Jimz Bird  -  1956 Thunderbird

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Mable was originally Thunderbird Green, named in honor of her original owner Mable Gordon.  Info on the original owners appears below.  The first part is from an article in the Newport News VA Daily Press.

The 2nd owner, David Kamenesky, restored her back to Thunderbird Green.  But that is the 2nd part of the story.

Do you know of Dot Lang?  She has the site: http://www.portholeauthority.com/.  If so, Dot is part of "The rest of the story..." and played a key role in me being able to get Mable (But she didn't know it {nor did I} for over 10 years).

Mable now lives buy the Chesapeake Bay on Willoughby Spit in Norfolk, VA.  I live on The Spit and can see Pheobus, VA - where Mable "grew up" from my place on the Bay.  Hence, all part of the "Mable - The Little Green Thunderbird Comes Home to Roost" saga.

Well, maybe more info than is really needed but the history of this particular Bird is well documented and I, of course, find it fascinating.









A Spin Down Memory Lane

T-bird Recalls Fond Memories For Free-wheeling Couple

January 17, 1990|By SCOTT SAALMAN Staff Writer

The sky and clouds spin slowly on the glossy pink hood of the car as we cautiously drive through Phoebus.

At a stoplight, waiting for green, we can read the lips of passing motorists:

Thunderbird. Look at the Thunderbird.

They stare longer than usual. They point. Their necks stretch to keep sight of our fine machine for as long as possible, the way they do during parades.

There is no parade today, but a flawless, sleek, pink '56 Thunderbird has the power to do this.

It hypnotizes.

Even those who know nothing or care nothing about cars notice this one. Later, during supper, it may become a table topic. Pass the butter. A chicken leg, please. Oh, by the way, you should have seen the T-bird I saw. Pink as a rosebud. Porthole windows. Continental kit on the back. Big ol' whitewalls. A '56, I believe. The vanity license plate had a woman's name. Mable, I think. Mable G.

Mable Gordon, 62, is Mable G. She's at home behind the wheel of her T-bird. She ought to be. She has owned it since the car came off the assembly line, brand-spanking-new, back when "Hound Dog," "Heartbreak Hotel," the Platters and Dean Martin were on the charts. Her body molds into the leather seat as comfortably as day one, her proud smile stretching with the miles.

A chilly breeze blows through the open driver's window; this car was meant to welcome in the wind. The odometer reads 93,000. The speedometer brags the car can go 150 mph. We rumble down East Mellen Street at less than 30 mph with the white top regrettably over our heads. Smooth and precisioned, Mable G's Reeboks work the gas and brake pedals.

"It knows who I am," she says through her smile, and then steers onto the horseshoe-shaped driveway of her home in the Mill Creek Terrace area, around a small front-yard forest and under the carport next to a long, black plastic snake hanging from the ceiling. It's there to scare the starlings away, to keep them from performing dastardly deeds on her prized car's 12 coats of paint.

"She and the car are sort of synonymous," says Mable's husband, Jerry, 74, owner of Gordon Enterprises in Newport News. "When I'm very good, she'll let me drive it."

For eight or nine months of 1989, neither could enjoy that luxury. The car was pulled apart, piece by piece, its parts rebuilt, repaired and replaced until this fine driving machine was restored to newness in the confines of Car-Matic on Jefferson Avenue.

According to Car-Matic owner Frank Garnett, more than 1,000 hours were spent in the restoration. Authentic parts had to be purchased from as far away as California, Maine and Florida to retain the car's value.

As the T-bird served its time, the Gordons made regular visits to the shop and fretted over what they found.

"There were all these pieces," Jerry recalls. "They had a clothesline down there with all of the pieces hanging on it."

Mable had trouble sleeping at night. "I'd wake up and think, `Oh my, I wonder if they can put it back together.'"

Now restored, the T-bird has undergone two dramatic changes. It's pink instead of the original lime green, and a burglar alarm has been installed in spite of Mable's reluctance.

