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My Checker Love Affair

Editors Note:

On October 25, 1985, Kathryn Fonteno wrote a letter to Don McHenry of the CCCoA after reading a San Diego area article about Checkers and our club. Enclosed in the envelope was her membership dues of $5.00.

As an attachment to that letter, Kathryn described her longing for and eventual purchase of a new 1967 Checker Marathon in August of 1968. That letter appeared in the November 1985 issue of Checkerboard News. It is reprinted here in its entirety.

Kathryn maintained the CCCoA membership directory for several years after joining the Club. She appears on the membership roll up to April 1992. She died on August 26, 2007 at the age of 79.

Dear Don:

My love affair with the Checker automobile began back in 1960 and it happened like this:

My husband had an automobile repair/dealer shop back in those days in which he sold used cars (mostly domestic) and he sold new cars for the British Motor Company. We always received free tickets to attend various auto shows, so one night as we went around ‘kicking tires’ and ‘slamming doors’ and crawling in and out of various cars. The very last car I got into was a Checker!

Up until that time, I had never heard of the Checker (had never ridden in taxis that much). Well, needless to say, that after I sat on the back seat and stretched out my weary feet and legs, I remarked to my husband, “This is the kind of car I want to own.” (I had had my fill of driving all the trade-ins and the itty bitty 4-cylinder automobiles. Even the Austin-Healy sportscar held no attraction for me.)

1967 Checker Marathon

So, from that night in 1960, Until August 6, 1968 when I purchased my Checker from the Southern California Taxi Company on Inglewood, all I talked about was a Checker. It took me that long to save up enough money to pay cash for my automobile. I paid $3,426.00 FP (Everything but air and jump seats).

I have driven my car for 18 years now (It is a 1967 model, but I bought it brand new) and there isn’t a day goes by but what someone compliments it!!

I had it restored two years ago - new Chevy engine, new interior, seats, carpets, radio, etc. Had it rechromed and repainted as near the original light blue color as I could. It cost me about $3,200.00 to restore it, but I have a car that should last me the rest of my life!! (And that is exactly the statement I made 18 years ago!!) I might add, I’m now 58 years young!

What fun it is, to be driving down the freeway, keeping up with the rest of ‘em, have people in other cars turning around craning their necks trying to figure out what kind of car it is! People even stop me when I’m parked somewhere, asking about my Checker, or even in the gas stations when I’m purchasing gasoline, I have people engage me in conversation about my Checker.

At one time, years ago, I considered having a personalized license plate reading “TAXI” because I taxied two of my sons all over the city, but I decided to stay with my original license plate. My two sons learned to drive in my Checker, although the youngest son got to where he thought the car was embarrassing because the other kids would look at it whenever I took him to school. (He’s the son that told me years ago, “YOU LOVE THAT CAR!!!”)

Well, perhaps I DO ‘LOVE’ my Checker; as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best car ever that was ever manufactured. (I was so sad to hear back in 1982 that they were discontinuing it. I had looked around in 1981 to purchase a new Checker, but at that time, they were priced almost 3 times what I gave for mine in 1968!)

Anyway, I’m glad I happened to see a little article in one of our newspapers out here in Southern California that mentioned your Checker Car Club.

Enthusiastically yours,

Kathryn D. Fonteno

1410 Alhambra Road

South Pasadena, CA 91030

The following is the cover letter sent by Kathryn to Don McHenry in October 1985:

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