Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Uncle" Tom McCahill on 1959 Chevy Rear Deck: "What a Spot to Land a Piper Cub On"

The November 1958 issue of Mechanix Illustrated previewed the new '59 cars, and their famous "Father of the Road Test" Tom McCahill tested the "batwing" Impala Sport Sedan. The cover features a glued-on piece touting this road test, almost an early Post-It. I carefully folded it back to show [almost] the entire cover. MI was printed on low-end paper stock, just a step above newsprint. It has yellowed and is much more brittle than usual magazine stock. For that reason, I had to be careful not to split the binding when I scanned the pages, so they're not as flat and as well-scanned as I usually try to show on my blog. This magazine is truly from another era though, so I think it's a good idea to post them anyway.

The first two spreads of the Impala roadtest. Tom McCahill was known for his very colorful writing style, using out-of-this-world hyperbole, double entendres and puns whenever possible. Layout-wise, this article broke one of MY cardinal sins in publishing. The story jumped from these first 4 pages, which is fine with longer pieces, but it was jumped to four separate pages in the back of the book: a paragraph here, a paragraph there. 

When I was laying out newspapers, I insisted that once a story "jumped" to a continuation page, it ended on that page. In any article, you're lucky if the writing is interesting enough to jump the first time. If you force your reader to jump to 4 more pages, especially with just an additional paragraph on each jump page, I can almost guarantee 99% of readers won't finish reading. Of course, McCahill was colorful enough to MAYBE get the reader to the end, but I wouldn't count on it.

Elsewhere in this issue, the '59 new cars were previewed:

• For the Wiki on 1959, including births/deaths, Academy Awards, Nobel Prizes.
• For an interesting website on the current events of 1959, click here. It includes prices of popular items too.


  1. Hello Casey! Hello Granny!

    McCahill is always fun to read . This is a nice way to start the day.

    I am intrigued by his saying the standard 59 Cadillac design resembles the previous Eldorado . Although it's clearly an evolution of Cadillac themes, it was also a great departure .

    I will look around today and try to imagine the car when it was new and see it with his eyes.



  3. Hello Granny,

    Malibu is where I live.

    The Chumash Indians came up with the name Malibu a long time ago . It means Place of Loud Water. It's very true .The ocean around here is very strong and the high bluffs help amplify the sound.

    For now, I am just borrowing the name!

    Hope you (and everyone) is enjoying the Holiday weekend.

    Place of Loud Water

  4. AP, aka Malibu, thanks for the info. I am a third generation Southern Californian and I never knew that. T-Day was really special this year. Today I made turkey soup creole style. Tomorrow I switch to the start making Xmas treats.

    Place of Big Arch (lol)

  5. AA,

    Glad your T-day went well. Creole Turkey Soup sounds delicious . Care to give us an idea?
    We had lots of friends and there was nothing left. So, no soup .

    Place of Big Arch? Is that St. Louis ?


  6. Annie, you got me again!
    Place of big arch - rofl x ten !!!
    I can barely type this!

  7. Hi X, I'm glad I made you laugh. I hear it increases the red blood count.

    AP, yes, Place of Big Arch is indeed St. Louis. Well as to all your friends, to quote an old friend of mine, "Let them eat cake."

    My freezer is now FULL of containers of Turkey Creole Soup, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

    Peace All.

  8. AA,

    St. Louis ! i went to college in the St. Louis area !
    What a great city .

    I think I know your friend with the cake. She is my old friend, too!

    Enjoy the soup. I am going to look up a recipe for this Creole Turkey Soup and see if it's as good as it sounds.


  9. AP - I found this online, it's not exactly the same but pretty close

    My recipe used vegetable oil , not olive, but olive would be good. Plus this one added a red pepper also good.


    Where did you go to college here?

  10. Turkey is my favorite protein. I cooked a 15lb bird for myself... I could live on open face hot turkey sandwiches with gravy, like diners offer. And I probably will, lol.

  11. AA

    Hey, thank you so much Annie ! That sounds really good. Just my luck, we gave the carcass away T-Day night to a friend who wanted to make soup . Darn it!

    Well, next time around- Can't wait to try it. Sounds delicious !

    I attended Webster College(University) in the early -ish to mid 1970s .

    It was just a small theater-music-art school then . We got around St. Louis. Lots of bars so there was lots of live music. Lots and lots of fun. We even used to go to Dupo Illinois for biscuits and gravy .

    If I may ask , are you originally from The Place of the Big Arch ?


  12. AP - I moved here in 1990. I am a Californian, lived in Orange County. My youngest daughter was a journalism major and went to Mizzou, met a boy from STL and they were married after college and stayed here. I have wandered around a bit and came to STL for what I thought would be maybe 5 years and I'm still here.

    I do volunteer work with a man that worked in the finance area of Webster, not as a teacher, a number-cruncher.

    FYI - since I had T-day dinner at my daughter's, I bought just a turkey breast yesterday to cook for sandwiches, like casey, they are my favorite, hence I had a carcass to use.

  13. AA-

    In the above you did say you were from S.Cal . Silly of me to forget ! It must be nice for your daughter to have you close by. My moms 2,000 miles away!

    Is there still a lot of live music in StL?

    God bless your volunteer work.

    Just a turkey breast will do it for soup ? Great. I will pass on the recipe to my lovely wife and enjoy it soon.

    Casey- the open faced turkey sandwiches sound great. What kind of bread?


  14. AP I have gone to The Pageant ( to see Craig Ferguson when he plays there but they have a lot of music. Also Blueberry Hill (

    There is a jazz spot across from The Fox, which is more to my liking but haven't been there in some time. I won't drive in to the city by myself always afraid of making a wrong turn. There are pockets here and there in the city where you definitely don't want to be by mistake.

    This report from Place of Big Arch

  15. Thanks for the report, AA.

    The Fox! I saw many great shows there in the 1970s.

    I might just be an old man with his memories, but I recall a lot of small bars around the schools and downtown where we students could play, sing and (hopefully) get a residency. It was a great way to get a few bucks and learn how to perform in front of a crowd.

    Thanks for bringing it all back to mind, AA.


  16. I guess I'll be the first to comment on the 1959 cars! It was a pretty eventful year -- Studebaker introduced the Lark which was a brilliant update of the 53 sedans. The two-door hardtop was particularly graceful and I've always liked the two-door wagon -- the four-door wagon and the convertible came for 1960. It was last year for a full line of DeSotos and the first full year for the Rambler American, another interesting update of an older model. The GM cars were all pretty spectacular. The 59 Cadillac took the fins to new heights (or depths, depending) and they all used the "flat-top" four-door hardtop roof which was really innovative at the time. Edsel started retrenching, dropping the body that the big Edsels shared with Mercury and Ford consolidated its lineup on the 118" wheelbase and offered 10 body styles (14 if you count the mid-year Galaxies as separate body styles). And, of course, Chrysler introduced swivel seats!

    Uncle Tom was always entertaining -- he certainly knew how to turn a phrase!

    Paul, NYC