One of the most vivid memories most of us have about our high school and college days is our first car. Many of us didn't actually get our own car until after high school, but when we did, it was truly a memorable moment. Unlike today's high schools, the student parking lot at Kearny was quite small, and you never had to get there early to find a parking spot. Back then, the students cars were noticeably older than the teachers cars, which is not the case today. I'll bet you one thing, our classmates were just as proud of those old clunkers than the kids are today with their shiny new sporty cars.
Please join those that have already told us about their first car. Just click here to send me an e-mail describing your first car. Attach a picture of your first car if you have it. If not I will find a picture for you if you give me all of the details....color, 2 door/4door, model, etc. We'll start off with Jay Hudson, who was the person that suggested that we do this.
Click here to view a neat slide show of 50's and 60's cars.
JAY HUDSON - My folks waited until I had graduated from Kearny H.S. in San Diego before they moved to the new 900 square foot concrete block house in Solana Beach California. Because most young men did not live at home, my parents only built two bedrooms into the house. One for themselves and one for Deena and Allen. They told me I could sleep in the garage for $10 a month. I was admitted to San Diego State College and began the 29 mile one way hitch hike until I could make other arrangements.
The couple living next door to the south were older and unable to do the heavier work around the house. During 1951 my dad and I would go to the property in Solana Beach and do some work on the house in anticipation of moving in July of 1953. During that time I would take out the Corey?s trash, mow the small patch of grass with a push mower, and generally help wherever I could. One Saturday when I was working in our yard Mrs. Corey yelled over the fence that something was wrong with her husband. Mr. Corey was laying on the bed and even to my untrained eye, he looked like he had passed on. Mr. and Mrs Corey had a son named Wendell who was a movie star and lived in Santa Monica. Wendell came to bury his father, sell the house and move his mother to Santa Monica with him. Mrs. Corey gave me their 1948 blue Dodge 4 door, visored, fluid drive car for helping her during those few months we lived as neighbors.
Dodge knew how to make a road car in 1948. Sitting in the back seat with about 2 feet of leg room, little side wing windows to let the outside air in, a ride as smooth as they came and that big heavy feel that made me want to just take off and see the world.
I kept that car even though I later picked up a 1941 Chevy coupe fo $100. The Dodge was always there when I needed it. Barbara and I got married in the Methodist Church in Ocean Beach San Diego in 1960 and left the church in the Dodge for our honeymoon in a newly created resort called Disneyland. One year six of us took the Dodge to the Rose Parade. We parked the car about a half mile from Pasadena Blvd on a cold morning and carried the back seat to the parade where we sat in regal splendor wrapped in old army blankets.
When it was time to sell the old Dodge, I took it to Ollie Harris who I had known since the 6th grade and was working in the car business. Ollie took the Dodge and sold me a red and white 1956 Ford Fairlane coupe and that was the last I thought I would see of the old faithful Dodge. Several months later I was contacted by the California Highway Patrol who had found the Dodge in an abandoned and dismantled condition in some back canyon on a smugglers route between Mexico and the U.S. It seemed that Ollie had sold the Dodge to a broker who took it to Mexico and resold it. It was then used to smuggle people until it gave out in that unnamed canyon.
So it was with my first car!
LOU WHITNEY - Like many of us at Kearny, I didn't have my own car until after I graduated. It was either the bus or my dad's car, which was a nice new 1952 Mercury Monterey. We moved to 54th and University during my senior year, so I used the bus a lot in 1952 and 1953. Occasionally, my dad would drop me off on his way to work at Consolidated Vultee. After graduation, my need for a car became more of a necessity and I started looking. I wanted to pay cash for a car, which limited my options. I finally located a 1941 Ford on a little car lot in Ocean Beach. It looked clean and the price was right...$200. I made the deal and was now the proud owner of my very first car. I drove the car home and it felt like a brand new car to me....wow. The next morning I couldn't wait to hop in the car and show it off to my friends. You guessed it, the darn thing wouldn't start. I opened the hood and checked the wiring and the points, and couldn't see anything wrong. I called the guy that I bought it from, and he said to get it back to him and he would have his mechanic look at it. So I called a buddy of mine and asked him to give me a tow to the car lot. After a few close calls we finally made it to the car lot. We had to leave it overnight. The next morning I called, and he said the mechanic looked at it and said there was a major problem with the engine. He told me that he would give me my money back, but if I really needed a car that he had a nice '46 Ford coupe that he would let me have for $100 more. I called my buddy again, and we went down to look at the '46. It really looked nice, and the engine did sound tighter than the '41, so I told him that I would take it if I could pay the $100 over a six month period. He said OK, and I was once again a proud owner of a car.
