 2 years after her death.

The story behind her brief life and the music of Eva is so very bittersweet but captured so very well in a televised ABC Nightline story which aired back in May of 2001 showcasing life and music Eva Cassidy. She was born in a Washington DC suburb in 1963 and only 33 years later she would be diagnosed with advanced melanoma and was given only some three to five months to live. She was strongly supported by her family and the small, dedicated fan base there in Washington DC who shared in Eva’s love for the music she gave.

Not much is available video wise featuring Eva because she died at such a young age and as previously mentioned, was virtually unknown as an artist until a few years after her death. If you are by any measure an Eva Cassidy fan the two videos that a a part of this post are definitely a “must see”. Past that, quite honestly there is really little else that can be said….

The live home video of Eva performing her famous version of “Over the Rainbow” you heard mentioned in the ABC Nightline’s video is posted below. We fans are so fortunate to have this warming yet bittersweet performance left to us as part of her musical legacy….

Better late than never….

Well here we are just entering the month of July and most folks have already shared their spring photos of their flowering yards and busy gardens. For most those thoughts of the season’s first flowers have long faded. But my flowers of choice are only now just making themselves known to the yard.

My yard got its first flower this past week and there is something rather special about that first flower of the season, regardless of when it makes its entrance into one’s year. It’s quite the relief when you see those first buds appear and fill with that flowering surprise.

Sugar Tip Althea - 01(Sugar Tip Rose of Sharon – Click to Enlarge)

My first flower of the season was produced and presented by one of my one-year old Rose of Sharon bushes. I have always liked the Rose of Sharon bushes but never had any of my own. Last year on one of my stops at “Lowe’s Home Improvement” I was pleased to notice they had some very healthy and robust looking young Rose of Sharon plants and I couldn’t help myself. I purchased four plants, two hybrids called Sugar Tip and two of the standard Althea plant.

They have done well and made it through their first pretty rough winter and my Sugar Tip produced its first bloom this year just last week. Of course I had to take a quick photo for posterity’s sake.

Sugar Tip Althea - 02(Sugar Tip Rose of Sharon – Click to Enlarge)

All four of my plants are currently sporting numerous blooms so I look forward to several months of flowering bushes and no doubt another photograph or two to share along the way….