I grew up during an era when men were men and women were women. When every man wanted an American built muscle car and every woman wanted to ride with her man in his American built muscle car.
I grew up when Detroit was called the one and only “Motor City” known for producing some of the finest American muscle cars like the Pontiac GTO – 1964, Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake – 1967, Dodge Charger R/T – 1968, Plymouth Road Runner Hemi – 1968, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 – 1969, Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet – 1969, Corvette – 1968, Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 – 1967, AMC Javelin – 1968, and the Pontiac Firebird 400 – 1968.
I grew up watching films staring great American male actors like Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men, Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, Lee Van Cleef in Escape from New York, Woody Strode in Spartacus, Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity Charles Bronson in Death Wish, Spencer Tracy in Judgment at Nuremberg and Paul Newman in The Hustler.
I was inspired by women like Priscilla Presley wife of Elvis, actress Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy wife of President John F. Kennedy, actress Elizabeth Taylor, and singer Janis Joplin.
I watched on my black and white television Elvis Presley’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I have a Dream speech, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin land the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the moon on July 20th, 1969.
I listened as Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
I listened to songs on my radio like It’s Now or Never by Elvis Presley, Tossin’ and Turnin’ by Bobby Lewis, I Can’t Stop Loving You by Ray Charles, He’s So Fine by The Chiffons, Oh, Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison, For Your Love by The Yardbirds, the Balled of the Green Berets by SSgt. Barry Sadler, and Light My Fire by The Doors.
My heroes were my father, my mother, President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who taught me to judge people by the content of their characters not by the color of their skins.
I grew up in a middle class neighborhood, went to parochial and public schools whose teachers taught me how to read, write, do arithmetic and how to touch type. Touch typing became most useful when the first computers came out.
I said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag every day I was in school.
I read the Bible, went to church, joined the Army, served in combat, got married, and had a son.
I believe in God and His Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I love my country but fear my government.
I am a patriot.
I believe that it is time to make America’s women and American built muscle cars great again!
This is my story and this is my song:
In other words I am what some today call an “enemy of the state!”
©2023. Dr. Rich Swier. All rights reserved.
One of our contributors, who owned a muscle car as a young woman, wrote this poem about it:
Ode on My Buick, Amber
As Leviathan drifts in the deepthrough schools of minnow,
dwarfing myriad fish,
so, amid Mercedes, Brats, Barons
and Toyotas without number,
She swaths a regal path.
In the younger Palo Alto set
heads turn when she passes,
as if they’d just seen
has not raised
“What year’s your car?”
sundry drivers call
as we glide over wide roads.
” ‘Seventy-two” I say,
by their sighs or whistles.
In a carriage large enough for ten
I sit, inconspicuous
We make frequent stops.
Like any grande dame,
she favors the supreme.
A gallon carries us
a scant six miles
in clement weather.
Her passion is for grandeur,
not for thrift.
Nothing short of cosmic
could burn off
all her rusts.
Legendary on the street,
she is a moving argument
for the lost art
of venerating age.
She takes her place,
not among the stars,
but high in the echelons
of antique cars.
— Cherie Zaslawsky
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