Sunday, June 1, 2008

Family Automobiles XIII

The next car needed to be large (to haul Boy Scouts) and air conditioned (Elaine's orders) so we bought a huge Ford LTD Country Squire Station Wagon (white with fake wood paneling) with a luggage rack on top and 2-way tailgate. It cost $4138. It was so large that Elaine never drove it. The LTD figured in one of our family's saddest episodes. The Boy Scout  troop was scheduled to take a week-long canoe trip at the Region 7 Canoe Base in northern Wisconsin. All the preparations for the trip were in place (George Voorhis was going to be the second adult on the trip) when a couple days before we were to depart Jim broke his collar bone in a nightime bicycle accident. Well there was no way a kid with that kind of injury could paddle or portage a canoe (although we tried to figure out one) so the LTD full of Boy Scouts pulled away for Wisconsin with my boy (the only reason I was a Scoutmaster) standing at the curb waving goodbye with his one good arm. 
The Country Squire started to develop some rust problems and was pretty large so we traded it in for a 1973 Plymouth Satellite Sebring, a two-door with vinyl bucket seats with a center arm rest and a vinyl top. A sporty looking car about which I don't have many good memories. The vinyl seat on the driver's deloped a big split and one time it stranded me on an expressway off ramp.
Elaine needed a car so we shopped around thinking we wanted a Chevrolet Nova but while at Bud Kouts we looked at a new sub-compact import, the 1973  Honda Civic. As sort of a joke I decided to fold up my lanky body and try to sit behind the wheel. To my surprise I fit just fine as did Elaine so despite my misgivings over buying a Japanese car we bought it. Bad mistake. It turned out to be a real lemon. It was our first front wheel drive car and we enjoyed its ability to pull through snow but we were always having to replace the muffler and had other problems. We sold it to Jon Tury (Karen's new husband) and I don't think it lasted long in his care.
Speaking of Karen, there is a story to tell about a car nobody in the family ever owned. She was looking to buy a car for herself and she looked at a Ford Fiesta at Max Curtis Ford and thought she might want it but wanted to look at other cars. Anyway she gave them $50 (presumably to hold the Fiesta temporairily?). She decided to buy a Chevette instead but the Max Curtis salesman refused to return her $50. Learning of this I got a description of the salesman and decided to visit him myself. I wandered into the sales room, spotted the culprit, and started to look interested in a car over at the far corner of the sales room Of course he immediately approached and asked if he could help me. (I was about twice his size). I put my arm around his shoulders and in my full intimidation mode informed him that I was Karen Woodruff's father and I thought it might be a good idea if he refunded her the $50. He rapidly agreed and said Karen should drop in any time and get her money back.
She did buy a brown Chevette (which I think eventually got traded in on a van for the pottery business) but I remember a story she told about herself with a certain amount of pride. In those days we all had Citizen Band Radios in our cars and "Handles". I was the "Gas Man", Elaine was the "Rummage Queen" (but she geneally refused to talk on the radio), Jim was "Spiker" (for his volleyball prowess) and Karen was "Miss Q (cue/KEW) for her theatre connections. The story she told was about driving on the expressway into Chicago and hearing the truckers she was passing sending the word down the line on their CBs "Check out the 'Beaver' in the brown Chevette!"
NEXT:More Jim & Elaine family cars.

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