Rosie’s Memoirs: Cars part I

I have mentioned in previous posts that my mom was into cars. Here’s one of three pages she wrote about all the cars she ever drove! I’ll break this topic up into multiple posts. This first one is based in the 1950s and 1960s and includes the story about drag racing her students (which we included in her eulogy), plus a story about a skunk that I had never heard before. She writes, in approx. 2009:

Now I drive a Mustang “ragtop” and before that I drove a Buick sedan. For those who scoff, the Buick has recently been rated one of the most reliable cars, ahead of Lexus. It is also one of the least stolen. (I know, I know, who’d steal a Buick?) But anyway, I have owned and been owned by a few cars, and there are one or two I didn’t own, but I had fun in them anyway.

As a teen, I drove the family car, a 1953 Chevy Bel Air. It was one of GM’s standards, and although ours was “pre-owned”, it served us well for many years. I never had a car of my own to drive to school events, so I drove the ’53.

Once when I was in a school play, the next-door neighbor, Kenny, and I were going to rehearsal, and in the play, a skunk supposedly had a ‘role.’ On the way to rehearsal, there was a fresh ‘road kill’ skunk alongside the road. I stopped the car, Kenny got out, picked up the skunk by the tail, held the skunk all the way to town with the car window wound up as far as it would go, and we snuck the skunk into the school building. The odor was horrible, Kenny and I feigned ignorance along with the rest of the cast.  The perps were never found out. My dad wondered why the car smelled of skunk for a long time. Kenny and I never, never told.

I didn’t have cars to call my own until your dad and I were engaged.  We had graduated from college and he was working for PP&L in Williamsport and I was teaching in Reading at the city high school. We had gotten engaged on Sept. 21 (the only good thing I can think of regarding the autumnal equinox) and my folks lived in Selinsgrove. I would leave school on Friday afternoon and take the bus to Harrisburg where your dad would meet me at the train/bus station. Then we drove to Selinsgrove. That grew old in a hurry and your dad decided I should have wheels of my own. He found an MG at a good price, and I had my first car to drive. What a fun car that was! It was kind of like a blonde joke in car-dom; it was soooo cute, but had nooo power under the hood. I loved it. I would drive it from Reading to Selinsgrove and back to Reading every weekend. The trip was made even more fun by the fact that the truckers really liked the cute young thing in the little sports car. (Remember, that was back in the day, when things were nowhere near as dangerous as they are today.) I’d just put on my black scarf (tied in a certain way, as per the mode of the day) and my oversize shades, and off I went.

At that time, I taught internal combustion engines (three classes of 30 each) to vo-tech boys. (I found out at the end of the year that the men in the faculty had placed bets on how many months I’d stay. Apparently, the boys had given some of the men fits.) Also at that time, your dad drove a really hot 1959 Chevy. It was stock, and had ‘trophied’ at drag races. Well, something about the MG needed attention, so he decided we would trade cars while he took care of the MG. There I was in Reading with a hot car and in the daily presence of teen-age boys, also with cars they thought were hot. I was coming home from downtown shopping, and found myself on 13th Street, right in front of the school. Like Second Street in Harrisburg, Thirteenth Street in Reading was one way the whole way through town, and there, sitting beside me at a traffic light, was one of my students with a carload of his buddies. He gave the universal signal for dragging, I acknowledged it, the light changed, and away we went. I beat him, and for the rest of the year there was respect from the guys.

This caricature is from when the folks were in college, so it’s depicting a scene that predates these car stories by a couple of years, but I wanted to include it anyway because (a) I needed a photo and (b) it’s always been my favorite:

“The Beav” hitching a ride to Susquehanna U to visit Rosie. That cigarette!

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