Saturday, 28 June 2008

Rose's Car

by J of JaM

My grandmother Rose was an independent woman. She did things her own way at a time when her husband and the neighbors didn't have a high opinion of such things. By the early 1920's she had enough of her own money to buy a car. My grandfather probably didn't think she needed a car.

She got a ride for herself and her 4 children to the nearest town that had a Ford car dealership, about 11 miles from where she lived with my grandfather. She told the dealer that she didn't know how to drive and the dealer assured her “It was easy to learn” and promised to teach her to drive if she bought a car from him. She bought the car immediately and paid for it in cash. The dealer then drove her and the kids out of town and into a hay field. After her four children climbed to the top of a hay stack to watch from a safe spot, Rose learned how to steer, use the clutch, shift gears and brake. In about 20 minutes the dealer declared her a quick learner and drove everyone back to the dealership. Rose managed to drive the 11 miles back home with the kids.

The next year Rose decided to take a vacation. She packed some camping gear and the children into her new car and drove from Oklahoma to Mount Rainier in Washington State. Her husband stayed home. Some parts of this adventure required driving across ranches and farms where gates were opened and closed to go to the next town. There was no real highway system then. The trip took about eight weeks and my father retold bits of the adventure occasionally.

I lived with Rose for a summer in the late 1950's in California and she was still a very active driver though almost 70 years old. Now she had a 1953 Plymouth with an automatic transmission and a husband that wasn't my grandfather. She drove me to school with one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake. By careful pressure on these two she controlled the speed, which was fast and as far right as possible. “As far right as possible” sometimes resulted in her driving in empty parking lanes. She was my favorite grandmother and I don't believe she ever had an accident.

The photo is of my Uncle Buddy (he was my Mom's little brother) and his car taken a few years later.

1 comment:

ColorJoy LynnH said...

What a wonderful story. My mother was the first mom on our block in the late 60s to have a car. It was a gold Corvair which we called "the putt-putt." Cute but smelly!

Mom took me and brother Eric to St. Louis to see her sister one Easter holiday for a week. We spun out in snow on the highway. Mom didn't flinch, got out and shoveled us out, and drove away. Good Norwegian farm stock, you just soldier on, you know?

I remember my mother's mother had a Nash Rambler when I was little (she had been widowed in her early 60s or late 50s). It was a cute car to my young eyes.

My mom's brother had a Model A in the 40s. Their father was very strict, but he was colorblind... so when young Tony painted the car yellow with bright green wheels, Grandpa never complained.

In that southeastern Minnesota plains farming town, the ground was dead flat for miles. In the winter and spring when fields had not grown up yet, mom says you could see Tony's car for miles.

Wonder what stories people will tell of me someday. I know when I had my '85 VW Golf for maybe 10 years, it was getting rusty in places and I was embarrassed. I dreamed that I painted gold stars all over it (the paint was dark blue). When I woke up I realized I had to fix the rust.

So I bought some "bondo" and read the instructions and patched things, then I spray painted the repairs to an almost-the-same blue. And then I thought maybe I should paint stars on it after all.

I made stencils but the wind was fierce so I gave up after 3 stars on the back side hatch. Yellow with turquoise outlines. She was the prettiest car on the block again!!!