In 1965 Jerry Leggio designed the motion picture casting system for the Louisiana State Employment Service (today's Louisiana Workforce Commission). In 1969 he was awarded a State Science Foundation contract to Develop the Motion Picture Industry in Louisiana and In 1975 he led a multi-state committee to form the National Cineposium .
Jerry is the recipient of the 2014 ANNE PRICE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD in recognition of his pioneering efforts to grow the film industry in Louisiana.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
The Plymouth Belvedere
was a Plymouth named Belvedere, a car that many thought very queer.” OK, no more limerick. Remember the Belvedere? No?
Then you must be younger than 50.
Here’s my story of the Belvedere.
In 1964 my
1958 Nash Rambler finally croaked. After
first getting the engine rebuilt in 1962, then the transmission rebuilt in
1963, my patience was finally severed
when in 1964 the transmission once again chose to refrain from transmitting. That was it.
NO MORE RAMBLER. Less than 90,000
miles and when I once again heard some clanking and clunking, I swore it
sounded as if it was saying “Adios, Jerry; adios, Jerry”. I was actually relieved. I had vowed to get rid of it if another major
failure developed. So I returned the
greeting “Ciao, AMC; Ciao, AMC” meaning I would NOT be buying another product
from American Motors Corporation.
friend, Jay Washauer, had a brother who owned a used car lot. I forgot the brother’s name, so I will just
refer to him as Jim. Jay introduced me
to Jim who graciously interviewed me as though I were seeking a job. “No,
Jim, I need a car, a good, cheap, dependable used car. Jay says you can help me.”
So Jim said “Oh, a cheap car?” I said “Yes,
a cheap, DEPENDABLE car.” Jim said
“…then you won’t want anything I have on
my lot, but I can get you a great little Plymouth Belvedere.”
Jim had a car
dealer’s “pipeline” to the Michoud Corporation, a major NASA contractor located
on the coast. He said that Michoud
contracted with the Chrysler Corporation for their fleet cars and turned them
over every 2 years. He said when cars
were being retired from the fleet after their 2 year tours, Chrysler
re-conditioned them and sold them to
used car dealers with full 2 year warrantees.
a 2 year old, fully reconditioned 2-yr warranted Plymouth Belvedere for me at
his cost of $700….. a hell of a good deal.
Gloria and I were thrilled. The
only feature in that car we had a little trouble getting used to was the
push-button transmission. Until we
became conditioned to that change we kept reaching for a gear-shift lever that wasn’t there.
But that was the only draw-back …. at first.
Dependable? You bet!
Mechanically this car was perfect, never a moments trouble, very sound. We put many miles on it, going on many Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee
vacations … never encountering any problems.
We felt blessed.
We used to
frequent Bogue Falaya wayside park just east of Covington. This
park was on the Tchefuncte River and was a favorite picnic spot, offering clean
river swimming, playgrounds and ample picnic tables. We loved it.
Gloria said “Why don’t we go to Bogue
Falaya today.” All four kids in
unison belted out “YEAH!”. I observed that the weather seemed somewhat
threatening, but that didn’t dampen any spirits. We put our ice chest in the trunk, headed to
Krogers for food and drinks, then headed down Florida Blvd east toward our
Bogue Falaya destination (there was not yet an Interstate system).
When we got
just past Hammond, the sky opened up and rain pelted us unmercifully. All the food was in the trunk and everyone
was getting hungry. Gloria said “Be patient.
We’ll soon be there. We’ll get a
picnic shelter, then we can eat.”
After a few
more miles, 4 year old son Mike said “Hey! Not fair!” Gloria looked in the back seat and 5 year old
Felicia echoed the same sentiment. Then
Gloria exclaimed “Jerry, how did you get
that chicken leg?” Our oldest child,
7 yr old Jerry III, while gnawing on a fried chicken leg, said “I just reached through this hole and got it
from the box in the trunk.”
It was still
raining, so I pulled the car into a small roadside rest area. I turned around and said “Jerry, show me how you did that.” He simply reached through a hole in the rear
deck (just under the rear window) and pulled out another piece of chicken. In spite of the rain, I got out of the car
and climbed in the back seat, and with a few pushes of my hand, tested the
integrity of the rear deck. In doing so
my hand went through it adding another hole next to the one Jerry III had been
using. Gloria asked “What’s the problem?” I announced that the rear deck was
Then as I
was backing my body out of the back seat, my foot went through the floor
board. SHIT! I could see the ground below. Because son Mike was sitting at that part of
the rear seat I told him NOT to stand or put his feet over that hole. I then tested the floor board on Jerry’s
side and SHIT! my foot went through there as well…. more exposed ground. I told all 4 kids “Do not stand or put your feet through these holes! If you
fall through while the car is moving, you’d be killed.”
continue on to Bogue Falaya we decided to return home to Baton Rouge. After all it was still raining and I wanted
to minimize any chances of kids slipping through the floor board.
In the days
that followed I found myself having to contend with other car body rotting
incidents. The spare tire well in the
trunk was so rusted away (SHIT!) that I had to use one of our garbage can lids
to fashion a large patch to support the spare in the tire well. The bracket that supported the battery under
the hood was completely rusted away and the battery just hung there (SHIT!). I used a wire magazine rack to support the
may wind up with just a motor, 4 wheels and maybe a seat or 2, it was decided
that the car MUST go. I sold it to an
insurance agent for $300 …. as is. Other than for the body, it was still mechanically very sound and ran perfectly.
thought I’d have to give up a car because of body failures. I would find out later that the fleet cars
from Michoud that were re-sold all had body corrosion problems because of the
salt air they had to endure during their 2 year “enlistments” there. Hmmm! No wonder Chrysler Corporation was
willing to practically give them away after their 2 year fleet tours at Michoud
Corporation. "There once was a Clifton whose last name was Webb; "Mr Belvedere" he was which made him a celeb" OK, I'll admit I'm no Ogden Nash. No more limerick attempts. Back to HOME page and TABLE OF CONTENTS