Friday, May 30, 2008

Family Automobiles XI

For a while after the war John's 1947 Studebaker Champion was the only reliable and respectable car in the family. The folks used it on trips (there is a photo of the Studebaker and Dad in Biloxi, Mississippi) and I remember borrowing it to go to Toledo to meet a former girl friend from Colorado and driving her to Chicago. My car at the time was the Jeep and the folks were still driving the 1940 Chrysler I believe. Dick had his 1946 Chevrolet but he was married thus not in a position to lend his car to either his parents or his brother. It was a black or dark blue two-door sedan. If the folks had a car between the '40 Chrysler and the 1951 Pontiac Convertable I don't remember it. Dad had a pickup truck that he used in the war surplus business but I can't remember what kind and I have found no photos. Does anyone have one?
My next car was the 1949 Kaiser Traveler. Uncle Bob Thayer had gotten into the automobbile business in Oak Harbor after the war as a Kaiser-Fraizer dealer. For what ever reason he bailed out and I bought his last car. The Traveler was a four-door sedan with a hatch back, tail gate and fold down rear seats which left a long, flat floor big enough for kids to lay down during travel or for adults to sleep with the hatch back open and tail gate down and mosquito net draped over. I have a photo of Elaine sitting in that rig after we slept overnight at Hamlin Lake.
That was the car I used dating Elaine. I would come home from wherever the pipeline job had me any particular week on a Saturday afternoon (we worked 5 1/2 days) and always washed the car before picking her up for our regular Saturday night date. I estimate this happened at least 75 Saturday nights before she ageed to marry me. It was the car in which we went to Detroit after the wedding and the car  we used on our honeymoon to Canada's Atlantic Provinces and New England and Niagara Falls in the fall of 1951.
In 1952 I was promoted to Pipeline Division Superintendent and we moved to Grand Rapids (Elaine was pregnant with Karen at the time). The Kaiser became surplus since I now had a company car that I always drove, whether on company business of family business since I always had to be accessible by radio. Eventually John had a use for it and since I owed him a few bucks the Kaiser went to Watervliet (I don't know what the situation was with his Studebaker at that time). It must have been used as a family car since Patty remembers riding in the folded-down back on trips to Northport. It ended up sitting on the top of the bank behind Dick's house and I guess finally was hauled off to the junkyard.
I talked about the 1951 Pontiac convertable in my message about Northport. Patty probably has memories about that beauty that she can share. In a message I recieved from Mary Thayer Floro she remembers: 
"Hey Jim: The most important memory of mine is 'the converible' when I was a teenager. Uncle Allen would take me out in his convertible with Aunt Gen in front with him and me in the back seat.....he would put his arm around her and she would giggle and we headed for the outdoor theater. They would be 'smooching' in the front seat in hopes he would get a rise out of me and I would just shake my head and laugh. I miss those people and the convertible. Doesn't get any better." Mary from Ohio.

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