Old Cars, Stories Told

1972 Chevrolet K/5 Blazer CST: Don’t mess with Grandma!

I mentioned my grandmother’s big orange Chevy Blazer in a recent post. It reminded me of this post I wrote for Curbside Classic a couple years ago, about a pretty close replica of her Blazer that I found at an auction.

You didn’t mess with my grandma. She was barely 5 feet tall, but she swore like a sailor and drank like a fish. And she always drove 4-wheel-drive trucks. One of them was an orange 1972 Chevrolet K/5 Blazer CST very much like this one.

1972 Chevrolet Blazer d

Grandma was so short she had to grab the steering wheel and pull herself up into the cab. That had to really work her biceps! I’ll bet it gave her a mean right cross. But had she ever needed to defend herself, she would have instead reached for the .22 pistol she always kept in her purse.

1972 Chevrolet Blazer b

My favorite place to ride was the front passenger seat, and I called shotgun as often as I could. Even though SUVs weren’t common in the 1970s like they are today  — we didn’t even have the term “SUV” then — riding around in that seat didn’t exactly give me the rooftop view of traffic that you might think. Grandma lived in rural southwest Michigan, where serious winter snow and unplowed side roads meant almost everyone owned four-wheel-drive trucks. I was used to looking at tailgates ahead as we rolled down the road.

1972 Chevrolet Blazer f

Grandma preferred the lightly traveled gravel back roads to the highways, though, and so I got to take in a lot of Michigan’s beauty while riding with her. Even when I had to ride in the high and upright back seat, I had a good view. That seat also sat a good distance back from the front seats, giving unbelievable legroom. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but now I think GM should have moved that seat a foot or so forward to give more aft cargo space. It was pretty tight back there.

1972 Chevrolet Blazer c

Grandma and Grandpa had been a one-truck family (a 1972 Dodge Power Wagon, orange over white) until the grandkids started coming to visit for extended stays every summer. Riding four abreast in Grandpa’s truck worked while we were all very little, but as we grew the cab became too cramped and so Grandma bought the Blazer. We ran around all over southwest Michigan together running errands and visiting various taverns for lunch or dinner and, for Grandma and Grandpa, always a beer. I knew then that back home in Indiana I wasn’t allowed in taverns. Maybe Michigan’s laws were different. Or maybe it helped a lot that Grandma and Grandpa seemed to know every law-enforcement officer in six or seven counties. Perhaps Grandma’s smile, nod, and words of greeting to any deputy who stopped in were enough to secure us. We were certainly less uptight about such things forty years ago.

1972 Chevrolet Blazer a

After Grandpa finally retired, they sold both trucks and bought a top-trim 1978 Bronco in gold with a white top. The CST package meant Grandma’s Blazer was top-trim too. This is what passed for luxury in an SUV in 1972. Today, these big body-on-frame SUVs are all but gone out here in rust country.

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Standard

Custom

Rusty Custom
Nikon D50, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-6.3 Tamron AF
2015

My Canon PowerShot S95’s battery died after the first shot of this old truck, so I borrowed my girlfriend’s camera to shoot it.

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Postal truck butts

Postal truck butts
Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor
Arista 100 EDU (expired)

Would you believe that the newest of these postal trucks were built in 1994? As you can imagine, they’re on their last legs. The USPS wants to build a new fleet but lacks the money, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Toy truck

I enter almost every antique store I come across. I buy very little — an old camera here and there, occasionally a piece of furniture. Mostly, and I’m sure to the owner’s chagrin, I go to look.

On this day, I was in tiny Roann, Indiana, shooting my Yashica Lynx 14e, which reader Dehk had recently refurbished for me. It’s a big, clumsy camera, but my oh my does its giant f/1.4 lens deliver. The dim light inside was enough, especially with fast-ish film, to record whatever I wanted.

The fun of shooting new-to-me old cameras is not knowing how they’ll perform. It was joy to discover the pixie-like background lights against this photo’s overall dark mood and fun subject. Discovery is a lot of why I love this hobby.

Toy truck • Yashica Lynx 14e • Kodak T-Max 400 • September, 2014

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Favorite Photos Week: Toy truck

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South San Francisco

Dog in the bed
Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80, Kodak Ektar 100
2015

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Thermodyne

Thermodyne
CanonPowerShot S95
2011

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