Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Cutlass Salon Time Capsule


Over the past few days, Mr. Michael Bullock has been sharing portions of his story about the 1977 Olds Cutlass he ultimately inherited from his grandfather. I know this man is humble, mainly because of how he originally approached me via email about how he wasn't looking for sympathy for the trials he has faced over the years. The only thing he wants done, is to make sure the story is told about his grandparents, and the love he has for their Cutlass. 

What can I say, that's a gentleman in my book. Also, that shows an appreciation for family, which I think doesn't really come until later on in life. At least, when I was younger, I always enjoyed spending time with my family. I definitely loved going to my grandparents house when I was a kid. I got to go home to Kentucky and hang out at my grandparents house, good home southern cooking by my grandmother early in the morning, the house was just filled with smells of bacon, eggs, gravy, fresh brewed coffee, toast...while also waking up to the fresh morning country air...listening to my Aunts, Uncles, Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa calmly talking about the days before, then and now. 

But enough about my family, I feel that same kind of compassion for my grandparents in his way of explaining his story about his grandfather. They traded in a 74 Chevrolet in 1977 and bought the Cutlass brand new, at a whopping $7,028. After his grandfather purchased this car, he kept every living receipt on this car, from wiper blades to tires. 

It was a much different time in 1977, the average annual income was $15k, average rent was $240 per month, the cost of gas was a cool $0.65 per gallon. The new Cutlass Salon was considered an "upscale Euro-style luxury/sports sedan" and included upgraded suspension, radial tires, reclining bucket seats and dimmer switch. Of course, what really matters is what these sleeper ponies came with under the hood, all Cutlass models came standard with a 180-horsepower 350 cu in Rocket V8. Absolutely necessary to take advantage of every ounce of that 65 cent gasoline. 

Michael Bullock always wanted this car when he was younger. He remembers his grandfather being a great story teller and always making people laugh. I'm sure he had a heart of gold, and probably filled with a lot of southern charm. He shared a story of his grandfather, who was 82 at the time, when he was in Rock Hill, SC on his way home to Chester, SC. It's about a 30 minute drive between the two locations today. His grandfather had made a wrong turn on Interstate 77 heading towards Charlotte, NC when he was pulled over by a State Trooper doing 82. The State Trooper asked "Why are you speeding sir?" and his grandfather responded with "I'm lost and I was trying to get away from all these crazy drivers out here." The trooper was laughing so hard he said "Mr. Campbell, I have not laughed this hard in a long time." and the trooper kindly showed Mr. Campbell the way home without writing a ticket. 

For 36 years, Mr. Campbell worked third shift at a sock factory in Chester, SC until he retired at the young age of 65. Soon after his wild chase down Interstate 77, he was placed in a nursing home and eventually passed away in 2011. Michael says that Mr. Campbell was an excellent storyteller and a writer, about life and family with a Christian theme. 

Micheal Bullock now lives in Gainesville, GA, retired in 2013 with his wife and kids. Where his gentlemanship and his humbleness comes from is what he shared with me about his personal challenges. While he doesn't let his disabilities get the best of him, by staying active as much as he physically can, at the early age of 23, he had already underwent a fusion of L4, L5 and S1 vertabrae, two major back surgeries, three knee surgeries and a left shoulder surgery. I personally had no words to really express myself once he told me that. All I could think to myself is, Wow, to be so young, and to have so much work done has got to be a challenge. 

In 2011, he was diagnosed with remitting MS and fibromyalgia. He suffered from slurred speech, memory loss such as forgetting his childrens' name, and loosing train of thought during conversation. Along with this, comes with family challenges. 

I'm going to keep to his request to not dwell on his challenges and stick to the passion of the car. I met Mr. Bullock through the Chip Foose Fan Club web page. He shared photo's of the 77 Cutlass in hopes that maybe Mr. Chip Foose would see his car. I absolutely love how much Chip Foose gives faith in people. How much impact this man can have when it comes to family heirlooms like Michael Bullock's grandfather's 77 Cutlass. This gives me hope that people hold on to dreams, and important memories of family all because of the car that made them smile as a kid, the car that stories were told about by his grandfather that helps ease his mind while he lives through his challenges. When he looks at his own children and knows that one day, he will share the same stories to them, and i'm sure they will one day speak of them to their friends and family. Literally a time capsule of his family. 

As Michael Bullock always says when he signs his emails to me...

God Bless,

Chuck Ruffin

a.k.a. Sgt. Car Man

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