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Five Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Images

It is Friday once again, and we are back with number forty-seven in the popular Kodachrome Image Series. Today’s lead photo shows a trio of young women posing for a photo on a large combination bumper guard and front end protector on an Oldsmobile convertible. The cardboard and wire tourist trap banners (pre-bumper sticker) tell us they were on a trip in the Southwest.

As is the usual practice in this series, we ask our readers to tell us the year, make, and model of all of these vehicles along with anything else of interest in the photos. You can look back on all the earlier parts of this series here. The photos are via Americar.

The Hair Pin Turn North Adams MA 1950s

  • The Hairpin Turn looking north on the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) outside of North Adams, MA. The scenic highway crosses the entire northern portion of the state between Boston and Williamstown. 

1950s Ballantine Beer GM Truck

  • This is the second Ballantine Ale image in this series that shows the Brewer’s use of gold to help sell its “Brewers Gold”.

1940s Pontiac Coupe

  • The “Better Schools” front plate leads one to believe this woman might have been a school teacher.

Bathtub Packard Sedan

  • This Packard sedan was built during the era when “bathtub” styling was popular.


31 responses to “Five Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Images

  1. 1st pic, here’s the deal. Rich father out east, buys his daughter a new Olds ragtop, a she and 3 friends (I assume the picture taker is a woman, or a pretty lucky man) and they headed west to find fortune in Hollywood. (3 would eventually return) Beautiful car, and I remember those wire banners, ( you’d see them for miles on the roadside not far from the attraction, and the stickers were impossible to get off) .
    2nd, “travel trash”. Must be a regional dialect. I’ve been all over this great land, and never heard that term for litter. Judging by the cars, travel was for the well to do. No beaters in that lineup. Looks like a beautiful spot. I’d say 1955.
    Vintage beer trucks have been featured many times. They were handsome rigs. This particular truck is a ’57 Chevy 5700 LCF, Low Cab Forward ( NOT a cabover) and I doubt you’d get away with a slogan today like “Ask the MAN, ( like Packard) for one”.
    4th, school marm, all the way. I believe it’s a ’49, and she had a sweet taste for automobiles. Don’t let those red high heels, hat and long dress fool ya’, she must have been a “go-getter”. Odd rear view mirror, and I had a AAA badge like that on my Packard from my grandfathers Packard.
    Which leads us to #5, sigh, just like my grandfather’s ’48 and my ’50. Not sure of the exact year, ’48 -’50 similar front ends, I’d guess ’49 or ’50 (oval tail lights) Standard 8, but it did have a few options. Radio , note the turned down antenna in the center of the windshield. There was a knob inside, and you would rotate the antenna to get a better station signal, dual mirrors, wheel covers, but sadly, no Cormorant, which my grandfather had. An $18 dollar accessory( $177 dollars today), a hefty price for a hood ornament, which while I sold the car, we kept the Cormorant. Curb “feelers”, but no whitewalls ( which is why you had curb feelers in the 1st place) And mom is smoking, although, everybody did, it seems back then. Great pics, thanks for the Packard one especially.

    • Hi Howard ,
      As a veteran guy from the otherside of the pond, avid 50’s Popular Mechanics reader and lover of American classic car, must congratulate for your imaginative and evocative comments. Many tks sir !

      • I remember when ‘litter’ was trash. There were trash cans everywhere. Maybe rubbish cans or bins if you were from the eastern edge of the country or a little bit ‘polite.’ There were “cinder cans” or “cinder buckets” before that – when everyone burned coal and an ‘ash man’ came around periodically to haul your ashes (wink, wink.)

        Seems like ‘litter’ became the word to use around the time that the Highway Beautification Program was initiated in the early 1960’s. That was Lady Bird Johnson’s pet project. Down went the billboards, out came the litter cans and every gas station was handing out little plastic bags that you’d could hang on your car’s radio knobs or window cranks so that you had a convenient place to dispose of your “litter,” instead of throwing it out the window. No more dirty Kleenex or candy wrappers along the highway. Litter was a little clinical and polite word than trash .

