to be more specific, my first mode of transportation with four wheels; not to
be confused with the tricycle and bicycles of younger years.|
my senior year in high school, I “coerced” my parents (as in begging, desperate
pleadings, and all kinds of promises) into letting me buy a car. One of my cousins
had a 1951 Ford four-door that she wanted to sell. She said that it “ran good,
only needed to add a little water to the radiator on occasion”. No problem, I
thought; a little anti-leak would fix that nuisance. I didn’t realize until later
that the car had a cracked engine block. NEVER, trust a cousin; especially, if
her name is Jeanette! So, my first expense was to get that repaired.
the streets in 1956 and 1957 was total fun; especially, when you’re the driver
and not a passenger! Going to and from school, I had a couple of friends who wanted
to ride with me and they would each pay me fifty cents a week for gas. If memory
serves me correctly, gasoline was about 17 to 19 cents a gallon, attendants would
check the oil and air in the tires, and wipe the window glasses with a chamois
cloth. With the purchase of a full tank of gas, service
stations would give away drinking glasses, cups, or other tokens of appreciation.
That was also when Green Stamps were collected for the redemption of gifts from
Occasionally, other students would ask for a lift and I was
more than glad to accommodate. Except that, on one day in particular, I failed
to keep track of how many I had said “yes” to. After classes were over for the
day, I walked to my normal parking spot alongside the curb of the street and saw
a mob standing near my car. Oh, no! I’ve been side-swiped! Not to be… they were
all waiting for me to unlock the doors so that they could pile in. There were
seventeen of us crowded in the front seat, back seat, and floorboard. No seat
belt requirement in those days.
This was the era, too, when car owners
would “customize” their cars. The really “cool dudes” with the ’34 Ford and ’36
Chevy coupes would lower the frames to inches off the ground, chop and channel
the bodies, and coat them with mirror-finish paints. I could only afford the less
expensive stuff; like, dual exhausts, fender skirts, and spinner hubcaps.
Another customization was to remove the chrome grillwork on the fronts of the
cars and replace it with that of other makes or models of cars. I removed the
grillwork, with the dual bullet design, on my ’51 Ford with the intention of inserting
a Mercury grill; one that had vertical bars that looked like teeth. I never got
around to doing that, though, so my car more resembled a large catfish with its
mouth open! About the same color, too.
Along came 1958, and two transmissions
later, I traded my “hoopiemobile” for a 1955 Ford. It was an obviously better
car; but, not nostalgic, certainly not classic. By that time, “others” were buying
Thunderbirds and Impalas. A decade later, my “dream car” was a Triumph TR-3; couldn’t
afford that, either.
Shoe Horses, Don't They?
November 16, 2012 Guest column
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