Thursday, November 3, 2016

1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 - the First Muscle Car

In 1949, a new era in the U.S. automobile industry began. This was the beginning of the horsepower race, the super cars and eventually the muscle car. The 1949 Olds Rocket 88 was the first step to what would become the first sustained march into the muscle car era. Within a few years, the big engine little car concept would become an industry wide trend.

In 1949 Oldsmobile basically kept the new body style they put out in 1948. A couple of months after the unveiling of the 49 Olds they brought out a “hard top convertible. This was the first time this body style became available on production cars with Cadillac and Buick each bringing out their versions. The hardtops debuted only on the top of the line models so the Rocket 88 didn’t get a hardtop until the next year

The Olds OHV V-8 engine was the big news in 1949 though, when they, along with Cadillac, produced the first OHV V-8s, in a sustainable quantity according to the Oldsmobile V-8 History website. In 1917 to 1919, Chevrolet produced a 265 CID OHV V-8, but production ceased in 1919. The engine that Olds came out with in 1949 was an over-square design. That is to say, the bore was greater than the stroke. Thus, breathing was enhanced through the use of larger valves, while reduced piston travel led to decreased friction. “Slipper” pistons nestled between the crankshaft throws, hydraulic valve lifters were employed in the interest of quieter operation, and five main bearings promoted smoothness. It had 303 cubic inches and was rated at 135 horsepower according to the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide writing in HowStuffWorks.

The Olds engineers wanted to name the engine “Kettering” after Charles Kettering who was so instrumental in building the engine, but couldn’t because Kettering was still alive, so they settled on the name “Rocket” according to Gibson Butler, who worked on the engine, at Auto History Online.

Other improvements for 1949 included larger brakes and a new carburetor designed to minimize the problem of vapor lock. Hydra-Matic became standard equipment on all eight-cylinder models, and a downshift device, appropriately called “Whirlaway,” contributed to blazing acceleration.

The new Oldsmobile Futuramic 98 line was announced with the Rocket V8 engine, along with the six-cylinder 76, on November 27, 1948, and appeared in Oldsmobile showrooms during December, about a month behind the new Cadillac. Reportedly, the original intent had been to use the new Rocket engine only in the 98 models. But Sherrod E. Skinner, Oldsmobile’s general manager, came up with the idea of putting the new V-8 into the smaller, 76 model, some 350 pounds lighter than the larger car. The new car was called the “Rocket 88” and fit between the model 76 with the 6 cylinder and the model 98 with the V-8. It was a real muscle car and promptly replaced the 98 as Oldsmobile’s bestseller.

The Rocket 88 was a last-minute addition to the 1949 line and featured the year’s new high-compression overhead-valve V-8 with 303 CID and 135 HP. It was quite a bit lighter than the Olds 98, as it used the 76 model which shared the Chevy/Pontiac bodyshell, and was a legitimate super car.

The Rocket 88 dominated NASCAR stock-car racing in 1949. Although Oldsmobile’s official involvement in racing was limited, the 88 promptly preceded to clean up in competition. The 88 was chosen as the Pace Car for the 1949 Indianapolis 500 Memorial Day Race, and was soon setting stock car records all over the country. “Of the nine races staged by the NASCAR [National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing] Grand National division in 1949,” according to Olds historian Dennis Casteele, “Oldsmobile took the checkered cloth in six of them.”

The 1949-1950 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 was designated a Milestone for its outstanding blend of styling and performance. It can legitimately be considered Detroit’s first high-volume “muscle car.” Even though the Cadillac had both a OHV V-8 and the hardtop to match Oldsmobile, it was the Olds Rocket 88 that really caught the publics eye and its pocket book. If it hadn’t been for the Rocket 88, Oldsmobile would likely have been just another car even with the new engine.

Because the Rocket 88 allowed Oldsmobile to go racing, it boosted sales, as racing pretty well dictated what car would be selling on Monday after a Sunday race. Back at the start of NASCAR the winning car probably dictated sales even more than it does today.

I owned a Red 1950 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 convertible with a white top and black upholstery, which was almost identical to the 1949. It was one of the prettiest and best cars I ever owned and I can honestly say it was everything that Oldsmobile bragged about in their advertising.