Some of you may remember Mable. Mable and her car. Especially if you hung out at Newport News' Skateland, where she was manager for 14 years in the '50s and '60s.

It was Jerry, the skating rink's owner, who hired her. Mable was fresh from a separation and saw working at Skateland as a good way to heal her loneliness. It was a more effective cure than anticipated. "I didn't know I was going to hire her for all these years," jokes her husband of 30 years.

Maybe you remember Mable at the Saturday night sock hops, where hundreds flocked onto the rink's maple floor to dance to whatever WGH's disc jockeys had to offer. If you were a Girl Scout, she may have pinned a skating badge on you. She may have taught you how to skate.

Your parents may have sought her advice on how to relate to kids. "I was becoming a psychologist as well as a skating teacher," Mable says.

And, if you were good, really good, she put the top down and gave you a ride in her T-bird. "Most of them didn't have access to anything so sporty," she says.

Mable bought the car for $4,475. "I read in magazines about how Ford was coming out with this little sports car and, of course, the first news of them was in '54. The '55 came out, and I could see a few things that I didn't like. And then the '56 - it had just what I wanted."

Today, the car could be worth 10 times the purchase price, which pretty well keeps it from being parked at shopping mall parking lots.

Mable, born in Florida - her husband calls her a "third-generation Florida cracker" - pauses when asked to share fond memories of the car. Jerry helps. "How about putting a half-dozen people in a two-seater with some skis and taking them to a water ski tournament?"

"I had this little French poodle," Mable says. "He always had a pretty collar, and he'd sit with his paws up and his ears flying. At times the police would see me exceeding the speed limit, and some told me they didn't have the heart to give me a ticket `because you just looked so happy, and the little dog looked so cute.'"

Maybe you remember the Gordons together. Their lifestyle has often matched the image of a '56 Thunderbird. Sporty. Free-spirited. An adventure at every turn. Real attention-grabbers.

Maybe you remember hearing about them in 1964, when they traveled the world a little differently than most. For 2 1/2 months, they skied in countries like Thailand, France, Israel, Spain, Portugal, India, Italy and Japan.

Maybe you remember reading about them in 1976 when they took another unusual trip. Aboard the Gee Whiz, their 26-foot open speedboat, the Gordons cruised the country's waterways, completing a 5,000 mile journey in 45 days. Jerry says they'll take a similar trip this year.

No matter where they've traveled, it's the T-bird that has guaranteed the Gordons a most satisfying journey, be it down memory lane or just around the block.

"I never drove anything that drove as nicely," says Mable.



Mable Gross Gordon

November 01, 2002

Mable Gross Gordon, 80, died Thursday, October 31, 2002, at home after a long illness. Born in Charlotte Co., Florida, she was a 1939 graduate of Morrison High School in Newport News where she was captain of the girls basketball team.

Mrs. Gordon had retired as both an instructor and manager of Skateland which was on the corner of Briarfield and Jefferson in Newport News. She is remembered by the many children she taught to roller skate during her years there. Having introduced water-skiing to the Hampton area she became the Mid Atlantic Slalom Skiing Champion. She, with her husband Jerry, had water-skied in many countries around the world and the two together had twice circumnavigated the Eastern United States in their speedboat.

Mrs. Gordon is survived by her husband, Jerome Gordon; sisters, Grace Benjamin and Pauline Britt; brother, George Gross; nieces, Debra Buchanan, Jane Luttrell and Paula Miller; great nieces, Shelby Miller and Shannon Miller; great nephews, Tim Luttrell, Justin Buchanan, James Buchanan, and Christopher Miller; stepson, Hayden H. Gordon; and step-grandchildren,

A memorial service will be conducted at 12 Noon, Saturday, November 2, 2002, at R. Hayden Smith Funeral Home Downtown Hampton by the Rev. William R. Kyle, Jr.

