My first car wasn’t a junker. Instead it was a brand spanking new powder blue & white 1956 Chevrolet convertible with a powder blue rag top, a shiny chrome spotlight on the driver’s side, dual rear antennas, and dual glasspack mufflers that purred like a lion. You can see versions of this car, every so often, being sold for big bucks on Mecum Auto Auctions on the HD Channel. What you won’t see on any of these cars is the chrome plated racehorse that I attached to the hood of my Chevy. The reason for this was because I was employed by the Golden Triangle of Racing, in the state of New Jersey. The triangle represented the three thoroughbred race tracks located there: Garden State Racing Association in Cherry Hill, N.J., Atlantic City Race Track in Atlantic City, and Monmouth Race Track in Monmouth, N.J.
I was a photographer and I worked in the Security Departments taking I.D. pictures of the jockeys, trainers, and horse owners. I was overqualified but, heck, I was working as a professional photographer, and this was a summer job, so I got to live in Asbury Park and Atlantic City, as well as meet legendary jockeys such as Bill Hartack and Eddie Arcaro, and the owners of the famed Calumet Farms in Kentucky.
Let me backtrack a little, while still a senior at West Philadelphia High School, I joined the Navy. My mother got upset because I was going to miss my high school graduation ceremony and contacted the Navy Department. And the next thing I knew, I was being whisked in an official gray U.S. Navy car to my graduation ceremony at West Philly High School.
Afterwards I went with my girlfriend Loretta to see Sammy Davis Jr. perform with the Will Mastin Trio at the Latin Casino in downtown Philadelphia. The irony is several years later I became the stage manager at the Latin Casino when the nightclub moved to escape the Philadelphia Blue Laws (nto being able to serve liquor, spirits or beer on Saturdays after 12am midnight), to Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
I honestly don’t remember how I got back to Navel Air Station Willow Grove, a few miles outside Philadelphia, but I got back in time for morning reveille.
That summer (1957) I went through boot camp and was assigned to Naval Photographic that was a designation in Wing Staff, most of my fellow recruits were assigned to squadrons such as Anti-Submarine, etc.
To be continued…