The car that goes down in history

How about a blast from my past? I was remembering when I learned to drive and my first car. My father taught me to drive. He wanted to be sure that I was capable of driving anything that moved (except a motorcycle). Once I had mastered the basics (straight shift no cheating…most cars were not automatic) he took me out and had me drive a 1/2 ton truck. That was an experience.

Mine looked like this but not as good

When I passed my driver’s test he decided to get me a car??? I guess you could call it that. It was a second/third/fourth/ hand Willy’s Jeepster. It had a convertible top, isinglass side windows that you put in after the top was up. It had “air conditioning” (that is the outside air) and no heater.

The seats were bolted to the floor so you couldn’t adjust them. In order for me to reach the pedals..especially the clutch…I had to put a pillow to my back. You can imagine that four or five teenage girls thought this was the bomb. We absolutely loved that car. We drove it in the winter wrapped up in heavy coats, gloves and whatever else we needed to keep warm. We drove through snow and rain. We drove it while wearing swimming suits in the summer with the top down. We flirted with boys in other cars. It was great.

In my senior year of high school the car started to have problems. It wouldn’t always start. It took a while for my father to figure out what was wrong. Those cars had starter buttons in the floor that you pushed down to start the car. For some reason that piece was not connecting with the piece it connected to in the engine. We could push the car to start it popping the clutch (something most of you have never heard of or done). It didn’t take much. Just rolling a little bit would get the car going. The other more interesting option was to open the hood and hold a piece of metal between the starter and the starter connector and like magic we were on our way.

When we went downtown to shop we tried to find a parking place at the end of the block so that if we had to push the car it was easy. I’m sure you can imagine that we met lots of boys that way.

Hot Shoppes later became Marriott

In those days the place to hang out was the Hot Shoppe. It was a drive in place where car hops brought you your food. Tons of friends met there on Friday and Saturday night. No problem getting the car started there.

Later on more problems began to crop up. While stopped at a light at a very busy intersection on a hill I couldn’t get the car started. My father was with me. The light changed and the man behind us kept blowing his horn. My father calmly got out of the car and walked back to the other car. I was worried about what was going on. My father returned and calmly sat down in his seat. I asked him what happened and he said “I told him I would blow his horn if he would start my car!” My father always had the “mot juste.” He was known for it.

Another day at another busy stop light I lifted up on the steering wheel and it came off in my hand. I stuck it back on and drove us all home holding it on.

Hauled away

The final event came when the car began having electrical problems. My father took the car to be rewired and all seemed well. That night we drove the car into town and on one of the main streets smoke started coming out from under the hood. We pulled into a gas station thinking it was overheated and opened the hood. The car was merrily in flames. A gas station attendant rushed out with a fire extinguisher and put out the fire. My father came and picked us up and the car was gone for good.

I have never since had a car that was more fun and more interesting. I am sure I never will.