Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rust in Peace Car Cemetery

What better time for nostalgia than late winter, when much of the fun and excitement about snow and wintery things has begun to wear a little thin and the longing for warmer days, greener fields and fragrant blooms is getting stronger every day!

Feeling a bit stir crazy yesterday we decided to go for a ride exploring some of the lovely back roads in the area and after many twists and turns we finally ended up at a magical place - an old car cemetery! It was a very blustery day with overcast skies, low racing clouds and distant landscape features all but obscured by myriad snow flakes driven by icy wind gusts.

The first hint of the treasures of bygone days hiding here surprised us when, coming around a tight curve in the narrow road, we were given the once over by this old rusty GMC truck (pictured below) sitting by the roadside, scrutinizing us with baleful, rusty eyes in tandem with a lone ancient Chevy front end (pictured above) - all that was left of a once racy vehicle long since returned to the elements or fallen victim to the ever hungry scrap dealer, hunkered down on what used to be the GMC truck's flat bed, both apparently in charge of deciding our worthiness to enter these realms as if they were the guardians of this hallowed place!

As we passed by them slowly we saw on both sides of the road countless vehicles of all kinds, cars, trucks, rusty tractors and other farm equipment, even a few cranes came to rest in between anything from Model A and Ts, Studebakers, Packards, Nash and DeSotos and many more to mention by name. We parked near a building and after getting permission from the owner of the premises we started walking around, camera ready, totally in awe of all of these beautiful old vehicles just sitting here by the roadside.

The wind was blowing pretty hard by now and even I, who am never cold, had finally buttoned up my coat, donned my gloves and turned up the insulated hood over my hat, thankful to have dressed warm enough to now be comfortable walking around admiring all this bygone glory. But after taking some shots and the weather quickly getting worse we had to admit that it really was getting too dark and uncomfortable for photographing, so we regretfully decided to come back on a brighter day.

But we did not have to wait very long, the weather being much more favorable the following morning we did not waste any time to make our way back. It seemed much warmer since the wind had finally died down and the sun was actually peeking out from behind the clouds every now and then! We really feasted our eyes passing by endless snowy cornfields circled by hawks, vineyards interrupted by small patches of forest, the still frozen landscape dotted here and there with picturesque Greek revival farmhouses lovingly attended by great mature trees.

We almost missed the place, but after a few wrong turns and the kind assistance of a rural mail carrier we finally arrived. So, without further ado, here are a few of the highlights of my meanderings among the greatest collection of old cars and trucks I have seen in a long time!

I really love the grandiose and elegant designs of these wonderful old cars and I very much appreciate all of the little special touches, such as the interesting hood ornaments some of them still sport after all of these years. They hail of a more innocent time, albeit a more ignorant time as we know now.

Back then we still thought the party would last forever, there would not be a bill down the line for all of this largess to be paid in full by future generations. The artist in me sees the beautiful lines, the dramatic ornaments and loves them for their beauty. Even time's ravages, the countless pits marring once smooth chrome finishes, the rust eating away the metal patiently and inexorably, turning once smooth finishes into abstract landscapes, their many colors holding a deep fascination for me in their endless variety.

Here are two views of George Petty's daring (for it's time) hood ornament for the 53/54 Nash - what great lines! This ornament really reminds me of the beautifully carved women gracing the bows of the grand old sailing ships before there were engines to facilitate ocean travel. Come to think of it, these massive old cars remind me of ships too, remember the slang term ' land yacht'?

The lucky owner of all this faded glory - who by the way is extremely knowledgeable about his treasures - looked in on us from time to time and regaled us with tantalizing tidbits, such as who designed this lovely hood ornament. He definitely is someone you might want to know more about, so maybe there will be another blog entry to be written down the line - provided of course that he is amenable to share a bit of his life with us!

Next is my favorite, an illuminated amber chieftain hood ornament! I think this was for a 1950 or even older Pontiac. Time sure left its mark on the finish, but I think if anything it looks more striking than the original smooth glossy sheen. The passage of time always leaves it's marks, whether it is on an old car or the face of a loved one. The pits and the rust tell their story just like every wrinkle in your longtime lover's face - there is no shame in that, only strange tales and many interesting adventures one hopes!

