Art and Auto Rat Fink : The Life and Times of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth Part 1
Car culture in California during the 50’s and 60’s is an era I admire and love. With a generation of youth born in the fog of World War ll coming into their adulthood, things were changing quickly. With the music and fashion making its jumps, the focus in America fell strongly on the newly growing Hot Rod scene. This came to bring about a large growth in artists with deep roots to the scene. Out of this came many talents, but the one that can be seen round the world as one of the most prolific went by the moniker of “BIg Daddy”.
Born Ed Roth in March 4th, 1932 in a German speaking home based in in the iconic Beverly Hills. Only learning English once he began attending school, his creative interests began to develop quickly from a young age. He proved to be a learned student, keeping a balance with his curricula and creative curiosities.
Much of this help came from his strict German father Henry Roth. A traditional German cabinet maker, Father Roth supplied ED and his brother Gordon with tools to work in his shop. He did this as a meant to keep to two in check and out of trouble. It was in his father’s workshop where Ed brought his drawings of hot rods, airplanes and monsters to like with wood.
Ed completed high school and took up a college course in engineering in 1949. Although he did well in his curriculum, he became bored due to the lack of involvement and focus in his passion; cars.
After two years, Roth packed up and enlisted with The United States Air Force. He attended bombsight school at Western Tech Training Command where he learned to make maps. After completing his schooling he received his first post in Africa. After being transferred to South Carolina, and becoming an expert barber, he was honourably discharged in 1955.
By this time Ed had already married with five children, all boys, and began his career in pin striping while working the Display Dept. at Sears. With bigger ambitions that the Display Dept. Ed went to work full time with “The Baron” and his grandson Kelly. Using junkyard finds and with the introduction of the new lightweight material called fibreglass, Ed went to work. He would soon develop his first two hot rods to life. First came his Ford Model A Tudor called “Little Jewel”.