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Cruisin' for the holidays
In Nov. 21 Issue
Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

It’s that time of year when a lot of us hit the highways to go visit Grandpa and Grandma or Mom & Dad for the Holidays. What would we do without our cars to take us over the many miles or just the short drive across town for those holiday visits? Today we look at our cars as a means of transportation but they are more than that. Our family car, or our classic car are full of memories. I can actually remember feeling bad because I was getting rid of a car that I had for years that was full of dents, rust, miles and most important, memories.

For example, I remember my childhood back in the 50’s and my Dad’s 1949 Plymouth was his pride and joy. He had bought the car used but, that car to him was really something. I guess maybe that’s why I remember it so well and the memories that go with it.

On both Thanksgiving and Christmas Dad would wash the car, yes at home! There were no car washes or drive through washes back then. He would be out there in the cold and sometimes snow cleaning up the car.  He would have the car all cleaned up and we would head either to my Grandparents’ house or my Aunt’s house for a big Thanksgiving dinner. I liked going to my Aunts’ because they always had a big goose for Thanksgiving. I can still smell it cooking. The whole family was there, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, you never saw such a spread.

Then there was Christmas and I think as I look, back that was the most exciting time in my life. Television was just getting started. We didn’t have 120 channels to choose from. There were only two or three, and they were not on all the time. There were times of day it was just a test pattern. Hard to believe but there was not even enough shows to fill an eight hour day. Since there were no toy commercials on TV you had to wait for the mail to come to see what you wanted.

The Christmas catalogs would start coming in the mail and I would spend hours going through them marking all the things I wanted. But I guess I knew deep down that was just a big Christmas Dream. We knew most of the toys we would get were home made by my Dad.

Another big part of the Holidays was climbing into that 49 Plymouth and riding around town looking at all the lights and decorations in the neighborhood. Then if we were good, Dad would drive us downtown and look in the store windows at all the Christmas displays and lights.

Of course that ended up in stopping at the Department Store in town for a visit with Santa. It was different than today. We didn’t have a list as long as our arm to ask Santa for. Most of us had picked out one thing out of that catalog that we were hoping Santa would bring us. Usually if it wasn’t very expensive, that was usually the one store bought toy or article I got. The rest were all home made by Mom and Dad.

The final thing to do that night was cruise the many Christmas tree lots and find that perfect tree to set up in the living room. I think just about everyone back then had a real tree. There were no aluminum trees or fake green tress back then. It was a real tree or nothing!

But that 1949 Plymouth took us through the holidays from as far back as I can remember until 1956. The old Plymouth was getting tired so Dad traded it in for his first brand new car he had ever owned. He bought a brand spanking new “56” Ford Custom. You might remember me telling you about this car. This was the one that got the scratch on it just about a week after Dad got it. I felt so bad I painted it for him with some green house paint that was in the garage. I still don’t understand why he wasn’t really happy about that! The scratch was gone!

Well anyway, I got worried when he bought this new car. All the fun we had in that old Plymouth was over. What if Dad didn’t like this car as well? Would we still go out and see the lights? Would we still go to Grandma’s for the holidays? Would I still get to help him wash it and clean it all up? Were those holiday trips going to be a thing of the past?

As it worked out Dad fell in love with his new Ford and all the old traditions kept coming every year.

So when people ask me why I like cars so much maybe that would be the answer. I look at an old car and I don’t only see the classic piece of machinery setting there but in my mind I always wonder, what memories are in that car. I bet if each and every vehicle out there could talk the stories they cold tell us of their past would hold our interest for hours.

So this year as you are cruising to Mom & Dad’s, or to Grandma’s house take a little bit and remember how that old car you had was full of memories. One day the one you are driving now will be full of memories of this Holiday season.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone! And keep Cruisin!

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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