My goal: To keep my promise to him and keep him living in his home.
Over the last year, he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/Dementia and Heart Failure. His heartbreaking condition now requires 24/7 care. After more than 7 months of applying for various services with still no assistance, it’s time for me to form an alternate plan. I am not too proud to admit that I am in need some help achieving my goal of keeping my promise to my dad to keep him in his own home/environment. To do this, I will need to hire more Skilled Nurses for the 24/7 care and sadly, that is now beyond what I am able to continue to provide with the help of my brother Frank Jr.
My dad started customizing cars in 1943. In those years, he did nearly every type of modification possible on a car. Chopping tops, sectioning the body, installing suicide doors and leading different quarter panels on was all in a day’s work. His heart, love for his family, drive and work ethic has always been one of a bull. He shined shoes for 25 cents as a young child. He quit school in the 8th grade and to help support his family by working in the Fish Cannery. He would tell stories of having to go hide in the attic when the truant officers would come. At the age of 17, he joined and served in the United States Navy in World War II. My father couldn’t be more proud to be an Italian-Sicilian American supporting our country.
In 1949, he opened his first shop in Pittsburg and continued working on cars and building wild customs. One of his first notorious customs; “Joker Car”, a ’36 Ford he totaled and put back together. It was a combination of Lincoln, Kaiser, Chevy and Ford parts so radically customized that it was outlawed from the streets for being painted purple, having loud pipes, being too low and sinister looking. Start of his radical builds and “I don’t give a $#%& attitude about going a step beyond in a build..”
After a couple of unsuccessful marriages, he met my mother with (4) kids and moved them into his home. They married in the mid 1960’s and had Frankie and I soon after. They were married 43 years until she passed away in 2006. He settled down busy working and doing regular body work and raising a family until 1973 when he brought Frankie and I to the Oakland Roadster Show and after seeing our excitement, it sparked and rekindled his deep rooted passion of creating rolling art and well, the rest is history!
Over the years, he has become pretty well-known being recognized for his car builds in newspapers, in 100’s of magazines and on television. Traveling the United States and going to car shows and serving as Grand Marshal at the KKOA car show, and being honored with “Builder of the Year” at Oakland Roadster Show meant the world to him. He was so astonished, honored and humbled to be inducted into numerous Automobile Customizing Hall of Fames in the United States. He is very proud to be a part of the West Coast Kustoms family, especially being one of the original Northern California members uniting Kustoms with Southern California. Last year, at the age of 91, the Pittsburg Entertainment & Arts Hall of Fame inducted “The OG of Kustomizing” for his many contributions to the town that he is deeply rooted in.
Some of his more notorious, radical and innovative builds were; 51’ Mercury with suicide doors “Merc 4” which was the most beautiful gold metal flake with ghost ribbons, then one day he drove it home painted black and then shortly afterwards, it was painted orange (If you’re from Pittsburg, you know that those are the cities colors!), ’60 Cadillac radically known as; “The Sharkmobile” aka “Vendetta” his answer to Barris’s Batmobile, ’66 Buick Riviera “The Golden Pirahna”, ’40 Merc hardtop removable, ‘51 Mercury “The King of Mercs” the winner of Al Slonaker award in 1987 and ’47 Cadillac with the most extreme bitchin fastback. Just to name a few of his wild creations. He’s worked on and built many spectacular cars for others and has thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. He’s had A LOT of fun keeping Kustoms alive and made so many wonderful friends all around the world being such an important part of this hobby and era. He’s always said that he’s never worked a day in his life doing what he loves; working on cars and creating from his heart to his hands “rolling art” and has had “Miles of Smiles” along the way. My hope is that he continues to do so happily in his own home….until he’s painting rainbows in the sky!
We thank you humbly for reading and if you are able to contribute even a small amount to help support our father in the final stage of his life, it would mean the world to our family and my father. God Bless!
Regina DeRosa Fredenburg
- Rick Felix
- Justine Macaluso
- Michele Barajas
- Britney Sabik
- Tiffany Froehlich
Organizer and beneficiary
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