PASO ROBLES Part 4
More Flashback stories and more photos from the Memo Ortega files from the time Memo went to some of the famous West Coast Kustoms shows in Paso robles.
Memo Ortega is a well known name in the SoCal Custom Car and LowRider Scene, but perhaps not as well known as it should be. Memo has been working on custom cars and Low Riders since the early 1950’s. He became good friends with Custom Car Icon Gil Ayala, and in the late 1950’s he even bought Gil’s famous 1942-46 Ford Coupe as a persona driver. Today, in 2016, 81 years young, Memo is still chopping tops, and any other custom car work you can think of from, his garage work-shop. Check out more of the Memo Ortega Stories in the Memo Ortega Files on the CCC
Memo Ortega Flashback
I remember this from way back, I think it was from around ’78, perhaps ’79. One day my wife Terry was washing our ’37 Chevy in the front yard when this girl was driving by in her car. She saw the ’37, and decided to stop and check it out. She asked Terry if it was her car, she said she saw it from the corner of her eye and she just had to stop and look at it. They started to talk and it turns out her grampa was this friend of my dad when they were in there teens! They lived close by in Claremont only up halve a mile from us. Before she left she told Terry that her grampa was Manuel Gonzales and told here where they lived. When I got home from work, Terry told me about this girl stopping by and checking out our Chevy. Well that blew my mind, I told Terry I know him, her grand father, Manuel Gonzales, he used to be a friend of my dad when iI was a kid and his brother had a ’37 chevy 2dr sedan with Appleton spotlights and removed running boards, shaved door handles and a molded in trunk with single bar spinner hubcaps… Something I don’t forget.
Any way… I went over to his house and knocked at the door, he was the one that opened the door, and I told him who I was and about my dad. “Oh come in, sit down I remember when u were a kid many years back” Manuel said. Of course he was much older now, I had not seen him since way back in the 50’s. He was already a familly man back then. I told him that I allways wondered where they had moved too, and that if not for his granddaughter stopping by, I would have not known he lived so close by. He told me a lot of stories from back then.
One story he told me I never thought much about it untill yesterday (December 25th, 2016) We were talking about familly history and cars. “Here’s one for the books” Manuel told me… Back in 1937 my dad and two of his brothers had bought a brand new ’37 four door Packard Convertible and removed all the ornaments and door handles from the car, much like the guys were doing in the 50’s, and it was painted a beautiful deep shinny black. Manuels brother was called “El Torro” which means bull in English, cause he was such a big guy. He said how they used to dress allways in suits like in the movies and would always park in front of the old pool hall. This story also reminded me about how all the guys I knew in La Verne back then were tagged with a special name, even me. An mr. Manuel Gonzales was known as “Manuel El Chango” which means the monkey in English lol…
Funny I never thought much about that untill yesterday Christmas day 2016. BAM they had a Custom Packard back then… like I said never struck my mind untill we were talking familly history thought I’ll share this. And what’s even more funny… back in 1950 I would park across the street frome the same pool hall in my ’37 chevy. Sadly I have no photos of all this, but I did come across another old photo that I thought I had lost forever. From the mid 1950’s at Matt Kolbert’s shop, where my good friend Johnny and me worked.
Another older photo I came across recently is one of one of my girls, Gina (Pattison) when she was young back in the ’60’s. She is sitting on a kustom chopper bike I made for her back then. Pretty cool.
The Car Shows
We have been to so many show over the years, with our ’37 Chevy, our GMC pick up and the Chevy we have now. Usually I took pictures at the show, or asked somebody else that was coming with us to snap some cars for me. Recently I have been hunting for those old photos, and I have found some of them back, in boxes, some I thought I had lost forever. Here are a fe of the great looking custom cars from the 1980’s and 90’s, the car shows we visited with our GMC. I will keep looking for more photos and I keep remembering more stories as well… so stay tuned for more in the future.
Roger Squires ‘Chevy photographed at our old Past Times Car Club back in time. This was at the first West Coast Nationals in Buena Park Ca. Chayo Olquin bought the Chevy from Roger and its him that is driving the car in the picture. It was a great gathering of all kinds of cars, good times.
At one of our drives up to a car show we spotted this abandoned old chopped custom short door 46048 Ford Coupe. It gad a caved it roof.. probably kids been jumping up and down on it. Sad! Wonder where it is today.
This Merc was spectacular. Frank DeRosa built i. and it was chopped, sectioned and a lot more body work done to it. That is Frank behind the Merc with the purple shirt explaining the car for the camera. I’m standing behind the Merc just over the A-pillars with my blue checker shirt drinking a coke and admiring all the work on the King of Mercs.
My wife Terry (with Gina, from the chopper bike above, next to her) and me got some Custom Car Chronicle Shirts and wear them proudly.
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