It has been said that America has a love affair with the automobile. Here's what I have to say about that: guilty! Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper I've been in love with cars. Our 1953 Studebaker was the first family car I remember. It was followed by a 1956 Oldsmobile and later a 1961 Oldsmobile.
About 1963, families in East Texas began to have a second car. Until then, almost every house had one phone and one car. The second car became the norm during the time I was in high school.
I got my learner's permit at age fourteen, and because I took the Driving Course through the junior high school, I was able to get a full driver's license while barely fourteen years old. We had a very plain 1960 VW bug as our second car, and I became the family chauffeur immediately. I had three sisters and any time any of them needed to be anywhere, I was only too glad to take them and drive about town in the process.
My older sister, Judy, was in the high school band. They started practices for the marching band several weeks before school started in September. The last few weeks of the summer vacation were filled with band practices many nights. I would take Judy and usually pick up some of her girlfriends who needed a ride.
Judy and I had for years been the kids who were looking for a ride from others, so we welcomed the opportunity to take that load off of friends who needed a ride. It was great to literally be in the driver's seat. I basked in the glory of driving everyone about. The VW served us well, but it was small and not air conditioned.
The next year the parents got a newer second car, which they allowed me to use as much as I needed. It was a 1962 Chevy Bel-air four door, with a non factory air conditioner. It was huge, and sat on the floor in the middle, often icing over when in use. But it would freeze you out of there.
My senior year I got a job working a forty hour week at night, and soon bought an almost new 1967 Dodge Dart. It had a large engine and was far more car than this boy needed to have at age seventeen. I drove it like I was a race car driver, getting more tickets in one year than I have had my entire life before or since.
In 1969 I got some sense and traded the Dart for a brand new Toyota Corolla. Like that old VW bug, it got great gasoline mileage, was small without any extras, and whined at modest speed steadily down the road. By then, I was a devoted seat belt wearer, sticking to the speed limit, whatever it was.
These early cars hold a special place in my heart. I'll bet most men have similar feelings about their first cars. It's probably the memories and people associated with them. Oh, what memories they each have for me.
© 2013, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. email@example.com