HOW IT ALL BEGAN
A little about Frank and his passion for cars and unique collectibles…
Frank Roman has had a love for cars since as a 15-year-old young man growing up in Weimar, CA he fell in love with his first vehicle, a 1947 Ford.
In the winter months to make money, he and his brothers would go to the Sierras and put on tire chains. Freezing cold back then they charged $4 on and $2 off. “If I came home with $15-20, I was rich!”
The summer he turned 15, Frank got his first job as a busboy working at a restaurant called Heide’s in Applegate that specialized in fondue. He worked weekends with the mission that he would save his money to purchase his first automobile. Next door to Heide’s there was a Beacon gas station and the owner had a 1947 Ford pickup for sale for $125. Frank saved $100 after months of work. “I asked my father to lend me $25 so I could purchase the truck adding in the persuasive caveat ‘he would not have to drive me back and forth any longer’.
My father told me If I wanted that vehicle, he would not loan me the money and I would have to earn every dime.” Frank went back to the owner asking if he could wait another few weeks. The owner stated, “First come first served”. Frustrated but determined Frank went back to work and recalled telling the manager of Heide’s, Ray Smith, “I was $25 short”. Ray said, “we have plenty of potatoes to peel to make extra money”. Frank busted his backside working extra hard that entire weekend to make the $25. The following week he received his paycheck, racing to the bank to cash it. “Proudly, I now had the $125 and hitchhiked to Applegate to buy my truck. I raced through the door, with cash in hand to purchase my truck. The manager told me that the truck was sold. I was devastated. Since there were no telephones back then, I walked next door and used a phone to ask my father to pick me up since “because of him I didn’t get my truck”.
It was approaching my 16th birthday in November. I was still working at Heide’s starting a long weekend of dishes when Ray asked me to take out a bunch of boxes to the trash bin outback. I rolled my eyes, not wanting to take on this additional task but bucked it up. As I exited the restaurant rear doors, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Sitting behind the restaurant with a big bow taped to the hood was “my” 1947 Ford pickup! Taped to the windshield was a card that read “Happy birthday. Hard work pays off”. Ray handed me the keys and said, “Oh, by the way, I filled the gas tank”. I told Ray I would bring him the $125 the next day when I came to work. He said, “Don’t you get it, boy, it’s a birthday present for your hard work”. I cherished that truck, but I learned a lifelong lesson about hard work and recognition from Ray. Thus began my love for automobiles.
Our high school didn’t provide many options for entertainment for dances, so my brothers and I decided to form a band called the Odd Lot. We played at our school dances and even some local clubs. We won the Battle of the Bands competitions too. Our band provided great entertainment, a way to earn extra money and meet girls! Guess who the drummer is?
A little over a year after I got my Ford truck in 1962 an old local farmer crashed into my truck and totaled it! There was no insurance of course and I was devastated. The Roman boys were known to be a bit rascally and we wanted to go and burn down his house. Of course, we didn’t. In those days everyone had a ‘55, ’56, or ‘57 Chevy. So with the money I had earned from our band and weekend work, I was able to purchase my second vehicle which was a 1955 Chevrolet for $200. I loved that car!
My friend Skip Matlock raced cars at the Auburn Raceway. He took me to the races with him one Saturday night. They wouldn’t allow me in the pits because you had to be 18 and I was too young. I had to sit in the main grandstand. I was so excited my heart was pounding watching these cars make errors driving. I thought to myself, “I can do this!” I told Skip I wanted to race cars. In those days ’55 and “56 Chevies were the racecars to have.
Since I didn’t have the money to go buy one for a race car, I decided to convert my street car into a race car. I recall that weekend I got up early and started to dismantle my car. When my father arrived home from work at about 4 pm that day, he sees my car parked with a pile of parts next to it. I had stripped it out.
That launched my racing career. I continued to race through high school and after graduation I won the Stock Car Championship in 1969. I ended up swapping out my “55 Chevy for a series of Chevelle’s and Camaros, which I continued to drive through my racing career.
Meanwhile, against the beliefs of my high school teachers, I pursued a career in law enforcement. I was the first Community Service officer for the City of Roseville Police Department. From there I went to Sacramento Police Department for two years. And then lateral transferred to San Jose with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department where I remained until retirement. Sidenote, in keeping with my need for high-performance vehicles, I had my patrol car modified with a dual-feed Holly racing carburetor. It became the fastest car in the fleet!
From the time I left high school, throughout my law enforcement career, my love for racing never wavered. I created a racing series called The Best in the West, NorCal Racing. I rented racetracks throughout CA, NV, OR, and WA. It was deemed the best touring series in Northern California and eventually was purchased by NASCAR in 1999.
I have always had an interest in cars and memorabilia. I attended many classic car swap meets and car shows. I realized there was a true following of individuals that share this same passion. There is such a desire for classic car owners and people interested in memorabilia, but they are forced to search on many, many online sites, visit estate sales and travel lots of miles to locate the specialty collectible vintage gas pumps, coke machines, neon signs etc. to decorate their homes, offices, restaurants and “man/woman caves.” There is no retail store where an abundance of these items is available on a showroom floor to view and purchase between the Bay Area and Reno. Our Sacramento location is central to all.
I wanted to create a friendly environment where people can gather, share stories, shop or even bring in their own collectibles for sale.
At Spyman Classics & Memorabilia, our merchandise changes daily, so come in or give us a call. We look forward to welcoming you.
Frank A. Roman