I came across a “Cadillac Ranch” on a back road recently. Instantly, I was transported back to my childhood when my grandparents would venture to our house for holidays. As soon as the shiny Caddy pulled into the yard, our house would empty with kids and parents rushing out to greet them. It always looked like a huge, winged bird drifting to rest in front of our barn. I was happy to see them, but more excited to climb up on the bumper and hoist myself on one of the elegant fins that graced the back of the behemoth. The fins provided the perfect height to survey the yard and pretend I was astride a dancing horse, ready to gallop across our fields to the river below.
I have no idea the history behind these cars or how they came to rest in a yard in southwestern New Hampshire. They were in various states of disrepair or restoration. Each must have a story to tell. Here is what I think they would say, if asked for just one tidbit of their former lives.
I was purchased right off the showroom floor the day I arrived. An elegant lady walked through the door and said, “I’ll take that one.” Patrice Mifflin O’Connor, Miffy as she was affectionately known, owned a trendy gallery in New York City for up and coming abstract artists. That first summer she drove me into the city several times a week. With the top down, she looked like a movie star in her dark glasses and silk scarves. The doormen all knew her well and gushed about how beautiful I was. Pete and Sam, Miffy’s tiny poodles, accompanied her everywhere and had to be restrained as we sailed along the highway with the wind rushing by. Pete and Sam were often so frightened by the trip, my upholstery needed constant cleaning.
Howdy! I know I don’t look like much of a specimen but believe you me, in my day I have seen a lot of roads. My last owner was Clint Fullbright. You probably haven’t heard of him unless you were around the rodeo world back in the late ’60s. Clint was quite a cowboy in his day, before the drink and the injuries caught up with him. He was a skinny, little bow-legged fellow when he bought me; sold all but the biggest of his prize belt buckles to cover the cost. I think he still saw the magic of the rodeo in my tail lights and the shine of those buckles in my chrome.
I have to tell you, there was a time when I gleamed. The details of my two-tone paint, and my magnificent interior with space for a small crowd, was cared for by a young kid named Joey. The Boss gave him the job, friend of a friend needed a favor, I think it was business related. But the kid kept me in prime condition, he even learned to remove those nasty stains from my trunk. Unfortunately, those bullet holes you see put an end to my stint with The Boss.
There’s not much to tell. I’ve always been black and fast, straight as an arrow down the open road. A young guy hit it big in the stock market, but he cashed it all in and decided to drive across the county to seek his fame and fortune as a beatnik poet. We crisscrossed from New Orleans to Vegas to the Rockies, ending up in San Francisco. He liked that fact that I was a two-door model so he could sleep in my back seat and no one could sneak up and surprise him.
I was purchased by Ira Goldberg, the big Hollywood producer, for a starlet who had caught his eye. Cindy Gable was a wisp of a girl, fresh out of the farmland of Missouri. She had served Ira in coffee at a diner in Kansas City and he said, “Kid, you’ve got what it takes to make it big, with a face like that.” Cindy left her Future Farmers of America boyfriend and packed a single bag for Los Angeles. Ira showed her the town and swept her off her feet. You should have seen her face when she uncovered her eyes and saw me sitting in her driveway with a big pink ribbon. Cindy really did have what it took. She went on to win many Academy Awards, and she always kept me, well cared for and preserved, on her estate.
How did all these Cadillacs come to rest in one place? Where will they go from here?