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How Do You Say the
Name of That Street?

Orange County Tour, June 30, 2002

by Tom Hall

     Incorrectly thinking that San Juan Capistrano is practically in San Diego, I arrived at the Suddarth's home about 30 minutes early. Dutifully waiting at the front gate was Kathleen Suddarth, our gracious red-headed hostess. Fortunately, her husband, Ed, had placed a sign with a patriotic balloon at a nearby intersection. However, my worst fears were confirmed; I had printed an incorrect map in last issue of the Crest & Wings. No, we don't turn at Hunter's Creek ROAD, we turn at Hunter's Creek, the development. The street is actually La Coo-a-goo, or some such. Sorry about that.

     As penance, I flagged down promising-looking cars and gave them directions and the gate code. I left my post at ten to go have coffee and donuts (which were delicious, incidentally). Some time later a number of other cars arrived but saying "open sesame" apparently didn't work for them. Fortunately, they were able to enter. Meanwhile, a young man drove his '63 Series 62 convertible up and down the street. It turned out that he was not a member of the club and didn't want any membership information, but he lived in the gated community and liked our cars.

     The front of the Suddarth's house is so wide that it wouldn't fit into the viewfinder of my camera. Truly a stunning place. In the back is Ed's playhouse, a large garage filled with various American cars. It's obvious they were chosen for different things. One was a Model T for short hops; one was a '41 Chevrolet wood-bodied station wagon. There was a '48 Packard woodie which had come back from the restorer the previous day. There was a fine '57 Chevy, and a '70 Chevelle SS convertible with the rare combination of 4-speed transmission and 396 c.i.d engine. Ed has had some fun turning pushy drivers into specks in the rearview mirror. Posted as guard was the fire-engine red '69 De Ville convertible. Every one of the cars is in gorgeous condition. The interior of the garage is covered with car-related signs and neon.

     Then it was off to El Adobe for brunch - well, lunch. The large sliding skylight wasn't opened, no doubt because of swallows in Capistrano.
     We arrived up in Anaheim at Astor Classics on time. The first of two warehouses has one of the finest collections of antique radios in the world. The emphasis is on home radios of 1920-1942, particularly floor models. Many of these have been painstakingly restored by an expert, Bruce Westerby. It is not unusual for him to spend 40 to 60 hours on a single radio, sometimes much more. He starts with restoration of the chassis, then moves on to the cabinet. He takes the cabinet completely apart to give proper attention to each of the several kinds of wood which they often have: zebra wood, birdseye maple, various walnuts, oaks and so on. Zenith, Stromberg-Carlson, and Scott were noted for their clarity of sound. Some of our troop got an education on antique telephones from Dick Erickson.

     The first building holds a large collection of American cars, 1924-1954, in a terrific array of colors. Packards from '32 through '48 are well represented. One young lady was so over whelmed by the quantity and quality of the cars that she came down with a case of the vapors. Another coveted the sage green Continental coupe.

     There was a '40 La Salle Series 52 convertible in a striking shade of metallic blue. Also, a metallic taupe '37 La Salle coupe, a '33 Cadillac town sedan, and the '40 Series 75 Imperial sedan used by Howard Hughes at RKO Studios. Two cars once in Ed Suddarth's garage were there also, a '37 Series 70 convertible coupe and a special-order '41 Series 62 convertible sedan for Admiral Chester Nimitz to use in Hawaii. Its black dash, black steering wheel, and lack of fender skirts are noteworthy. (Nimitz ran one part of the Pacific Theater of Operations in World War Two, while MacArthur managed another. Both had Cadillacs and drivers.)

     A second Astor warehouse had dozens more cars, including a Hudson sedan with top by Derham and an example of the final Packard, plus many other American cars from 1 95O-72 and a handful of English cars.
     Many thanks to club members Art Astor and the Suddarths for sharing their collections with us.

(PS: Your editor provided jump starts to two different, fairly modern cars during the tour. It just goes to show that no one is immune from the occasional lapse of memory or gremlin. Jumper cables should be "standard equipment" in your trunk.)

 

 
 
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