Thursday, May 29, 2008

Family Automobiles X

Post-war cars:
When Dick could see the end of the war coming with the subsequent resumption of civilian car maufacturing he ordered a 1946 Chevrolet fom Shon Bridges, the local Chevrolert dealer.. I never knew the timing, but perhaps Pat does....Anyway he did get the first Chevrolet delivered to Watevliet. Only paid $900. Price controls were still on. That was the car that Dick talked about in my "Another Canoe Trip" which he called "Two Days on the Manistee". That became the Dick and Mary family car for I don't know how long.
The first civilian Jeep: I was still in Colorado when Dad let me know there was a 1946 Jeep for sale for $1,000 in Watervliet and did I want it? (I had just sold a well used 1941 Ford V8 Coupe that I had bought after I returned to college). Yes I did. When I got back to Watervliet I found that it had only cost me $999 because I found a dollar bill beneath the front seat. That would have been in 1948. That 4-wheel drive Jeep (with cloth top and side curtains) made us invulnerable to bad road conditions or deep snow up deer hunting. Deer hunting camp was at the confluence of Sidnaw Creek and the Sturgeon River for many years starting in 1946. One snowy day Dick and I decided to skip hunting for a day and drove the Jeep through mostly unplowed roads all the way to Copper Harbor (practically deserted at that time of year), walked out to the end of the dock so that we were farther north than any other human beings in Michigan and memorialized the occasion by writing our names in pee on frozen, snow-covered Lake Superior...(these were two adult, grown up veterans of World War II, mind you)..That Jeep was in the family for many, many years. At first I used it on my first post-college job as Right-of-Way Agent for Ford, Bacon and Davis,Inc., the engineering firm which constructed the natural gas pipeline from Texas to Michigan. Their offices were on the second floor above the dime store in St. Joe, where incidently a good looking girl named Elaine Belke worked for the Chamber of Commerce (a whole other batch of stories). Elaine liked to drive the Jeep. We have one memorable photo of the Jeep at the beach with her sisiter-in-law with a bowl cover on her head to wind-proof her hair-do while riding in the open. After marriage and moving to Grand Rapids from Detroit and having kids and having no good place to keep it, the Jeep spent more and more time in Watervliet. We had the 1949 Kaiser Traveler (about which more later) and always a company car. The Jeep would go deer hunting every year and Dick used it around the home place some so I decided for insurance and liability reasons to transfer title to Dad. Patty can probably tell you more about the remainder of its career than I. I think it mostly just sat immobile in the back part of the barn collecting pigeon shit. Any way, Dick eventually sold it for $500 to some hillbillies or moonshiners or whomever who hauled it off to Kentucky or Tennessee where it may still be ruuning around the mountains.
NEXT: More about post-war cars.

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