This is the story of one special lady, a man and their original first car, a 55 Chevy. The car will become a legend, Bob and Dixie will become Icons. A lifetime of achievement, excitement and family memories. A story of one of the best drag racers, by winning percentage in drag racing history and the lady who became the rock of his incredibly successful life wheeling the world’s fastest all steel 55. A man of integrity and humility. A man of dedication to his wonderful wife, family and the sport they loved.
The Bob and Dixie Bunker story
Bob and Dixie Bunker, a true-life story as written by Bob Bunker February 18, 2018
On a spring day in 1957, one of my friends from school, Ed Kennedy, and I were walking down Reading Street on our way to go fishing at the Powerhouse in Folsom. As we came to the corner of Reading and Natoma Street, out of the corner of my eye I see this precious angel, hanging clothes outside. She had on a pair of short red shorts with a white top and she was standing on her tippy toes to reach the clothesline. Ed and I looked at her and said, “Hello.” She turned around and with a big smile said, “Hi” and that was it.
I had gotten a job working down at Wally’s Frosty in Folsom, on the corner of Leidesdorff and Riley. The lady in charge, her name was Max. One day Max asked me to deliver some food to her daughter on the way home. She gave me the address and it happened to be that same house. I knocked on the door and there she was. She invited me in and we exchanged names and chatted for a bit. I asked Dixie if I could call her and she said ‘yes. I started driving her home from school and that same year we started dating.
Dixie was born on July 28, 1941, to Delbert Victor and Laveta Maxine Christian. She has three sisters, Colleen the eldest, then Janice and Gail. When Dixie was 5 years old, she came down with Rheumatic fever.
From the 1st to the 7th grade, she was only able to attend school for about a week or so each year because it was too much for her and doctors told her to stay in bed and rest.
For the 8th grade, Dixie lived with Aunt Dolly and Uncle Jess because the school near them didn’t have any stairs and she was able to go to class for a few months.
Her parents and her sister Coleen would teach her what she missed in school at home. When Dixie was in school, her cousin, Donna Thacker Young, used to stay in class during recess and play games with Dixie.
Dixie’s favorite summer growing up was when they went to the mountains. She sat by the river, drank orange soda and watched her sisters play.
Dixie rarely got to eat dinner with the family as she had to stay in bed. On Sundays, her dad would carry her downstairs to the table for supper. If her family went anywhere for dinner or to the doctors, her dad, Max, or Coleen would carry her on their back.
In 1955, Dixie’s family moved to Folsom and Dixie was well enough to attend high school. Dixie would walk to school as she started early and I would drive her home. She was a very good student in high school, got great grades and would help a lot of other people, especially for not having much of education through the 8th grade.
In 1958 we started going ‘steady and exchanged class rings, she would wear mine around her neck. After graduation, we were married on August 16th, 1959. Rob was born on March 8th, 1960. If you do the math, he was our love child. Debbie was born on November 16, 1961. They are both the joys of our life.
In 1957, Dixie was also working down at the Frosty, same time I was working there, but I only saw her once or twice as we had different shifts. After we graduated and had Rob and Deb, we lived next door to our current house. Dixie took care of friends and neighbors kids, up to 13 of them. It looked like a mother goose and ducklings as she would make them hold hands as they walked to the park or to go and get ice cream.
Dixie was a loving and devoted wife and my best friend, as well as a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and a devout sister.
I ran the race car from 1963 to 2010 and Dixie was at every race except one when she was sick. Dixie drove the tow truck, prepared the food and took care of the team while we were working on the car. She also sold tee-shirts and was famous for giving away her home-made chocolate chip cookies with a cup of milk.
In the early 70s when the kids grew up and started school, Dixie started working up at the Park Folsom Retirement Home. In 1972, she began selling Avon, which she continued for many years.
In 1978 she also started driving a bus for the city of Folsom, which was her favorite job she had. However, that same year she came down with Rheumatoid Arthritis and was no longer able to drive the bus. She was confined to a wheelchair and I pushed her everywhere for about a year. She could do okay in the house, but any further and she needed help.
In 1980, she was referred to Doctor Kenneth Wiesner who got her on a regiment that really helped her and made her very functional again, allowing her to do what she wanted. He continued to care for her for the next 37 years.
She was also cared for by podiatrist Earnest Hook, who performed many surgeries on her feet and hands that helped her throughout the years.
Dixie took care of all her grandkids and loved them all: Jason, Steven, Joe, Steve, Brian, Morgan. And great-grandkids too: Karlee, Joleen, Brantley, Corbin.
Dixie’s Aortic valve had been damaged from the Rheumatic fever and with complications from her Rheumatoid Arthritis, she passed away on December 29th of 2017.
My precious angel ascended into heaven.
A poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
BOB AND DIXIE'S FOLSOM FLASH AT WORK