Roger DeLoach Shares His Passion for Nostalgia and Cars with a New Book: There Was A Time
I’ve always been asked, ‘What is your favorite car?’ and I’ve always said ‘The next one.’ — Carroll Shelby
About a month ago I brought my car to Melanson’s in Adolph for an oil change and there on the counter was a new book by Roger DeLoach. I met Roger through the church we attended, but really got to know him through his involvement in stock car racing. Roger loved cars and especially enjoyed building race cars, for himself, his sister and later his son, who left the area to work with a well-known NASCAR team for a couple seasons.
The book is titled There Was A Time, and for car guys it’s a pure delight. It’s about the size of a glossy hard-cover children’s picture book. Each two-page spread features a full-sized photo of a classic car on one panel and a story on the other. I was not only impressed by the beautiful photography, I was equally impressed at Roger’s storytelling. He’s a guy with a good heart and a passion for cars, and it really comes through.
EN: I like the title of your book, There Was A Time, where did the title come from?
Roger DeLoach: When I was young, I was anxious for the future. I had so many dreams that I couldn’t wait to get there. Now the future seems to be here before you know it, and the present slips into the past way too soon. At this age, I have a treasure chest full of dreams fulfilled; a treasure chest with the words “There Was a Time” carved deeply into its aged hardwood exterior. The title expresses my gratefulness for a past I very much enjoy remembering.
EN: You’ve always been a car guy. What is it that makes Baby Boomers so nostalgic about cars?
RD: I love this question because it goes to the very heart of the book. The term Baby Boomer was birthed in the aftermath of World War II. December 7, 1941 caused America to change over night. The bombing of Pearl Harbor forced men to war, women to factories and children to paper drives. Money once spent on creature comforts now went for War Bonds while factories stopped making toys and began making bullets.
1941 through 1945 became years of sacrifice. When the war ended, America took a deep breath and dove back into life with gusto. Our parents were ready to work hard and play hard. The price of freedom had been burned into their souls. We Baby Boomers were blessed to be born in a time when people were happy to be alive.
For most Americans, family time was valued: road trips, camping trips, trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s, visits with cousins who lived two hundred miles away, extended family picnics where grilled hamburgers and swimming made us believe life could never get any better. And all of these wonderful times had one common denominator…the family car.
To a kid the family car was more than a mode of transportation to the next outing; it was a vehicle of anticipation for the next great adventure. Not all Baby Boomers are car guys or gals. For many it’s not the love of the car, but the love of what the car represents. We are nostalgic about old cars because they spark a memory of a time and place we yearn to go back and visit.
EN: There are so many decisions that go into creating a book. This one is a picture book. How did you select your photos, and what was it like writing a story for each one?
RD: Sometimes I think the photos selected me. There were photos that just had a story to tell. Because cars have been such a big part of my life, it’s hard for me to look at one without being reminded of something. I can walk a car show and come up with a personal story for about ninety percent of the cars I see.
In a way, writing this book was a wonderful release; it allowed me to put on paper things that have been rolling around in my mind for years. Of course, there were some stories that needed pictures. That began another adventure, hunting down the right picture for the story I had already written.
The challenge to this book was writing 25 one-page stories that had a beginning, middle and end and, at the same time, convincing the reader a complete story had been told. I read two books on writing short stories before I even attempted to put my thoughts to ink. Truth be told, though, I enjoyed this project more than most others I’ve done. This was not laborious; it was more like hanging out with old friends.
EN: Which are your favorite cars in the book and why?
RD: Picking a few favorite cars in the book is easy: The ’59 Chevy, the ’57 Oldsmobile and the ’58 Corvette. The reasons simply come down to styling. I think they are beautiful cars to look at. The Chevy is the only one of the three I have personally owned, but the Olds was a family car and part of my childhood. The Vette, well, that’s something to dream about. My favorite car of all, though, is not in the book, but I am happy to say that it is in my garage. It was love at first sight, and I was only six years old at the time. The 1958 Chevrolet will always be first in the carport of my heart.
EN: Do you have a favorite story?
RD: Now this is a question that is harder to answer. It’s like asking which of my children I like the most. When you spend intimate time with each child you begin to see them as individuals that don’t compare to the others. I have favorite thoughts or maybe even a favorite sentence in each story. Some stories are true to my life, other stories I wrote because I knew they would be true to a reader’s life.
The “Christmas Truck” that I end the book with, though, probably holds the most meaning. Yes, I did exercise some literary license in the telling, but the core of the story is true, and it was a life-changing moment for me even though the full extent of its meaning wasn’t realized until some years later.
EN: My grandfather was supervisor of the Packard Plant in Warren, Ohio in the 50s and 60s. What makes the Packard so special?
RD: I have a feeling you threw this question in because you know the answer. If my grandpa was Supervisor of a Packer Plant I think I would know the answer. I do quite a bit of reading on automotive history, but I have to be honest and say I have not read up on Packard yet. You have sparked my interest, though, and now the Packard is the next car I am going to spend some time with.
EN: Was there a “best year” for Cars? Some might say 1957 because the ’57 Chev, ’57 Olds and ’57 Ford were all rewarding to drive and look at. What years were your favorites?
RD: Oh, golly, when we were kids we thought every new year was the best. I bet a lot of your readers can remember the advertising blitz that hit the airwaves and magazines as the new models were rolled out. The designs and innovations of the fifties and sixties were, at times, beyond our imaginations. Government regulations and gas shortages put the brakes on in the seventies. I couldn’t say which year was best, but I would be willing to argue that the fifties was the best decade. And if I ever did find a time machine, well, I know where I would be right now!
EN: Where can people buy your book?
RD: My website is cdmproductions.net. This is set up for single sales. If anyone is interested in multiple copies they can reach me at email@example.com to save some money on shipping. If brick and mortar retail stores are interested in carrying the book, I do offer wholesale pricing on bulk orders. “There Was A Time” retails for $19.95.
Originally published at pioneerproductions.blogspot.com on March 16, 2019.