Rosie’s Memoirs: Cars Part II

Here’s the rest of my mom’s memoirs concerning all the cars she drove over the years. You guys, I think she was way more into cars than most women of her day! Bracketed [ ] items are my additions:

There was a Studebaker in which your dad changed the transmission from automatic to standard, no small feat, in the driveway of our rental home in Williamsport, PA. The ‘throw’ from first gear to second was so long, that at the top of the throw, I could not see the road, as I had to lean almost under the dash to finish the gear change. It was a nice, very aerodynamic car, though, with an aluminum dash, toggle switches, and other amenities. Studebaker was always ahead of its time, and it cost them.

And then there was the 1962 Chevy Supersport convertible. It was white with a red interior, so it was pretty, but the engine was really something else. (At this point, call in a car buff.) It had a radical cam and solid lifters (or ‘solids’) two four barrels, a heavy duty clutch, dual exhausts, and a Hurst shifter on the floor. What a pleasure. When your dad decided to leave PP&L, it was to become a real estate agent, and the company he was going with demanded all agents drive station wagons. We traded the Chevy on a wagon, got it home, couldn’t stand it, and traded it back. He went with another company.

The ’62 Supersport

Fast forward a few years, and your dad and I were living just outside of Camp Hill in an efficiency apartment while the house we were building was being finished. I needed transportation, and your dad found a $100 beauty at Freisinger Autos. It was a ’56 Chevy convertible, with many, many miles on it. It truly was a “ragtop” as the top had lots of holes in it. I called it my Speed Queen. I used it for errands and such, and we owned it until we bought the farm. We used it to drive through the fields at night “spotting” deer. What fun. I don’t remember who we sold it to.

The next car I loved was the Jag XK 150. It was a sleek beauty. It needed some work, but your dad was a very good mechanic, and he fixed it up. It had an aluminum dash, wire wheels, toggle switches, leather interior, the works. It ran like a demon. We sold it in 1967. It didn’t have room for a car seat, so the next car was a station wagon.

Rosemary in May 1967. I was born in July. She talked about this Jag ALL. THE. TIME.

[Reader please note that she skipped right over any detail about the station wagon. I know that she loved me with the ferocious depth of any mother’s love, but she never quite forgave me for the station wagon:]

Sorry, Mom.

After that, we didn’t have a car I really liked until we got the Brown (I forget the year) Buick 225 Electra Limited.  You guys called it “Mommy’s Magic Car”, because it had every bell and whistle available in those days [electric windows! Power seats!]. We drove the wheels off it, and finally got rid of it when it had about 120,000 miles on it. Back in the day, you were lucky to get 100K, let alone that many more. I kept it in pristine shape, and consequently, when it finally got traded, we got a really good price for it, even with all those miles.

(As a side note, we would have gotten rid of it sooner, and had ordered a new x-body Skylark, but your dad was running for [Perry County] Commissioner, and it wasn’t a good political move to be driving a brand new car.) We took delivery after the election.

[That Skylark had 4 on the floor but a front bench seat, so the stick shift came up and bent back over the seat. It looked weird, but I learned to drive a manual transmission on it, drove it till it would go no more, and credit it for the fact that my own favorite cars have been manuals, including the Honda Civic I bought when I was 24, my current Jetta and our Jeep Wrangler.]

Other favorite cars followed. The Gimmy van [what’s a Gimmy? it was a conversion van] was not one of mine. That was your dad’s choice, and actually, it was a good one, as we could travel comfortably while you guys were still young. [It had captain’s seats which we loved.]

One fave was the Olds 98 Regency, a Cadillac in everything but name. What a luxury car! One of the dogs threw up in it, though, and I never could get the smell totally out of it. [I took my driving test in this land yacht! My friend’s grandma had taken me to the test site – they let her ride in the back and she helped me with the 3 point turn. Best birthday present ever was my driver’s license!]

I think the rest of the cars were pretty much just transportation [she glosses right over a series of sensible Buicks here, and the unfortunate Reliant K Car, and a big Chrysler sedan] until the Mustang came along.

Now when I get in it to drive, the smile – a la the MG, and the Super Sport, and the Jag- comes back and I am Queen of the Road.

The Queen of the Road.

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