Motoring Along In Memory’s Fast Lane Riding In Early Autos
By W. P. Sissell
After a couple of weeks of wrestling mentally with my new computer, I finally got around to being able to receive the accumulated e-mail. The first one was a 13-page document from friend, Kay Kay Smith. She sent a copy of a story about a 1940 Dodge D-14 Deluxe Sedan. The car, built in Detroit, was bought by a veterinarian from Horseshoe Bend, Idaho at the Boise, Idaho dealership.
The veterinarian used the car to make calls all through the war years. His 1944 permit is still affixed to the windshield. While he used the car it was almost always parked in “its” place in the barn when not in use. In 1948, when the doctor passed away, the car was put on blocks and covered with bed sheets to protect its beautiful blue finish. It was not going to be sold. No one would have guessed, at the time, that the car would “sleep” there in “its” place for over 50 years.
Why Did Kay Kay Send The Article To Me?
Probably I should first tell you that there is a long time connection between our families. The house in which she grew up was between houses where my aunts, uncles, and cousins lived, so she is “kinda” just another cousin. Her father was the Plymouth, Dodge, Desoto and Chrysler dealer in Water Valley during those same years.
My father worked for her great uncle, Will Wilbourne, building many of the bridges on the state highways that are familiar to you. The old, solid concrete one on Bynum Creek is still there and many of you will remember the steel ones on Yocona and Otuckalofa, as well as the wooden ones on the Mud Line. Some of their bridges on Hwy. 7, all the way to Greenwood, still exist. Those bridges, along with the men who built them, have stories of their own. Can you imagine catching a red hot rivet—placing it in a hole and brazing it?
Kay Kay’s Great Uncle Will and my father were partners in the old swimming pool at the south end of town.
My First Vehicle
My first vehicle, a 1946 Dodge pickup given to me by my dad, came from Jimmy Wilbourne’s dealership. I would later trade the truck to Jimmie for a low-mileage Ford car that Jimmy had acquired in a trade. That pickup held many memories, for I was in it when I met Nannette.
When I returned from Army service, my folks had a used 1939 Dodge auto (came from Jimmy.) Evidently it was the Deluxe, as mentioned in the article about the Barn Dodge, for it had the features mentioned in the article. In the picture you will notice the little “wind wings” on the front windows. It was dangerous to turn these so that the air came directly into the car for I had several bees get into the car that way.
Thank goodness it did not have the same rear doors, called “suicide doors” by most of us (these opened into the wind, and at whatever speed you were traveling, would jerk you out of the auto easily). I experienced this in my cousin’s car in Los Angeles (at a very low speed.)
Calm Us Scuffling Boys— We Never Could Find That Sheep Running
The speedometers on these models were unique for their light went from amber to green to red (when it got above sixty.)
Ours did not have the “neckar knob” but I added this feature—Dodge’s answer to power steering. I know a lot of you will recognize the front hood ornament—the Dodge ram which I told about earlier—when our 4-H leader, Mr. Parker, used the ram to calm us scuffling boys. We never could find that sheep running along out in front of the car.
The 1939er was my mother’s car, but I was allowed to use it most of the time in traveling back and forth to Mississippi State.
Wesson Brister and I tried to alternate with one another’s car because we rented a room out in the country from Starkville. In the summer of 1947, along with my Aunt Gladys and Teresa Bagguley (who went to visit some of her folks out there), I went to visit our folks in California. I think that the gas bill going out was about thirty-seven dollars and a little less on the return trip. Remember the old TV Show Route 66?, well we got on 66 at Sallisaw, Oklahoma.
Nannette and I got married on the 17th of August after I returned—bought my wedding suit in Los Angeles. I’m about to forget—I ran into my first “4-Way Stop” in Alhambra. Finally someone hollered to me, “You have the right away—MOVE.” I, involuntarily, created a traffic jam.
We do hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to another great year. You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879.