Do you remember the car you drove in high school? Was it an old family car that had seen better days ? Mom’s car was an old family car but it was still in great shape. It had its own bittersweet history!
The car was ordered in early November of 1947. Mom’s father, Richard ordered the car from the dealer knowing that they wouldn’t get the car for several months. My grandmother noted in the diary that it was ordered. A few days later there was simply an entry that said “My Darling Richard…” Mom’s father had been killed in a hunting accident and my poor grandmother had to deal with her own broken heart at his loss but those of her two little girls who were only 6 and 7. By the time March had arrived, Grandma took possession of the new car. Grandma noted in her diary the excitement of the girls over the new car. I’m sure it had to tug at her heart – knowing that this was one of the last things that her husband had done before his death was order the new family car.
When my mother entered high school and needed a car, the 48 Chevy became her transportation. With vocal and piano lessons, school activities, and other outings – it certainly got heavily used. Mom used to tell me that they would try to squeeze as many teenagers in the car as they could for $1 night at the drive in movie theater. The numbers usually reached double figures – which certainly boggles the mind. That car even had a place in my parents courtship. It was having some problems and Mom’s step father had the neighbor mechanic look at it and supposedly fix it. Mom and Dad were driving to Moscow for a date, and the car broke down. Dad got out and used a little chicken wire and fixed the car. When they arrived in Moscow, they drove by the parts store and Dad got the part and fixed it. When Grandpa Gwen asked Mom a few days later how the car was running…she said that it was running fine now…Gene had fixed it. When Grandpa asked Dad what was wrong with it – Dad told him what he had done. Grandpa was irritated that the mechanic had had it for a week and couldn't figure it out and a 19 year old young man had taken care of it first time he saw the problem.
A few years later, the old 48 Chevy was sitting up at Elk City with a pile of snow on its top. It was out in the weather and wasn’t being used. I’m sure we can all picture a semi-abandoned car in the driveway covered in snow. One morning after a particularly brutal cold snap, Grandpa Gwen was out trying to get the Chrysler started so Grandma could go to work (she taught at the local school) and was having no success. He then tried to get is truck started – it too didn’t want to start. Grandpa had heaters on both rigs and they were both parked under the car port. It must have been frustrating to have to be out in that cold trying to get those rigs started with no success. Grandpa looked over at the old Chevy and went over and swiped the worst of the snow off the top. He opened the door, stuck in the key and twisted it with no thought that it would actually work. That old car started right up, much to his surprise. For the rest of that long winter, the other car and truck spent the majority of its time sitting unused while the old Chevy kept on starting and transporting them wherever they needed to go. Unfortunately, near the end of that winter it went off the road and was totaled. Mom always wished she could have kept that car. There was a sentimentality that was attached to it for multiple reasons. Not only was it the last car her father had bought but it played a big part in her high school years and courtship with my father. I guess you could say it had a happy life…for a car!