I really considered the 1946 Ford Coupe my first car. The '41 was just a one day loaner. The '46 was a dark blue, and blue is my favorite color. I really liked that car, but after a while I got the itch for something a little faster, and started looking around for a hot rod. My cousin, who was a couple years younger than me was still going to high school at Mission Bay, and asked if I would consider letting him take the car as a project car in his auto shop and hop it up. I thought about it for a while and finally agreed, but it meant that I was back on the bus for a few weeks. The end result was worth it. They bored it out, put in a 3/4 race cam, added Edelbrock heads, exhaust headers, dual Stromberg carburetors, hot ignition, and a few other goodies. Even though they were able to get good discounts on all of the parts, and free labor, it still took all of the money that I had saved up, but I had one hot car. In fact, it was so hot that it blew a transmission within a month after I got it back. I'm sure it didn't break because of the way I drove it...NOT. The transmission was certainly the weak link in the car so I located a Lincoln Zephyr transmission and installed it. I never had a problem with the transmission again. I drove the '46 for a few years, and then decided to trade it in on a '49 Ford Coupe that had already been hopped up a bit. Did you notice that there's a trend toward Ford's. Most of my cars over the years have been ford's, and even today I drive a Ford Expedition. I often think about that '46, and sure wish that I had it today.
My father decided to get a car for me as I was driving the families old Dodge too much. He looked in the newspaper for a used car and then drove myself and my brother, Curtis, to see it. It was a 1931 Ford, with rumble seat. My dad and I looked it over and thought it was a good deal so we asked the price. He wanted 40 bucks and my dad offered his rifle as payment. It was excepted and off we went. I loved that car and drove it everywhere. My buddy, Ed Stacy, liked it so much he purchased one also, but it was a convertible, a bit fancier than mine.
I drove it every where, school, mountains, rain or snow, all over San Diego, just to be driving. It was expensive though, gas was 12 or 13 cents a gallon and I had to work for my Grandfather delivering cement blocks.
Then I decided to join the Air Force in
1953 and gave the keys to my father. Since I went to Alaska he decided
that I really couldn't use it anymore so he sold it, for what I don't
know. I wish I had it today, it would be worth big bucks.
DANUSER-KIMPTON - As most of you know, I transferred to Hoover
during my Sophomore year, but consider Kearny as my true alma mater
since I spent more years there. I didn't really have a "First
Car" in high school, but did use a car that belonged to my Hoover
High School boyfriend/fianc?; a
sleek, black 2-door 1946 Ford (the rear end lowered, of course).
One to really call mine didn't come along until my first husband and
I were married in 1953 -- a coppertone 1951 Ford sedan, but like the
'46 Ford, it was more his car, although it was the first car to have
my name on the title. The one I really called "my baby" (and will
always be my favorite), was when our children started to come along.
It was our first "new car" and what a beaut! A 1956 red and white
Ford Crown Victoria. We had that car for nine years, and when we
sold it, I cried, and when the new owner (a co-worker of my
husband's) had an accident and dinged up the driver's side fender, I
cried again. That car was like one of my kids! Even today, when I
see one like that at car shows or whatever, it almost brings a tear.
Oh, what I wouldn't give to have that car today.
DON CALLARD - By the time I turned 16 I had convinced my parents that they should let me get a drivers license. I had agreed to their terms that anytime I was allowed to drive any car, I was to pay for all expenses such as gasoline, insurance, and of course, the car. They assumed that because I had no money, no job, and no car, it would be a long time before I was driving anything except their 1950 Studebaker. I walked to school the entire year.
