A Saturday Drive In My First Car
My first car was a Model “T” Ford. A farmer told me if I would remove it from his barnyard I could have it for $15.00. I jumped at the deal. The car had been a roosting place for chickens that preferred it to the chicken house. Manure and feathers were everywhere.
I removed the torn and soiled headliner and hosed down the interior. After that I gave it a complete cleaning inside and out with hot soapy water. The seats were leather and cleaned up very well. A quart of black “Nu-Enamel” gave her a gleaming exterior.
When I went to the County Seat to register her, I discovered she was part of an estate of an institutionalized mentally ill man. No administrator had been appointed. The estate had been frozen for years. I was told the registration could not be renewed.
The clerk at DMV, a kindly middle age lady looked at me sympathetically. She tore up the registration, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Would you like to apply for a new registration to replace your lost one?” I quickly agreed, paid the fees and was on my way. I don’t recall what the registration and new plates cost, but I distinctly remember that my driver’s license cost 25¢.
I made a date with a cute girl, Jeanie Patchett, whom I had met at a birthday party some months earlier. I wanted to show off my new car on a spring afternoon drive in the country. Wonder of wonders, she
accepted. On Saturday when I came to pick her up she was dressed in a lovely gray dress with a pink lace yoke, probably a bit dressy for
just a car ride. It was our first date and we both wanted to look our best.
We first visited my Grandmother and Aunt Clara in town for tea. Then we were off to visit our nearby farm. It was a non-working farm my family used for weekend retreats and summer vacations. This time of year the ground was still frozen in spots as we drove along the one-mile gravel driveway from the County road to the farmhouse. The driveway slowly descends to a creek about midway. Then it slowly rises up to the house. We crossed the creek and started climbing the low south-facing hill. We were on thawed ground, which began turning to Jell-O under the wheels. The wheels slowly sank. We were stuck!
I searched around for an old fence log or piece of lumber, anything I could use to give the car traction… Nothing.
I would have to walk back to the main road and see if I could get some help. As I got near the road I noticed a small gully on the neighbor’s farm that apparently had been used for dumping trash by some inconsiderate people. There was no lumber or brush in the gully. The only thing I might use was an old cotton mattress. I dragged it back to the car and placed it under the rear wheels. With Jeanie out of the car to lighten the load, I gave it the gas.
Cotton and ticking flew up in a cloud like a covey of flushed quail. The car was moving as the cloud of mud and cotton batting spewed from the rear. When I finally got back on solid gravel I stopped and called for Jeanie to get back in the car.
Poor Jeanie was covered with mud and cotton. She was standing directly behind the car, and looked little better than if she had been tarred and feathered. Her lovely dress was a mess!
I wanted to go back to visit Grandmother so Jeanie could clean up, but she declined. She didn’t want to see anyone. She just wanted to go directly home and take a bath. We drove the fifty miles back home with little conversation between us. I was sure I would never get another date with this cute girl.
When we arrived home her mother was in the front yard talking with a neighbor. One look and she told Jeanie to go inside immediately. She had nothing to say to me. Her stare was not very friendly. Except for a formal introduction some weeks earlier, her mother and I hardly knew each other. I wasn’t making a good impression!
I left thinking that Jeanie would never be permitted to date me again. I was crushed to think that Jeanie would never accept another date with me.
As it turned out her mother never voiced any objection to her seeing me. The Model T may have been a bit nostalgic, and perhaps she remembered some similar incident in her earlier years. At any rate, this turned out to be the first of many dates to follow. I guess Jeanie liked riding in my car.
Some years later, after receiving my Air Force wings, we were married in Riverside, California. That was more than fifty-eight years ago.
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