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Dan Morton - Upper Darby, PA, USA

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:56 pm
by Faulkner
Wow! My showcase entry is seriously dated. So I'll throw in some more recent pix here, with the goal of refreshing after "Faulkner's Redo". But, for the sake of posterity, I'll preserve all of the older content as well.

I'm the webmaster for by the way!


A Tale of Two Plymouths

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:58 pm
by Faulkner

This is a story about "Faulkner", my '59 Sport Fury. It's also a story about the original owners of the car -- known to them as the "P" -- and how I came to know them in the process of acquiring the vehicle. They are as much a part of the story as the car itself.

A Plymouth is Born

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:02 pm
by Faulkner
The Sport Fury was built at this production plant in Maywood, California, on or about July 28th, 1959.

Here's the build card...
...and the accompanying letter from the Chrysler Historical Society.

On August 25th, 1959, the car shipped to Hessing-Thurber Motors in Boise, Idaho.

The Fury Finds an Owner

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:06 pm
by Faulkner
Hessing-Thurber Motors was a prominent Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in downtown Boise, Idaho. On September 25, 1959 -- already on the eve of the 1960 model year -- David C. Sterling walked into the Hessing-Thurber dealership, traded in his 1957 Buick, and took possession of "The Fury".

Jim Hessing Obit
Waldo Thurber Obit
The "P's" bill of sale
A custom nameplate for each new owner was engraved and placed on the glove compartment door. Here's David Sterling's.

David & Bernice Sterling

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:12 pm
by Faulkner
Nick Sterling, son of David Sterling, reminisces about his parents, and the Fury: "The purchaser of the vehicle was my father, David Claude Sterling and my mother Bernice Marie Sterling."

"Dad (David C. Sterling) was born in 1915 in Cottage Grove, Oregon, the son of David and Lynnie (Warner) Sterling. The family was engaged in the feed, fuel, and seed business. Grandfather Sterling's business failed and the family moved to Nampa, Idaho when my father was 14 years old..."
"Dad led a colorful life as a young man in Idaho. He rounded up wild horses in the Owyhee Mountains of Idaho, worked for my mother's family in the plumbing business, and was employed by the State Highway Department. He met and later married my mother, Bernice Marie Weber Sterling in Saint Johns Cathedral in Boise Idaho."
"I (Nick Sterling) was born in 1938 in Boise, Idaho. Times were hard and mom and dad did the things they could to earn a living and make ends meet. Dad drove ambulance for the CCC's and sold bootleg whiskey out of the ambulance when business was slow. They made gin in a bathtub and bottled it and sold it out of the ambulance. Dad was also employed by his brother-in-law setting the payout on illegal slot machines in various fraternal organizations in Idaho and Oregon. Dad was employed by the Great Northern Railroad as a brakeman and worked as a fisherman on an old boat by the Name of the 'Rambler' at Holly Beach on the Hood Canal of Washington State."
"All hell broke loose in 1941 and Dad was a shipfitter in the Navy Shipyards at Bremerton, Washington. He enlisted the U.S. Navy. Dad was discharged from the U.S. Navy Convalescent Hospital at Sun Valley Idaho around 1944. I can remember him stepping off the Navy bus in Boise in his Navy Uniform following his discharge. I can remember his description of the carnage after an enemy bomb made it down the smokestack of our aircraft carrier..."
I graduated from Boise High School in 1956 and entered the U.S.M.C. I was discharged three years later in 1959. My father had purchased the 1959 Plymouth Fury by then. He was so proud of her. She was shiny and glamorous. Her seats turned outboard to allow you to enter without holding your breath. She had power that was to die for. Dad and Mom were happy as peas in a pod. By then I was employed by the Ada County Sheriff's Office and I have fond memories of Mom and Dad arriving in the 59 Fury. I was the Jailer for Ada County and I can remember seeing the Fury with Dad and Mom in it passing the courthouse while I was looking out the Catwalks from the Jail."

That Fury Really Delivers

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:16 pm
by Faulkner
Shannon, Nick's daughter, interviewed her mother Jo about the events surrounding her birth in 1964: "Dad (Nick Sterling) started Sterling Wholesale Battery Co. just the year before and was always working..."
"Grandpa Sterling called Tuesday a.m. checking on us. Mom thought she had the flu and was going to rest. Within an hour she contacted Grandpa Sterling and asked him to take her to the Doctor’s office. He arrived shortly and thought it was best to go to the hospital. The 1959 Plymouth Fury was loaded with Grandma Cohara (Jo's mom) and Traci (just two years old, with no shoes or coat) in the back seat and then headed to St. Al’s on 5th and Jefferson..."

