By Rick Schultze
So there we were, looking like a misfit circus of sorts! Obliviously we had no fashion sense. More than once we’d been frowned at when we entered a regular restaurant filled with fashion sensible families.
However, we had our beautiful 1955 Cadillac which was styling and the belle of the car world, so we didn’t care!
Actually the story behind the Caddy was one of happenstance and pure luck. But then again so was that time, it was time on the rock and roll clock.
There were seven of us in this circus but we were all equal owners of the Caddy. We were what you could call rock and roll orphans. We played some top forty songs but also a bunch of originals and old forgotten blues tunes. Plus we had long hair and didn’t wear matching outfits so where we came from, Sacramento California, there was little work. The only clubs that paid well employed uniformed top forty bands at the time and the bands like us either worked concerts if they were lucky enough to get on a good one, or occasional one night shows. So for us to be able to just play music and make some money we had to hit the road.
We scrambled around the Northwest and had landed a good job at Duffy’s Tavern, on the outskirts of Portland Oregon. It was beautiful club that Duffy’s wealthy father had built and given to him for his 21st birthday!
We’d been there several weeks and were getting ready to head out play the Middle Earth Tavern in Sand Point Idaho when our manager Mr. Lizard, as we affectionately called him, and I were driving on Saturday morning to a cheap breakfast restaurant we’d found in one of our beat up trucks when we spotted the Cadillac with a for sale sign in the window in the driveway of a older house. I looked at Lizard and he looked at me and almost wrecked the truck trying to turn around but we survived in one piece.
We went up and knocked on the door and this small elderly woman answered. She took one look at us and our truck and asked, “you want to buy that car?” We nodded even though we didn’t know what she wanted for it. We had to have it, it was calling us. “Well it was my late husbands’
car, a gift from the company he worked for. But I can’t reach the gas or brake pedals even with the seat pushed all the way up. I can barely see over the steering wheel either. I don’t need it and don’t want it as a matter of fact so if you give me one hundred and fifty dollars it’s yours.”
In shock at the low price we quickly agreed, made a deal, then zipped back to Duffy’s and took an advance on our week’s salary, came back and gave it to her, and became the proud owners of the coolest car we’d ever had. Elvis had traveled in one like it so we felt like we were in the right zone!
Even though the car was unbelievably cheap it was a lot of money for us really, we barely made ends meet but it was worth it because changed everything for us. The best part of it was now we had a car plus two trucks so there was room for all of us ride in comfort instead of cramming like sardines in the trucks. Then another monumental event happened; Keith Elkins aka Pig Man, who was our roadie supreme, was appointed guardian and caretaker of the Caddy. He also became the official chauffeur. That gave Pig some real responsibility, he got a briefcase for gas and repair receipts, a super cleaning and waxing kit, an extra set of keys and took his duties to heart. He loved the car and would drive it anywhere anytime if someone requested it. Any reason to go cursing was good enough for him. In fact in Great Falls Montana with Pig at the wheel we’d been styling and enjoying a leisurely day prior to playing rock and roll the Red Barn later that evening. With Pig behind the wheel the 55 flew down the road taking us around the world of Rock and Roll!
There’s more about the 55 Caddy to come, stay tuned!