However, when Fred Schwend quit his part time job at the Linda Vista Department Store to play football, he called me to see if I was interested in the position. Luckily, Mr Jacobson, who owned the appliance department, hired me in the part-time job for $.75/hour. (Thanks again, Fred). I was RICH! A neighbor had a 1936 Plymouth that didn't run, but I figured I'd gamble the $20 he wanted for it because I could make it run, right? Don't all teenagers know everything? Well, it wouldn't start in the daytime, but when pushed it, it started at night. Huh? Someone had rewired the dash and connected the ignition to the head light switch, so the car would only run with the lights on. Good news: problem solved. Bad news; the engine was junk. The cost to repair it was way over my meager income, so it was back to "renting" my parents Studebaker, whenever they were not using it. Needless to say, if it wasn't or Clarence Wright, Tom Holtz, and others that had cars, I would have had no social life at all.
Fast forward to a post graduation full time job at Convair at $1.12 per hour. Of course I immediately decided that priority one was a nice car (besides, my girl friend lived way out in El Cajon), and now I made almost $40 per week after taxes.
As many of my friends had customized cars (i.e. leaded, lowered, dual pipes, pleat and roll upholstery, etc) a particular car caught my yey, and it was for sale. It was a '49 Chevrolet convertible with a chopped windshield, Carson (padded) top, Frenched head, lights Pontiac tail lights; pleat and rolled upholstery (what else?). De Soto grille, leaded hood and trunk, electric door and trunk openers, etc. Thing that got my attention though was the Oldsmobile V8 engine. Probably the first Chevy in San Diego (or California) with a V8. The first factory V8 was in 1955. It never lost a "drag" race originating at the L.V. Drive in, and I wouldn't open the hood.
There are any number of Ford and Mercury Vo guys from Linda Vista that still don't know how they lost to a lead-sled Chevy.
The car was great, but can't
compare to the '63 Corvette being restored now in my garage.
SHELDON RYLAND - As a member of the Lords car club it was only fitting that my first car was a real Hot Rod. It was a 1932 Ford Victoria. It was a two door sedan. Which meant it had a bigger back seat that a coupe. The car had custom upholstery and was a real beauty inside.
My Uncle was Vice President of Bay Shore Motors, the Ford Dealership downtown, and this car had been traded in on a new Ford. He talked to my dad and since my dad was still young at heart he bought it for me.
It was a real sweet little car. It had been featured in Hot Rod Magazine before I got it. I had bills for over $2,600 for chrome alone on this car. And as you can remember $2,600 was a nice piece of change in those days. (1952) The spare tire, which hung on the back, as also chromed. It had a hot little V8 engine and almost with all of the
upgrades you could do to make it move. As I recall it was ported and relived, fancy way to say the heads had been fixed up for better fuel flow, stroked, which meant that the drive shaft had been altered, custom headers for better exhaust, three carburetors feed by an electric fuel pump and a few other things best not mentioned.
Unfortunately being a true hot roder's, my dad and I could not leave well enough alone. The big thing with cars of the time was to get the shifter off the floor and onto the steering column, normally on the right side. Now a days it's more cool to have the shifter on the floor. Well we went a little farther and put the shifting on the left side of the steering column. Don't ask why I have no idea why we tried this. Well, one night while cruising El Cajon, I missed a high speed shift and over revved the engine and blew up the clutch. Came apart under my feet and really messed up the floor and dash area. I guess I was very lucky not to have gotten hurt, just scared. My dad really was not upset because I missed the shift but he was unhappily because I was dragging on El Cajon Blvd.
Well we fixed up the car and put a new bell housing on the engine and it went back on the showroom floor. That is one car I wish I still had, it would be worth really big bucks today.
My next car was souped/hopped up 41 Ford Coupe
which lost a race with a police cruiser, but that's another story.
