CED – I’m one of those who brag about the fact that I’ve been driving cars since I was about ten years old. I got my license – Mother died on June twenty-ninth, and on June first, that same year, I turned sixteen. I think I got my license on the second. At that time I had driven quite a few miles with a driver next to me – quite a few miles without, and much more off road then on. I used to drive on that road along the cemetery. When they put the cemetery in, there was about a four foot drop to the road. At the very end of it the drop-off was less and you could turn a car around where it was shallow and come back about halfway on the ledge to the gate. We had a 1927 Packard Touring car. I guess this was when Lad was working at Well’s Garage and he was making a little money there. He saw the 1929 Packard Touring car – it was a beauty – and he asked Dad if he could trade in the old Packard and my Dad told him, “OK”. We didn’t like that because that was his (Lad’s) car. Well anyway, I had the car. This one day I drove up that road, I guess I didn’t have my license yet, I’m not sure. I was trying to turn around up there and I didn’t have enough room. I got the front wheel over the bank. When it went over the bank, it lifted the back end of the car on the right side. “Oh, no”, I thought. It was about a foot lower than the other end. “Oh, brother, so this is it.” I don’t remember how I got it off the bank; maybe I used a jack and pried it over. I couldn’t go back and I knew I had to get it the rest of the way over. I finally got it over the hill and onto the road.
Dad took us down to Baltimore in one of the cars – it must have been one of the Packards – to the Fair of the Iron Horse, this was the heyday of railroading. They put on a beautiful show. Dad drove us down and I know we had two flat tires, one going down and one on the way back. It was a wonderful show. They had all the old steam engines, the Sturbridge, and the Tom Thumb, they were the originals. We sat in covered bleachers, and there was a huge stage, with water beyond the stage. The old locomotives came in and people got out of the coaches, boats came in and out – it was wonderful. The people wore period costumes. We probably went in the early twenties, Dan, Lad and I – Dad always did things with us. Dick and Dave weren’t in the group, they were born later. I had the big privilege of seeing a very similar show at the Chicago World’s Fair (in 1934).
I guess we used Aunt Betty’s car sometimes because my Dad and Aunt Betty were very close. Aunt Betty used to buy a new Buick every year and we used it a lot.
LAD – I was driving to Bridgeport (Connecticut) to see Anita Brown. It was apparently past dark and I was heading south on Main Street. The Chestnut Hill bus was going slower than I was. I think he may have just been starting up after a stop, I don’t remember, but in any case, there was nothing coming so I saw an opportunity to pass him. All of a sudden, my headlights picked up two reflections just a little above my hood. I didn’t know what it was at first but then I realized it was a horse and buggy. I pulled over tight against the bus … I was pushing hard against the bus. The bus driver had seen the horse and buggy the same time I did. Neither of us could stop fast but we tried and we stopped right together. Neither vehicle was scratched but I hit the wagon. I missed the horse but hit the wagon’s left front wheel and completely messed up the wagon. The older fellow, who was driving, somehow got hold of his daughter and she came. I remember her telling him, “I told you over and over not to put the lantern between your feet to keep warm.” There were no charges filed against any of us.
Tomorrow and Friday, more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.