I picked it up from its garage and, on my way to the service station to fill up, was impressed with the luxurious smoothness of its ride until I checked the tires and found them sadly under-inflated. This car was to be the one that lasted us throughout the war, and did yeoman service. It was the car that took us to Geneva, and through the Sampson Navy period. That took us to New York, to Middlebury, and then out to St. Louis. It had certain defects: a fabric roof at the back which deteriorated and allowed water to leak on the back seat (particularly the melting snow from overnights in Geneva). The brakes were mechanical, with Bowden cables. When water got into these, and then froze, the brakes were hard to apply. When finally applied with a massive kick, they would not retract. The ignition key, a very thin double-warded thing, broke off in the ignition. Mother, in charge of the car at that point in Haverford while I was in Navy boot training up in Geneva, solved the problem by keeping a screw driver handy. When malefactors tried to steal the car in Brooklyn, and had got as far as sawing through the armored cable around the ignition wires but, I guess, were scared off, we rejoiced that they had not known what that screwdriver, so handily adjacent, was for. They had broken the ventilator window to get in.
Chevrolet sedan, 6-cyl '34
In acquiring this car in Brattleboro the Putney School farmhand (rejoicing in the wonderful name of Pearley Plant) who bought both the Indian and the Ford took me to his bank to get the loan for the Chevy. Said he: 'Don't say it's to buy a car. You won't get it. You're buying a horse, see?" This subterfuge, in which I indulged with a good deal of hesitation, succeeded. Pearley, I suspect, was a bit of an operator. It was he who notified me of the Chevy in the first place, and carried out the preliminary negotiations with the owner.
The Chevy, having survived not only the war but also its sojourn in Brooklyn, now took us to Middlebury. There was no garage, and the 15-below frequently experienced that winter made starting a bit of a challenge. (We had an engine compartment heater which used kerosene and seemed a bit hazardous, though it was deemed by its manufacturer to be safe in the presence of gasoline fumes because it was built on the principle of the Davey Miner's Lamp. It didn't do much good.) Also the suspension got frozen enough to make the car "ride like a stone boat" as the local phrase had it. One solved this by making an occasional pilgrimage to Burlington or Rutland and parking the car in a heated garage while shopping.
This was also the car that took us out to St. Louis in 1946. This 1934 car served us well for over 4 rugged wartime years. In St. Louis we turned it in on a: