... my family's first car
The first car I can remember will always stick in my mind.
It was a 1934 gray Plymouth sedan. I was only ten when World War II ended, so of course my family couldn't have bought another car during those war years. A lot of childhood memories surround that car.
That model had a foot starter pedal. In addition it also had a crank socket in the front, in case you couldn't get started. On cold days in Connecticut I could help my dad by giving the crank a quick turn while he pumped the gas. Had to be careful though! If you kept hold of the crank when the motor caught it could pull your arm off (so he told me.)
There were several pull knobs on the dashboard. Most important was the choke. We used that every time we started. The throttle was sometimes useful. A knob labelled "Free Wheeling" was mysterious...I don't think we ever figured out what good it was.
And of course the gear shift and clutch were way too tricky for a little boy to handle, fortunately! It was several more years before I learned to drive (in a surplus jeep, but that is another story.)
Of course there was gas rationing (along with everything worth eating) so we really had to count the miles carefully. I remember that "A" sticker on the windshield. I think we did okay because my Dad was a chemist, working for American Cyanamid. After the war he realized that some of the work he did was part of the research on uranium that aided the Manhattan Project. He car-pooled with his colleagues every day, so that helped on gas.
We did manage to drive up to Boston from Darien occasionally to visit my dad's father and sister. In those days that was a substantial trip. The Merritt Parkway was the only "highway", and that stopped at Bridgeport then. No interstates or turnpikes. Just routes 5, 10, 15, 20 and on to Roslindale. My brother Rip and I sat in the back seat and fought, as siblings do.
Church was a big thing in our family. Whatever else, that was the priority on Sunday, and we hopped into the car for the five mile drive into Stamford. One time my dad drove to Hartford in the old Plymouth to a meeting of the Gideons. He was very active in that group, as well as being a deacon and trustee at church.
To this day I remember the license number SV-840 of the old gray mare. It ain't what it used to be, but it served us well for many years.
September 7, 2001