For his first appearance at the Back
to the Fifties celebration this weekend in Grants Pass, Wayne Morrow will roll out Black Beauty.
"Even though I had that old pickup, it was sitting out there forever," the retired Grants Pass High School teacher recalled about his 1958 Chevrolet Apache.
Morrow, who lives in Grants Pass, bought the truck in 1962 from local Menasco Motors Ñ now Roe Motors Ñ for $900. He whips out the yellowed bill of sale to prove it. "I lined this up with Steve Roe down there and he got the biggest kick out of this thing," Morrow says.
The down payment was $40.
"I had to borrow $943.56 total," Morrow says. That's for insurance, too. My insurance on it was $7.07 a month. Can you
"It's kind of a family affair." His wife, Sandy, worked at the bank that made the loan. She typed up the papers. Her sister, Julie, is married to Gary Woolsey, who sold the truck to Morrow.
Morrow was working in a plywood mill at the time and used the truck mostly just for the commute, and for hunting and fishing trips.
In Morrow's 36 years of teaching at Grants Pass High, many students came
to know his truck as Black Beauty. Every Friday, he used it to distribute the school newspaper.
By 1987, Black Beauty was done, put out to pasture. But when the grandkids saw the old mare in his garage and raved, he talked it over with Sandy and decided to restore it, as an inheritance.
"One thing about going through this is how many times I faced the decision: Do we want to go stock or soup it up more like a classic? Let's do it right." He had counsel from fellow members of Rogue Valley Classic Chevys, the club putting on the Back to the Fifties car show at Riverside Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Last fall, Black Beauty disappeared into RCM Classic Car Repair in Merlin for 10 months and resurfaced all shiny-black again, with lots more chrome, sporty wheels and a new oak bed Ñ not to mention the 350-cubic-inch V-8 that replaced a six-cylinder engine.
"Dual exhausts, because I remember that was cool, two cool things out the back!" Morrow trumpets. Power steering, disc brakes and automatic transmission were added, too.
Morrow hovered over RCM like an expectant father. "I've been out there a lot, but it was when I knew they were going to put in a new rear end, or the wheels are going to be on now," he insists.
"Wayne has become like a friend to us," says Bob Meneley, who co-owns the shop with his wife, Chris. "We're attached to each one of these vehicles that go out. They're like children; they represent you in the community."
"Steve (Roe) is just tickled," Morrow says. "Off his lot 52 years ago, and looking like this. The kids, they can't believe it.
"I'm not one of those people, 'Oh man, don't touch it!' I want the kids to be able to enjoy it, but be very, very responsible. If it ends up with some sort of a little I-don't-know-what, I'm not going to commit suicide."
Look for Black Beauty on Saturday in both the Back to the Fifties car show, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Riverside Park, and the cruise, 7 to 9 p.m. downtown.