Much of the information above was from Bill Vance at

And his Reflections on Automotive History by Bill Vance, Volumes I, II & III available through

The Auto Editors At Consumer Guide at were also contributors of much of the information,

Olds Historian Dennis Casteele

Gibson Butler

Olds V-8 History

Tags:1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 - the First Muscle Car

1906-1908 Chicago Cubs Not the Greatest Baseball Team of All-Time

From 1906 to 1908 the Chicago Cubs dominated baseball winning 322 games vs just 136 losses for a winning percentage of .703. That is the highest winning percentage any team has ever had over a three year span in baseball history. The Cub made the World Series each year and won two of those World Series.

Despite such greatness each Chicago Cubs team from 1906-1908 had weaknesses which prevent any one of the teams from being considered the greatest baseball team of all-time.

1906 Chicago Cubs

In 1906 the Cubs set the all-time record for wins in a season with 116 and for winning percentage for a year at .763. Led by Hall of Fame players Frank Chance, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and pitcher Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown the Cubs rolled through the regular season like no team has before or since.

The 1906 Cubs had no real weaknesses offensively or in their pitching

Every single Cubs starting position player scored runs at a rate above the National League average of .111 in 1906 (4,389 runs in 39,649 at-bats).

Every Cubs pitcher with at least 10 starts had an ERA below the NL average ERA of 2.62. Though both Fred Beebe (2.70 ERA) who started 6 games and pitched in 14 and Bob Wicker (2.99 ERA) who started 8 games and pitched in 10 had ERA’s above the league average. Still the Cubs had no real weaknesses in pitching.

But the 1906 Chicago Cubs lost the World Series to their crosstown rivals the Chicago White Sox 4-2. No team that loses the World Series can be considered the greatest team ever. A loss in the World Series could signal that the Cubs had beat up on inferior competition in 1906 in the National League.

To be considered the greatest team ever a team has to win the last game played in a baseball year.

1907 Chicago Cubs

The 1907 Cubs went 107-45 (.704) and swept the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. But the 1907 Cubs had weaknesses in both their offense and pitching.

In 1907 in the National League the average ERA was 2.46 and the average player scored a run at a rate of .106 (4,184 runs in 39,337 at-bats).

SS Joe Tinker – scored 36 runs in 402 AB’s for run average of .090

3B Harry Steinfeldt – scored 52 runs in 542 AB’s for run average of .096

P Jack Taylor – 13 starts, 18 games, 123 innings pitched with 3.29 ERA

All three players performed well below the National League averages in 1907.

1908 Chicago Cubs

The 1908 Cubs went 99-55 and beat the Detroit Tigers 4-1 in the World Series. Every single starting position player on the 1908 Cubs scored runs at a rate above the National League average of .103.

However the Cubs had weakness in their starting pitching. The ERA in the NL in 1908 averaged 2.35.

P Carl Lundgren – 15 starts, 23 games, 138.2 innings pitched with a 4.22 ERA

Though not a huge weakness the pitching of Carl Lundgren was a weakness the Cubs had in 1908 that other teams in baseball history did not have.

The 1906-1908 Chicago Cubs Among Best Teams Ever but Cannot Be Considered the Greatest

The Chicago Cubs dominated baseball from 1906-1908 fielding some of the greatest teams in baseball history. But none of the Cubs teams over the three years can be considered the greatest team of all-time.

The 1906 Cubs had no real weaknesses on offense or in pitching but they lost the World Series. A team cannot lose the World Series and be considered the best team of all-time.

The 1907 and 1908 Cubs teams both won the World Series but both teams had weaknesses that other teams in baseball history who also won the World Series did not have and therefore neither team can be considered the greatest baseball team of all-time.

