weather unavailableweather unavailable
Make us your home page

My First Car: '49 Cadillac, Arthur M. Cheek, 81, St. Petersburg

'49 Cadillac

At 17 years of age, I joined the Marine Corps, and at age 22, found myself in Korea on July 6, 1952. They assigned me to the 4.5 Rocket Battery attached to the 11th Marines, in line support. I had no place to spend money except on my Coke ration. When I came home in late September 1953, I had a decent savings account for a staff sergeant making less than $200 per month with combat pay. Back home, with Dad needing our car for work, I had never learned to drive. While in the States, I had experience on warehouse equipment that provided an opportunity to get a military driving license. Driving military trucks in a combat zone on unkempt dirt roads, with no bridges over streams that became near-rivers in the monsoon season, qualified me for a California driver's license. Having been out of the country for two car model changes was a real challenge. My choice, as a single guy, was a 1949 Cadillac Series 62 in robin egg blue with white-wall tires. I really pampered it with car washes and regular waxing. Once, the steering made a popping noise on a sharp turn, but the dealer wanted $250 to fix it. That was big money for me. I had heard of a retired Marine in San Diego who had a shop. He had me stay in the car on the lift to turn the wheels, went to an oil drum, drew out a Coke bottle full, tightened a nut after lubricating the unit, and charged me 75 cents. There must be a moral to that situation. I had a dear Christian family in Oceanside, Calif., who turned their detached garage into a bunkhouse with a bath for servicemen on the weekends. This picture was taken in front of Mom and Pop's home in late September 1953. My Cadillac 62 in those days did not have air conditioning, so the windows had to be down. It was comfortable. Gas was 20 cents a gallon, but it beat the military vehicles in Korea, and anywhere else. I wish I had that car today as it would be a classic automobile.

Tell us your love story

What's your story behind your favorite car? We're highlighting some of your beloved wheels. Here's what we need:

• Your name.

• City where you live.

• Age (with your date of birth).

• Year, make and model of the car.

• A description of the car and why you love it.

• A high-resolution photo or a scanned image. (The photo must be of the actual car.)

• Send these to drive@

We're still accepting submissions for My First Car. So keep them coming!

My First Car: '49 Cadillac, Arthur M. Cheek, 81, St. Petersburg 08/29/11 [Last modified: Monday, August 29, 2011 9:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours