My First Car

This is a copy of a little note I wrote a few years ago about my first car. It was for a competition about people and their cars and I never found out who won. I thought it might be interesting to some of you.

Ken's First Car

My father bought a 1938 British made Ford Anglia when they first became available. It was our family car but used quite sparingly. We went to the beach in Hunstanton about 80 miles from our village of Ailsworth in Cambridgeshire about 100 miles north of London. The trip to the Wash at Hunstanton took about three hours. Typically, we would leave home about 8:00 am and be eating fish and chips on or near the beach by lunchtime. We never swam in the 55-60 degree water but we waded and collected mussels from the slimy rocks. Tea at one of the beach restaurants and home by about 7-8 pm. It is hard to understand that in those days this was a major journey. Now, in the States, I have often driven that far just to play a round of golf.

When my father died in 1949, our little four cylinder Ford became my mother’s car and she used it to go to the movies and shops in nearby Peterborough. When she died in 1950 it became my car.

At that time, I had finished two years of chemical engineering at Imperial College, London and had been drafted for two years into the Army. I was then back at college and completing my bachelor’s degree. I was home for the summer break when my mother died. I packed my car with lots of things I wanted to keep and left my village home for the last time. I was, at that time, living in a basement flat in Chelsea and I could only keep the car on the street at nights. The law said parked vehicles must have a light front and back whenever it was dark. I fitted a single light on the roof and made a timer to turn off the light at daylight. Even with this, my battery was always low so my routine became a drive to college, remove the battery and place it on charge in the Chem. Eng. lab. This remained my college car until we left the country.

I was captain of our college golf team with an eight handicap and I got to play in London University matches because I could take three other teammates to the matches. Without the car, I could not make the team. We also had lots of college matches and I made a roof rack for our clubs. I found aluminum channel and four large rubber bungs in the Lab but nobody seemed to miss them.

I had met Doris, my wife of 64 years, at a VE-Day dance, Victory in Europe Day, May 8th, 1945 and she and I with other students, made extensive trips on the Continent in the summer breaks. We took that little car to Naples (including a climb half way up Vesuvius), Rome, Florence and Venice and came home through Switzerland on one trip and went to Spain, France, Switzerland and home through Belgium on another.

In 1954, when we emigrated to Canada, I sold my car to two students who were going to drive it across South Africa. I have often wondered where my car died. I think it might be somewhere in the Sahara Desert.

3 thoughts on “My First Car

  1. It’s interesting how you had to charge the light for the car to park it on the street. It reminds me of the lights David and I use on our mt bikes that we are constantly charging.

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  2. My newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, prints photos of usually the person and their first car. They might print an abbreviated version of your first 2 paragraphs. You send it to drive@tampabay.com Here is an example:

    ’46 Ford Coupe:
    After learning to drive in a ’51 Chevy, and a few fender benders later, I bought my first real car, a 1946 Ford Coupe, with my dad’s help. At first he didn’t want me to buy this car because it looked like a “hot rod.” It was one of the “cool” cars on my high school parking lot in York, Pa., with an original flathead V-8. The transmission went out, so I replaced it with a Lincoln Zephyr 3-speed floor shift. Although it looked and sounded really good, it wasn’t very fast. I drove this car all through high school and eventually sold it after I graduated in 1962. It was replaced by another of my favorite cars, a 1957 Chevy. Sure wish I had both of these cars today!

    (included photo of the car) Been thinking of sending one of me in 1975 in a tuxedo with a corsagefor my date, in front of my 1967 Mercury Cougar!

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  3. Pingback: Memory Eight | Texas Limey

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