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
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
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.)