Room For All

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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.

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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?

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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!