When there were far fewer people around, far fewer laws and regulations, when the legal speed limit was 75 mph, when gas was cheap, when driving was a pleasure, if you owned a hot machine you could point the grill down an empty road and go!

Bob Feeley

A few years ago I was looking at photos taken in the late 1930s of some young guys and their dolled-up cars. One of the neatest, a 1930 Ford roadster with sheet metal changes and a Riley head, belonged to Bob Feeley. It took me a month to realize that I went to school with a Bob Feeley, and that the guy in the photos must be his father.

The Bob Feeley I knew was somewhat unattractive, with a weasely look and bad skin and already a heavy smoker. He was also a funny kid and had a couple cute girl friends; one I found out years later, he had got pregnant and she had to leave school and return in her senior year. That was a major scandal in those days.

The reason for Bob's popularity had to do with his car, a clean green 1941 Chevrolet coupe with white sidewalls and duals. Most guys did not have a car in high school, and those who did had a lot of junk. Bob's '41 Chev stood out. Always spotless, it was a car that girls loved to ride in.

We graduated in 1953, and Bob soon had a gorgeous 1950 Ford convertible; it was leaded, lowered and painted a deep maroon. I hung out with him occasionally, and I remember one night when we were cruising around and he got a ticket for dual pipes. His parents' house was on a street adjoining a busy intersection, and I'd often go past it to beat the traffic. The Ford disappeared and a nifty 1954 Studebaker was in the driveway; I can't recall whether it had been altered, but it was always spotless.

Then Bob and lots or other guys disappeared. In 1963 I was in a Fred Meyer store shopping with my wife and there was Bob Feeley. He looked just the way he'd looked years earlier, we talked a while, then parted. I didn't see him again, nor did I think about him until I found the old photo of a neat Model A roadster. Thirty years had passed, but just for the heck or it I looked up his name in the phone book; there it was, with an address a block or two from where he had lived years before. A woman answered, and said that Bob Feeley had died of a heart attack a couple years earlier. Something wasn't right, and I asked how old he had been. Ninety-one, she said. I figured it out: she had been married to the guy in the old photo, and was the step-mother or the Bob Feeley I knew. I explained who I was, and asked about Bob junior.

Oh, she said, he committed suicide. He'd lost his job, he was about to lose his car and he shot himself. In 1973, she said.

I had thought I was on the track or some good information, but it all came to a dead end. What affected me most or all was the realization that I wanted to tell someone about Bob but there was no one to tell.

The photo shows Bob Feely Sr.'s 1930 Model A roadster. Both front and rear fenders have been reworked, as have the side panels. Streamlined headlights, cut-down spare tire, and fancy wheel trim. The Engine was a four port Riley.
Copyright 2008, Albert Drake and Flat Out Press.
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