With John Curtis, Redlands

Aug 19, 2023

I spent some time before my DJ gig tonight at the house of Josh Curtis, brother of tonight’s club promoter, Cahn Curtis. Josh is like a brother from another mother!

OK, before I start, let me tell all you creeps: none of this stuff is for sale! This is a carefully curated collection he has worked on for decades. He says the bane of his existence is people driving by his place and trying to buy his old cars from him. So keep that in mind when you’re reading this post: nothing is for sale!

He gave me the tour of his ranch, strewn about with old cars, World War II jeeps, old barns, and all sorts of amazing things to look at. One of the cars is a 1929 Chevrolet that was stolen by Clyde Barrow and used for three Iowa robberies by Bonnie and Clyde before they abandoned it for another stolen vehicle.

In the back of the lot, a De Soto Suburban stretch wagon from the 1940s caught my eye. These suckers are rare, and I was interested because Merle Travis used to tour in one of these with his band in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The car surfaced in the area, which made me remember that when Merle Travis started dating his third wife, Betty Travis, her family had a diner/garage/motel in nearby Calimesa. Could this be Merle Travis’s old tour vehicle? Maybe it wound up out here in the Inland Empire? More investigation is needed!

Then Josh took the inside his 1915 Sears and Roebuck kit home, which is preserved in a remarkable state of originality. At that point, he started pulling out some real mind-blowing stuff from his collection. Josh has collected all kinds of different things and I’m sure I could have stayed there for a few days while he pulled more and more wild rarities out. But we started with him pulling out some celebrity-owned vintage clothing, and does he have a crazy collection… wow!

I saw Mickey Cohen’s robe, Elvis Presley’s Army shirt, a Gene Autry suit, a Bob Hope jacket, a Frank Sinatra jacket, a Spike Jones jacket, Tommy Dorsey shirt, a Johnny Cash shirt, a suit owned by Clyde Barrow of Bonnie and Clyde, and one of Buddy Holly’s shirts! My mind started to turn into mush at that point… and he kept pulling more stuff out! Too much, sensory overload, ahhh!

Before long, we ran out of time, and I had to get to my gig. Before I left, however, Josh gifted me a hubcap and a piece of the exhaust from a car he had bought and sold a few years ago: a Cadillac that Johnny Cash bought for June Carter in 1965, after he wrecked June’s 1963 Cadillac. When he decided to sell the vehicle, he had to replace some parts that were messed up, dented, etc. He kept the hubcap and this piece of the exhaust… and gave it to me! Does this mean I have to start my own “One Piece at a Time” psychobilly Cadillac?

Thanks for the tour, Josh, my mind was properly blown! And remember people, none of this stuff is for sale, so get it out of your head, and don’t bug the poor guy!

See all gazillion photos at the original FB post!