Television of the 1950s has a special magic for many of us. It was the days of live programming, where creative spontaneity often overshadowed a primitive, black and white presentation. It was a time when the shear force of an actor's personality carried the show, not the special effects, the gag writers or the Nielsen Ratings.
One of these shows was "Highway Patrol" starring Broderick Crawford. The police action/drama ran for four seasons, 156 episodes in all. Jack Webb's "Dragnet" is probably the most recognizably of the police shows from the 1950s, but "Highway Patrol" made a lasting impression, too. Who can forget big, beefy Broderick Crawford, hunched over the open door of his Highway Patrol car, a scowl on his face as he barks "10-4" into the police radio in his hand.
Gary Goltz couldn't. Growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1950s, Goltz was a faithful viewer of the show. As he watched the programs, often filled with chases and the laid back and open Los Angeles landscape, he dreamed of moving to California and joining the Highway Patrol.
Most people never realize their dreams. Goltz is one of the lucky ones who did - at least partially and it was all because of his love of the show. On Monday, Goltz will be seen driving a fully restored 1955 Buick, like the ones used in the TV series, down Foothill Boulevard in the Fiesta Days Parade. Riding with him will be Broderick's son, Kelly Crawford, who lives in nearby Alta Dena.
"Having that car has kept me living my dreams," said Goltz, who moved to Upland, California in 1985, where he works in the healthcare industry. While on a business trip to Sacramento, Goltz happened to come upon a dealership where they fix up classic cars for sale. There he saw the 1955 Buick and on impulse bought the car for $6,500 then had it shipped to his home.
"I had been driving the car for a few weeks and just couldn't get it that show out of my head," Goltz said. That's when he ran across a classic Buick parts dealer who had an old picture of a 55 Buick used by the California Highway Patrol and suggested Goltz fix up his car like one of those old cars.
"I have spent over $50,000 restoring the car. Initially it took about six months, but I still think of it as a work in progress," Goltz. For anyone who is thinking about buying a classic car, he recommends buying one that hasn't been restored and starting from scratch. Sometimes, Goltz said, you have to redo work that somebody has already done.
"That car is opened up three different worlds for me. The first is the classic Buick world. I took second place in the Classic Buick Car Show in Pasadena on April 28."
"The second world is the one of the TV show. I have me so many actors, directors that were involved in the making of "Highway Patrol" in the 1950's and other shows later on. I got to meet Crawford's son. He's riding with me in the parade!"
"I have a video of every episode of the show except one, and I am going to get that one. I know where it is, in a vault at the University of Wisconsin's Film Library. The show, the most popular syndicated show ever, was still running on low budget UHF stations in places like Miami and Dallas until into the mid-1980s. That's when people were video taping the show and where most of my episodes came from."
"The third world is the one of law and enforcement. I have gotten to meet so many people in the CHP, from officers, to L.A. Chief Ed Gomez, to the state commissioner. They call me up to ask me to bring my car to their events. I have always wanted to be a Highway Patrol officer and today I am a big supporter of the Highway Patrol. It's been great fun for me," said Goltz.