The family requests memorial donations be sent to the Jerome and Mable Gordon Philanthropic Fund, 318 Whealton Rd., Hampton 23666.


Jerome Gordon

HAMPTON - Jerome Gordon, a devoted family man, entrepreneur, philanthropist and 'Uncle Jerry' to many, died on Wednesday, July 18, 2007. He was 92 years young.

Born March 1, 1915, to William and Bertha Gordon, he was preceded in death by his wife of forty-three years, Mable, and his two brothers, Leonard and Julian. Survivors include his wife, Janet  Ayers Gordon, his son Hayden, three grandchildren, Brandon Gordon, Lee Gordon and Heather Rose, and three great grandchildren. Additional survivors include his sisters, Carlyn Katz and Helen Matelson, sister-in-law, Gertrude Gordon, as well as five stepdaughters, Carolyn, Jennifer, Peyton, Melinda and Emily and his numerous nieces and nephews, great nieces and great nephews, as well as countless friends that he considered family. They will all miss him greatly.

Jerry was a pioneer in the motion picture business, joining his parents and his brothers in running the Palace Theater in downtown Newport News. After an attempt to find fame and fortune in California with his dear friend, Herbie Morewitz, he returned to the Peninsula to help his family run the theater business which had grown with the addition of the Stuart and Green Acres Drive-In.

In 1942, Jerry enlisted in the Marine Corps and proudly served in the Pacific campaign in World War II. After the war he returned to the movie business, and, together with his family, ventured into other endeavors, including Skateland and Giant Burger.

Jerry has been an integral moving force in the motion picture industry with his work on the rating system, censorship, and as an advocate for the small exhibitor. He served in many capacities in national and regional theater organizations and at the time of his death, was the Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the National Association of Theatre Owners.

Despite his many accomplishments, Jerry's real love was people. He was involved for many years with the Hampton Coliseum Commission (and was its Chairman at the time of his death), the Phoebus Improvement League, and Hampton Roads Water Ski Club.

Jerry was a recipient of the NCCJ citizenship award.

Perhaps Jerry's greatest gift was his willingness to give of himself. Jerry was a believer in 'paying it forward.' His steadfast devotion to Mable during her prolonged illness was returned to him by Janet, who showered him with boundless love and care.

To the countless people he and Mable taught to water ski, his many guests for the 4th of July fireworks, or holiday time and to the hundreds he helped by giving sage advice or a push in the right direction or assistance individually or through his many and varied philanthropic gifts-to all these people for whom he was Uncle Jerry, he will be sorely missed but always remembered.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Jerome Gordon Memorial NATO Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1830, Hampton, VA 23669, the Bernice Gordon Scholarship Endowment at Rodef Sholom Temple, 318 Whealton Road, Hampton, VA 23666, or the charity of your choice.

Funeral services will be conducted at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 22, at Rodef Sholom Temple, 318 Whealton Road, Hampton. Arrangements by R. Hayden Smith Funeral Home.


These were truly amazing people.

Jerry was involved with the National Association of Theatre Owners.  Here is an excerpt from a benefit function that the organization had to honor Jerry and Mable.

“About our Scholarship Program:  Since 1985, over $380,000 in scholarships have been awarded to a total of over 275 theatre employees from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC. 

The program was the vision of our beloved Executive Director Jerry Gordon and was made possible by our operating funds as well as gifts in honor of industry leaders.  Following Jerry’s lead, numerous scholarship programs were subsequently started in other state and regional NATO associations.

Over the years, Jerry became known as “the Godfather” of the NATO scholarship programs. 

Among the various leaders being honored this evening, we are proud to call Jerry our own.

He was a mentor, a statesman and beyond all else, a wonderful man that is missed by all.

Following his death during the summer of 2007, Mid-Atlantic NATO established the Jerry Gordon Memorial Scholarship Fund to help continue scholarships named to honor both Jerry and Mabel Gordon.””


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