While Donald Wilson was home in November 1941, AWOL, his family traded off their “old smoking Buick” for a brand-new gray, 1942 Plymouth four-door, 95-horsepower, Special Deluxe sedan with concealed running boards.
They had no idea that it would be one of the last new cars sold because WWII broke out early the next month. List price $935.
According to the ad, Plymouth was Chrysler Corporations No. 1 car, with 10 percent more power, extra gas mileage, and long engine life.
“Plymouth’s Finest is long, wide and roomy. And the smart, low-to-the-road design that gives it its sleek, dashing appearance also contributes wonderful new smoothness and steadiness to Plymouth’s ride!”
It also featured what became known as “suicide doors.”
This best-engineered low-riced car sponsored Major Bowe’s Amateur Hour on CBS Radio on Thursdays.
Donald Wilson rode in the Plymouth to Des Moines to return to the Navy. After war was declared, Delbert was next. One by one, the younger three brothers drove to Des Moines in the Plymouth to serve in the Army Air Force.
Before Junior Wilson left, he made sure his dad could drive it. Clabe had never had to learn because one of his sons always wanted to drive. (Same with the John Deere A tractor. Clabe always worked with horses until all his sons left.)
The Plymouth had a large enough trunk to carry a crate of chickens to their new place near Perry.
I had many rides in that car! Mom and I lived with my grandparents at Minburn after I was born in June until Dad could fetch us from Texas, 1944. Then the spring of 1945, he was sent to pilot B-17s, then to command the B-29, training was speeded up. Families couldn’t go along, so we Mom and her toddler moved in with Clabe and Leora at their acreage at Perry. Mom even got her first driver’s license with this car.
After Clabe Wilson’s death in October 1946, I don’t know what happened to the Plymouth, as Leora never learned to drive.
Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II is available from Amazon in paperback and ebook, also as an audiobook, narrated by Paul Berge.
It’s also the story behind the Wilson brothers featured on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, Iowa. All five served. Only two came home.