Thursday, October 16, 2008

My first car

This isn't my Chevy, but certainly mine was like this. You can find a couple more images at these websites:

My first car came from a fellow I met during the rodeo summer. I started visiting the family and said I needed a car. Being a sometime mechanic, he found me a 1949 Chevy, gray, paint faded, very inconspicuous. I drove it for over a year with a temporary tag...around Memphis and back and forth to Mississippi where Mom lived. This car was not without problems though.

First, the gears tended to lock when you shifted from first to second. So, you had to stop, open the hood, read down inside and grab the rod and pull it back into place, turning off the motor was optional. One day, I needed to go somewhere special and I left my car with Mom and took her car (a bit more reliable Chevrolet and much newer). She was at the traffic light in the middle of town when the gears locked. Fortunately, I had warned her about this and she jumped out, raised the hood, popped that rod back into place and made the turn signal on green. I laugh at that image. She could be very prim and proper, and my image of her under the hood of the Chevy brings laughter.

I learned a lot about cars with that baby. The seller, whose name I forget, came over and fixed a couple of minor things, and then he got sick and couldn't do that any longer. He taught me over the phone how to change the brushes in the generator. Now these brushes are little pieces of metal, about an inch long and less than a half inch wide, less than a quarter inch thick - nothing to do with our image of brushes. They got their name from the fact that they brush the inside of a metal coil and create energy that is transferred to the battery. They are run by the fan belt which hooked onto the motor and the fan and the generator.

One day, the car wouldn't crank in a little town called Nettleton (they make Lane recliners there), and I stopped in front of an auto parts place. I left the car and caught the bus on to Memphis. Got home and called the guy, he talked me through the process and I caught the bus back to Nettleton and did the work myself - until I got to the part where I had to reattach the fan belt. The generator was the critical piece on getting the fan belt tight enough. So, I had help in holding the generator in place with a crowbar while I tightened the bolts that held it to the engine.

Later, after I met Wanda and was living in Memphis, the head gasket blew. In the misty rain, we replaced the head gasket with Mom sitting in the car behind us smoking cigarettes and worrying about what we were doing - and about my being out in the rain.

One night, after I moved back to Columbus and was working for the newspaper, I was going to take pictures of something at a shopping center...rain, fog, started to turn left, was bumped by the car behind me. No damages to either car but the police came and tried to find any sign that the Chevy had damage - none. The other car had a dent from hitting my back bumper.

I loved the Chevy, and it never did get a real tag. We sold it to buy a more substantial car for Wanda to drive back and forth to work about 60 miles away. I've always been a bit sorry that it went away - such a faithful and easy to fix buggy.

The next car I owned was the car of my dreams: a 1963 Pontiac Bonneville convertible, metallic dawn blue with a matching top.

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