Thursday, January 24, 2013

The 1949 Merc

A friend posted a picture on Facebook of a red car that looked like it was made in the late 1940s. It reminded me of the first car that my dad bought. It was a black 1949 Mercury. He bought it sometime in the 1950s after I was old enough to remember our getting a car.

We had that car until 1957 when my dad bought a new Dodge station wagon with a push button automatic transmission. Although I was much older when my father bought the Dodge, I don't have very many memories of that car until I started to drive.

My dad called our first car "The Merc." We didn't have a garage so "The Merc" lived outdoors. In the winter, my dad would go out in the cold to start the car and then come in the house to have breakfast while "The Merc" warmed up.

I don't have very many memories of being driven in "The Merc" during the winter other than at Christmas time when we would drive through the neighborhoods in North Minneapolis with houses decorated with lights. We also would go to downtown Minneapolis to see the store windows at Daytons and Donaldsons department stores. They generally had animated scenes in their windows.

Most of my memories of "The Merc" were of trips to northern Minnesota to visit my mom's family or to Anoka County to visit my dad's family. The trips to my mom's family near Pine River were long as experienced by a child under the age of 11.

We didn't have safety belts on those days so one of my favorite past times when we were driving home at night was to lie on the back seat with my back on the seat and my butt against the upright part of the back seat and watch the street lights as the car moved forward. As we approach Minneapolis, I could see lights from the high rise buildings. (These buildings were not a high rise as they are today.)

I also remember when a tire would blowout and my dad changing the tire. It seemed to happen regularly. I have had only one blowout in my 50 years of driving. That was in 1991 on Intersate 5 when I was driving back from Sacramento with my kids. I took them to Railfair 1991. Each time that I watch the movie "A Christmas Story," I relive those tire blowout moments on "The Merc."

People didn't take photos like we do today. Film was expensive as was the cost to have the photos developed, so I don't have a picture of "The Merc."

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