1953 Ford F-100 pickup truck surf beach cruiser auto biography. Story includes history, facts, and information about 53 Ford F-100 pickup truck. Ford Pickup truck. Nostalgic Surfing Beach Cruiser. Vintage Ford truck.


1953 Ford F-100 pickup truck surf beach cruiser auto biography. Story includes history, facts, and information about 53 Ford F-100 pickup truck. Ford Pickup truck. Collectible nostalgia memorabilia
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1953 Ford F-100 Pickup Truck Surf Beach Cruiser

 1953 Ford F-100 Pickup Truck Surf Beach Cruiser

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'53 Ford Pickup Auto Biography

Chapter 1
Golden Beginning

   Nineteen fifty-three was a very good year.  General Eisenhower had been inaugurated President and the Korean Conflict was quickly drawing to a close. There was a sense of optimism among war-weary Americans that at long last a sustained period of peace and prosperity was at hand.  It was also the year that the Ford Motor Company was celebrating its Golden Anniversary.  And as part of a completely redesigned pickup line, newly designated the F-100 series, we were the star of the show.  People admired our all-new modern curvaceous styling -- something not found in most pickups.  Our expansive new single-piece windshield was half again as large as our F-1 predecessor's had been.  Ford advertised us as "the sweetest handling truck ever built" and admiring glances were the norm.

   I was pleased to find myself outfitted with Ford's trusty 100 horsepower Flathead V-8.  Nothing against the in-line six, but rolling down the assembly line we all crossed our fingers that we would be given a V-8.  The company had first introduced this legendary engine way back in 1932 and everyone appreciated it as something special.  I was also thrilled to find myself dressed in a coat of bright orangish-red paint, which Ford described with the more subdued term "vermilion".  Back in those days truck cab interiors were the very essence of the word "Spartan", so a colorful paint job meant everything.  Even a back bumper was optional equipment -- something I would do without for over two decades.

    Traveling down the roadway loaded on a semi-trailer transport truck I got my first look at the vast rolling American countryside.  There were no Interstate Highways, not even a McDonalds. In fact the only entertainment was the next string of Burma Shave signs.  Some touted a clean shave, such as: "The whale -- Put Jonah -- Down the hatch -- But coughed him up -- Because he scratched -- Burma-Shave".  Still others advocated road safety, such as: "Train approaching -- Whistle squealing -- Pause! -- Avoid that -- Rundown feeling! -- Burma-Shave".  All were great fun.  


Chapter 2
Three-car Garage


   "Careful, boys.  I don't want any scratches on it."  The voice was calm and reassuring.  "Don't worry, Doc," came the response.  "Your patients will forget all about their aches and pains when they see you drive up in this beauty."  In those days being a truck wasn't anything like today.  All trucks were born to an austere life of sweat, toil and drudgery.  And yet I had escaped, at least for the moment, this certain fate trucks were destined to endure.  My doctor wanted me for my high ground clearance, especially when making house calls on his patients who lived along the country roads skirting the small Missouri town he served.  Occasionally I ran errands, such as going to the train depot to pick up medical supplies.  And more than once an old mattress was hastily thrown in my spacious six and half foot cargo bed to transport a patient in need of emergency hospitalization.

   Known affectionately by everyone in town as "Doctor Dan", this fine gentleman lived in a stately Victorian style home.  On the grounds was a carriage house which had been converted to a three-car garage.  It was the only three-car garage in town -- and it was heated!  It seemed like every year Doctor Dan bought the latest "chrome monster", tail fins and all.  Years passed and garage mates came and went.  The only two that I developed any meaningful attachment to were a 1958 Edsel Citation and a 1962 Chevy Corvette.  I felt compassion for the Edsel as it suffered ceaseless ridicule over its looks, only to be orphaned and wanted by no one.  And I admired the Corvette for its humility.  It was so fast and so sleek, but never once did it flaunt its brute power.

