Everything Matters: From Rusted Chevy to Chrome-plated CouchBlog / Produced by The High Calling
In the late 1960s, Dan Bowen was holding down two jobs. He served in the United States Air Force and worked part-time at a Texaco station. In those days, everyone knew the motto: “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.”
“That’s a good motto to live by,” Dan told me on the phone. Good work is about trust. Perhaps that explains why so many people are fascinated by classic cars, like Dan and his friends in the Central Texas Classic Chevy Club of Austin. Say what you will about the improved safety, efficiency, and comfort of today’s automobiles, people trusted those old cars in the 1950s.
But that was a long time ago, and that trust has rusted and aged.
1955 was a good year for American cars and culture in general. In music, “Rock Around the Clock” became the first rock and roll song to top the charts. Elvis Presley played a concert in Lubbock, Texas, with Buddy Holly as the opening act. In film, Disney released Lady and the Tramp, Marilyn Monroe got The Seven Year Itch, and Oklahoma! jumped from stage to state song to silver screen. In books, J. R. R. Tolkein released The Return of the King.
1955 was a good year.
It was even the year Doctor Emmett Brown invented the time machine (and later built it with a car) in the film Back to the Future.
Some cultural artifacts—like stories and art—seem to live forever, as successive generations learn to love them. Other works, like most of the 1955 Chevy Sedans, disappear quickly.
That’s why Dan Bowen and the Classic Chevy Club are on a mission to preserve and restore classic Chevys from 1955, 56, and 57, the “shoebox cars.” When that isn’t possible, they get creative.
So of course, Craig Potthoff and Bert Brown cut off the back end.
“In this case, we couldn’t preserve the whole car,” Dan explained, “but we could preserve a couch out of it.”
Dan told me, “Bert had made two couches before, so he said if we came up with the car and provided the materials, then he would make the couch for us.” Many organizations and businesses donated various elements for the project, from the stereo to the motorized antenna to the interior to the couch to the paint and primer.
After a lot of work, the couch looks incredible!
That would be high calling enough if that was the end of the story: good men working on a good project to restore some good in the world. If creation care means preserving our forests and oceans and mountains and rivers, then culture care could mean preserving this small piece of 1955 for the 30th Annual Lone Star Car Show next month. And that would honor God.
But Dan Bowen, Craig Potthoff, Bert Brown, and the folks in the Classic Chevy Club wanted to do even more. They decided to donate all proceeds from the couch to The H. E. Butt Family Foundation's own Foundation Free Camps. (The H. E. Butt Family Foundation supports several programs, including Foundation Free Camps, Laity Lodge, and The High Calling.) You can see pictures of the couch and find out more about the fundraiser on their Facebook page.
At The High Calling, we believe all good and excellent work brings glory to God. In 1955 this Chevy Sedan brought glory to God as a beautiful cultural artifact created by a community of workers. It also brought profit to the company and income to the workers, who used the money to feed their families and engage in civic activities. Very likely, many of them tithed some portion of their paychecks.
Now, the Classic Chevy Club has preserved an element of that culture by transforming it into a couch.
You might even say the rusted old car was redeemed.
Image by Dan Bowen. Used with permission.