Among all the priceless memories in your lifetime, a really outstanding one has to be that of your first car. Just about everyone I know can instantly tell you about his or her first car–often far far more than you ever anticipated nor wanted to know. I am no different. Here goes…
My first car was a 1953 Chevrolet. It looked pretty much like the one in the picture above. It even had the same paint job. I became its master in 1964 when I was a freshman at Penn State. The car originally belonged to my grandparents. Here’s how that went down…
My grandmother did not trust my grandfather when it came to large sums of money. So when it was time to buy a new car she called in the one person she did trust and assigned him the role of designated purchaser. This would be her son, my father.
In addition to my grandfather, Grandmom didn’t trust banks either. That was not unusual for her generation. So when my father arrived on the big day, Grandmom went to the china cabinet, opened the door and reached for the fine china sugar bowl. This she placed on the round oak dining room table. She removed the lid, reached in and retrieved a thick wad of one hundred dollar bills. She then proceeded to count out the amount she was willing to spend and gave that to the designated purchaser.
By the end of the afternoon my grandparents were the proud owners of a brand new tan, two-door, six cylinder 1953 Chevrolet. My father, who was carless and traveled every day to work on public transportation, was the recipient of my grandparent’s would-be trade-in, a gray 1940 Plymouth Coup. My father dubbed it the bone shaker.
Time marches on and as it did, two elements aligned: I grew old enough to drive; my grandfather grew old enough that he couldn’t anymore. And thus, the 53 Chevy became mine. By now it was eleven years old, but you wouldn’t know it. All those years it had been garage-kept and only wandered out for occasional visits to doctors or family members. As the title was transferred the car had less than 12,000 miles on it. I, to say the least, was estatic.
I was to have the car for about four years. During that entire time I piled on the miles as I courted the beautiful young Rosemarie. She lived 60 miles away, roundtrip. Ironically, her family owned a very similar 54 Chevy. Back then, an automobile brand had only subtle cosmetic changes year-to-year. The easiest way I could tell a 53 Chevy from a 54 was by the taillights. The 53 had bumps on the lense; the 54 taillights were flat. Now you know!
What was cool about my car AND my girlfriend was that one was a stick-shift and the other knew how to drive it–a rare badge of honor back then for a 17-year-old girl who could drive a stick. The gear shift was mounted on the steering column and the car had a bench seat in the front. This allowed Rosemarie and me to be able to sit close to each other, with my right arm around her. I didn’t need it to shift gears–Rosemarie did that while I worked the clutch. We got pretty good at it once we learned how to do it right…same for some other things we could do in the 53 Chevy. Oh, you want me to tell you about those things too? ‘Fraid not!
A quick thanks to the following bloggers–some new, some long-lost returnees–who stopped by marc’s blog recently and dropped off a “like” before they left: Sue S., Ben, Emma Snow (nice Rudolph interp), TFE Times, The Uncertain Scribe, Tetiana Aleksina, Wizard, Sarahylockwood, Frank Solanki, daily22792, Terry Ibele, Ankita B, inkbiotic, resterrester