   The laid-back fifties had now transitioned into the tumultuous sixties. Although hardened by events like the Cuban Missile Crisis and President Kennedy's assassination, I was completely unprepared for the personal tragedy that lay ahead.  In 1964 while on a fishing trip to Alaska, Dr. Dan was one of the 131 victims killed in the monstrous 8.4 magnitude "Good Friday Earthquake" when it struck Anchorage.  In an instant my comfortable world was shattered. Suddenly I found myself facing an unknown future.  




Chapter 3
"We hold these truths"


   "Going once!  Going twice!  Sold to the man in the green shirt for $200!"  As I was driven down the auction-block ramp I had a good feeling about the heavy-set man named Wylie who now owned me.  I soon discovered my new home was located in the shadows of Cape Canaveral where the nation's space program, still five years away from landing a man on the Moon, was creating a mighty economic boom throughout central Florida.  Life consisted primarily of transporting Wylie to his job at the Kennedy Space Center.  I had no complaints -- he drove me with care and meticulously attended to my every mechanical need.  The boredom of the workweek commute was offset by Wylie's one true passion -- auctions and flea markets.  He was a skilled bidder and rarely did a weekend go by that I didn't carry a load of "junk" home.  And then the real fun would begin as we searched for "little treasures" amongst others' discards.  A week later we'd be off to the flea market again, this time to offer our newly discovered treasures to others.

   "Bang!"  My right front tire blew.  We swerved off the road, coming to rest in a culvert.  Neither Wylie nor I were hurt but our load was strewn all about us. After picking up and re-packing everything, we eventually reached home.  As Wylie looked through the broken items I heard him utter in a very knowing tone, "Well, well . . . what have we got here?"  One of the items we had purchased was a large, ornate picture frame.  It had cost all of fifty cents and Wylie had thought that if he were lucky he might get as much as five dollars for it at the flea market. The frame was now shattered but Wylie had noticed parchment paper with old style script now exposed behind the frame's faded painting. Hidden for nearly two hundred years was an original copy of the first printing of the Declaration of Independence!  Only two dozen were known to have survived.  Instantly a wealthy man, Wylie and I continued for several more years to go to auctions and flea markets together.  Few people knew the story of his good fortune, and that's the way we both preferred it.  Wylie could have bought a dozen shiny new pickups with all the latest creature comforts, but he still chose me.  


Chapter 4
Push Start


   My third home was with a farming couple.  John and his wife Nancy lived on acreage outside a small town in western Georgia.  Sooner or later in its life nearly every pickup truck is destined to serve a tour of duty on a farm.  My time had come and soon I was carrying all manner of "farm things".  John and Nancy were a very social couple.  One of the things we most enjoyed was visiting with our neighbors.  One in particular was our favorite.  He always greeted us with a broad toothy grin and often as not he would say, "I like your truck, but when are you going to get a back bumper for it?  One of these days you'll need a push-start and you won't be able to do it."

   Christmas Day 1976 was a Christmas I will never forget.  As John, Nancy and I traveled the countryside exchanging Yuletide greetings, we stopped to visit our favorite neighbor.  Suddenly I realized he was standing behind me with a tape measure.  "I've decided on your Christmas present," he said. "I've got a piece of wood that's just the right length, so I'm going to make you a bumper in my workshop." Knowing he had been away much of the year and was about to start a challenging new job up North, John protested that our neighbor was far too busy.  "On the contrary," he responded. "Working with wood is relaxing.  When I retire maybe I'll be a carpenter and build houses.  But that's a ways off and I've got a lot of things to accomplish before then.  Come by my workshop tomorrow and your new bumper will be ready."

   The next afternoon my new bumper was mounted.  After twenty-plus years of waiting I finally had a back bumper -- but not just any bumper.  You see, the town we lived next to was named Plains, we and the neighboring farms all raised peanuts, and the man with the toothy grin liked to be called "Jimmy".  If you look at my bumper carefully you can still see the initials "J.C." carved in the corner. Over the years many a foot has rested on that bumper -- and I've had a few push-starts too.  To everyone else it's just a piece of wood.  To me it's a sacred treasure -- made especially for me by President-elect Jimmy Carter.  


