Book Review
Beltsville Shell: You Are What You Drive

Book by Cary Thomas
ISBN 0-9745757-0-4, 184 pages

By Ted Ladd
The Beltsville News

Beltsville Shell is the story of author Cary Thomas and his friends, all drawn to working on their cars, in many cases Chevy Corvettes, to improve performance and appearance. It drew them into close and enduring friendships. The book's sub-title, "You Are What You Drive," gives a clue to their orientation. He and many friends worked part time at Beltsville Shell, at the time located at 10410 Baltimore Avenue, across from Sunnyside Avenue. This became the headquarters of their informal club, referenced in the book as JTRAMFGS. You will have to read the book to discover the meaning.

If you live in Beltsville and start reading Beltsville Shell, you probably won't be able to put it down until you finish the last page. It starts with a three-page description of the town, and from there consists of short stories, each with a main character from the period 1965-70. There are photos of each of them from that era. Some stories are about drag racing in Beltsville, usually on Old Gunpowder Road, or Sunnyside Avenue. These are interspersed with descriptions of "cruising" between the Mighty Mo in Queenstown and a drive-in Hot Shoppes in Langley Park, and some hi-jinx at High Point High School, which earned the author a one-day suspension. Included are historic pictures of Boteler's store, the Beltsville Fire Department, a trolley car, a Driver's Education class at High Point, and many classic cars. Readers are reminded of Randy's Dari Delight, the Beltsville Drive in theater, the skating rink at the south end of town, and Friday Night teen-club meetings at the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department.

Beltsville residents will recognize many characters in the book: Sonny Boteler, Dan Holbrook, High Point Vice Principal Fred Novak, Charlie Hopkins, Bris Rightmeyer, Johnny Wozney, Webster Gross, Jimmy McEvoy, Sharon Cox, Wayne Armiger, John Bradley, Dexter Drake, Brenda Fisher, Nace DeLauter, Jeff Hughes, Michael Tanguay, Jimmy Becker, Jim Brakefield, Wayne Thomas, Albie Peterson, Frank Porto, Peewee Thompson, Darryl Richards, Carl Schinner, Charlie Wooster, Jimmy Mayo, Dana Moore, Joe Corbin, Larry Reeves, Gary Scaggs, Frank Bollinger, and Linda Kolsky.

Author Cary Thomas grew up in Beltsville, graduated from High Point High School in 1965, and received a BS in Information Systems from the University of Maryland four years later. He went on to receive an MBA from the University. Thomas and his wife Nancy now reside in Carlsbad, California. Thomas serves as Chief Operating Officer of the Sydney Kimmel Cancer Center in La Jolla, California.

Thomas traces every character through to the present. You will discover not only what they did in their youthful years, but also where they are today. The book is a tribute to Beltsville and a tribute to true friends. You can find information regarding the book at Copies can be ordered by mailing a check or money order for $16.95 to Nancy Paul Thomas, 3581 Seaview Way, Carlsbad, CA 92008. Include a note if you want the author to autograph a copy for you or a friend, in case it's a gift.