By Bob McLaren

As soon as I got my driver’s license in August ‘52, I immediately started looking for MY car. To earn the money for my first car, I’d been cutting neighbors’ lawns for years, did some gardening work for them too, but I made most of my money when I was working after school and during the summer at the Essex Fells Country Club Golf Course (EFCCGC) cutting greens, raking sand traps and other misc. tasks. I had saved up a little over $150 for my first car – a large sum in those years.

I found out that one of the policemen in our little town was selling his newly painted, metallic green, and restored Ford Model-A and, he only wanted $150 for it. I really wanted that car, but just to be sure I looked at other cars for sale for about $150. I found a 1940 Chevy convertible with a power glide transmission that also got my attention.

I finally consulted my current girlfriend about which car she preferred, but to her it was a no-brainer as she didn’t like “old” cars and the convertible was practically “new being in its 13th year”. That was enough to sway me into buying the Chevy convertible, and I’ve been heartbroken ever since because I passed up to chance to own a great looking & running Model-A car. I soon found out that my power glide transmission was a real dog – it took almost all my strength to shift it from 1st through 3rd gear and back – I wasn’t into fixing cars yet so I didn’t even try to find out what was wrong with it and so, lived with this dog until I got rid of the car.

My girlfriend really loved the car, so it served me well in high school, getting to work at the EFCCGC and for dates where we drove with the rag top down, even in freezing/snowy weather. Oh, to be young again!

One day someone smashed my driver’s side door, but I found a used one for about $15. The only problem with the new door was its color – it was GREEN! I got the door on and it worked fine – I never got around to having it painted black to match the rest of the car, due to lack of funds. So my car took on a junk-car look at that point.

When I got out of high school, I accepted the offer from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. I drove my Chevy to and from Lehigh – about a 3- or 4-hour trip – many times, and the car proved to be fairly trustworthy until the early part of my junior year when I was driving home. I was traveling up a rather steep hill when, without me changing the accelerator position, my car started slowing down. I managed to shift it down to 2nd gear with ALL my strength and soon found that from 2nd gear I was unable shift it up or down anymore. I made it home in 2nd gear and parked the car in our U-shaped driveway. After unloading all my stuff I got Dad to follow me up to our local junk car yard. It was hard getting up to speed in 2nd gear but with some fancy footwork on the clutch, I was on my way. I parked it against the fence surrounding the yard, just so the car knew who was now in charge! Then I gave my car & keys to the yardman and hightailed it out of there with Dad. I was a little sad about it all but such is life in the fast lane!

 

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