Thursday, January 22, 2015


By Beatrice M. Hanson

Mother was in high spirits that day, and during the evening meal we children learned the reason why.
“Your father,” she informed us, has bought a new car. “A Ford.”
Mother pronounced the word “Ford” in a way which somehow seemed to raise its rank a little closer to the higher priced cars of that day.
The Ford Co. had produced a new car, the Model T, to fit the pocket- books of the middle class. The slogan “Watch the Fords go by,” proved to be the beginning of the American car parade.
After supper, we followed mother down the curving dirt road that led to a small vine-covered shed we later called the garage.
Papa was waiting for us, having come up from the farm he worked on a short distance away. The shed doors were wide open as we stepped inside to inspect the black shiny vehicle. It seemed to us, seen in so small a stall, immense and inspiring.
While we younger children clambered into the back seat to test its comfort, someone pressed the large horn attached to the car’s side. The loud “ahooga! ahooga!” vibrated so ominously we scrambled in haste out of the car door lest this monster take off by itself.
Papa lifted the hood with great pride to show mother the clean and spotless motor. Then we all filed outside to watch while he brought the doors together with a padlock to prevent any possible intruding.
The following Sunday we descended the stairs to find mother busily packing a picnic lunch. She told us Papa had planned a drive in the country. If we cared to go, we should get ready.
We needed no urging. It was a treat we had been anticipating.
An hour later everyone was ready. Mother, dressed in her Sunday best wore a veil pinned to her hat to protect her hair from the breeze.

All that remained was closing the north windows in case of a summer storm. We waited impatiently on the lawn, eyeing the road for the first glimpse of the approaching car.
Little brother was first to point out the car now moving slowly up
the hill. "Giggerum, giggerum," he cried excitedly, making imaginary motions of gear shifting.
The car came to a stop before us, shaking and quivering. Shutting off the motor, Papa called to Mother not to lock the back door until he fetched a pitcher of water for the motor.
Mother made her appearance carrying out the lunch basket which we stored on the floor between us.
There was a moment of concern when Mother's weight tipped the car a bit, b:it it straightened out when she seated herself, proud as a peacock, beside the driver's seat.
Papa took precious time to pack his pipe and light it, and fit his motoring cap tighter before leaning over to adjust gas and sparks.
Now he stepped to the front, and with a mighty arm, swung the crank around. There was no result. Again he cranked; again it did nothing. The third swing did it. The motor caught on with much sputtering, while the body vibrated with everything it had.
Holding on tight to the side rail, we felt the car gliding forward. Necks extended to watch for an untimely approach of a trolley until we had passed the tracks safely.
Papa stayed mostly on unpaved roads, but there was much to see. We were kept busy twisting our necks from side to side so as not to miss anything.
After some miles of travelling, Mother suggested we find a spot to have lunch. We found a shaded knoll covered with pine needles. While we ate, we kids kept our eyes on the car below us fearful of its taking off and leaving us stranded miles from home.
Once again, on our way, we noticed cow pastures encircled with fences made of rock piles. And it was just such a farm we turned into. 

The farmhouse, with a long open porch, faced the dirt driveway, with two large red barns adjoining.
As the now dusty car shivered to a stop, Uncle came limping from the milk room, hands outstretched in greeting, and with a big smile for the contraption in his driveway.
Auntie came hurrying from the back kitchen, wiping flour from her hands to welcome the visitors.
We were loudly greeted by our small cousins who took us to the barn to see the new-born calf and the black and white kittens in the hay-loft. Later we were offered fresh strawberry, homemade ice-cream and cake.
Now Papa said we must leave to get home before dark. We settled ourselves for the long ride home and waved goodbye.
We reached home just as the sun went down. Papa left us off at the house to take the car back to the shed.
We told ourselves it was a day to remember. And so it was! As Forty- odd years later I can remember every moment of it.
The peace, tranquility and morality of that era can never be matched. All but one of the passengers on the Model T are dead now, like the era, but never forgotten.