The automobile is still a big part of my life. My dad raised us with a car in the family just as I raised children with cars, and now my grandchildren are growing up cars. Even though I used streetcars and buses to go everywhere, we always had a car in the family.
The 1929 Buick served him well for many years. I remember standing on the front seat as a toddler. I could barely see over the seat back. I was a teenager when he got rid of it. He eventually sold the Buick to the welder who lived at the end of Avalon. It seemed strange to watch the Buick drive past with someone else driving. Two years later, the welder cut it up for junk metal.
Dad’s replacement was a 1937 Dodge. He bought that car used too. In fact, he didn’t buy a new car until 1959. The Dodge only lasted a year when Dad sold it to buy a 1939 Buick Century. I called it the Green Hornet after my favorite radio program. This is the car I got my driver’s license in. I was driving it by eighth grade. The Buick lasted until my junior year in high school. Two years after Dad bought it the Buick started making some horrible knocking noises. The rear universal joint needed new bearings. Rather than spend money to fix the car, Dad traded it in on a two-year old 1954 Plymouth. The Plymouth was beautiful. It had two toned paint with a white top and turquoise blue bottom, and lots of chrome. The leatherette and cloth seat colors matched the exterior colors. I moved back and forth to college with the Plymouth.
Finally, in 1959, dad bought a new Ford Fairlane. The Fairlane was also blue and white, with giant round tail lights; the front fenders hung over the top of the headlights. It had an automatic transmission and a radio that worked. I was at the University of Illinois by this time and used it during the summers to go to work. Dad walked to the Illinois Central yard on 95th and Cottage Grove so I could drive to International Harvester on 26th and Western. Even though Dad hated the Ford because of it’s poor reliability, he kept it until another car hit him broadside while driving in a funeral cortege.. In l969 he traded it in for another Ford.
The ‘69 Ford lasted through most of his retirement. He and Mom used it a lot to go back and forth to the farm in Michigan. Dad’s final car was a 1983 Chevy Celebrity. He began to slow down with this car, and eventually gave up driving when he reached his late eighties. He sold the Celebrity to one of the grandchildren.
In a later episode I’ll tell about my first car, and every other car I have owned after that. Each one played a role in my life as a transportation appliance.
Filed under: Biography, Characters I knew, family, Hot Rods, Memories, Warm and Fuzzy | Tagged: Automobile, Buick, Burnside, Chevrolet, Chicago, Chrysler, Covert MI, Ford, Huppmobile, Plymouth, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign | 1 Comment »