Fond memories of dad’s ‘34 Ford sedan

Published 12:27 am Saturday, July 18, 2015

While idly channel surfing one evening, I ran across a busy street scene in an old black and white movie. The 1930s style clothing caught my eye until the focus switched to a bustling line of traffic. Among it was a 1938 two-door Ford sedan. It brought back many memories.

The sedan was similar to the one my daddy drove into our yard in the mid-1940s and announced to mother and me, “It is time to get modernized.” He told us to hop in to take a ride. It was roomy and felt a little bouncy as we rolled out on the dusty dirt road in front of our house. “Daddy, where is our car?” I asked. He confirmed what I feared. He had sold our classy 1934 Ford Coupe and replaced it with that monstrosity. I hated it. Or rather, I was devastated over the loss of the coupe. I loved to lie in the space behind the seat and the back window and gaze out the window as we rode along. With no air conditioning in those days, making summer drives to our destination meant either sweltering with the windows rolled up or sweltering plus inhaling dust blowing in open windows from the mostly dirt roads we traveled.

Daddy’s explanation for “getting modernized” did not console me. I could not understand why it was necessary. I was used to him spending almost every weekend under the coupe, always repairing something, trying to keep it going, getting him to work. It looked good, but something wrong was always happening.

The truth was my mother, daddy, and I all loved that little car. My parents had purchased it from Cook Motor Co. in Panama City, Fla., where we lived for several years before we returned to Alabama. Soon afterward, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, and no new cars were available for a while. I think Daddy hated to get rid of the coupe, despite all the problems that cropped up to consume his weekends. When we visited my paternal grandparents, Granddaddy stepped off the front porch and dashed out to look the sedan over. He expressed his opinion right away—he didn’t like it either.

Despite my objections, the sedan served Daddy well. He installed a gasoline heater. It kept the interior of the car warm as toast during the winter. A few times some treacherous snowy weather occurred, leaving the curvy, hilly roads dangerous for traveling. Daddy always managed to make it to work with his “modern” sedan. Then one happy day, the call came that the new vehicle my parents had ordered months and months earlier had arrived at the dealership. Wearing my favorite yellow dress on that hot summer day, I accompanied Daddy to pick up our brand new 1949 Chevrolet Coupe.

I was almost grown when I realized Daddy did not enjoy working on the 1934 coupe every weekend. It had become so much of his routine; childlike, I just took it for granted.


Nina Keenam is a former newspaper reporter. Her column appears on Saturdays.