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The car of a lifetime

Paul Haynes drives same car to CHS reunion that he drove to graduation

Posted: October 5, 2017 4:58 p.m.
Updated: October 6, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Martin L. Cahn/C-I

Faye and Paul Haynes pose with their candy apple red 1934 Chevrolet Master outside the Kershaw County Parks and Recreation Department where Paul and his fellow Camden High School Class of 1962 graduates celebrated their 55th reunion. Paul drove the car, which he bought for $65 in 1956, to graduation at Zemp Stadium. He began modernizing it during the 1980s, putting a V-8 engine under the hood, converting it from stick to automatic shift and installing air conditioning and a radio.

“Chevy34”

That was the license plate on the bright, candy apple red car parked at the Kershaw County Parks and Recreation offices off West DeKalb Street in Camden on Sept. 30.

Inside the building, several dozen members of the Camden High School (CHS) Class of 1962 gathered to celebrate their 55th reunion. Among them was the car’s owner, Paul Haynes, and his wife, Faye, who graduated a year later.

Paul bought the 1934 Chevrolet Master in 1956, 22 years after its manufacture -- and six years before he would graduate from high school -- for just $65.

“The guy I worked with had it. That was Arthur Trimnal, and we both worked at Davis Printing,” Paul said.

Trimnal tried several times to get Paul to buy the car, which was painted black at the time, but Paul put him off each time.

“I kept telling him, ‘I don’t know,’” Paul said. “He finally told me on a Friday, ‘If you don’t buy it, I’m going to cut off the back tomorrow and turn it into a pickup truck.’ So, I did. I put down $15 and paid him $10 a week.”

The two of them actually wrote the transaction up on the printing office’s wall. Paul gave the Chevy its first candy apple red paint job while he was still in high school.

The Master wasn’t Paul’s first vehicle. That honor belongs to a 1931 Model A Ford pickup -- that he also still owns. Both hold a special place in Paul and Faye’s lives.

Faye said Paul used the Chevy to teach her how to drive stick shift.

Her favorite memory of the Master has to do with watermelons.

“Back in high school, we would go out ‘collecting’ watermelons at night out in the country,” Faye said. “After we ‘collected’ them, we sped off and I remember the watermelons bouncing all over the back seat.”

Paul drove to graduation at Zemp Stadium in the Chevy. Six months later, in December, Paul and Faye married. He drove the 1934 Chevy to work at DuPont; Faye drove the 1931 pickup to school.

For the next 20 years, Paul would drive the car all over, keeping it up as best he could. In 1982 and 1983, he got serious about modernizing the car so it would be more comfortable to drive.

Paul put in a V-8 engine; converted the stick shift to automatic; installed air conditioning, disc brakes and a radio. He estimates he put at least $13,000 into the car at that time. Faye remembered helping sandblast the car.

She also remembered the night he got the new engine working.

“We had to go to Oklahoma the next morning. He had the engine laid out and worked late into the night,” Faye said. “Around 2 in the morning, I heard him crank it up and I called out to him. I said, ‘Do you still want me to pack?’ And he told me we’d be leaving as soon as he was done. So, I packed my clothes and, as sure as he was done, we left.”

Faye said they made it in time for a national street rod meet in Oklahoma.

After that, Paul said, the Chevy Master seemed to go everywhere -- St. Paul, the Great Lakes, Indianapolis, New York, Dallas, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

Then, in the early 1990s, Paul put the car up. It sat in his garage for 18 years.

“About five or six years ago, I started working on it again,” Paul said.

He gave the car another paint job, and is planning yet another soon, and said there’s a few other tweaks he wants to make.

Why has he kept the 83-year-old car all these years?

“I like the car, and it’s mine,” Paul said. “I’m not about to let it go.”

He called the car a “keeper” and said the same of himself and Faye. Just as he drove the candy apple red 1934 Chevy Master to his 55th high school reunion, there’s a good chance it will play a part in the couple’s 55th wedding anniversary this December.

After all, “We did all our dating in this car,” Paul said.

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