"23rd and Fairview is where I was actually born. But I made no sound, Mom knew I was laying in her pant leg, but had no clue if I was even alive. Grandpa Sterling was driving like a bat out of hell, all the while trying to pull off mom’s black slacks to assist! She told him, 'Just keep going!'
As we arrived at the emergency, he had to lift mom and the new baby girl out of the Plymouth onto a gurney because the hospital personnel would not assist. While in the hospital driveway, from inside the pant leg a cry occurred!"

Shannon Lori Sterling was ushered into this world at 9:15 A.M. on Tuesday, February 11, 1964 .

"Dad was out on the route truck somewhere in Nampa (about 30 min from Boise). His brother Tim was in High school then. Tim was contacted and told to go find Dad and let him know I had arrived. Dad finished the route, and arrived at the hospital that evening. Mom says he asked her... 'You couldn't wait?!'"

From Father to Son

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:18 pm
by Faulkner
Nick writes, "Dad always loved the Oregon Coast. He returned to it every summer for the last several years of his life. They purchased a home in Bandon, Oregon. The plan was for Mom to retire from Mountain States Wholesale and join Dad at the new home. On August 30, 1970 Dad passed on... The retirement home was sold and Mom returned to Boise, Idaho. The family home was sold shortly after that and Mom decided to junk out or sell the 59 Fury... I gave her $150.00 for it to keep it from being sent to the scrap yard." Again the Fury was pressed into service, and Nick's family found plenty of life left in it -- and their own name for it. "When my daughters, Traci Lynn and Shannon Lori drove her to school and around Boise Town she was called the 'P'".


LeeAnne Kenison, Shannon's best friend since the 5th grade, recollects: "When I learned that Shannon was born in her parents 1959 Plymouth Fury, I thought that was so cool. I mean how often are babies born in a car... later as a Sterling Battery employee, I had the honor and pleasure of driving that same car for work. Jo would send me to make the bank deposits and she would send me in the 'Bat Mobile' as the car was later named. I thought I was so cool when I drove that car..."

Traci recounts, "After turning 14, I was entrusted with the P to get back and forth from home, school and work. Looking back, I had no idea how lucky I really was to have such a cool car to tool around town with. To me, back then, it was just a car… It was the car my sister was born in. Isn’t everyone’s sister born in a car? What’s the big deal? It was the car my Grandfather had special built for him... Didn’t everyone have a car built special for them? It was my first car... Doesn’t everyone drive a classic to school at 14?
Recently, at my twentieth class reunion, the gang walked up to me as asked 'What ever happened to that neat old car you drove ?' The girls and I would escape from West Jr High, during lunch, and go to the local burger joint for a bite. Four or five of us would pile in and make the trek. This was almost a daily outing..."

Somewhere along the line, the "P" had an encounter with another car. Shannon remembers: "Traci was driving. She and I had just left the shop and headed down Chinden. I was in the passenger seat. I must have been 12 or 13, because I was not driving yet... What I remember was that Traci and I were talking, and about the time we realized the car in front of us was not moving Traci slammed the brakes. I remember we hit pretty hard, we were going about 35 mph. The reason I remember this, is because I braced myself for the impact and sprained my ankle. I remember starting school that year at West Jr. High on crutches." Nick recalls, "I purchased a Junker Plymouth for parts and used the hood for the body shop to repair the damage...

What I do remember was the power and speed of the vehicle. It would move out so fast that it always surprised you. For its day the car would really move out."

Set Out to Pasture

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:20 pm
by Faulkner
Eventually the "P" grew tired and worn. Nick didn't want to get rid of it, and hoped someday to restore it. With the car still in running condition, Nick stored it in the holding area of his battery business. And there it sat for many years...


But, not unnoticed. "I was so discouraged with the juveniles throwing rocks from the road and canal above us that I was just worn out trying to protect the vehicles. On a couple of occasions they broke out most of the windows of our vehicles and our employee vehicles from that lofty perch above us... the smashed windows had discouraged me from any further attempts at preservation. I had retained possession of a 49 Chevy 2 Ton truck with a dry van box on it that was my route truck in about 1963. The young folks smashed all the windows out of it and took some form of tool and smashed the dash and all the instruments and the interior upholstery..."

Things were looking grim for the "P". Was this to be its fate?

The Gypsy

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:22 pm
by Faulkner
Unable to keep vandals from causing further destruction to the "P", not wanting to send it to the crusher, and lacking the time to commit to a restoration effort -- Nick considered the only thing he could do: Selling it to keep it from oblivion.

