Monday, January 3, 2011
Remember the Studebaker with its great gas mileage? We had several. We also had small children loaded into the back seat where there was absolutely no air circulation when the car was stopped at a traffic light or for anything else. My husband remembered those fondly, a sentiment I did not share.
The first new car was a '48 4-door Chevrolet to be delivered the next day. My husband was wide awake at 11:00 trying to understand why he'd taken the plunge to spend $1600 of his hard-earned money for a car. At 12:00 he was still fretting and so it went for a few more hours until he finally decided what was done was done and went to sleep.
Ah-h, the lure of that new car scent! It had reeled him in. That and a good friend who was a salesman at the dealership where they both worked.
For a short time these two friends were partners in their own car lot. All went well, but they had one experience neither ever forgot: A dairyman interested in a car on their lot, stopped by to see if they could work out a trade so after a lot of circling each car and checking under the hoods and kicking the tires, a deal was made and a happy dairyman drove away.
The two salesmen pocketed their money, also well pleased with themselves. They were busy for a few hours before they decided to clean up their newest acquiescence and calculate their hoped for profit. Upon opening the doors, they were almost knocked over by the reek of spoiled milk. The car had been used to transport the dairyman's cans of milk and a few hours in the hot sun had made the smell one they never forgot.
This was in the days before some many forms of deodorants were available so they did the best they knew how...they went to Duke & Aryes and stocked up on Evening of Paris perfume in hopes of disguising the sour milk odor. It was quiet a while before we wives learned about the dairy car.
Despite having a steady supply of clunkers, there were also new cars. One was a great bargain because it had slight hail damage and we drove it for several years and another that we had for only one day.
We were coming home from a vacation when we decided to stop at a car lot in a neighboring town. My husband found a new Plymouth at a price he couldn't resist and although he wasn't a 'Plymoith man', he did appreciate a bargain so we brought it home with us.
A local dealer spotted him driving it to work the next morning and it seems he had a customer looking for that exact model, color, etc. so another irresistible deal was made and my trader husband returned home that evening in a new Chevrolet.
With the new cars, my opinion was always asked. The clunkers just appeared!
Many of our unusual and temperamental vehicles were ones for the kids to drive. They were "good ole cars" but always had a few peculiarities. There was an old Mercedes that when the ignition quit working, Papa furnished a pair of pliers with instructions on which wires to twist together.
There was a Volvo that our eldest teen aged daughter drove and which had the peculiar habit of dying at red lights on the square. Fortunately, enough teen aged boys always appeared to move her out of the traffic lane until the car would again start and move on its own.
The youngest daughter had an old BMW that she drove the 286 miles to Texas Tech for four years. It was remarkably dependable and had a simplified owners manual that enabled the girls to fix a few problems on their own. After graduation and a job that had her working late hours it seems sensible to upgrade to a more secure system with automatic windows, locks and that wonderful luxury...air conditioning. An old car collector bought it to restore.
Another vehicle with character was an old green wrecker. It was a dependable old thing, maybe of the early '50s and after the shop was closed it was kept it parked here at the house.
My husband was now pursuing what he loved: raising horses and a few cattle and went daily to the farm to do whatever needed doing out there. It was late one afternoon when he called and said that he'd like for me to bring the wrecker out in order to lift a cow out of a ditch.
My reaction was definite: "No way!" He assured me that I could handle the chore, that the cow had fallen into the ditch and had landed on her back and could not get her feet under her enabling her to rise on her own. And it would soon be dark, so hurry!
Okay, we had a lot of space in front of the house so I tentatively tried out the gears...it was a stick shift, of course...and found everything slightly familiar so we growled our way out of the yard and on to the road and off for the 14 mile trip and then located the trouble spot far down in the pasture. Feeling pretty cocky by that time, I quickly lost my confidence when I was instructed to back toward the ditch where the unfortunate cow lay. Me? Back toward a ditch? It got worse. I was instructed to push this or that doodad to lower the cable down to the cow.
Well the cow was hoisted up, the wrecker stayed on solid ground, and I never drove it again.
The end of the car tales...I think!