  2. Ah, the hairpin turn on the Mohawk Trail, been there many times. It was probably much more challenging or scary at the time of the photo than it is now with today’s cars. I remember the first time we went through there in the 1960s my Dad was pretty careful. I assume the business shown is still there?

    The cardboard and wire bumper banners were often placed on cars attending various attractions, by a crew of kids working for the summer, without being asked for while the cars were parked in the lot. On a rainy day they would disintegrate not far down the road.

    I never tasted it but remember Ballantine beer being a sponsor of some major league teams radio broadcasts, particularly the New York Yankees. Sad that the regional brewers like them have pretty much all disappeared now. Those black and gold trucks are gorgeous.

    The Packard mom is dressed beautifully, even though she was probably not going anywhere special – that’s just the way people normally dressed back then if they could afford to. I wonder how long it was after this until little Miss Junior emulated her mom and began puffing away too? Smoking was everywhere back then and it was not unusual for parents who smoked to allow kids of even 12 or 13 to take it up, at least in the privacy of home, if they showed an interest.

    • Greg, The “Hair Pin Turn” is only about 50-miles from here and I travel over it at least once a year. The only real change is I believe the tower is gone. Maybe a reader knows more about the tower?

  3. Sorry,but I always been a Rheingold man.
    Ive always noted that the 3 rings trademark is the same as the Krupp Iron Works trademark

    • Is Rheingold still brewed? I remember the singing commercial from when I was little, “My beer is Rheingold the fine beer…” I was recently listening to the conclusion of Wagner’s “Das Rheingold,” which is a completely different track….

  4. 2nd pic: Back row is flanked by 2 Hudsons. At the far left we see the tail of a rare 1954 model, at the right end a circa 1948-1950 model. In between, from left to right: a 1952-1954 Ford, probably the low-level Mainline (dog dish hub caps and no trim line), then a twice as expensive 1954 Buick Roadmaster, a 1947-1948 Pontiac, a 1953-1954 Plymouth and a 1953 Oldsmobile 98.
    Closest to the viewer are two Chevy’s, a 1955 model and a ’53 or ’54 Bel Air hardtop. The black station wagon at the right of the pic is a mystery for me, but styling wise i think it’s one of the newest cars, along with the ’55 Chevy.

  5. Am I the only one who thinks the person on the left in the first pic is a man? Masculine clothes with shirt buttons on the right like men’s clothing, and Argyle socks. All 3 have wind blown hair, so that’s not a deciding factor.

    Probably two couples on vacation together, with the second man holding the camera.

      • I wonder if they aren’t related. The facial structure and the hair are so similar.

        Great series by the way. For someone across the pond it gives a window into a lifestyle we only saw in the National Geographic.

  6. The “bath tub” Packard has Illinois plates. I suspect he photo is from the Chicago area because of the street lights.

  7. The gal w the red shorts looks like she’s got a heck of a sunburn started. Look at her right leg and the left at the cuff of her shorts. It’s gonna peel. I’m also gonna vote man in the first pic.

    • Hi Chuck, the more I look at it, I think you are right. I have seen pictures of men with saddle shoes, not many women wore Argyle socks, and it looks like a pen in their left pocket, something I doubt a woman would do ( for obvious reasons) With the sunburned gals legs, I’d bet his/her left arm was sunburned as well,( sleeve rolled down) from possibly driving with arm on the door. I’m surprised someone doesn’t recognize the folks in these pictures. It would be great to hear the real story instead of speculating. My parents did basically the same thing when they were this age. They, and 2 other couples, took an older Chrysler ( or so the story went) from Milwaukee to the east coast, and took the “Queen Mary” across the pond to settle a village in Israel in the late 40’s. These are somebody’s parents.

