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The Great Mid-Life crisis Adventure...part one.

October 29, 2019

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My Dad Was a Ford Man

June 15, 2018

Yes, he was! As far back as I can remember, he always drove a Ford--oh, except for the two-tone blue 1952 Mercury with the dual exhausts--that he bought from a teen-age kid who had customized it. Thinking back, that was probably my Dad's mid-life crisis. He sure enjoyed that car, driving it around and making it rumble. He's the reason I didn't learn to drive until I was 19, because he would use any excuse to drive his sexy car--he drove me wherever I needed to be, he drove my friends to and from our house, he even drove my boyfriends, before they had cars. Vroom, vroom!

 

 

When we moved to Minnesota, in 1957, the first thing he did was to buy a new car--a grey and white Ford Fairlane 500. I was 17. You know he wasn't going to let me learn to drive in his brand-new car! Besides, the one time he did relent and take me out "practice driving" there was a whole lotta yelling going on, as we jerked down the road. 

 

My mother never drove, after we moved to Minnesota. Even though she had spent 25 years driving in Upstate New York, all over the countryside, up to the big city of Binghamton, over the bridges and through the woods, she failed her driver's test--twice. She had an unforgivable fault. She was a CLUTCH-RIDER. Gasp!

 

My husband's Dad was a Buick man--never had anything but, as far as I know. So you can see, right there, that I "Married Up".  Now, Dad Myers had an old Buick coupe that he called "the Wildcat" and, when Tom (my husband) would come home from med school, he would come and pick me up in "The Wildcat". We'd go and park in the church parking lot and steam up the windows. It was a bittersweet day when Dad Myers traded in the Wildcat for a little  German Opel    and gave it to Tom as an early graduation gift. We discovered that being a small car, the manouveres for steaming up the windows were rather limited.

 

We were married just before Tom's last year in medical school and I got a job working at the original Bachman's Nurseries, arranging flowers and making wedding bouquets. We lived on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, in one of the, let's say "iffy" sections of the city. Tom kept a shotgun beside the bed with a paper flag sticking out of the barrel. It said 'this gun is loaded". He was assuming that any intruder, hell-bent on murdering us in our bed, would stop to read the sign! He had led a rather sheltered life.

 

By that time, I had taken driver's education and would drive the little Opel across the Franklin Ave Bridge , drop Tom off at the U of Minnesota Med School and head south--waaaaay south--- to 60th and Lyndale to go to work. Highway 35 hadn't been built, yet, so it was down on Portland, back on Park, or the other way around, I forget. I just remember it was always dark, either way I went.

 

So, in those days, the draft was still in effect, but you could get a deferrment by signing up for the "Barry Plan". This meant the military would not call in their markers until you had made it through college or medical school, as long as you PROMISED to enlist the minute you turned in your cap and gown. So it was that Tom found himself on his way to Germany for a 2-year stint in the Air Force, with the little Opel following in the hold of some ship. In the 60s, the military would ship your entire household, including cars, to wherever you were going. So the Opel went back to the Motherland. I showed up in Bitburg, Germany as soon as I had delivered our second child and, I have to tell you, we truly had an enjoyable two years, there. So enjoyable, in fact, that we came home with THREE children--and the Opel.

But, the poor, poor Opel was never the same. Immediately, it started having electrical problems. Then, it developed a horrible scabrous skin problem that looked rather like leprosy, with it's paint sloughing off. I knew it was having psychological problems, in addition, because during the week, it would run just fine, but, Sunday mornings, when I had the three kids, all shiny and wearing their best, rounded up and in the car to go to church, it would absolutely refuse to start. We decided that the little car had spent the last crossing under water, in the deep bowels of the ship--poor thing!

So, it was time to trade it in. By then, Tom had finished his residency and we had moved to Duluth--where 4-wheel drive was not a charming luxury but, at times, the only thing keeping bread, milk and dogfood in the house. We had three children,--4, 5 and 7--and a dog, of course. We had purchased the old Victorian House (see blog 5) which meant toting and carrying paint, boards, old furniture to be stripped, and lots of groceries. So, we listened to all the wise urgings from our friend--remember the guy whose boat ran into the back of his SUV?--and bought a Travel-All. My husband is 5'5", I am 5'2 1/2" on a good day, and we're driving this behemoth of a vehicle. Now, you know, don't you? that Travel-Alls are built from the pieces and parts of other vehicles, right? And not necessarily the BEST pieces and parts, either. We had that wooly mammoth for quite a long time, and I would say at least 30 per cent of its' time was spent in the repair shop 'waaaay over on the other side of town, waiting for some piece or part to arrive from Almagordo or Wanamingo.,where some enterprising mechanic probably lifted it off an Allis Chalmers.

 

When the time came to part ways with the Travel-All, we went to two cars and, for the first time in my life, 30 years old, I had my very own car. It was used--I didn't care. It was huge and difficult for me to drive--I didn't care. It was impossible to park and back up--I didn't care. What I did care about was that it was RED. Ruby Red!! Yes, it was a red, Buick LeSabre, two door. It was red. Had black seats but it was RED. The doors were so huge that I had to be careful where I parked or I couldn't get out. But, it was--yes, RED. No seat belts, at that time, and three children. I used to deliver Meals on Wheels, and getting the bags and trays in and out of the back seat was a challenge. And, in the Winter, Tom would put chains on the tires. They would go ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk. I didn't care. It was MINE and--well, you know!

 

And there my story ends for this time. I'll continue the saga of car ownership in the Myers family, next week. Mystery bulletholes and kids de-constructing hot rods. The car named Buck, the Renaissance Festival chariot.

 

 

One more thing about my Mom and Dad. They loved to dance--and they---were---good!  I don't know for sure if they did the jitterbug and the Lindy, or what was their favorite, but, as a couple of the 1930s and 40s--I'll BET they did the BOOGIE!  So check out my newest project book--number 5--named with them in mind--"BOOGIE"!

Just hit the back arrow and then SHOP on the banner-there it is!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Boogie Up the Wall"                                         "Boogie Mama"

 

 

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