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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Cars: Part II

  • The picture shown here is the only one online I could find, and it isn’t a very good representation of our truck. I say “our” because my Dad used it several years in his business of concession supplies for theatres. We would first drive to Hamburg or Shenandoah, Iowa, to pick up 120 sacks (12,000 pounds) of ...
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  • 1946 Dodge 1.5 Ton Truck
     
    The picture shown here is the only one online I could find, and it isn’t a very good representation of our truck. I say “our” because my Dad used it several years in his business of concession supplies for theatres. We would first drive to Hamburg or Shenandoah, Iowa, to pick up 120 sacks (12,000 pounds) of hybrid popping corn. After arriving back in Enid, my older brother Jim and I would unload perhaps 100 sacks and reload the truck with additional supplies for theaters. Dad would get a few hours sleep, then leave on one of his three “routes” that went west to Borger, east route to Lincoln, Arkansas, and all over Oklahoma.
     
    Once we bought some stock at Nash-Finch in what is now Bricktown, and doing so involved us crossing a union picket line. We drove on back home to Enid that night. Dad later recalled seeing headlights behind him all the way home. The next morning he found all the electric and fuel lines cut with a napkin on the front seat with the message, “From Oklahoma City.” He hated unions the rest of his life.
     
    The summer of 1953 dad gave me the Dodge in repayment of a loan I made him. The bed was covered with a canvas hood, and strengthened underneath with heavy duty overload springs. It had a 40-gallon saddle tank and 18 gallon under-seat tank. It probably got 6 to 8 mpg. It was a monster and looked the part with black and red cab.
     
    That truck didn’t exactly attract the girls, but it did have one advantage. I had to park it on the back row at the drive-in movie. (Think about that.) I didn’t replace the muffler when it wore out in order to create a lovely roar that made folks take notice of me. It undoubtedly had several hundred thousand miles on it. My freshman year at OU, I had to park it in the vacant lot on the northeast corner across the street from the stadium.
     
    Funeral for Old Cars
     
    My brother’s Enid High Class (1950) had some real movers and shakers — literally! It was soon after WWII and there weren’t many late-model used cars available, so most of them drove really old clunkers. One of them, who would go on to be a college math professor, took out the front seat of his car, lengthened the floor stick, gas, brake, and clutch pedals, then sat in the back seat while driving. To an observer, his car looked driverless as it passed by with Dee Ellis sitting up in the back seat like a distinguished passenger.
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    Bob, the owner of an equally bad clunker, went on to become a brigadier general jet jockey in the USAF. These two guys were ready to get rid of their junkers and decided that men of their status couldn’t just sell such automotive gems. They had to give their vehicles a fitting funeral. So, they got at opposite ends of a street and with lights on and horns flashing, they met in the middle of the block — at 10 to 15 mph! As One Stab commented in the movie Legends of the Fall, “It was a good death.”
     
    50 Chevy 2 Dr Sedan
     
    My buddy picked me up every morning in the an exceedingly expensive new 50 Chevy sedan. It had a hydraulic stick shift on the steering column and wouldn’t go over 82 mph. I know because one night we dissed some boys from Hennessey and a car chase ensued. They easily outran us so we went back to the drive-in restaurant in downtown Hennessey where we had encountered them. By the time we got back, they had rounded up all the local toughs from every filling station and pool hall in town. There were a couple of car loads of us Plainsmen and double that number of them. It ended when our leader started matching us with one each of them — thus evening-up the odds. After that, cooler heads prevailed on their side, and it ended without further incident. Wish we could end wars that way.
     
    The reason Ronnie’s 50 Chevy was so valuable was it had been purchased from the proceeds of the his Dad’s $10,000 serviceman’s life insurance. He died at Normandy.
     
    32 Ford Coupe
     
    Christmas of 1952, four of us decided to go see the Plainsmen basketball team play in the Borger tournament. No one had a car so E.R. Andrew talked his dad into letting us use his 32 Ford coupe — even then a real classic. The vertical supports on the passenger compartment had wood inside the metal. When asked where we planned to spend the night, Dave Champlin lied that we were staying with his relatives in “Vicky.” (There is a town spelled “Vici” on the way, but it is pronounced “Vie-si.”) Dad knew we were conning him.
     
    We never planned to sleep that night. We drove all night in late December out to the high plains. It was wretched cold. It had a rumble seat which provided some extra space under it. We rotated drivers with E.R. and Dave in front and Bill DeBusk and me on the floor — arriving at daylight.
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    In Borger we stayed with his other grandmother in a genuine boarding house from the oil boom days. It had ten feet of dishes left out on the table — all preserved by vinegar bases. Each morning she made biscuits, fried ham, eggs, and red eye gravy. We were transported back to the 20s — a far richer experience than the games we saw. That spiffy ‘32 Ford was great also. Bill went on to be a member of the Army’s elite parachute team and Dave went home to glory. E.R. married his high school sweetheart and became Enid’s leading realtor. I lived to tell their story.
     
    Next week: Cars-Part III
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