Thursday, February 28, 2013

another love story

Stan Arendts sent an email with this video story.  Neat story.  Thanks, Stan.

Here's the story behind it:
Published on Feb 26, 2013 - Joe and Beverly Smith were the proud owners of a 1948 Plymouth Convertible until they had to sell it when Joe was drafted to serve in the Korean War. As a 60th wedding anniversary gift, their son, Joel, found a '48 Plymouth through Craigslist fixed it up and gave it to them as a surprise. The car will now forever stay in the family and be passed down through generations.

Friday, February 15, 2013

another first car - from Stan Arendts

My first car was a '48 Ford sedan that I got when I was 14. Times were very different in those days. I never got stopped for driving w/o a license........I did have a learner's permit though. I never really liked the car. Seemed to be too fuddy-duddy, so I traded it for a 1940 Ford coupe, which I loved and souped up quite a bit.

I had one very memorable trip from Des Moines to Kensett during a major blizzard. When I started north, the sun was shining and I was not worried. By the time I got about half way home, I realized I was in trouble. The snow plows actually quit plowing and the drifts were so bad that I had to keep the car going at a high rate of speed just to make it through. Additionally, it was difficult to determine where the road was located. I had to estimate the location by trying to stay in the middle of the road by using telephone poles as guidelines.

Needless to say, there was no one else foolish enough to be on the road during that blizzard. Eventually, my windshield wipers froze, so I had to drive with my window open, so I could reach outside and push the snow off. I knew, if I stopped I would be unable to get going again. When I got home, there was a snow drift over my lap, in the front seat and water all over the floor from snow the heater had melted.

When I finally made it home, I actually got out of the car and hugged the hood to express my gratitude to the old crate. I think we formed a bond that day. My parents were surprised to see me. They weren't expecting me to drive in such weather........They thought I had more sense.....go figure.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What Model was your first car?

Stan Arendts sent along an email with a link to a web page containing brochures from cars manufactured prior to 1990.  The email said:

Find your first car or the one you drove to high school or college; hopefully your car brochure is available. This has to be one of the neatest websites whether you have gasoline in your veins or not. It features the original factory brochures for nearly every American car you have ever owned. Pick the manufacturer, the year and the model. Sorry, no Porsches, BMW's or Austin Healy's.

As usual, one thing leads to another, and Richard Holstad soon enough was waxing eloquently about his 1954 Studebaker, shown here.

Stan, thanks for sharing this link

This was my first car ….1954 Studebaker.  Oh what memories were made in this vehicle.

One night my girl friend and I were at the drive in movie east of Northwood. You know the drive in where the airplanes could fly in, park and see the movie?

Also the drive in where they would use another old vehicle that had a diesel fuel mixture (or whatever they used to kill mosquitoes) in the gas tank. The theatre operator would drive that smoky old vehicle up and down the parking lanes, gunning the engine all the time to maximize the smoke output.

This was done just before the movie started to reduce the swarms of mosquitoes long enough to play the outdoor movie.  It was thick enough oily smoke that one’s clothes would absorb the smell and stay with you long after you left the theatre.

Anyway, my girlfriend and I had one of those teenage tiffs at the movie. I drove that old Studebaker about 80 miles an hour from just west of Carpenter all the way to Northwood a grand total of no more than 10 miles or so.

I would buy re-processed bulk oil to put in this car because it really consumed oil.  In that short distance from the theater to Northwood ---- I blew out so much engine oil going 80 MPH that I and had to replace 3 ½ quarts when I got home …. It only held 4 quarts. There must have been a thick blue trail of smoke behind that car !!! But it was dark out so most likely no one really did see it.

On a separate trip to Mason City, I didn’t have the front hood securely latched down. A Greyhound bus passed me going the opposite direction. The hood flew up and wrapped over the roof …. It didn't fly off but the hood had this nasty concave warp in it from then on --- and I had to wire it down with bailing wire.

On the front ¼ panel just behind the front wheel is a super efficient air vent that was hinged on the door side of the vent. Driving down the highway with that vent all the way open, the air would come across your feet at about the same speed the car was traveling ….. you needed to have a bug screen over the vent because otherwise bumble bees, June bugs, and other large sized insects would be scooped in and impact against your leg with such force it wasn't funny. In Iowa the first thing to rust out was that air vent. Mine got rusted out so bad it wouldn't close anymore. When it was raining or snowing there was a constant spray across my feet from that air vent.

