Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Automobile

    At the time Grandmother presented me with the little red rocking chair two of her sons still lived at home.  They had, out under the trees in the edge of our huge yard, an old car that they worked on during all their spare time.  I do not recall that they ever got it to run, but it was forever an ongoing project to which the greatest urgency attached.
    At that time America was still going through its original romance with the automobile.  Every young man who could earn a dollar had an old car of some sort, not so much as a means of transportation but because of the fascination with a mechanical contraption that moved under its own power.
    Every weekend saw a gathering of young men with their automobiles, usually at a spot where two roads crossed, or on some vacant tract next to a filling station.  In those days service stations were called filling stations.
    On those occasions the talk soon turned to some particular problem that one individual may have encountered, and how it was overcome, and what that led to, and so on, with time out now and then for demonstrations of smooth-running engines, fancy chrome work and "take-offs".   A take-off was a demonstration of how fast one's automobile could accelerate from a stopped position.
    Eventually the talk would shift to some individual not present, and what someone had seen him do with his automobile.  Invariably the account would end with, "Then he took off like Lindbergh." That would be in reference to Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator.
    In recalling those days one of the things that always amuses me is the fact that Linbergh's name was a household word among country boys who had no radio and read no newspapers.
    During the Labor Day week-end of 1994, while at Mama's house for the Jones reunion, I had an opportunity to test my memory regarding my uncles' old car.   I had been chatting with the surviving uncle, and I asked him if he remembered their adventure with the old car.  He replied without hesitation that he did, and that it was a Model A Ford.

   That differed from my recollection, for I recalled the car as looking more like a Chevrolet. However, I decided not to mention that, so I was pleasantly surprised when my uncle paused for a moment, and said, "No, now that I think about it, it was a '31 Chevrolet".
   Fifty-six years had passed since the time of the experience that we were discussing. Of course, at that time I did not know one make of automobile from another, but I carried through the years a good recollection of the car’s features, such that I later concluded that it must have been a 1931 Chevrolet.


  1. Love peeking in on your memories! My daddy talked about old cars and the "mechanic-ing" and taking the paint off his first old treasure with a bucket of his momma's lye! Reminds me fondly of him! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Pops, you'll never know how much these stories mean to me!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this story. In some way it gives me a glimpse into the era that surrounded my father. I wonder if he remembers the 1931 Chevrolet - he was born that year. Great little story and I'm glad your Uncle confirmed after, a passing thought, that it was a 1931 Chevrolet :-)