It all started with a head full of dreams. You know, the "visions of sugar plum" trick. Harold Barnes, stuck deep in Unc' Sam's Navy, cruised the San Diego area in search of street rods, car shows, or anything even closely related. He was impressed with what he found. Mainly the L.A. Roadsters, a club established five years prior, 1958. Harold decided to try a scaled down version of the L.A. club after his discharge in 1964.
So, in late '64, Harold started looking for members. It was a futile effort. It seems that something called a "muscle car" had been born and street rodding brethren were almost as rare as policemen that liked hot rods. But slowly, they showed up. The first was one Bob Brown, driving a light blue '27 T powered by Olds. Bob brought in the third member, a friend of his, Ray Coons who was building a '27 shortened pickup. A gent by the name of Larry Cline also came in with a pretty rough Chevy powered T.
There still didn't seem to be enough interest for a club, but the foursome ran around together until the summer of '65 when Harold decided to try again with his dream club idea. The first actual meeting was held at Mohawk Park in July, 1965. Due to the membership problem, everyone was an officer. Harold was elected President because his car had been on the street the longest. Ray Coons was the Vice President. Paul Haddock, who recently finished his 1915 full fendered Olds powered
roadster, was elected Secretary. Jim O'Brien was the Treasurer. Bob Brown was drifting from the street scene to the Burke Bros. AA / Fueler. He passed away one year later following a short illness.
To say that the club was a low bucks effort would be wrong. It was a "No Bucks" effort. No initiation fees, no dues, no parties, nothing. Harold scribbled a short constitution (which has since vanished) and the club was underway. Plaques were the first concern and they were furnished by Port Chicago Metal Works, Port Chicago, California. The company is gone now.....so is the town. The design for the plaques and shirts is credited to a Navy buddy of Harold's'. This fella was an exceptional artist and did lots of "weirdo" sketches on jumpsuits. One night while a victim of the old demon Rum, a sketch of a T roadster was laid on a jumpsuit and Harold grabbed it. We use the same design to this day.
After a few activities were underway, the guys decided that more members could be gathered if they looked like a club. ABC Lettering was contracted to print the first shirts. Their thinking must have been right because the membership started to grow. First, Jake Wilson came in with his Tempest four-banger equipped T. The turtlebacked rod was originally red, later changed to a beautiful gold. Old dasterdly Dudley Parker came on the scene about this time with his '27 powered by (of all things) a flathead. The procedure for recruiting new members was a bit strange. The club members would cruise the streets and byways in search of rods. When spotted, the neophyte rodder would be chased until he stopped, then given the biggest spill since P.T. Barnum about why they should join the Tulsa Roadsters. This is known in the business world as a "Hard Sell" approach.
The year was now 1966. Ray Coons introduced Tom Graves to the club. Another new member was Dick Williams driving a sharp green T with an Olds engine that would pop wheelies at will. Dick now resides in Oklahoma City.
The club meetings were still being held in the president's garage in 1967 and the same officers had been retained from the previous years.
In the spring of that year Darrel Starbird invited the club to show in Oklahoma City. Three cars made the trip including Harold, Jake, and Ray Coons. They swept 1st and 2nd place roadsters and Best Club awards. Thrilled at this, the club entered another show in Tulsa three months later and again took 1st and 2nd place roadster class and Best Club award. Due to these early triumphs a strange phenomenon known as "car show fever" crept into the club. Soon to be supported by still another 1st and 2nd place roadster and Best Club sweep at the Okmulgee show.
Several new members were added that year which included Leon Brown who was quickly elected president. Leon drove a fine lime green T pickup. This car was a beautiful piece at this time but has since rusted away sitting in Leon's front yard. Harold was the secretary in 1967 and Ray Coons stayed on as the Vice President. Richard Leach entered the club through the "rush" program that year. After he bought a rod off a used car dealer on 11th street Richard was pounced on by several members and persuaded to join. Kent Cornwell joined the club at the OKC show.
Uncle Sam and his world tamers took their toll in 1967 as Gary Kenslow and Tom Graves were drafted and Dudley took off to join the fly boys.
The car show circuit continued to have bad effects on the club during the winter months as the competition grew keen and eventually hurt the club badly. Members actually got angry and violent over a six dollar trophy. Some quit the club.
The first attempt at public relations was a picture of the club in Rod and Custom magazine October '67. Hot Rod magazine also carried a picture that year of the club.
Although the membership was dropping off some, the club decided to sponsor a rod run in the spring of '68. Another club, the Early Rods of Tulsa were just getting a start with a few old coupes and one roadster and they were asked to join us at the Sequoyah State Park and Lodge for a weekend of fun and party. Several notables of the local car scene made the trip including Dick Huckins or the "Bearded One", as he is known to most driving his late model custom Mustang. If my memory serves correct, Herb was a passenger in that car causing quite a controversy after dropping a lit cigarette into the deep shag carpets. Any truth to that Herb?
The run turned out to a big success and the club decided to try again with the car show in the fall. Other area shows at the time were not very good and the roadster club knew that they could do better. So, with the visions of sugarplums thing again, they borrowed $1000, acquired the National Guard Armory, had the wives set up concessions, recruited 70 or 80 choice cars, and promptly lost their tail. Each member ended up coughing up one hundred dollars per each to meet expenses. That's life in the big city!
After the car show tragedy, things really went to pieces. Leon Brown, the president, quit the club. The armed forces still kept several members but the active club roster included only three names: Harold Barnes, Kenneth Barnes (who purchased Paul Haddock's car) and Richard Leach. The meetings were being held at Richard's house. Some talked of abandoning the club altogether but it was decided that too much progress had been made to quit now. This year, 1969, was the bleakest and the weakest for the club.
Towards the end of 1969, the club's outlook changed greatly. Several new members showed up and still more returned from the services. It's here I will stop this segment of our history. The final portion of the club's heritage will be included in a future issue, hopefully next month.
Webmaster's note: This is the original club history and was recently found in one of our member's old papers.