The manual shifter in the column wore out. I discovered that it was just a matter of rotating the stick from the right side of the column to the left side and it could be made to work again. Learning to shift gears with the left hand was quite a challenge for me …. But I did it.

If you need to, you CAN do most anything.  I loved that car! Just look at the body style …. And that was in 1954!  Wow was I ever in hog heaven!

Thank you, Stan, for the memories

If I'm not mistaken, the drive-in he references here is the old Bel-Air Drive-in located officially at St Ansgar, and cited in an earlier post in this blog.  Click here to read that post and you may understand how Richard may have gotten into a tiff.

And if you have a "favorite car" story, bring it on.  Email to share it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

where reunions should be held - Florida

The Hendricksons have been in Bradenton for a while, and the Helgelands were passing through, so Janis sent along these photos to console us as we look out the window at the snow.  And in truth she said, I'm attaching a couple of photos from last Friday when Chuck and Ann Helgeland drove from Ft. Myers to see us in Bradenton. We had a great day with them - fun conversation and great company. We're working on arranging a time for us to visit them in Ft. Myers before they leave for home in
Tennessee. It was just great to reconnect with them!

Janis seems to think it would be a great location for a min-reunion for the Class of '62 and I tend to agree!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Worth County Car-Train Wreck

Three months before my 5th birthday my family was devastated by the worst car-train wreck in Worth County history, probably to this day.  Mom's brother Marvin, Dad's cousin Fern, their three children and Fern's niece were all killed.

The accident happened at 11:15 AM on Sunday, May 22, 1949. Apparently they were heading to church services at Deer Creek Valley Lutheran on the State Line, located one mile further north and about five miles east..  They had just turned east on what is today 500th Street and by rumor may have been distracted by something on Highway 65 ahead and to their left.  Stateline Cemetery was directly ahead of them, on the other side of 65.  They continued on to the railroad tracks that run along 65 where they collided with a northbound Rock Island passenger train according to news reports of the day.

The photo here accompanied the story as written in either the Anchor or the Globe-Gazette, and seems graphic by today's standards.

My family was attending an end-of-the-year school party at the Grove Township school perhaps 2 miles East of the scene as the crow flies, and about one mile north of the farm where I was raised, on today's S48.  Knowing we were there, an aunt and uncle came to notify my folks of the accident.  When they turned into the driveway, someone grabbed Dad by the sleeve and said, "I think they're here to see you."

Clearly he already knew.

I have long had the memory of this day at Grove Township school, without really knowing for sure that it was the day.  I hear women shrieking in anguish, and one woman, either my mother or my aunt, running in my direction almost aimlessly, crying as she ran.  I visualize a tall stand of trees on my left, and a white building on my right, and I am sure that I was on the north side of the school house facing east.  The memory is short, perhaps only five seconds of my life.

I was also there when my mother and her sisters were cleaning out the home where they had lived, and there was no gaiety that day, highly unusual for these women.  It was much too somber.  All business.  And just another five seconds of memory.

Some time later Dad and my Uncle Kermit happened to go into a tavern in Northwood, which Dad rarely did.  This time Jake Jaspers was sitting at the bar, called them over, and offered to buy them a beer.  He had come upon the scene shortly after it occurred and told them he saw thick black hair on one victim and knew immediately that it was Marvin, but he was shooed away by law enforcement on the scene.

Somehow word came back from the engineer who must have had nightmares the rest of his life. Marvin and Fern knew they were going to be hit because at the moment of impact he was reaching for her as if to protect her, and she had a look of shock on her face.  How would you sleep at night with that memory?

Marilyn, the oldest child, would have graduated in 1962 like four of her cousins, but for the life snuffed short.  Sadly, she was instead honored in the funeral held two days later at DCV, attended by a few hundred people, many having to stand outside.

An eternal candles stands on the altar of First Lutheran Church, a common practice in many churches, I suppose, and both Richard Holstad and Bonnie Mack have told me their understanding was that it is in memory of a family killed in a horrible accident.  Without checking church history one can only say perhaps it was, or perhaps it was purchased and donated in their memory.  That would be appropriate.

All of our memories of NKHS are not happy, and though this one is not of NKHS so much as it is personal, I can't help but share this story, especially as my family elders are disappearing, this family completely so many years ago.  I honestly have no direct memories of Marilyn but have the thought that she would have been a very good person, and she may have graduated with us had her life not been shortened.  Each time I drive to Northwood I drive through the intersection and am reminded.