In July of 2000, an acquaintance of Nick's expressed an interest in acquiring the "P". With much regret, Nick decided to sell. "The day we sold the P to the gypsy we removed the emblem from the jockey box.... It was on the jockey box all those years and mama wanted it to remember Shannon Lori Sterling's birth in that vehicle at 23rd and Main in Boise Idaho on Feb 11, 1964..."
"The Gypsy" did not fare that well in his attempts to rejuvenate the "P". Nick reports that on a return visit, "Gypsy said he had replaced the glass that was broken to the tune of $300.00. Also said he had invested almost $800.00 in trying to get the brakes to work. Said he couldn't afford the luxury [of the "P"] any more and unloaded her..."


A New Lease on Life

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:24 pm
by Faulkner
The Gypsy found a buyer in Steve Green, who runs an upholstery shop on Fairview Avenue in Boise.
The shop was familiar to Nick: "I remembered the upholstery shop from 1963 when an old friend by the name of Bernie Green used to have it. Looks like his kid has it now..."

Steve recovered the upholstery and had the car repainted. He drove it a bit, tinkered with it a bit, and eventually decided to put it up for sale. He had the car listed on eBay by a broker on his behalf in June of 2002.

Rocky Mountain Hiatus

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:26 pm
by Faulkner
Dr. Lee Thomas, president of Adaptive Automotive and also a car collector from Denver, Colorodo, was the winner of the eBay auction for the Sport Fury in June of 2002.
He wrote me: "I was going to 'restore' it, but other things got in the way, so I [decided to sell] it... The only thing I did was to install the Fury emblem on the right rear."

The car went up for sale again on eBay in September, 2002. Meanwhile, 1700 miles to the east, I was having serious misgivings about my current automotive project...

A Wrong Turn

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:27 pm
by Faulkner
I have always been something of a gearhead -- witness me at 16 with a noname brand -- so it's not surprising that I had to have the '55 Plymouth Savoy when I spied it at the age of 47. I had visions of reliving my youth as I sat in the grimy interior. It was christened "Savannah" the day I pushed it home.
Buying an old car was a great idea, but owning this particular one was not. It needed an enormous amount of body work, and I was not up to the task. And in the end, it remained a six cylinder stickshift with four doors.

I agonized on the Forward Look Network mailing list as "The World's Slowest Auto Mechanic", what should I do? Stay the course, or cut my losses?

Finally, I decided -- I needed something requiring much less work, and having much more glam. Pushbutton automatic, eight cylinders, two doors. With fins. It had to have huge fins.

And then, I saw it...

From eBay to 'Bama

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:29 pm
by Faulkner

Oh, man. This was the car. Huge fins, classic styling. I wanted this car. I needed this car.

Except, I had no place to put it. No garage; all my work on "Savannah" took place in the driveway. I couldn't bid on this car, and leave it to the ravages of the weather if I won.

I watched the auction in the closing minutes on September 29, 2002: Going, going... gone. The lucky winner was from Birmingham, AL.

I was galvanized by the loss of such a great car. I contracted to have a garage and driveway built on our property, and now the stage was set to acquire a vehicle as fine as the one I had passed over.

Faulkner Comes to Philly

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:31 pm
by Faulkner
I kept in contact with the winner of the eBay auction. Was his intention to keep the car, or would he offer it for sale? Fortunately for me, he was interested in selling -- and after several weeks of hard negotiations, we came to an agreement. The car would be mine!


On January 29, 2003 -- a snowy, windblown day -- the car arrived on a car carrier. Soon it was safely ensconced in the brand new garage. And I was the proud owner of a 1959 Sport Fury, the car of my dreams!

But what to name it? What about "Faulkner", after William Faulkner -- author of "The Sound and the Fury"? The moniker stuck.

Across the Miles

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:33 pm
by Faulkner
Even before Faulkner's arrival, I had received the title that bore the name and address for David "Nick" Sterling. Soon I had a phone number, and on Sunday, January 19th, 2003 I gave him a call. And thus began the first of many communications, not only about this remarkable car and the memories surrounding it, but also about ourselves and our families as well.

And then -- in a gracious act of kindness and good will -- The Sterlings mailed me a package with the letter shown here. They were giving me their prized emblem so that it could be reunited with the "P", the car that has meant so much to them, and that now means so much to me.


The Sterlings and I have never met, though we have become fast friends across the miles. Perhaps someday they will come to visit, to drive, and to share with me their memories of our "P".