Simon and Garfunkel's song "Mrs. Robinson," posed the rhetorical question, "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?" Miffed, Joltin' Joe would often tell his close friends, "I haven't gone anywhere, I'm still here."

Likewise, Editor Bud Bryan's associates, friends, and his loyal R&C readers wondered the same thing. When Bud left Rod & Custom, he vanished.

When the fledgling street rod movement was taking hold, Bud knew street rodders wanted their own sport. While they respected hot rodders, they weren't racers. The R&C readers related to Bud because he was one of them; he drove what he built and got rodders to do the same.

When I wrote the story in the Oct. '07 issue of R&C about the 1st Rod & Custom Street Rod Nationals in1971, more than 35 years had passed since Tom Medley and his staff had talked to one another. Little did I know how my reuniting Bud Bryan, Tom Medley, and Jim Jacobs would change the former editor's life.

"I was raised in Liberal, Kansas," began Bud. "My playground was Uncle Perry's junkyard. He had a Mack bulldog truck with a big A-frame boom, and he would pick up Model As and sling them into railroad gondolas parked on the tracks. He'd lift up the cars and let 'em fly." You might say Bud got hooked on Model As (and their preservation) because of Uncle Perry's glee in giving them the hook. The A-bones were contributing to the war effort overseas.

Bud's world changed, for the better, when he was 5 years old, when he and his mother moved to Southern California in 1943. He lived by the old Long Beach oil fields and tank farm just along Cherry Avenue, not far from the action at Lions Drag Strip and hot rod heaven in Compton.

Bud's first car was a '29 Hudson four-door. "There was a gas station by my house and I used to talk to the old codger who owned it, and I did a little cleaning for him. The Hudson was my reward," he said. "My buddies and I used to sit in the Hudson parked behind his station and BS. It was kind of a meeting place. He wanted to get the Hudson off his property, so he sold it to me for a buck. I was 13."

Bud fired up the hulk (a popular getaway car in the '30s capable of sustained speeds of more than 80 mph) and drove it from the station to the back of his mother's fence.

Noticing a strange automobile sitting on her property, his mom inquired where the old car came from. "I'm not sure, somebody just parked it there," replied Bud. It was hauled off while Bud was in school. "I was heartbroken. Eventually, I fessed up to parking it there."

While attending Jordan High School in Long Beach, Bud worked the graveyard shift at a rubber company to help out his retired mother financially and allow him to afford a '47 Ford. Bud went to his sister's house after he got off work in the morning, cleaned up, and had just enough time to have some toast and get to school in his '47 Ford. This went on until his senior year.

Then, Bud traded the '47 sedan for a '40 coupe with a 3/8x3/8 Flathead: "It had slicks on it, and I was replacing a trans every weekend at my house, my friend Hugh Teitxworth's house, or Chuck Finders' shop. Chuck worked on transmissions in Bellflower and had the world's fastest blown A-Gasser. It was a Willys pickup and it was an absolute animal.

"I traded the '40 for a '52 Chevy, which was a mistake. I completely destroyed the front of that '52. I totaled it twice," laughed Bud. "The first time, it was in front of the Clock Drive-In on Lakewood Boulevard messing around. My friend, Hugh, and I were throwing firecrackers out the window. I didn't see the light change-the guy in front of me stopped and I didn't.

"The second time, I was backing out of my girlfriend's driveway, and I sideswiped the neighbor's car. It wasn't just a tender sideswipe-it was a crunching, grinding, shattering affair. I was going so fast, I wiped out both cars. Her dad and the neighbor weren't real happy with me. I bolted on some new sheetmetal and traded it in on a '55 Chevy, which ended up with a custom Cadillac Linton Green lacquer paintjob."