Yes Bob, Corvettes o7 aref7 special.
There’s no mistake about that. I used to ride around in one in the
early ‘60s. In fact, it was the very one that Bob Kramer bought and wrote
about in his “Traveling Full Circle” column (Dec. 4). It belonged to my
boyfriend at the time, John Shields. Bob’s comments on John brought back
many memories, not only for me, but I’m sure for many old timers. He and
his automotive shop on Riverside Drive and Rose Street were very familiar
to many Burbankers -- especially the young auto enthusiasts. To them,
John was “the great teacher” and he had their respect. As Bob knows since
he was one of those who used to hang around the shop. It wasn’t only that
John knew so much about cars, but also that he could always be depended
on to spin some interesting yarns.
John held daily court, not only at his place, but also at the
International House of Pancakes restaurant across the street. That is
where I worked and met him in 1960. Almost always John would sit at the
large round table nearest the front entrance. Here, he had a full view of
the action -- people coming in from the parking lot, patrons paying at
the cash register, and not least of all, the actions of the waitresses
and cooks at the pass-bar.
John shared that table many times with the young fellows that worked
for him and some who just helped out gratis. They were a motley group
that we waitresses affectionately dubbed “The Mafia.” But quite often, he
shared his table with the jet set of Burbank -- judges, politicians, NBC
news anchormen, Jack Latham or movie stars. Frequently, it was Don
Murray, Jim Stacy or Audie Murphy who, incidentally, always ordered
John Shields was indeed “mechanic to the stars,” working not only on
the Sinatra family cars, but also on the Houston family cars and many
other celebrities. I once met Ursula Andress when she dropped her car off
for repairs. But, he spent as much time working on racing boat engines as
he did on car engines. John would be so busy working on them that many
times he’d park autos in his gas pump stations so that no one could pull
in and interrupt him to purchase gas.
Sometimes, Burbank police officers would park by the pumps, courtesy
of John. Here they could observe would-be traffic violators at that
intersection where Bob’s Drive-In, IHOP, The Hotdog Show and Shield’s
Automotive met. I wonder how many Burbank old timers remember receiving a
ticket from a cop that seemed to appear from out of nowhere?
But getting back to that ’63 Corvette that Bob Kramer bought from John
Shields. It was originally purchased at Community Chevrolet here in
Burbank and truly was a special automobile. Young fellows would ogle it
with admiration. John always kept his cars in mint condition and I felt
like a queen riding in that Corvette. To tell the truth though, my
favorite automobile of John’s was his ’60 silver Cadillac convertible --
but that’s another story.