"KKOA, this is Jerry." "Jerry, this is Geoff Carter from STREET RODDER, how are you doing?"

Was I hearing right, or did I have a bad connection? I kept asking myself, was this really that giant magazine on the West Coast that dealt mainly with pre-'49 street rods calling this less-than-six-months-old organization? Jeeish ... what could he want?

If I wasn't already in Dreamsville, I was most definitely going to be there when I heard his next question: "I see you're producing your Leadsled Spectacular, and we were wondering if Street Rodder could be the official sponsor of the event?" "We can talk about it"' I said, trying to sound my most businesslike. And talk we did, reaching an agreement with which both parties felt comfortable. The marriage would last for the next three years until, finally, on friendly terms, we went our separate ways. I will always appreciate what Street Rodder did for the KKOA in its early days, and has continued to do even today.

The preceding is an excerpt from the "Kustom Kemps of America" commemorative book in which Jerry Titus, founder and president of KKOA, expounds on the history of his organization, giving credit where credit is due.

Before continuing, possibly a brief explanation is in order, since "just what the heck is a kemp, anyway?" For those of you not fully immersed in kustomizing, the term "kemp" is '50s slang for all cars, having deep roots in jazz and the beat generation-dig? The term was brought to the forefront of popular culture by two individuals: Carl Kohler, through his humorous stories in Car Craft magazine; and jive-talkin' Kookie Kar-drivin' Dino's Lodge valet parking attendant Gerald Lloyd Kookson III, aptly played by actor Edd Byrnes in the classic '50s ABC TV detective series, "77 Sunset Strip" (thus the "Kookie" moniker for Norm Grabowski's T, the undisputed star of the show-at least for us guys).

So, to answer the musical question, "Can it really have been over a quarter century since Jerry Titus and a cadre of dedicated volunteers brought the world that first Leadsled Spectacular in Wichita, Kansas, reintroducing the traditional kustom car to America, and in fact, the world?" yes, fellow babies, it has, it really has! "Tell us more, tell us more!" Well, kiddies, unfortunately by the '70s, kustoms weren't even that anymore, but rather lumped together with everything else (remember "street freaks"?) and classified as "street machines." You'll notice that we're spelling custom with a "k," because that's how it's spelled at the KKOA in homage to those pioneers like the Barris brothers, who really got the whole thing rolling into the new world of teen culture during the immediate postwar years.

Now that we've had our history lesson for the month, and without too much gushing on and on about how great this year's 27th annual Leadsled Spectacular was-like the run-what-ya-brung eighth-mile drags at the Old Salina Airstrip on Friday evening-let's get right to it with our story in pictures. Just one more thing-reserve the last weekend in July for your own journey into the world of the low and lacquered come next summer.

For more information, write Kustom Kemps of America, 26 Main, Cassville, MO 65625-9400; call (417) 847-2940; fax (417) 847-3647; or e-mail kustomkemps@mo-net.com.