In the early 1950s Dad drove a '32 Chevy. Gayle was born in the back seat of that car on the way to Glendale Memorial Hospital 16 Dec 1953. Around the time Dad paid the mortgage on 914 North Isabel off in September 1954, he decided to buy a 1954 Ford Country Sedan. It had a straight 6 engine and lots of torque in the low end. I think Dad bought it so we could all travel to Idaho together in comfort. I learned to drive in the old Ford. It had "three on a tree," meaning you shifted manually from the steering column. I assume most of my siblings learned in that car too. At first, shifting was rough and Dad winced as I tried to let my foot off the clutch smoothly, when taking off from a stop. But Dad was patient and I finally learned. It's something you don't forget. On the freeway when you took your foot off the gas in 3rd gear it went into overdrive or 4th or gear automatically. That saved on gas. It had an AM radio. We all learned to drive stick in that car. The old Ford took lots of abuse.
After driving it for six or seven years Dad heard a knocking coming from the engine. That meant a bearing was going out. He replaced he bearings and the bearings went out again. He discovered they cut the block wrong and the bearing spun out again resulting in more knocking. He pulled the engine a second time and put it onto the bench in the garage. He found the block lacked a little tab that held the bearings in place. So he notched the block so the bearing was held in place. While doing this he showed M.... and I how to use plasti-gauge and pointed out all the engine parts and what they did. Everything else on the car lasted a long time. It wasn't until the late 70s that he sold the car and bought the VW Van.
The Ford was dark green. He later painted it white with red around the windows in the back yard using his spray gun. Dad redid the seats. He replaced the radiator but other than regular oil changes, that is the only maintenance in all those years. One time he hit a deer on the way to Malta. He made some of the Ford's decorative parts and attached them to the car. Our family depended on the Ford every day for almost 25 years. That Ford was like having a best friend.
1955 Ford Station Wagon:
Kent: In 1954 my father purchased a new green 1954 Ford station wagon. It had plenty of room so the next summer the family took our first trip to Malta, Idaho, where dad's parents lived. We had a great time and took many trips in that car. After seven years of heavy use dad painted the Ford white with red trim around the windows. Sometime in the 1960s the Ford threw a main bearing and dad and 12 year old M... rebuilt the engine. It threw a main bearing again and this time dad figured out that the bearing "spun" because the tab to hold it in place was etched into the block in the wrong place. Dad fixed it and the car went for many years.
I learned to drive in the old Ford. It had "three on a tree," meaning you shifted manually from the steering column. I assume most of my siblings learned in that car too. At first, shifting was rough and dad winced as I tried to smoothly take off from a stop. But dad was patient and I finally learned. It's something you don't forget.
One time I got a job delivering phone books. I drove to the warehouse and loaded as many phone books as I could into the Ford. There were books all the way to the ceiling. Then I drove around Glendale delivering the heavy soft covered books. My route included many apartment buildings and I hefted an armload of books over lawns and up apartment stairs. I had good energy and enjoyed the work.
When my brother was 15, in 1965 dad thought he needed a little direction. At the same time a friend at dad's work had a crashed green 1956 Ford with a blown engine. He offered it to dad for a dollar. Dad brought it home and he and M... rebuilt the engine and fixed the dent and interior. They used Myjoiner Brothers in Burbank to do the machine work on the engine. M... found some seats at a junk yard and the car was ready to drive. It was a 2 door station wagon with a front and back seat and lots of room behind the seats to haul stuff. The car sat at a bit of an angle with the back slightly raised. M...and dad painted the car red in the back yard and it looked good.
When M... was 15 and 1/2 he bought a Honda 50 from a kid in a gas station. M... handed him the money and said, "I don't know how to shift it, can you give me a short lesson?" The young man did and M... drove the Honda 50 all the way home.
One time while driving the Ford M... heard a clunking sound coming from the rear of the car. He discovered a bolt had dislodged from the spider gear. He fixed it. The red Ford had 3 on the tree and a six cylinder engine. One day the shifting linkage broke. M... was friends with Charles Brown who was going to throw away some extra linkage he had. He gave the linkage to M... who promptly used the it to move the shifter to the floor.
In 1969 M... went on a church mission to the Alberta Canadian Mission. During the two years dad took care of M...s's car and on his return he had wheels.
In 1972 while I was teaching in Glendora I bought a yellow 1952 MGB-GT. The car was super cute with wire wheels, a good interior and was fun to drive. One day I drove to Highland Park to a somewhat tough area to pick up a girl on a date. As he drove into the neighborhood I suddenly saw bright flashing lights in his rear view mirror. The policeman pulled me over and asked what I was doing. He said, "We don't often see this type of car in this neighborhood." I laughed.
Around the same time I decided I needed more room to move school materials and car parts and traded my yellow MGB-GT for M...s 1956 Ford. M... drove the MG until he got married when it became impractical to own it. Both M... and I have dreamed of owing that little car over the years. M... liked everything about it except the spoke wheels which needed bimonthly tension adjustment.
In 1973 M... and I got interested in old MG's and M... purchased a 1952 MG-TD that was junk with the idea of restoring it. Later they found another TD which had all the parts and a rebuilt engine. They decided to restore it. They did most of the work at dad's house in Glendale. It was quite a day when they hung all the fenders on the clothes line and spray painted multiple coats of paint, sanding between coats and taking great care to work with as much perfection as possible considering we were outside in a dusty back yard. When the car was put together it was a thing of beauty. The brown body, black fenders and black interior gleamed. We tossed a cloth across the hood and the cloth slid across the paint like it was on glass.
Once Kent drove the TD from Glendora through Pasadena to Glendale the night before the Rose Parade. People holding their places for the Parade gave loud shouts of approval to the car. A family I home taught made me a black felt cap which looked pretty cool with the car.
One day while teaching in Glendora in the summer of 1973 I drove to church in the 1956 Ford. After teaching the 14 year-olds he walked out to the lobby and saw a very pretty, young woman on the phone. She had long luxurious hair and I overheard her asking for her brother to pick her up from a Laurel Conference. He told her it would be a while. So I struck up a conversation with Suzanne Brown and her friend Melinda Romney. I offered to drive them 20 miles away to their homes and they accepted. I put Melinda in the front seat and Suzanne in the back. Where Suzanne was sitting she could look down through the floorboards and see the street below. In 1974 I sold both cars and bought a 1972 MBG-GT.
In the summer of 1974 Suzanne and I dated in the Ford. We went to the Hollywood Bowl, dinner downtown LA and to a Dodger game. At the end of the year they got married Suzanne never let me forget I put her in the back seat. She probably didn't realize that I thought she was too beautiful and too young to ride in front with him.
Dec 10, 2022
Hi everyone: After all 8 children learned to drive in the 1954 Ford station wagon it was time to let it go. So in the late 1970s Dad decided to sell the car. Somebody heard the Ford was up for sale and came by the house. They made an offer on the car. Dad thought for a moment and said, “No, that is way too much, the car is not worth that.” Dad then lowered the price and the happy man picked up the keys and drove away.