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Clunkers I have known or owned
Liberty lore
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Recently, we all heard in the news about turning in your old “clunker” for cash when you buy a new car that gets more miles to the gallon. Then the old clunkers had to be crushed!
Thinking back over my years, I can recall some old clunkers we owned. Furthermore, I recall when the only mode of transportation we had was “Old Maude,” our horse, and she was certainly not a clunker. A few people had cars when I was very young, and they were the richer folks.
A favorite passtime for us in the early 1950s was for mama to go with us seven children to the front of St. Thomas’ church. We’d sit in the grass and watch the cars and trucks pass on Highway 301. We took turns pretending the next one that came by would be ours. We made up stories about the people traveling in the cars, where they were going and what big trucks were hauling. However, of all the cars and trucks that passed, we never saw a one that looked like any my daddy owned. He always managed to nab some very unique automobiles.
The first automobile I remember daddy buying was an old black Model A with two seats. He had to crank it and hurry to get it going before the engine shut off. Many times, we all had to get behind the car and push it to get it cranked. Then we’d hurry and pile in. Occasionally, daddy had to spread the roof of the car with thick black tar to keep it from leaking when it rained. After he finished with the tar, we all jumped in the car and went visiting. He especially liked going over to my Uncle Hamp’s and calling him out to the car. Naturally, Uncle Hamp propped his hand on top of the car, which is just what daddy expected. They’d exchange a few choice words when my uncle tried to pry his hands from the car’s roof.
In 1952, Daddy bought a tiny Model A Roadster from our neighbor, Crosby Jenkins.  It was a beautiful little car with a white convertible canvas top, a black bottom and just one seat. Daddy took the trunk lid off and put a tire in the trunk for us children to sit on when we went riding.  The baby sat in Mama’s lap. It was a good thing seat belts were not required when I was five years old.
But of all the unique automobiles daddy managed to find, the 1954 Model A with the baby blue checkerboard painted on each front door was the best. Everyone in Long and Tattnall counties recognized the car as ours. I was in grammar school at the time and was teased mercilessly by the other children about playing checkers on the car. My bother Tommy believed the car must have once belonged to the Purina Seed and Feed Store in Glennville, which would have accounted for the checkerboard design.
By the time I was a senior in high school, daddy had advanced to a more modern automobile, a 1954 yellow and white Plymouth. It reminded me of an egg coming down the road. “Old Yellow” served him well for many years. Daddy never owned a new automobile in his lifetime, but he sure did find some one-of-a-kind rides.
When my children used to complain about being driven to school in my large Buick Electra, I told them stories about how I was embarrassed to ride in the trunk of my father’s tiny car.
In the 1990s, I bought a Lincoln Town Car, which may have been the best car I have ever driven. Talk about roominess! I finally sold it a few years ago, I certainly did not think of it as a clunker.
Isn’t it amazing how the things that embarrass us so much as children are funny to us when we’re older? I would be tickled to drive through town now in the little Roadster or the Model A with the blue checkerboards on the doors.
Those old cars may be referred to as “clunkers” now, but they were special to us and they certainly beat walking!
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