Last Frugal Friday Of 2019

First, a story…about two weeks after I submitted my Masters thesis the “institution” I had attended informed me in a letter that they were not going to accept the paper. The reason? The margins on three or four pages were an eighth of an inch off, only on the right side of the pages. As I had not typed the paper and, instead, had paid a secretary in the department to type it and given that the department knew this, I was shocked by the letter.

What did I do? I threatened to sue the university, the same university that would—about 25 years later—bestow upon me an “Alumni Award of Excellence.” What do you know…a couple of weeks later I received a letter informing me that the paper was accepted and I would be receiving my Masters degree.

Why am I writing about this? Sometimes a person or institution has to threaten in order to get results. This Hemmings article is titled, “After SEMA files lawsuit, NHTSA drafts replica car rules.” I wrote about this situation here. By the way, I have only filed a lawsuit once and, in general, think the US is too litigious.

ANYONE who thinks that people are always good-hearted and always have good intentions needs an operation to have their head removed from their rectum. Some people, and institutions are just collections of people, are ornery or mean-spirited or have to show they’re in charge. Counting on the goodwill of people to always do the right thing is naive and foolish. Besides, much disagreement exists about what “the right thing” is, anyway.


The last Frugal Friday car of the year is sentimental to me. I was actually surprised, upon reviewing the list of Frugal Friday cars, that this one had not been included. From Hemmings:



This is a 1956 Buick Century four-door hardtop sedan, of which 35,082 were made. One of these was the first car I really remember and the first car I ever drove. My father purchased one in 1961 and owned the car for more than 20 years.

One of the pictures accompanying the ad shows 210 miles on the odometer; the only thing we don’t know is if the car has 100,210 miles or 200,210 miles. The seller is asking $16,950. While pictures can be misleading (and often are), the car looks like it’s in good condition.

I believe this is the 34th Frugal Friday post. For at least the 33rd time I will offer that I would much rather have this car at $16,000-$17,000 than the vast majority of today’s new vehicles for which the average “transaction price” in the US is about $40,000.

I would very much like to read about your first car or a car that holds a special place in your memory. Happy Frugal Friday!







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Thoughts Of My Father

A few days ago while watching TV I asked my wonderful wife if she thought my obsession with cars was an attempt to connect with my father. A connection is actually not possible as he has been dead for over a quarter century. He was an automobile mechanic and ran/owned two gas/service stations (not at the same time). Anyway, my wonderful wife honestly replied that she simply couldn’t answer my question. She never met my father.

I sometimes wonder what he would think of my life. He disapproved of my interest in sports and he did not appreciate my achievement of creating a baseball career basically out of thin air. He wanted me to attend a service academy, like the Naval Academy. Anyone who knows me well knows that would have been a disaster. At times, I can be one of the least disciplined people in the world and I almost always chafe at the thought of other people telling me what to do.

I wonder what he would have thought about my wonderful wife (who, eerily, shares the same less than common first name as his second wife), about our house, and most of all, about our cars. What would he have thought about a supercharged V-8 that produces 650 HP in a car with Bluetooth and front and rear cameras? I really have no idea and, of course, I never will.


See the source image

See the source image


The top picture is from and the bottom is from Pinterest. My father ran a Flying A station and later owned and operated an American station. I admit I receive a little thrill every time I put gas in my Z06 at the local BP because the premium grade fuel is still called Amoco Premium. As another salute to my father here is another picture of a car with the same year, make and model as the one in which I “grew up.”


See the source image


From a picture of a 1956 Buick Century.








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I want to express my gratitude to all of those who have served in the US armed forces. Of course today is Veteran’s Day in the US. I believe it’s still called Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in parts of Europe. On this day in 1918, 100 years ago exactly, the Great War—later known as World War I, of course—ended.


If he had lived today would have been Kevin Towers’ 57th birthday. I worked with Kevin as a member of the San Diego Padres’ Baseball Operations staff. As I wrote in one of my first posts onĀ Disaffected Musings the day after he died in late January of this year, although I was “foisted” upon him at first he always treated me as a friend and with respect. In that earlier post I showed this picture:

That picture was taken in the visitors clubhouse in Los Angeles after the Padres clinched the 1996 NL Western Division title. Kevin is the one kneeling in front and I am one of the other three people. So long ago and yet still fresh in memory.