For more see Murders Row 1927 New York Yankees Not the Greatest Baseball Team of All-Time

Cincinnati Reds Big Red Machine Not the Greatest Baseball Team of All-Time

1929-1931 Philadelphia Athletics Not the Greatest Baseball Team of All-Time



Tags:1906-1908 Chicago Cubs Not the Greatest Baseball Team of All-Time

1930's American Plan for War with Britain

Lest we forget that America was conceived through a direct and vicious confrontation with Britain, then nearly four decades later, Britain and Canadian forces campaigned on a war against its defected colonies in 1812, coined as the ‘second war of independence’, that was due to the will of expansion in American politics and commerce. Countless victories were gathered by the Brits; they had managed to even capture Washington D. C., burned down the White House, and gave an ultimate insult to the Republic. The remainder of the 19th century contained small, sporadic bouts of unsettling tension, mainly between irate Irish-Americans and Canada (at the time, Canada was still a colony of the British Empire until 1867); and it’s worthwhile in understanding their strife and cause – since Britain, acting like a pompous land-hoarder, wouldn’t grant Ireland independence. It would be reasonable to suspect sidelong difference to evaporate, or to dissolve with the passing of time, but persistently do the traces of history linger.

Fast-forward to the Great War, with roughly 150 years of conflict simmering behind these two nations, America entered the war in 1917, participating only as an “Associated Entity” and not as a full-fledged ally of Britain and her empire. Still yet there seemed to be a growing consensus of mistrust that even their Anglo-American forefathers must’ve also contemplated long before.

By the late 1920’s, the U.S. Joint Planning Committee began devising and formatting contingency plans in case of wars against various countries. Each country was specified according to a color, such as: Black for Germany, Green for Mexico, Orange for Japan, and so-forth; most of these contingency plans were taken lightly and not to be placed all in likelihood, but there was one more heavily thought-out, more amended, and more adamantly funded than all the others – War Plan Red: the destruction of Britain and her dominions (and subsequently War Plan Crimson, the invasion of Canada, also falls in this category).

The completed plan was adopted in mid-1930, and gained more discussion whilst the Great Depression sank coolly, forming economic and social uncertainty; in 1931, War Plan Red acquired vast weight when the famed Charles Lindbergh (a rampant supporter of Nazi Germany, by the way) conducted reconnaissance missions on the Hudson Bay as a spy, gathering information on suitable landing positions if warfare were to break out.

War Plan Red, now in 1934, was amended with the approval of chemical warfare upon Canadian citizens, and bombing raids upon Halifax. One year later, the U.S. War Department passed a grant of 57 million dollars to the sole purpose of constructing three air bases around the Great Lakes, to be used for “surprise attacks on Canadian air fields“, as stated by the Committee on Military Affairs during a hearing at the House of Representatives – the transcripts of which were accidentally published, and ended up on the front page of the New York Times, May 1, 1935 issue (feel free to Google that particular article).

In conclusion, of course these plans never played out in reality; although it may be assumed by some varied degree, that the only reason war didn’t escalate between America and Britain, is due in part because of Germany’s conquest on Poland, and the outbreak of World War II. Ironically, Adolf Hitler knew war between British and American forces was an inevitable event, and hoped for Britain to be the victor, so British and German armies could conquer America. Notably, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during the early-to-mid 1930’s, could smell the scent of war between his country and America, often taking note on the subject.

Imagine if Hitler postponed his lebensraum, the course of history might have took a route we can hardly fathom.

Tags:1930’s American Plan for War with Britain

1920s Wedding Invitations: How Do You DIY?

Red, black, and white are hot colors for a 1920s wedding. Do-it-yourself wedding invitations are not only unique, they can be fun to make and save you money. When you use your computer, they’re easy.

The biggest amount of time is in setting up the cards, envelopes, and RSVPs. Start to finish, one card and envelope took me less than 30 minutes. And the printing was about 1 minute for both the envelope and invitation. So for 50 invitations, I’d guess the time would be about 20 minutes plus 50 minutes, or a total of one hour and 10 minutes. Your time may vary significantly depending upon how quickly you create your design, and the speed of your printer.

So what are the steps to making 1920s wedding invitations?

1. Choose your card stock.

You have lots of choices. For simplicity, I chose white card stock. Adding color with printing is a snap.

2. Assemble your materials.

You’ll need:

Printer, and
Stationery printing or word processing program. I used The Print Shop 2 for Mac. Check at your office supply store for your options.

