Granddaddy & His Cadillac, Augusta, Georgia, February 11th, 1956, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
Do you have memories of the “family” car? Riding backwards with your brothers and sisters in the cargo seat of a 1967 Chevy wagon? The smell of the dirt-bottomed garage where your great, great uncle stored his vintage 1930’s black Pontiac? A Sunday ride in your dad’s Oldsmobile convertible? Taking a cross-country vacation in a flat nose 1962 Ford Econoline van?
October is a milestone month for the production of cars. After the internal combustion engine was invented, cars began to be mass produced in the 1920’s. Every American family wanted to own a car. October is the anniversary of Henry’s Ford’s first production “Model T.”
According to Old Car and Truck Pictures:
The first production Model T Ford was assembled at the Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit on October 1, 1908. For the next 19 years, Ford would build 15,000,000 cars and trucks with the Model “T” engine. The only other car to exceed that number was the Volkswagen Beetle. Considering the years when Henry did it, 1908 to 1927, it is surely a record that will never be beaten. Henry Ford had succeeded in his dream of building a car for the masses.
In research through shoeboxes of old photographs, I discovered that many images were of family members proudly standing next to their cars. Remember the jingle, “See the USA in your Chevrolet…? ” One of my fathers was a Chevy man; he has always driven Chevrolets and still owns a Chevy truck to this day. Another drove Oldsmobiles and I remember his red Olds convertible with the white rag top. What kind of car did your father own?
Family Scrapbook — Fathers, Sons, Daughters, & Cars:
Mom & Uncle Jack, Augusta, Georgia, circa late 1930s, early 1940s, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
Granddaddy In Pinstripes, along with Mom and Uncle Jack, Augusta, Georgia, circa early 1940’s, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
My grandfather was a GM man. He owned a Cadillac. And the day his son Jack graduated from high school, he was presented with a 1954 Pontiac Star Chief (which oddly I remember looking more like this 1953 Chieftain Catalina). I remember the car well; Uncle Jack died unexpectedly a few months before I was born and my mother inherited the Pontiac. It would figure prominently in my early childhood memories. I loved the way that Pontiac looked and smelled. And through my child-eyes, the orange hood ornament of Chief Pontiac, and the ornate grille and tail chrome, added a certain respectability and regalness to the way the car moved down the road.
If you think about it, cars were the Internet of their day, changing the way people communicated, socialized, visited with family, and, eventually, after the Interstate infrastructure was built by Eisenhower in the 1950’s, the way we moved around the country, sometimes never to return home. Cars changed America. (And we have our wildly fluctuating gas prices and chronic dependence on fossil fuels to prove it.)
Uncle Jack & His Pontiac, Augusta, Georgia, circa 1954,
photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
What memories do you have of the “family” car? Did you live on a farm where trucks were more important than cars? Was your father a man who would only buy American-made cars? Or did he believe VW’s and Toyota’s were better made and would last longer. What kind of cars did your mother own? How did the cars your family owned influence those you would buy as an adult?
There are two steps to this week’s Writing Practice:
(1) Make a list of all the cars you have owned; make another list of the cars your family owned when you were growing up. Be as specific as possible about year, make, and model. If you need help, dig through old family photographs and chances are you’ll bump into your family history of automobiles.
(2) Do a 15 minute Writing Practice on one of these car-related Topics:
- How many cars have you owned? Make a list. After making your list, choose one and do a 15 minute Writing Practice about a memory connected to that car. Think about the way it smelled, the color, the way you felt when you drove it. Was it a stick, 5-speed, 4-on-the-floor, automatic, or 3-speed on the column? Write everything you know about that car. Start the Practice with — “The first time I drove my 19xx _________…”
- What was the first car you owned? Was it new or used? How old were you when you learned to drive? High school, junior high? Who taught you to drive? Do a Writing Practice on “My first car ________.” Be as detailed as possible. Include all the senses.
- Write a memory of one of your family cars. I have memories of traveling across the Savannah River to visit with my Grandmother Elise and her singing to me along the way. Write about a childhood memory associated with a car your family owned. Write down the make, model, year of the car. Then beside it, write “I Remember______” and see what comes out. You might be surprised how far 4 wheels and a full tank of gas can take you in your writing.
Granddaddy & Uncle Bill, Augusta, Georgia, circa early 1950’s,
photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, October 12th, 2008