When baseball’s “golden boy” was named to his first General Manager position he gave an interview to that city’s famous newspaper. In that interview he named Kevin as one of the two people who had most influenced the way he thought about baseball. The other person was yours truly.


Many thanks to regular readers Charley Walters and Steve Dallas for sending emails to me with words of praise for this blog. As the late, great Saul Bellow once wrote, “We have a word for everything except for what we really think and feel.” Despite the inadequacy of words (kind of an odd thing for a blogger to write, I guess) I want to express my gratitude for their emails and for all regular readers of this blog. Disaffected Musings is very important to me and I am very proud of this blog. Even with the recent surge in readers I still wish many more people were reading.


Days like today make many of us of “middle age” wax nostalgic about the past. I have written about and posted pictures of this car before, but one more time won’t hurt.

See the source image

From a picture of a 1956 Buick Century with a great view of the front of the car. The first car I ever drove was a 1956 Buick Century that my father purchased in 1961, I believe. About 21,000 of this model were produced in 1956. The weight was about 4,200 pounds. The car seemed heavier; so much so, in fact, that our nickname for the car was “The Tank.” The MSRP of the car when new was about $3,300.

The Century was powered by Buick’s Fireball V-8 of 322 cubic inch displacement that produced 255 HP/341 LB-FT of torque. The transmission was Buick’s famous (or infamous depending on your perspective) Dynaflow automatic. It was called the Dyna-Slush by detractors, but was praised for its smoothness by its supporters.

As I have written before, from time to time I scratch my itch to look for a ’56 Century for sale online. I look through the ads, of which there are usually not many, and have to take a deep breath before the urge to buy one passes. One day, though, the breath might no longer work.





Sunday Sunday

I was going to call this post Sunday Silence and then not actually write a post. That would have been too “cute.”

Sunday was the only day my father didn’t work from 7 AM to 10 PM so we would often have dinner as a family and go for a drive either before or after dinner. I have fond memories of those Sundays, often spent in the back seat of the 1956 Buick Century that I have mentioned before.

I loved listening to the car radio, which I thought was an amazing bit of engineering. Surprisingly, it is not that easy to ascertain when the first car radio that found widespread use was actually developed. In History of the American Auto by Consumer Guide, one of their factoids for 1923 reads, “The first car radios available for factory installation are built by the Springfield Body Corporation.” An Internet search yields conflicting results.

This article from mentions the difficulty in determining when the first radios made specifically for cars were built and which company built them first. One of the sub-headings of the article is titled, “Confusion – no reliable statement of facts at this time.” From the same article (which was written in 2007), “The year and date for the first production run of a ‘real car radio’ remains still a bit of a mystery considering what’s known about the subject at this time.”

In case you don’t know (or even if you do), commercial radio broadcasts began in the US in 1920. KDKA in Pittsburgh was the first radio station to receive a “limited commercial” license although other stations had also been conducting experimental broadcasts.

Back to the article…a picture of a Crosley Roamio 91, a car radio from around 1930:

Don’t ask me how it worked because I don’t know and honestly don’t care. We take for granted the ability to have entertainment and information whenever we want in our car or anywhere else. It wasn’t that long ago that such access was not the norm.

OK, here’s another picture of a 1956 Buick Century, this one from

See the source image

Once again, I am asking for “the sale.” If you like this blog, please tell your friends to read it and/or please post comments. I would very much like to read your thoughts.



Monday Musings

1956 BUICK CENTURY CONVERTIBLE - Front 3/4 - 212674

Photo from This 1956 Buick Century convertible was sold at the auction in Scottsdale earlier this month, hammering for $40,000, meaning the buyer actually paid $44,000.

I think it’s a beautiful car, but I am not an objective observer as the first car I ever drove (as opposed to the first car that was mine) was a 1956 Buick Century. That car was a four-door sedan like this:

See the source image


Every now and then I get an urge to find and to buy one of these, but I take a deep breath and the urge passes. One day, though, the breath won’t work.