      • I asked my wife’s opinion about the person in question’s sexuality . At that same time we were dating, and she was driving her dad’s ’54 Corvette and was about those girls ages. She thinks they all look like members of the field hockey team from a girls boarding school like a Radcliff Hall in New England spending the summer at a respectable coed dude ranch jn Arizona, roping cattle and riding the range… All sleeping in the ladies bunk room, together… toughening up in the wild west for next years hockey season., by the way 2 of them are wearing the same style saddle shoes, if that means anything. Also, they must be from the east… you sure don’t need those bumper overiders in Arizona, Boston maybe.

        • They went up to Palm Springs for the weekend to visit Babs’s or Bunny’s aunt and uncle…. Damn , didn’t look close enough, scenery’s too lush, too many cattle. Must be end of summer then, they’re headed back east from the respectable dude ranch ( a pool) -Colorado just east of the Rockies…spent the night in Denver… Aunt Mollly’s place-the Brown Palace. Life is good!!!

  8. Really messed up on my last try for IDs (Real foot in the mouth).
    Got my courage back and am going to take a stab with Pic #2.
    L to R, back row: ’54 Hudson; ’52-’54 Ford, looks like a Mainlander;
    ’55 Buick Super (not enough chrome for a Roadmaster; ’48 Pontiac;
    ’53 Plymouth (looks like high end Belvedere); ’51 or ’52 Olds 98 (the
    stone guard is too big for a ’53); ’51 or ’52 Hudson (trim indicates a
    Commodore); I’m thinking the black station wagon is a ’55 Plymouth.
    Down in front I see a ’55 Chevy Bel Air; ’54 Chevy Bel Air (taillights
    and the color are a giveaway on this one) and behind the trash barrel
    is a ’55 Ford (possibly a Customline?).
    Open to correction as always AND again many thanks for this
    wonderful feature. Look forward to it every week.

    • I think you’re right on, Jim. The black wagon? I just don’t know — the tail lights to me smacks of Olds, and to its right appears to be a Cadillac. And don’t think for a minute I wouldn’t love to have my ’54 Hornet back again, even though it was a four-door, but it has been out of my hands for 56 years now…..

  9. I concur with Jim Huff on the car ID located on the Hairpin Curve. Also I believe that the ‘popularity’ of the bathtub styling rested only in the minds of the stylists and NOT in the buying public since I have been driving since 1954 and heard a lot of ‘talk’ in years prior to that date. Used ’49 – ’51 Nashes and ’48 – ’50 Packards were a tough sell back then as used cars. Even ’48 – ’54 Hudsons lanquished on the lots !

  10. Looking at the Ballantine truck, I’m reminded about when Mel
    Allen, the Yankees broadcaster, called a Yankee home run a
    Ballantine Blast. And I’m not even a Yankee fan. Back in those days, I was a loyal Brooklyn Dodger fan.
    Red Barber was their broadcaster with Vin Scully as his side-kick. It’s interesting that Vin still going strong.
    That said, I stopped being a Dodger fan when they abandoned us and fled to L.A. That’s when it dawned on me that baseball is, indeed, a business.

  11. In the last pic- the Packard sedan= there’s something that jumped out at me. The reflection doesn’t seem to match the subjects standing beside.

    While the ladies have their backs to the door, the image reflects a side pose with an arm showing in full. Haunted Packard?

    Thanx for another great Kodachrome Friday!

  12. The 1955 Chevrolet parked on the scenic highway is painted a rare Copper Maroon. It was an early color, replaced mid year by Dusk Plumb. Great photos.

  13. Love the AAA badge on the school teachers car! I wish badges like this were still in style but I don’t know how they would be attached today – too much plastic in the front ends. But if AAA made a modern grill badge, I would use it.

  14. The typical So Calif. Auto Club “badge” an AAA Affiliate, With BOTH AAA “Spoked Wheel” and Calif Mission Bell “in combo” was not a radiator core badge, — for many years— it was a “License Plate Topper” with tab with 1/4 Hole on the BOTTOM! I have two of them on my front plate, as members of our family were Charter Members, so I display the badges for “the historic family”, more than my present AAA affiliation. Edwin W.

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