Room For All


Here I am all ready to go to my favorite summer escape–Camp Namanu. I have finally learned how to roll up my Army surplus, down filled, mummy sleeping bag. There were a lot of very warm sleeping bags for sale after the Korean War, and we had six of them. In case you are unfamiliar with a mummy sleeping bag, it is called that because once you have zipped it up, only your face peeks out, making you look like a mummy. Unfortunately, it was very easy to get turned around in the night and I was afraid I would suffocate before I could find the face opening! I didn’t want to be an actual mummy.

But the star of this photo is the rear end of our famous “B-Mobile” named in honor of my mother Betty who drove it. With four kids, they bought a station wagon to haul us all around. Of course, in case you had any doubts, it was a FORD. This model of station wagons was relatively new , accommodating the large families that people, including ours, were having. Our family of 4 was actually rather small in my neighborhood.


This is a picture of a 1953 Ford Wagon, and I think ours was a 1954, but they were very similar. This had a front seat, a middle seat, and a way back with no seats. Tomorrow I will write about our cross country adventures in the B-Mobile. Our East Coast cousins, living in suburban New York City had the Cadillac of station wagons.1948-50s-259

But they actually used it to take my uncle to the train station for his daily commute to Manhattan. These wood paneled wagons became famous with surfers in the years to come. “I bought a ’30 Ford wagon and we call it a woodie
(Surf City, here we come)”


Ford or Chevrolet?


This was my father’s Ford, purchased next after that mystery car. When I was a kid, there were always raging debates about many things. Did you support Eisenhower or Stevenson(“Whistle while you work, Stevenson’s a jerk” taunted classmates)? Did you like Annie Oakley or Dale Evans?(I was an Annie fan.) Cheerios or Wheaties? Cowboys or Indians? Twinkies or Hostess Cupcakes(we got neither since my mother didn’t think they were worth the money)?

But the all important question was did you buy a Ford or a Chevrolet. I am aware that there were other cars in those days, but the debate that had heat with it centered around Fords and Chevrolets. No one owned “foreign” cars. Dinah Shore promoted Chevrolets which had us all singing “See the USA in your Chevrolet,” but it didn’t change any minds in our family. We bought Fords. It probably was as irrational a devotion as the one I have for my Apple–not PC–products. It was an emotional connection and we treasured it.

When we all went somewhere, it had to be in the Packard, which had room for the now six of us. But when it was just my brother and me, we got to ride with my father in HIS car, a 1950 Ford. It wasn’t as plush as the Packard, but it had the special cachet of belonging to my father who took it downtown to his office, both locations seeming exotic to us.

Each year Life Magazine showcased the new car models. While we weren’t a family that bought a new car each year, we were still fascinated by the distinctive changes that Fords and Chevrolets underwent each year. As an adult, I have lost my ability to tell cars apart. But as it happens, my 7 year old grandson is a car fanatic. We even took him to a car show in December and he explained that “anyone could tell that was a Ferrari” to a grandmother who had no idea. He continually startles me as we drive yelling out “look at that” as some particular car passes going the other direction.

Unfortunately, for him the question seems to be Ferrari or Lamborghini. No Fords or Chevrolets for him!

“No Bad News!”


Queen Evaline in The Wiz

“When I wake up in the afternoon
Which it pleases me to do
Don’t nobody bring me no bad news
‘Cause I wake up already negative
And I’ve wired up my fuse
So don’t nobody bring me no bad news
If we’re going to be buddies
Better bone up on the rules
‘Cause don’t nobody bring me no bad news
You can be my best of friends
As opposed to payin’ dues
But don’t nobody bring me no bad news
No bad news
No bad news
Don’t you ever bring me no bad news
‘Cause I’ll make you an offer, child That you cannot refuse So don’t nobody bring me no bad news.”(from The Wiz, 1978, music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls)

I am taking a break from my auto show posts to insert the lyrics to a song I have been humming for the last several weeks. The United States President has essentially declared war on the free press. Yesterday, his press secretary banned such stalwart news sources as the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and CNN from a press briefing.

When my daughter was little, this all black cast of a remake of  The Wizard of Oz premiered on Broadway. Since we lived in Oregon, we had to be content with the original cast album. My favorite song was “No Bad News,” most of whose lyrics are printed above. It reminded me of every person who closes their ears to the reality around them and insists on only “thinking good thoughts.”

Unbelievably(or totally believably depending on who you know)anything that ruffles the feathers of our apparently very very fragile commander in chief needs to be kept out of the news streams. This, of course, includes any negative comments that can, however much he needs to twist them, be about him. Anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish community centers? Mention them and you are attacking him. It rained on the inauguration? You have footage that shows that? Fake news! He lost the popular vote? Widespread unreported voter fraud.

If you have ever lived with an addict of any sort, you recognize the strategy. Turn the truth into an attack on the truth teller. It stopped working on me years ago, and it isn’t working on me now.

Read a  newspaper today. They sell them at the grocery store. Look for the small headlines. Sit down and take a deep breath and get a glimpse of facts.

A Western Adventure


Again, I don’t know anything about this car. My grandfather was one of seven children, and his brother Nat went West to Colorado and settled in the then tiny town of Cortez. Here he ranched, a very exotic profession for a boy raised in the suburbs of Chicago. At some point, my grandparents took the train west and met up with Nat and family and took a great excursion into the Rockies.

Here they are traveling on the recently completed Pike’s Peak road which climbed to nearly 14,000 feet. I am sure it was a grand adventure, unlike anything back home. Even when I was young, cars regularly overheated going up steep hills. When we drove across the Rockies in 1958, we had a burlap water bag hung over the hood of the car to refill the radiator when it overheated and lost water. I assume that my grandparents regularly stopped to let the engine cool off on their long haul up the mountain.