I love these old streamlined and very dramatic car designs of the early days of motorized travel if only for their artistic and historic value, even though some of their decorations and icons are considered politically incorrect today in many quarters, which I am more or less in agreement with as far as that is concerned. History is what it is, we can't change things once done, the best we can do is learn from our mistakes and do better in the future!

When one looks at this next ornament in particular, but also many of the others I am showing here as well, one really gets a sense of the speed and power which these vehicles represented. The amber chieftain's face is extended forward, as if to part the elements to allow the car to move forward more easily, his face shows unrelenting determination and forward movement even when resting, which is accentuated and mirrored by the still gleaming chrome which curves away gracefully beneath it. Just wonderful! Imagine it lit up, unwaveringly guiding the car and its occupants down the dark roads back to the warmth and comfort of home! So much drama - how could you not love this?

Speaking of political correctness - there is no argument coming from me as to the thoughtless exploitation of indigenous people here and elsewhere and the gross injustice of them being relegated to the status of icons and mascots while the real people whose images we use so mindlessly languish in poverty, denied their culture, their ancestral lands and their way of life!

To my understanding, finding myself living in this culture of planned obsolescence, mindless over consumption, devoid of a spiritual connection to what truly nourishes our minds, bodies and souls - this planet, our mother, the Earth! Might we not do well to reconsider our past maladjustment and misconceptions of what is really important in our all too short lives by taking another look at those same indigenous people's ways, whose lands we now occupy and have fouled so carelessly and greedily, to finally learn what we must if we wish to survive, if we want to leave a world worth living in to ALL of our children and creatures and finally honor those cultures by honoring the mother of all and finally cleaning the mess we have made of things?

This is what that strong pitted face of the chieftain represents to me as he calls on us to hear him speak over the expanse of time, to let his culture's ways guide us back home into harmony with nature - might we not heed what he represents and allow him to lead us?

This old car cemetery has caused me to think of not only beautiful designs and historic reminiscences, but also what this all means in the context of our present technologies which admittedly have made things easier in many ways, but whose hidden bills are now coming overdue, as we are becoming aware of the environmental damage the petrochemical industries are causing and especially since we are now also fighting wars over the resources necessary to power these technologies, when it should be easily possible for our innate ingenuity to create a better way!

Be that as it may, there is much food for thought here, no doubt, but I will return to sharing more of our adventure in the Rust in Peace Car Cemetery! Below is another even older Pontiac chieftain ornament, this time in chrome. It too has some of the feeling of the amber chieftain above, but without it's dramatic expression and powerful forward motion in my opinion.

Now this is what I call a car! I love the smooth curving lines here and the bared teeth of the grille look positively menacing. "Get out of my way or you shall be devoured just as I devour the miles!" What an experience it must have been to drive down the highways in such a vehicle!

Of course I would not want to have to pay the gas bill for this guzzler, especially at today's prices, nor could anyone be able to justify today using up so much resources simply to drive in style, but this is what nostalgia is all about, we wish that we were still back in the days when we were ignorant of the consequences of our choices - able to abandon ourselves without reservations to the enjoyment of the moment!

Next is a photo of an old Packard - I don't know which year. The car has lost all of the shine of it's finish but none of its elegance, there is rust in many places, but to me this just adds to the texture, like a pretty patina. Notice the white walled tires and the placing of the rear view mirrors! There is a close-up of the hood ornament as well, though it must keep for the next installment of the Rust in Peace saga!

Another beautiful car - lovingly embraced by feathery weeds, as my poetic friend Anne so poignantly noted when she visited me this afternoon and I showed her these photos! This is an old Nash and actually it is still in fairly good condition considering that it has been sitting here, exposed to the elements, for years!

There is so much still to see and write about here, I haven't even begun to scratch the surface, but for now this is enough of a sampling of bygone day's treasures. I hope you enjoyed coming along for this day's adventures, there will be more posted about this in the days ahead, so stay tuned!


Homeopath said...

really great photos!

Ursula said...

Thank you homeopath - your kind comment is appreciated!

Paulina said...

why do you suppose he leaves them there to rust?

frankphoto said...

Wonderful images and prose! It is interesting to me to see how you and I approach the same subject matter.

Paulina, if you would lend him a 20 million sq. feet warehouse he would surely move them inside!


Ursula said...

Thank you Frank for taking the time to leave your thoughts! Can't wait to see your shots!
Paulina - I think Frank nailed it! You have no idea what he has there!