Chapter 5


   Nearly thirty years had now passed and I found myself whirling in what seemed like an endless downward spiral.  I was bought and sold far more frequently now.  Although still regarded as handsome in design, the condition of my body had deteriorated badly.  People purchased me strictly on the reputation of my unfailing Flathead V-8.  I had never known what work really was before.  I found myself migrating endlessly around the country.  In Ohio I transported heavy machine parts which pushed my cargo bed nearly to the pavement.  In New Jersey I carried freshly caught fish from pier to market.  And in Utah I worked on a cattle ranch, hauling everything from bales of hay to manure.  Work was my only existence.  One owner even erased my one last bit of pride -- my pretty orangish-red color -- when he painted me a very non-descript off-white.

   Humiliation was everywhere, but never so much as during the two years I spent in North Dakota.  My owner was in fact another doctor, but life was much different this time.  I was used mainly to haul trash and do all the "dirty work". Ironically this doctor too had a three-car heated garage, but it was not mine to inhabit.  Less than ten feet from where I was parked, its warmth seemed a lifetime and a world away.  During the winter I was left outside without even so much as a canvas cover to protect me from the relentless snowdrifts that often lay piled atop me for months on end.  To make things worse, one of the vehicles housed in that garage was a shiny young Ford Ranger.  The arrogance that "pint-size" oozed when it passed by me was unbearable.  There was not even a hint of respect for a family elder, nor was there any recognition of what being a real truck is all about.

   More than once I found myself asking why that Alaskan earthquake had so cruelly taken Doctor Dan and shattered my life.  Oh how I longed for my doctor, or to go to the flea market with Wylie, or to see the toothy grin of that neighboring peanut farmer.  But this would never be.  I had resigned myself to simply exist, endure the drudgery and hope that I might soon know a merciful end.  


Chapter 6
A Twist of Fate


   The downward momentum accelerated.  Eventually I found myself on the West Coast and living in what could only be described as the slummiest of one of Los Angeles' most badly decayed neighborhoods.  My already dented, scratched and heavily oxidized paint now suffered the final indignity -- I became a billboard for graffiti.  I found myself an unwilling partner in all types of illicit activities, including several armed robberies and multiple drug deals.  It was almost a blessing when, after over 200,000 miles of unfailing service, my trusty V-8 threw a rod.  I was parked in a partially collapsed garage. In time the garage was boarded up and I was forgotten about.

   No light entered my lonely world, and mercifully my life appeared to finally be drawing to a close.  I was now nothing more than a dust-caked home for all manner of rodents.  I had grown oblivious to their continual gnawing of my upholstery.  Weeks turned into months turned into years.  Time ceased to exist in my world of near total darkness.  And then without warning, in a twist of fate too bizarre to comprehend, the same force that had taken away my comfortable life with Doctor Dan thirty years earlier became the catalyst for my rebirth.

   On January 17, 1994, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the greater Los Angeles area.  Tragically sixty-one people lost their lives, and yet ironically I reclaimed mine.  As I lay beneath the debris of the fallen garage which had obscured me from daylight for so many years, I heard a voice say, "Hey, isn't that a '53 Ford pickup over there under all that wood?"  The voice continued, "I've been looking for one of these.  Would this make a great beach Cruiser or what!"  "Right on," another voice agreed.  "It's abandoned.  Go for it, Eric!"  The friendly soft-spoken voice belonged to Eric, a young Civil Defense volunteer who was helping with efforts to locate and rescue earthquake victims. As he departed he said, "I'll be back for you in a few days. Count on it."  I was petrified.  Dare I believe that in such a surreal twist of fate, I was the one that he would rescue?  