The top is down and they gain a superb view of Colorado, a state only since 1876 and sparsely settled. I don’t think they ever rode Nat’s horses, but he had great tales about exploring around Cortez on his horse. He and a friend stumbled into what is now Mesa Verde National Park and had a thrilling time exploring the ruins. Not long after, President Roosevelt made it a protected park, protected no doubt from people like my great-uncle!

Westward Ho!


Oregon’s white settlers arrived in long trains of wagons such as this one, having decided to head north to the Oregon Territory instead of south towards California. Oregon didn’t become a state until 1859, less than 100 years before this picture was taken in 1949. I obviously thought this was a far superior way of transportation to a car!

The wagon trains really followed the same course, and we used to be able to see the deep ruts remaining on the ground in Eastern Oregon, a much drier part of the state. Of course, there were already plenty of residents in the area, Native Americans, who were fought with no less ferocity than in other parts of the country. The battles were long over when I was a child, and there were a number of “reservations” for their descendants. I always thought the word reservation tried to elevate the description of the land “set apart” for their dwellings.

Throughout my childhood, until the Dalles Dam was built, the fishing platforms on the Columbia River were still being used by the tribes to spear salmon on their way up stream. Just before they built the dam, my mother drove us up to Celilo Falls to watch the men fish. We bought a whole salmon from the back of a pickup truck, brought it home and baked it. Salmon was abundant before the dams and still very inexpensive. The picture below was taken by my parents when they drove west in 1948.

Celilo Falls, Columbia River, The Dalles, Oregon

A Mystery Car!


I thought I remembered every car from my childhood. This photo proves me wrong. I have no idea what car this is. It definitely pictures me in the passenger seat looking out the window. That makes me think it must have been a new purchase. Why else would there be a picture of me smiling out the window? Speaking of which, I don’t think people take pictures of their cars a lot any more. My trusted mini-van only shows up in an image taken for insurance purposes.

This is not the car my parents drove across the country. That one had two windows on the side, not three. I am about the age when my mother was expecting their third child. I imagine that they needed a bigger car to haul us all around, hence this four door model.

Many a beloved car has been given up to accommodate children. Those sporty Miatas won’t hold a car seat! I think the SUV was invented to cushion the blow when new parents had to  trade in their sports cars. It pretends it isn’t a station wagon, so its drivers aren’t really tied down to domestic responsibility. Who’s kidding who? Look at the triple car seats in the back .

And speaking of station wagons.Just wait for the pictures to come!


A Gentle Reminder

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Apparently a free press was seen as essential to avoid too much power resting in the Federal government. Apparently our founders saw the free press as a friend, not an enemy, of the people.

Thank a truth telling reporter today.

Cross Country


My parents moved from the Bronx to Oregon in 1948. My father had failed to make partner in his Wall Street law firm, so he went to work for the District Attorney in Portland. While his first jobs were routine, he joined the legal profession at a good time in the West. Here, unlike the East, there wasn’t a surplus of attorneys.

Being more than short on money, my parents(I was left with my grandparents–hence all those photos of me with them) drove across the country in this car. Again, without funds for hotels, they camped by the side of the car as they went. My mother is sitting with their dog, and I can see a Coleman lantern to her side.

They were astonished on the last leg of the trip to take the Columbia River Gorge Highway which had just been completed before the war by the W.P.A.(government funded public works for the unemployed in the Depression.) It clung to the side of the gorge, winding up and down along the mighty–as yet undammed–Columbia River.

Although Interstate 80 runs along the thrice dammed river now, there are still wonderful remnants of the old highway which give access to the hikes up the gorge. I parked along it often as an adult, setting off on nearly vertical trails to the top. Fortunately, as they say, “it was all downhill from there!”

Pride of Ownership


My mother inherited her parents’ photos, and I inherited hers(which were duplicated so all four of us could have a set.) I wish I had seen this picture when my grandparents were still alive so I could know the story behind the car. I can tell this must be about 1927 because I recognize my mother in the back seat and she looks about 5 years old.

It definitely looks as if they are heading out somewhere. I love the luggage on the side of the vehicle being held by some sort of hinged gate. They were living in Cambridge, Massachusetts and then lived both in Washington D.C. and then finally in Buffalo, New York. It is likely that they were moving to Buffalo in the picture for my grandfather’s appointment as a sociology professor at the University of Buffalo. At any rate, it warranted a picture taken by an obliging neighbor.

If anyone knows anything about cars, or knows someone who does, I would love to know what kind of car this is.

Toot. Toot.


And She’s Off!


I have been having a wonderful time looking through all my photos for pictures of cars. It’s going to be fun sharing some of my finds. Here I am at two, test driving my first car. It is not only manual transmission, it appears to be 0 horsepower and 2 footpower. Nonetheless, I seem intent on making the best of things. I am not sure who is supervising my ride. He doesn’t look like anyone in my family, so I suspect it was a neighbor.I saw a car like this on Antiques Roadshow not too long ago, which I guess makes me an antique also!

The cars little kids can drive now are fairly frightening. They have batteries and the kids zoom all over their yards and sidewalks. I wouldn’t trust a child in one, and shudder when I  watch one in the neighborhood cruising along. Even though they aren’t my kids, I keep watching to see if they veer into the street. There was certainly something self-limiting in the car I am driving. I imagine it got pretty tiring pretty fast moving it forward in little steps.

As you can tell from my home page, I quickly turned to the three wheels of my beloved trike. It went faster with the same expenditure of energy, and the tires had better cushioning. I didn’t drive a real car for many years. But that story has to stand in line behind a lot of other great vehicles to come.