earliest and fondest recollection of a brand new vehicle in my life was in 1946.
I was seven years old. Although I remember my Dad’s old 1939 Chevrolet pickup
very well. And he had a 1935, or maybe it was a ‘36 Ford Deluxe four door, both
of which I also have many fond memories. I have written several
stories here on Texas Escapes about those vehicles, too. Just simple, country-boy
But our brand new set of wheels was a 1946 Willie Jeep, military
style, soft top with a windshield that would lay down across the hood. It was
totally convertible, with plastic windows in the soft “floppy” doors and in the
back curtains, too. With the top, or doors removed, I could just sit there and
watch the ground move alongside the Jeep. As a kid, it was an exciting ride to
me. And can you imagine; no seat-belts? Those came along about 12 to 14 years
That little Jeep had a four cylinder engine and a double-low gear-box
with four wheel drive. Plus those great “knobby” ground grip tires. To country
folks, it was a powerful, versatile vehicle, very useful on our country dirt roads
and rough backwoods terrain.
And this was long before today’s ever popular
“mug-hogging” which many young people do now. I remember very well how Dad often
demonstrated our Jeep to friends and neighbors, about how it could very ably conquer
a steep incline; cross a “serious gully”, or a ditch, and even pull several vehicles
in a row at one time.
As an amused kid, I recall how Dad often bragged
about our Jeep. “It can pull a dozen cars at one time down the road with their
brakes locked”, he would say. That sounded really good for the vehicle, of which
he was very proud. But I must say, I never saw that one demonstrated. Oh well!
If my Dad said it; I believed it!
In hindsight, I am somewhat surprised
Dad never tried to plow our garden or watermelon patch with that Jeep. But we
did keep plows and a mule for those chores. However, he did pull the heavy hay
bailer in the meadow with it. Driving along slowly, it worked really well.
“little work horse” served us very well and had a long useful life. It could aptly
handle heavy trailer loads of watermelons or hay; even haul cattle to market on
occasion. The best part was it’s low “fuel” consumption. The little flathead four
cylinder engine sipped gas sparingly. (Yep! Back then it was just called gas;
Frequently I have seen Dad pull up to the gas pumps at Banky’s
Mobil Station in McLeod and heard him tell the gas guy, “Give me a dollars worth
of regular, Bubba.” And we went inside to buy Dad’s cigarettes and me a peanut
patty, and talk to Banky while Bubba checked the engine oil and water; wiped the
windshield clean and checked each tire’s pressure. He might even sweep the floor
clean with a whisk broom.
All that for a dollars worth of gas. In those
days a dollars worth was three to four gallons. Four dollars worth would fill
up an empty tank.
I’m really not sure if those were the “good ole days”
or not. Are you?
December 1, 2010 Column
Texas Gas Stations