Dad and Mom were married in 1943, but didn’t buy a car until Dad returned to Iowa when I was born in 1944. He bought a 1939 Chevrolet from Russell Horn in Dexter. You couldn’t buy new tires during the war so they had to patch the ones already on it. That happened on their way to Texas, when I was a few weeks old, and a tire got a large enough bulge on it to catch someone else’s attention.
The gas gauge didn’t work either, and they ran out of gas at night a few miles from Marfa, Texas. Mom and her infant stayed in the “C-39” while Dad hitchhiked for gas, although the first one was closed for the night. Another airman helped him out and gave him pointers about gas rationing and tires.
Mom learned to drive after I was born.
When the folks a newer car (always a second-hand Chevy from Morrisons at Stuart), the older one became Dad’s “pickup.”
I can remember sitting in Dad’s old oily-smelling car. The plush seat covers also held the aroma of gravel dust, and on the dash was a switch to change whether you needed a courtesy warning for city–or a commanding one when you’re on a gravel road and there someone’s cows got out.
My parents’ used 1948 Chevy began their long-held preference for two-toned cars. This one was blue.
People around Dexter, Iowa, usually bought a Chevy from Morrison’s at Stuart, or a Ford from Hunter’s in Earlham. We cousins spatted about which was better, but everyone agreed that buying another brand of car in a town farther away was just a little uppity.
The next used car, a two-tone green (Dad’s favorite color), had a visor. Mom thought the visor was cute but Dad took it off. He said everyone took it off that model because it caught the wind and wasn’t gas efficient.
You can see the wing window between the passenger window and the windshield. It could be angled to bring in a breeze to a stuffy car, and let out Dad’s smoke from his Camels. We’d take a drive in the evening, many drives starting at the pasture Dad had rentedm to “count the cows” he had grazing there, making sure none had gotten out.
We took our only family trip–to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills–in the ’52 Chevy in August, 1958. I was at “that age” and didn’t want to ride all that way in the back seat with my pesky little sister. That changed when Mom suggested inviting Grandma Wilson along. Having Grandma ride in the middle in the back seat improved my outlook. And Dad cooperated with everything Mom wanted to stop for, even the Corn Palace at Mitchell on the way back.
When Dad said he planned to look at used cars in Stuart about 1960, I told him to be sure to get a 1957 Chevy. But when he came home, he said he’d bought a green 1958. But when he brought it home, all Gloria and I could say was, “That’s not green!”
This must have been the car I learned to shift gears on–“three on the tree”–or a three speed transmission with the gearshift mounted on the steering column. I think this car also took all my stuff to the State College of Iowa in 1962.
During this time the folks had a second-hand blue and white Chevy. Haven’t put my hands on a picture yet.
Another two-tone Chevy–green and white. First car with air conditioning, and may have been the first one with an automatic transmission. They drove this one out to Colorado when we lived there in the early 1970s.