Card stock or blank cards,
Envelopes for the invitations,
Blank card stock or cards for the RSVP cards,
Envelopes for the RSVP cards, and
Any embellishments, such as ribbons you want to add.

3. Open your program, and design.

I opened the card making section of my program, and chose a vertical folded half page invitation. One page will fit on a single sheet of card stock without cutting. A real time saver! The final folded size is 5-½ inches wide by 8-½ inches tall.

Art deco was very popular in the 1920s, so you may want to use an art deco border or image. The border I used came with The Print Shop 2 for Mac.

For the invitations, I chose a font I thought looked appropriate. It’s called Mona Lisa Solid ITC TT.

For continuity I reprinted the border on the envelope.

4. Print a test on plain paper.

Check your design and alignment of each item you’re printing.

Be sure you’re happy with them before printing all the rest.

5. Print and mail.

Time to print them, and mail. Have a super wedding!


Kirsten Hawkins. Raise a glass to the Roaring Twenties: a 1920’s wedding theme. Favor Ideas.

1920’s/ART DECO/ROARING TWENTIES Theme Wedding & Party Guide. Ask Ginka.

Mona Lisa Solid ITC TT. Font Y√ľkle.

Tags:1920s Wedding Invitations: How Do You DIY?


I’m trying to mentally prepare myself to make a telephone call. It’s nothing to do with my health or well being, or anyone else’s for that matter. It’s a silly frame of mind that encompasses me when I have to call an 800 number. The automated voice system that will answer my plea for a simple mailing address is going to make my head explode.

I start by doing a few deep breathing exercises for relaxation. My end table is well stocked with coffee, water, ashtray, and my remote. I am confident I will not need food, but should I start feeling light-headed, I keep some candy kisses stuffed in the side pocket of my couch. Hopefully the dog hasn’t found them.

And awaaaay we go! I really should have put my contacts in this morning. My specs aren’t bifocals which means to see up close I have to slide them down and peek over the top while holding the phone a half inch from my nose to dial the number. With any luck I’ll punch in 800 rather than 900.

At least I’m not getting a busy signal. That’s annoying. The robot lady wants to know if I’d like to continue in English. Well, duh. Does she think I’d prefer to speak in tongues? This causes the first spike in my blood pressure, but after a couple of deep breaths, I press 1. Next the robot voice goes through the spiel about how dedicated the company is to providing excellent service and how important my call is to them. That’s nice, but if I’m that important, I can’t help but wonder why I am listening to a robot.

My wait time is only six minutes. I punch in my handy stop watch and listen to the boring chamber music. I wish they would play something a little livelier. It’s difficult not to nod off listening that junk and I’d hate to have to start all over. My watch just dinged, and I’m deep breathing again through clenched teeth.

Yay! The phone is ringing. Round two. The robot is reading me the menu, all the way up to pressing number nine. It seems nothing is targeted to their mailing address, so I press the star button to listen again. Oops. I must have pressed the # button. Great. Glasses down. One, eight hundred……..

I remember hearing that if I press the zero I will always get a real person. This seems like a good time to try that. Nope. Glasses down. One, eight hundred….English…Main menu….

Having done this before, I now know enough to stay away from the first few selections because I just end up with the robot lady wearing a different hat. Maybe I’ll try #5 and see what happens. Hey, I have options here too. I can stay on the line to speak to a representative who will be happy to serve me. My call is still very important. Wonder how old these candy kisses are.

I hear a phone ringing! Of course it is, now that I have taffy stuck in my teeth. A real honest to God humanoid is asking me for my account number.

“Hello! I don’t have my account number, I just wa….” Click.

Well, I’m nothing if not persistent. I just hope I don’t stroke out before I get the mailing address. Glasses down. One, eight hundred….English…Main menu…#5…happy to serve me…blah, blah, blah….

“Hello, dearie. Let me begin by saying, don’t you dare hang up on me again, because if you do I will report you to your company’s CEO explaining your affiliations with several terrorist organizations, your recent trips to Afghanistan, and your fascination with beauty supplies. I will also mention your attempts to recruit me.” (Very deep breath here. More like a gasp.)