Chapter 7
"Pack your bags"


   Soon my rescue was complete and I found myself at my new home with Eric.  A small bungalow, one could see the trappings of a surfer's life everywhere. Posters capturing the grandeur of Oahu's thirty-foot North Shore winter waves and of surfers traversing the Bonzai Pipeline decorated his garage walls.  Eric set about repairing my broken rod and rebuilding much of the rest of my engine. When he turned the ignition, my engine purred -- and my heart purred too. "I haven't got the money to make you look all pretty and nice," he said, "but you can be sure I will take good care of you."  And then he added, "You know, my grandfather had '53 Ford pickup just like you, except that it was red.  He was a doctor until he was killed in the Great Alaskan Earthquake before I was even born."  I don't know for a fact -- and a hardened pickup like myself would never admit it -- but I suspect if one had looked closely one might have seen a teardrop or two softly falling from my eyes.  If only he could share the secret I now knew.

   "Pack your bags.  We're going to Hawaii!"  I couldn't believe the words. Eric had landed a job shaping surfboards in Haleiwa, an historic town on Oahu's North Shore.  "Shipping a pickup to Hawaii ain't exactly cheap," Eric added. "But I wouldn't think of going to Paradise without you."  And so yet another chapter of my life began.  Weekdays were marked by early morning trips to either Waimea Bay or Sunset Beach.  Following a day of labor at the surfboard shop, we often made by a similar trip back to the Waimea or Sunset after work. On the weekends it was off to wherever the waves were breaking.  From the North Shore to the leeward coast, we could honestly call every beach on the island our home.

    Life on the North Shore was wonderful, but it was not all play.  Eric still expected me to earn my keep.  However considering all the disgusting things I had hauled in my life, transporting surf equipment could hardly be described as work.  Longboards, shortboards, windsurfing boards, kite-surfing boards, skimboards, bodyboards, and believe it or not, even a snowboard or two -- I carried them all.  My life was one of unparalleled bliss.  


Chapter 8
"Neat truck!"



   Life couldn't get any better -- or so I thought.  "How's Maui sound to you?" Within a week of asking the question, Eric had placed me on an inter-island barge headed for the Valley Isle.  He had been invited by a friend to join in cultivating a small produce farm near the tiny village of Hana, located on Maui's remote east end.  There Eric and his friend raise taro, bananas, papaya and a variety of tropical flowers.  Although populated with tourists by day, Hana's evenings offer a soothing tranquility matched by few places on Earth.  But as sublime as "Heavenly Hana" is, Eric and I live for Friday mornings.  Loaded with vegetables, fruit and protea, we head for Central Maui before the crack of dawn. By early afternoon Eric and I have completed our produce deliveries and all that remains in my cargo bed are Eric's shiny waxed surfboards.  The weekend is ours!

   Sometimes there's a swell on Maui's South Shore and we're off to Wailea or Makena Beach.  Other times we head for Lahaina or Kaanapali.  And still other times we go to Kanaha Beach in Kahului to watch the latest craze in surfing -- kite surfing.  But without a doubt our favorite spot is Hookipa Beach located just beyond the little plantation town of Paia on Maui's magnificent windward coast. Board surfers and wind surfers alike are drawn from around the planet as they seek the chance to ride Hookipa's near perfect waves.

   These are truly the Golden Years.  As my beloved surfer navigates the curls I wait contentedly.  I feel the soft sand on my tires and the bright tropical sun brings me warmth.  I breathe the salt air deeply and I care little that it continues to take its never-ending toll on my aging skin.  Beauty truly is more than skin deep, and my heart is content as never before.  "Neat truck!" I hear beach passersby exclaim.  "Man, I wish I could find one of these" is the typical response.  Neat truck.  It's been nearly a half-century since I first heard those words -- an intriguing half-century. But now here on the beach, waiting patiently for my surfer, it has all been worth it.  Two surfboards in my cargo bed and another resting against my fender -- Heaven is mine.

-- The End --

© Cruiser Art 1999-2015


(Note:  This Auto Biography is included with each Ford Pickup print)