Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dad's '55 Fairlane...


Scanned from about a tenth of a frame of a 46 year old Kodachrome slide, so forgive the quality. Mom in the right front, me in the back and my sister probably on the other side; she was less than a year old.

Before my first kindergarten teacher, or my first classmate crush; this car was my first true love. I've spoken of Dad buying it new and it bringing me home from the hospital already. Dad usually kept other things for a daily driver (I remember a '57 Fairlane, and a '59, a Willys Jeep, and the Studebaker pickup he put together from a wrecking yard, the truck cost him $25 and he pulled the driveline from a '53 coupe I remember playing in at 3 or 4 very dimly).

From the time I was old enough to ask, he promised me when I got my license the '55 would be mine...

Mom learned to drive in this Fairlane while she was pregnant with my sister. She turned a corner too short coming home from her license test and scraped the Post Office steps down the side of her; that's when Dad bought his first air compressor and paint gun. Mom says the only reason she came home is she was pregnant so she knew he wouldn't hit her...

In 1965 Milgram offered Dad a raise from $12,000/year to $18,000 if he would go into supervision. Instead of running the meat counter in one store, he was responsible for 18 and "made the rounds" from store to store, driving between 500 and 700 miles a week around town, getting a car allowance and mileage. The '55 with it's 272 (Ford's first overhead valve 8, the displacement grew each year until 1959 when it became a 352) and a 4 barrel carb, it only got about 12 miles to the gallon of premium.

He started talking about trading it. I was 9; the first dealership he went to talk to was in Tonganoxie, KS and I stood out in the parking lot crying my eyes out and apologizing to the car because he was going to trade her away. I was mad, disappointed, heartbroken...I wouldn't speak to him for several days...I reminded him of his promise and he told me "you can't keep them for pets, son"!

Finally he bought a new '65 Fairlane, but Grandpa Fritz offered him more for the '55 than the dealer had, so Dad sold it to him for my Grandma to drive back and forth to work. I was happy, the car was right around the corner (we had moved from here into Dad's new house he built the year he was promoted) and I got to see it all the time; I knew that someday she'd be mine!

Grandma got hit coming home from work one night, someone running a light got the right front fender, the grill and bumper. Dad did the bodywork and paint and she was good as new again; my world was right again!

In '67, Dad had put enough miles on the '65 he wanted to trade it in. He bought a new red two door Fairlane; Grandpa bought the '65 for Grandma and they sold the '55 to my cousin David. He drove it for about 3 years as he went through college and got married (Vietnam era for those who remember draft deferments). He started pulling the emblems and the hood ornament, "cleaning up the lines" he called it, spotting her with prime and talking about the custom he was going to make of her. I still have those emblems and ornaments...(and I wonder why my wife thinks I'm a packrat)!

He was driving her back and forth to Lawrence and KU everyday for classes from Kansas City. He and his buddies decided one day that even though the oil wasn't touching the dipstick, they didn't have time to add any right then or they'd be late to class.

They blew up the motor; David sold it to some kid who wanted to stuff a big block in it and build a "real hot rod" of her. When I finally got my license I asked my cousin where she was and he said that she was sitting in a field with the hood off, no motor and a tree growing up through the engine compartment because the kid had cut the firewall out to fit his big engine in and then figured out how much he had weakened everything by doing that and just quit and left her there.

I'm still pissed about all of it! I know better, I know I shouldn't be, I know I should outgrow it, but damn she was a beautiful car!

If I ever win the Powerball...

alan

18 comments:

Poll said...

Hello !

I like very much your blog !

Regards

boo said...

i love stories about your family esp. your dad. thanks for sharing alan & good luck with the lottery :)

p/s thats a nice pic though i wished i could see u in the back of the car

sttropezbutler said...

Allure is a strange thing.

Great post Mr. Alan.

STB

nancy =) said...

you have such a way of telling a story...this was another classic...

the vision of her in a field with a tree growing thru her...yikes...

peace...

Rexroth's Daughter said...

That's quite a love story, Alan. I so wish you had gotten to have that car. You'd still have it, and it would be beautiful.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

What a set of wheels!!!!!

TDharma said...

great story, A. who knows why that little boy attached so to that car, but it is what it is. Mine was the attachement to my dad's 1962 Jag with red leather interior. He sold it to my older sister's boyfriend in 1973 and the guy trashed it. Pig. I liked to ride in the back and pretend my dad was my chauffeur. (La-tee-da....)

Great photo, too, brings back memories.

Von Krankipantzen said...

I loved this story as I come from a Mopar family myself. My mom had a 64 Valiant convertible that eventually went to my brother and then was sold and my dad had a 66 Dodge Monaco convertible that looked great but needed a new engine after a particularily bad winter so that was sold eventually as well. My first car was a 66 Valiant Slant Six which was a rust bucket but my baby. The guy I sold it to treated it badly and that made me mad. Now my bro and I are VW fanatics.

I think I might need to blog about this...

sjobs said...

The story is a classic just like the car.....

Sure wished you lived closer, I could use a hug tonight.

Love ya,

Mary

CrackerLilo said...

That is a sweet-ass ride!!!

I'm sure your dad meant it, even if it couldn't happen. :-)

puhpaul said...

It's amazing that the things we become attached to as children stay with us for so long. My brother had a 1952 Chevrolet pickup. I loved that truck. When I was 15 it had been sitting for 3 years in the yard of the autobody shop where he worked. He told me he wanted to fix it up for me. We talked about colours and wheels. Unfortunately, he was never able to do it. Whenever I see one now I can't help but think, "that could have been mine." It's 27 years later and I still want my 52 Chev pickup.

dragonflyfilly said...

ooooohhhhh, too Kool Alan...on the subject of which...last week i looked out my window and saw six (all in a row) Morgans, driving past...the daffodil is not the first sign of spring around these parts, heh heh.


hey all Blogging Bods, thanks for stopping by, check out my recent post for info on Bald Eagle cam on Hornby Island, babies due in April!!! how exciting is that??

well, off to sample my peanut butter cookies just out of the oven, and check on the Eagle on Hornby Island web cam

cheers for now,
pj

dragonflyfilly said...

you can never spend ENOUGH time in a driveway, as long as there is a vintage car there...

my friend who lives in Langley has a Sprite or an MG-B, can't remember which, it is in really nice condition, can't wait for summer when we can go tooling around!

one of my first boyfriend's had a Fairlane, man he loved that car! -- i can understand your feelings about it, it's not just the car, it's the memories that go along with it!

glad you are enjoying the Eagle link...should be interesting when the chicks arrive, eh?

cheers for now,

Spider Girl said...

Hello,
I just found your blog by way of a comment over at blogzie's blog.

I just loved your quote from Peter O'Toole about God so much I had to come and say hi. :)

cherish said...

You should be angry!

Its a shame your dad promised to give you the car. I swear adults forget children are little people. The car is beautiful!! It is amazing how long she stayed in your family.

I really enjoyed reading this post, thank you!

Sandy said...

Thanks for the post, you helped me understand my husband more. He showed me a really old photo of a really old car that was his dads and said that car was supposed to be his, but it was given to his uncle on the condition that he would give it to my husband (i guess when he got older?) and I guess he forgot, cause that uncle gave it to someone else and my husband is STILL bummed...all these years later!

Barbara said...

So you never got to drive it! How sad.
I almost married a guy who owned a '55 Chev. We loved taking that car to the drive-in. Remember that? Oh, I'm dating myself now! lol
Barbara

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