at the Alanreed coffee shop, the early-morning “saucer and blow club”
(mostly blow) recalled their first cars. My first car at Perryton,
Texas was a 1946 Ford, five-passenger coupe that Dad had used as a
Judge Shanks issued me a “hardship driver’s license” at age fifteen
so I could drive to Ranger football practice. I added a sun-visor,
fender skirts, white-sidewall Air-Ride tires, Buick exhaust ports
on the fenders and overdrive. Last, I installed clear plastic seat
covers and a chrome spotlight. Man-o-Man! Talk about class. Sure wish
I still had that car.
This was a far cry from my father’s first car at Mobeetie, Texas where
he acquired a stripped-down, Model T hoopie by pulling cotton for
a neighbor. Other than no fenders, doors, or top, the body was in
good shape. The running gear was fine except all four tires and the
spare were flat as a pancake. The motor ran well in spite of the soft-ball
sized hole in the side of the motor caused by a hard winter freeze.
Undaunted, Dad patched and pumped up the tires, then pulled the vehicle
home with a pair of mules. By packing fresh-pulled cotton around the
metal from the hole, tapping it back into place with a hammer, wetting
the cotton for expansion, the patch leaked only slightly. He tied
a bucket underneath the patch in case of fall-out.
Pulling cotton all week bought gasoline for the weekend. As the only
man in Mobeetie with a car at that time, the girls were impressed.
Amazingly, the new movie theater in Mobeetie showed a silent movie
featuring Barney Oldfield, the famous race car driver. Dad walked
and drove just like Barney.
Deciding to visit friends in Miami, Texas and hoping to impress the
f=girls there, he left Mobeetie early in the morning with a full tank
of gas, a watercan, and a handful of cotton. The road was crookedand
the dust rose behind as he drove. At the top of a long hill leading
downtomthickets of plum bushes, he pushed the petal to the metalin
imitation of good ol’ Barney. Near the bottom he remembered Barney
peering around the edge of the windshield in order to see. The wind
at that speed (30 mph at most) whipped the hair back from his eyes.
Ahead on a plum bush eating a ripe plum, was a big green grasshopper.
When he saw that apparition coming toward him at top speed, dust billowing
behind, he panicked and leaped, colliding with Dad’s left eyteball
peering around the edge of the windshield.
The speed of the car plus the trajectory of the insect provided a
crash of epic proportions. The hoopie stopped in a tangle of bushes
with Dad rolling in the grass burrs holding his wounded eye.
An inspection in the mirror revealed a blood-shot eyeball and ever-widening
rings of black encircling the eye socket. Returning home to recuperate,
he started searching for fenders, doors, and the top for his hoopie.
Can you recall your first car?