Friday, December 14, 2018

Family vehicles

The below is a reprint of one section of my autobiography - but with pictures of the types of cars that our family had growing up. I've tried to find pictures that matched the color of the ones that we had.

 I can’t leave these writings about travel without a mention of all the vehicles that the family owned during my years in Connecticut.

When my parents married they had an older model pre-war Chevy.  I’ve seen pictures of it when I was still a babe-in-arms, but have no recollection of it.  The first car that I remember was a 1949 Ford sedan.  My father was a real Ford man in those days.  The license plate number (which he had continuously for nearly 60 years) was UL766.  The license plates were issued based on where you lived and the UL prefix was for Bridgeport, where he’d lived when he bought his first car.  It was the only UL plate I ever remember seeing in our part of CT.

Cars back then didn’t last as long as they do now, so we tended to replace them every four years or so.  In 1953 he traded in for a 1953 two-toned Ford sedan.  It was in that car when he was taking myself and my sister Beth somewhere one day that my sister pulled the handle and opened the door while we were traveling and nearly fell out (they didn’t have seat belts or child locks in those days).  She got a real scolding.

In 1957 it was time for an upgrade again, primarily because we now had four kids with number five on the way.  So this time we got a 1957 Ford Fairlane station wagon – red with white.

In the meantime my Grandma Rogers had stopped driving and we had gotten her old 1951 Chevy sedan – license plate BE4788.  We kept this for a while, then swapped it for a 1960 VW Beetle.  It was in this VW that I and my sister learned to drive.  My mother was the instructor and she wouldn’t let me pass until I could stop on an uphill grade and get going again without any rolling backwards.  In the days of manual transmissions and no “hill holder” clutch that was a challenge to coordinate all three pedals as well as the shift knob.  But we learned well.

My mother had her first (and only?) accident in the 1957 Ford.  We were on our way to my flute lesson in Waterbury and she didn’t see the car in front of us stop abruptly at the Route 69 intersection with Lakewood Road.  The accident caused the hood to fly up (on that car it was hinged at the front).  Since this was before cell phones, she had me hike down the road to the Exxon station across the street from the Pine Drive-in (another long-gone landmark) and call my dad at work to come and get us.

We replaced the 1957 Ford station wagon with another station wagon – a 1965 medium blue Ford.  This was the one that we went cross country in – my father didn’t think that the 1957 would hold up to that long a trip.  That was the last new car while I was still at home.  The replacement for the 1965 Ford was a non-Ford(!) Chrysler station wagon.  The VW was eventually replaced too – after my sister was in an accident with it in 1967 – with a newer VW Beetle.

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