Charles Phoenix’s Slide of the Week: Used Car Lot, Compton, CA, 1958

Knee high posts cage highly waxed used cars on a cement lot puddled with drippy motor oil. The signage is simple, satisfying and informative. Strung lights, barely visible by day, make the cars sparkle after sundown. A two-toned pearl grey and black cherry 1954 Plymouth Cranbrook sits waiting for a buyer. The stodgy yet stylish working man’s sedan is displayed between two dressier cars, a mint green ’53 DeSoto and an iridescent emerald green ’53 Packard.

This scene is oh-so familiar to me. My dad had a big ’ol used car lot when I was a kid. I spent many a Saturday playing there going from car to car pretending to drive each one. By the time I was ten I could tell you the year, make and model of every car on the lot.

I’ll never forget this old bag lady that my dad let live on the lot. I guess she kept an eye on things at night. All I know is that she totally gave me the creeps. She lived in an old Plymouth just like the one in the slide only it was pink and a station wagon. It was full to the brim with who-knows-what. Finally after a few years she died and my dad towed the car home. He just had to find out what she had stashed in there. I helped him go through it. Layer by layer we emptied the car. I’m not really sure what he thought he was going to find. Probably money. But there was no cash just stacks and stacks of nothing but old newspaper.

Speaking of cars, I’m doing a slide show at the Petersen Automotive Museum in LA this Thursday night at 7:30!

Here’s to used car lots the old bag lady and YOU!

Visit Charles’ site or join his Slide of the Week Mailing List.

Thurs, Sept 18, 2008 at 7:30PM
Petersen Automotive Museum @ Wilshire and Fairfax
Tickets and Info