08 November 2011

Jack's Jeepster

                                                          "Here I am with my first car!"

My first car was a bright yellow 48 Willys Jeepster. I bought it whilst a sophomore at McKenree College in 1950 with the money I had saved from my before school job during high school. I was making $5 a week working at a local gift shop. Every morning before school, I went in, opened up the store, swept up, dusted and straightened the shelves. When the owner arrived, I went on to school.
One day after I had been working for a little while, my mother said to me "Jack, what are you doing with all the money you're making?"
"Uh, spending it."
"Not anymore. From now on, you give me $2.50 every week and I will put it in savings for you. You need to save your money if you're ever going to have anything."
One weekend during a break in college, I was visiting a cousin in Gary Indiana. We were just goofing off, and he suggested that we go to a car dealership owned by a friend and just look around and kick some tires. There I saw the Jeepster. Bright yellow with a convertible top. Really sharp. The more I thought about it, the more I thought how much I needed it. Then, the more my cousin and I talked about it, the more convinced I became. Not thinking that I could really probably swing it, we began to talk price with my cousin's friend. When he told me his bottom dollar on the car, I silently thanked my mom for making me save my money and agreed to the purchase. I had the cash in the bank.
Two things stand out in my memory about my Jeepster. One was the gasoline fueled heater in the passenger side floorboard. When it was going, the passenger would roast and the back seat would still freeze!
The other really interesting feature on this particular car was that it shifted backwards. The previous owner had flipped the column over, putting the shifter on the left side and effectively reversing the shift pattern. Once you got used to it, it really wasn't so bad. But it befuddled most everyone else so badly, that no one ever asked to borrow my car! That worked out well!
I really enjoyed my Jeepster, but didn't keep it too long. I traded it on a new 51 Chevrolet right before I married Ila. Thought I needed a more 'proper' , new car. Regrettably, I didn't keep the Jeep or the Chevrolet either, but fortunately, I kept  Ila ; smartest move I ever made. We celebrated our 60th anniversary a few months ago!

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