“Now, I will cease my own little jihad against you the moment you give me the #$%^& mailing address of your billing department. Don’t tell me it’s on my bill because I haven’t received a bill. Don’t transfer me or put me on hold. Just give me the freakin’ address! (Another deep breath.) And another thing….Hello?…..”

Glasses down. One, nine hundred…………


1956 Western Film "The Maverick Queen" with Beautiful Barbara Stanwyck

Miss Barbara Stanwyck portrays Kit Banion who runs a hotel and saloon called, The Maverick Queen. It is a nickname that she earned as a strong business type woman who has had to be as rough and tough as the cowboys she deals with in the wild frontier. Kit is said to own half of the town called, “rock springs” where she fiercely buys and sells abundant cattle.

The old west is disappearing, as rustlers and outlaws are becoming a thing of the past while the U.S. government railway reaches coast to coast. A stranger who calls himself Jeff Younger (Barry Sullivan) rides to the edge of town and meets up with Lucy Lee. She is a pretty cattle owner who had to take over her father’s ranch after he was killed by the last of the few outlaw gangs known as “the wild bunch.”

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are part of this gang who had been terrorizing towns around the enormous Wyoming territory. Sundance ambushes Lucy Lee and her encampment late one night while they were sleeping. He is wildly attracted to her and forces himself on her. Jeff defends Lucy by holding two guns on Sundance and his gang of riders until they leave.

Kit Banion runs her saloon with an aggressive hand while looking beautiful in long dresses, with dark red hair and a slim, sensual body. She and Sundance are lovers and it is revealed that Kit helps the wild bunch with her saloon and hotel as a secret gathering place. Jeff walks into that saloon and endears himself to Kit who is instantly attracted to him. She gives him a job as a poker dealer while Sundance stands by with an angry jealous streak.

The wild bunch is planning to rob a train holding $50,000 in gold. Kit trusts Jeff enough to ask him to be a part of this robbery. He says yes and she realizes that she has found the man whom she can love after years of dealing with the likes of Sundance and other outlaws. As the train begins its’ ride out of town. We are met with the beautiful and rugged expanse of Wyoming territory. The tall trees and steep canyons look dangerous and stunning as horse rider’s gallop across the small trails.

Everybody has secrets and alliances that come to the surface after the successful train robbery. Butch Cassidy enters the picture when Sundance becomes overly jealous of Kit and Jeff. He tries to shoot Kit as she rides back to town. He misses and chases her on horseback down one of the steepest canyon ridges known to man. They both fall off their horses and Kit pushes Sundance over a cliff that looks several miles deep. He barely survives.

The sheriff gathers a posse to chase down the wild bunch gang. A man comes into town and claims to be the real Jeff Younger. Sundance kidnaps Lucy Lee, as Kit is told that she has six hours to leave town because of her involvement with the wild bunch. The imposter Jeff Younger is held hostage in a cabin at the center of a vast and rough mountain terrain. Everyone jumps on their horses and races against time to either help or to kill each other. Will the old west meet its’ end as the law tries to capture the remaining outlaws?

It is said that Miss Barbara Stanwyck did her own stunts on all of her movies. She certainly does here by riding, shooting, jumping and fighting with the skill that equals real stunt men. Her other notable westerns include Annie Oakley 1935, Union Pacific 1939, The Great Man’s Lady 1942, California 1947, and The Furies 1950.

Tags:1956 Western Film “The Maverick Queen” with Beautiful Barbara Stanwyck

1972 Recalled: An Older but Not yet Old Photo

Living on the grounds
Of a State Hospital,
Working with kids
Who someone decided
Needed to be there;
Our own child yet
And my hair,
As you can clearly see,

The 60’s had passed
But we remained in them
For some time
To come,
Bringing a handful
Of that decade with us
And leaving behind
We had lived through them
Without succumbing completely
To the ravages of
It’s temptations,
Taking some parts of
That decade
“To Go”
In our individual
And conjoint

Graduate school
Came later
And since then,
A resume tells it
Most clearly.
I moved on to
Becoming who I
Have become
And hope to keep growing
Both myself
And roses with
My not-so-green

AM radio had become
And sounds we once learned
Were vulgar
Had begun to sound sweet.
At the time,
Together for only five years,
With our forty-fifth coming up next
It seems incredible
That we still have
Moving gears
And hopefully
A good many
More meaningful years.

Scanned and saved
Into a virtual life
Where it can be viewed
And considered
By myself
And my wife.
One slice
Of an ever-expanding pie
For she and I.

Tags:1972 Recalled: An Older but Not yet Old Photo

1963-Memories, Trends, and Milestones

Where were you in 1963? How old were you? I was 2 years old. I want us to go back in time and remember some of the things that were going on and popular in this simpler time. While you’re reading, see what comes back to your memory about 1963. Now let’s take a walk down memory lane.

The year 1963 was about more than skinny ties, sleek suits and big hair, martinis, and cigarettes. It also gave us some milestones such as the following:

*Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I have a dream “speech, which prompted the Civil Rights Act the following year.

*The Vietnam War escalated. I had an uncle who gave his life in Vietnam. I remember his boding being brought home. In 1963 many times the body was viewed in the home instead of the mortuary.

* President John Kennedy was assassinated, and Lyndon Johnson becomes President. I have a memory of watching the funeral at my babysitter’s on a black and white television.

* Kellogg Fruit Loops cereal was introduced in grocery stores for the first time.

* The Coca-Cola Company introduced “Tab” the first sugar-free “diet soda” soda. Diet drinks have improved a lot since Tab with its bitter aftertaste.

* Betty Friedman’s book “The Feminine Mystique” was published, helping to spark the women’s movement.

* The most popular baby names in 1963 were “Lisa” and “Michael”.

* Gasoline cost about .29 cents a gallon. (About $2.50 in today’s dollars)

*The billionth McDonald’s hamburger is served on “The Art Linkletter Show.”

* The first African-American, Sidney Poitier won the Best Actor Academy Award in 1964 for “Lilies of the Field” which released in 1963.

*Popular movies in 1963 included “The Pink Panther”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Lawrence of Arabia”, and Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” The Birds was the first scary movie I ever viewed.

* Julia Child’s “The French Chef” cooking show premiered.

* Popular television shows in 1963 included “The Andy Griffith Show”, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, “Mister Ed”, “The Lucy Show”, “Bonanza”, and “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

* In the early 60’s the first Publix grocery store was built. I had no idea Publix has been around this long.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane with me. Please share some of your memories from the early sixties with me in the comment section following this article.


Publix grape magazine

Personal memories

Tags:1963-Memories, Trends, and Milestones

1969: A Year that Was

Vietnam and the draft,
Bodies coming home in boxes.
Woodstock and Altamont –
Modern music’s Yin and Yang.
Righteous indignation
And trying to sustain principles
While making a living
Teaching High School English
In Weyerhauser, Wisconsin.
Newlywed and newly shaved
A VW bug that attracted waves
From young people
And middle fingers from the old.
In Central Wisconsin, it wasn’t only the air
That was cold.

History’s behind us
At last so I’ve been told.
But summer still is hot
And winter still is cold.
My beard is back, but underneath
I’m just an older version of myself.
I still suspect war is
The rich man’s way
Of keeping most of the world
To himself.
Dead bodies don’t compete well
They don’t vote and only present a threat
To those afraid of ghosts
And the nightmares they might get.

Gene McCarthy is a memory,
The Rolling Stones are still around –
The Hell’s Angels don’t provide security any more
They’re best known by their hogs’ sound.
The Vietnam catastrophe
Is a small slice of the past
Oft overlooked in history books
Hoping the memory will not last;
And it seems to be working
Now in the Middle East
Where who and what God really said
Is used to fuel the beast.

I’m glad to have survived it all
(An outcome quite unlikely)
And now with back against the wall
I don’t take the learning lightly.
A vibrant time to have been around
To parry with the man –
Who now so many of us have become
Our destinies weren’t banned.

Did we alter anything at all?
Did any of it really matter?
Were all those protests fields for growth
Or just distracting blaring clatter?
The past is gone.
The future knows
Whether that boom has come and gone,
The legacy will be lived by our children
Whether we were right or wrong.

Tags:1969: A Year that Was

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