In 1976-77, I drove for a taxi company in the San Gabriel Valley. That started my love of the Checker automobile. In 1981, I finally got around to buying one. I ordered it directly from the factory through a dealer in San Bernardino. Little did I know that the next year would be the last they were produced.
Sherman was made on Valentine's Day of 1981, but I was not able to take delivery until the 29th of June, because Checker Motors Corporation had to have a transporter full before they would make the delivery. If I had known that, I could have flown to Kalamazoo and driven "him" home, and the flight and motels would have been half of the $1,000 freight cost - oh well!
In the fall of 1988, after 116,000 miles, Sherman caught fire. Under the hood, plus all the interior was burnt - up to the trunk area. Shortly before the fire, I had made arrangements with several other Checker owners to get together to form a California Checker Club. When I was telling my soon-to-be vice-president Leslie about the fire, she quipped, "oh, we should have a funeral". The next day as I was talking with the appraiser (Ken Marchant, who specializes in collectible cars), I told him about Leslie's joke. He said, "I'd love to do the eulogy, and would you like some media there?"
From there, it snowballed and we did indeed have a funeral that ended up being covered by the media. There was an article on the front page of the San Gabriel Valley section of the Los Angeles Times, and KNBC TV showed their clip on the 6pm, 10pm, and 1am news shows. Several months later a freelance writer interviewed me and another article appeared in the National Enquirer (see, some of those stories are actually true!).
Here's some pictures - The first is of the funeral. That's Ken Marchant at the podium, my father holding the ukelele, and my mother and stepdad next to Leslie in the Checker sweater. Then there is Leslie "showing her grief" (my mother in the background), and me gazing "sadly" at the damage. By the way, that "mourning garb" is antique from the 1880s. My father sang an appropriate Checker song.
Several years later (1994), the American Automobile Association of Southern California (AAA) did an interview, then sent a photographer. This time the subject was car clubs that were for unusual marquees (by this time the California Checker Club had been duly formed as a non-profit entity). The photographer took 6 rolls of film and the "photo shoot" took 3 hours, but the picture that ended up in the magazine (Avenues) was great! It was the first time I've ever been involved in a professional photo shoot and it was a lot of fun, even though it was time consuming.
For a few years after the fire, my husband David and I worked on restoring Sherman, but lack of time has put the project on indefinite hold. Maybe someday...!
(July 2010 - I've been asked about Sherman's status a few times. A few years ago, he got moved to the Mohave desert where "Checker Joe" has acreage for his Checker graveyard. My husband Dave recently retired but he's got a couple years worth of things that have priority before we can even think about a restoration. Due to my handicapped status, I wouldn't be able to use it anyway (I use an adapted van for my scooter) so it's unlikely that Sherman will ever get restored.)