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Smells Fishy: 1958

Smells Fishy: 1958

If anyone wants to know what the weirdest, most pungent smell in the world is, my vote goes for a menhaden fish-processing plant, more commonly called a “pogie plant.” This one was on Highway 87 between Port Arthur and Sabine Pass, Texas, and owned by a friend of my dad’s, John Quinn.

My dad’s car is the 1952 DeSoto Custom Club coupé which looks black in this photo, but was actually a very dark green. He loved that car and so did I. I’m guessing that bright-red object is either a gas pump or– and this is entirely possible– Dr Who is visiting Sabine Pass, Texas, for some reason.

My dad was fascinated by menhaden fish; he’d spot huge schools of them in the Gulf of Mexico from his plane, radio the fishing boats as to the location, and they’d pay him a percentage of the catch’s proceeds. That was called “fish spotting” and some pilots made a lot of money doing that!

A Texas marine biologist’s report from 1960 that I found on the web claimed that this plant, and one other in Texas, processed 60 MILLION pounds of menhaden in 1959. Holy mackerel, that’s a lot of fish!!!

Photo from 1958 (I think!). View full size.

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@Jim Page

I was unable to zoom on your picture, and my laptop resolution is not the best. You can see the model name in back-slanted script on the tailfin. With the help of a magnifying glass I think I can just make out the letter "p" at the end, so I'm guessing it's the low-priced Firesweep series. It was built on the shorter wheelbase of the Dodge Royale, as true DeSotos were very long cars. Hard to determine with the telephone pole breaking up the continuity, but this appears to be shorter.

Question For ptcruiser

Thanks for your comment! DeSotos and Pontiacs were my dad's favorites, and he was a commercial pilot; it seemed a lot of his pilot friends also favored those two brands.

Can you tell what exact model the white one is in the second photo I posted? I can't remember and don't know the brand enough to distinguish the models. I seem to remember it was Fire-something or other. I really loved that car. It had a push-button automatic transmission and was super fast.



I clearly remember the 1957 Ford Fairlane

I nearly fell out of the passenger door and right on to Main Street Barstow (a.k.a. Route 66) in one when I was five!

Mom took a hard left, the door flew open and I hung on to Grandma for dear life, Grandma hung onto Mom and Mom hung on to the Steering wheel!

The second time I almost got killed in that car was when a rear tire blew out on Highway 18, we spun around two or three times without hitting anything but I think we all needed a change of undergarments.

I can't recall how many times it left us stranded with a dead battery, I was only four or five during the time we had that death trap.

Sure like to have another one today though.

Must be the salt air

It just struck me how rusty and beat-up looking some of these vehicles are, considering the year is c.1958. The Ford F-100 is only a couple of years old, but it looks like it's at least 20 (even if it didn't have that dented fender)! Does the Gulf climate really age vehicles that fast?


Were my dad's favorite. The late 50s models were: Firedome, Fireflite, Adventurer, and shorter-wheelbase Firesweep. He moved on to Chryslers when DeSoto ended its run in 1961.

re:Working_Fool's Auto Review

Good job. Couple of minor corrections/clarifications: The c.'55 Ford pickup is a '56, and the '50 Ford sedan is actually a '51.


It would interesting to correlate the number of comments a picture generates with the number of cars/pretty girls in that picture.

Working_Fool's Auto Review


You did far better than I could. From some other old slides I had made into digital files, I had identified that DeSoto of my dad's as a 1952, but you are more likely to be correct than I am. It was a great car, and dad later had a white '58 Firestorm (I believe that was the model) DeSoto that was my favorite. I'm on the left in the attached photo from 1962.

Nice parking lot

In the foreground we have a circa '55 Ford pickup with its working clothes on, behind it is a '57 Ford Fairlane, nosed up to the gas pump is a '56 Mercury, across the alley from that is a '56 Pontiac, next to the Poncho is a brand-new Ford pickup with a plywood box built over the bed, and the gray and white sedan on its bumper is a '50 Ford. For the final four we have, right to left, a '51 Chevy, a '51 Desoto, a '55-up GMC pickup, and a circa '47 Desoto with badly sunbaked paint.

How did I do?

Re: Nice mix of cars

On the right center one of my favorite cars is a Fairlane 500. Pretty sure it is a 1957 model. Also see a 56 Pontiac which looks purple to me just to the left of the red pump.

Nice mix of cars

I like the ford in the middle part of the photo. I see (I think) a couple of Oldsmobiles and a Ford pickup. Can anyone tell me about the others?


A good picture with a lot of details. I would guess the red object is a fuel pump because it looks like a pipe near it coming from an underground storage tank. I wonder why the pump and pipe isn't protected from traffic though. The truck in the foreground is pretty beat up and labeled #5 so I assume the fish plant had a fleet of trucks. A great photo for lovers of classic vehicles.

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