Off Beat: Photo of car published years after it was taken

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A photograph of Vern Toedtli and his 1950 Chevrolet convertible ran in The Columbian in 1957.

That's when Toedtli was a senior at Evergreen High School, just after he had taken part in a car show for Vancouver teens.

It only took 56 years for Vern and another one of his classic cars to appear in the paper.

On Sunday, the cover of our Life section noted that Toedtli's 1957 Chevrolet Corvette is featured in the 2013 Snap-on Tools calendar.

There was a period during the 1960s when Toedtli thought that another one of his Chevrolets was going to appear in The Columbian. An image eventually did show up in one of our publications, although there was kind of an asterisk involved.

Back in the 1960s, Toedtli knew a good share of the people who lived in the community -- as well as the cars they drove.

So on a December day in 1964, following a winter storm, Toedtli drove down Vancouver's Main Street past freshly plowed snow.

There was a familiar car, which belonged to a Columbian photographer. And yes! There he was, along Ninth Street, snapping Vern's photograph. Soon, Toedtli assumed, he and his 1963 Chevrolet Impala would be in the paper.

"For two months, I watched the paper, waiting to see it," Toedtli said recently. "It never showed up, and I forgot about it."

Then the photo appeared in 2000, in a Columbian pictorial publication. The book used archived photos from the 1950s through the 1990s. Page 39 has a full-page photo of Toedtli and his white Impala, with the caption: "A snowstorm shut down most Main Street businesses shortly before Christmas 1964."

Toedtli said he confirmed that it was, indeed, his car.

"I got a magnifying glass and looked at the license plate," he said. It was the right number.

If you're wondering how Toedtli was able to remember a 1963 license plate number … well, he has some pretty good documentation. That 1963 Impala is in his garage.

— Tom Vogt

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.