WRIGHT - My first car was a 1939 Chevrolet 4 door sedan. My Dad
made me park it at the house until I got insurance and I had to
surrender the keys to him. Little did he know that any key would fit
the ignition. Us kids would wait until after it was dark and knowing
that mom and dad were in bed, we would push the car down the street
a couple blocks and fire the old crate off. Coming back home we
would turn off the head lights and coast into the front of the
house. We were lucky that we never got caught nor had an accident or
got a traffic ticket. That old 39 had a habit of loosing the fan
belt pulley on regular intervals so I always carried a hammer to put
it back on. One day the car would not turn over, the starter would
engage and turn the flywheel but nothing would happen. My dad told
me that the engine needed to be overhauled. I went out and bought
all of the necessary parts and had Bill Knox ( Dixie's brother) help
me rebuild the engine. When we were done I tried to crank her over
and experienced the same problem. Come to find out the engine had a
fiber timing gear and all of the teeth were broken. With the new
timing gear we were back in business.
ELLISA (CATHY) ALTER-STATLER - My first car was given to me by my father as a graduation present, so that I could drive back and forth from UCLA to San Diego on holidays and breaks. It was a used Studebaker two door. Baby blue with red wheels.
I loved that car. Unfortunately, I smashed it by driving into a very large Cadillac, in Los Angeles, coming back from a drama class.
BOB "TEX" YOUNKER - When I was 10 yrs old all my friends were 12 & able to ride a motor scooter, I wanted one soooo bad but when I was 11 they changed the law to a learners permit at age 14! When I was 13 they changed it again to age 16! On my 16th birthday I was really happy to cash in 3 "war bonds" of $25 each & buy my '34 Chevy........ Note in the picture the sign on the spare tire, it was for the "Drag Races" in National City.... big stuff! Also, hanging from the back bumper was "my car club sign" a flattened Brew 102 can!
It took me less than a year to tear that car up & I moved up to a real nice '38 Chevy which I tore up too........ then I got real "mature" & babied my next car, a '41 Chevy!
I'm still proud to say I paid for
every one of my cars... I worked part-time all through high
school just for those cars!
NANCY GAUDUR - My first car was a 1939 Chevrolet coupe. It was so cute--it had two little jump seats in the back, and it had a switch so you could change the horn from a city horn to a country horn. My dad rebuilt the engine, completely redid the interior in a light gray, and the exterior was painted in a two-tone light and dark gray.
I was so excited to join the ranks of licensed drivers. I took my driving test, and passed it with flying colors. Armed with my driver's permit, and all the confidence of a seventeen year old, I was all set to conquer the world, or at least a small part of it.
I could hardly wait for my father to get home so I could have my first driving lesson.
Notice my smiling face as I'm getting into the car--it's too bad my father didn't take another picture of me when we got back.
Unfortunately, neither of us was in the mood for pictures! Of course the car didn't have an automatic transmission, so I had to deal with a stick shift and a clutch. I still have flashbacks of the whole ugly experience. My father, a rather high-strung man in the best of circumstances, spent the entire time yelling, "Let out the clutch, give it some gas, there's a stoplight, there's a stop sign." The rest is all a blur of grinding gears accompanied by a flood of tears.
When we got home, my mother, a saint if ever there was one, took one look at my tear-stained face, and asked me what had happened.
I proceeded to tell her that I would never take another driving lesson from my father, even if it meant that I would never learn to drive, and do you know what? I meant it. I had boy friends that drove, I had girl friends that drove, and when all else failed, I rode the bus.
When Jack and I got married he had a 1951 Ford convertible--he drove and I navigated. I still wasn't ready to relive the experience of learning to drive--until we bought our first new car. A 1958, anniversary gold and cream, Chevrolet Bel Air. It was gorgeous, and we loved it. I decided I'd risk my marriage, and I asked Jack if he would teach me how to drive. Unlike my father, Jack is one of the most patient men in the world, the lessons went beautifully, and so, at the age of twenty-three I finally became a licensed driver.
Now, I will leave it up to you--was my first car the 1939 Chevrolet or the 1958 Chevrolet? I have to say, even though I never got to actually drive the first one, I have fond memories of both of them.
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