134. Car Talk

The first car my husband Gene owned when we were married was a 1937 Ford convertible.  The last one, 54 years later, was a 1937 Plymouth coupe.  In between, we owned a whole procession of vehicles in varying stages of antiquity.

The only new cars Gene drove were provided by the company he worked for.  The “family” car was always one of the “Oldies but Goodies” vintage.

These were not collector cars.  These were Used Cars.  Their value in life was three-fold: (1) They were affordable, (2) they were easier for Gene to make some of the repairs himself, and (3) he loved the old-jalopies –  tinkering with them and driving them.

As far as Yours Truly was concerned, the old rattletraps had some serious drawbacks:  (1) they had a habit of breaking down frequently and at the most inopportune times, (2) their interior wasn’t big enough for a horde of children and dogs, and (3) they had to be “shifted”.  This is why during the 1960s and 1970s, all the used cars we owned were new enough to at least have a passing acquaintance with “automatic transmission”. Otherwise, God forbid, I would have been unable to demonstrate my unique driving abilities.

Our first car – the ’37 Ford convertible – we called Old Smokey.  That was because of what kept coming out of its rear end.  Gene drove it back and forth from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Washington, D.C. to school all the time. After we were married we drove to Miami, Florida on our honeymoon, all the while smoke gloriously trailing behind us.  Just about the time I was getting used to it, Gene did something once we got to Miami, that made the car quit smoking.  I kind of missed it in a way, but, of course, it wouldn’t be good to get lung cancer from riding in one’s car.

Gene’s last automotive treasure was the 1937 Plymouth, which we called “Lazarus”.  It was raised from the dead by Gene and my son-in-law Curt Warden.  Curt found the car in some old farmer’s field, all rusty and dilapidated. He hurried Gene out there, they struck a deal with the farmer,  and the next thing I knew, there was this big rusty, gray metal carcass in the driveway.

Much later, after investing hundreds of dollars for parts, and hundreds of hours of work, Gene got the car running, and I have to say, it did run mostly well for many years.

One time, Lazarus transported us from Seattle to San Jose, California for a wine conference. There was a big heat wave going on, and along the sides of the highway, cars were pulled over cooling off their stalled engines.  Not Lazarus, though.  It just kept chugging along like it had good sense.  The people along the side of the road kept cheering and waving their hats at us.


What got me remembering about “rolling along” in our old cars, is this video Linda Lewis sent me. The performance of the car in it is the polar opposite of our family cars, but Gene would have loved it. Put on your seat belt, sit back, and prepare for some driving tension.

Linda’s note said. “The stretch of highway  that this ad was filmed on is in the Fraser Canyon, British Columbia, Canada. The tunnel they did this in is the China Bar Tunnel on  Highway 1 just North of Spuzzum. The car is a new  Mercedes. Make sure that your sound is on.”



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One Response to 134. Car Talk

  1. Linda Lewis says:

    I wonder why both doors open, when no one was willing to be a passenger on that roll over.
    Gene did a tremendous job on Lazarus! I had no idea it’s history. You are so FULL of treasures! Everyone has a story, but Octo-woman is the best story teller ever!

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