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Monday, August 08, 2011





Dottie (Duckett) Weil
Dick Ellis
Adele Penhollow
Ginger Axford
 Elaine (Williams) Osborn
Leroy Wacker
Anne (Gilchrist) Osborn
Don Nelson
Raleigh Emry
cast of thousands


Hollywood Muffler
By Dottie Weil

My Mom had a 1953-1/2 Bel-Air hardtop Chevy when we moved to Ainsworth in June of 1954. She was very proud of it and for good reason. A single Mom who worked hard and finally had a nice car. Of course, there was this 16 year old daughter who also liked to drive Mom's car. My brother Charles (Chuck Reinhart) was a year or two behind me in school. He liked for me to drive also so he could have a ride when he needed one. Not really knowing anything about cars myself, Chuck proceeded to install or have installed a different muffler. You know the kind. Made a lot of noise, etc. Well, when I went to start up the car one morning for church, as my Mom was coming out of the house, the car sounded really loud (in garage when started). She about died and wanted to know why her car sounded like a Mack truck. We didn't say anything and she never knew that a Hollywood Muffler had been put on her car.

My Model A
By Dick Ellis 

Well it really wasn't "my" model A but I drove it most of my senior year in High School. It was a 1929 "A" that my Dad had remade into a pick-up by taking out the rumble seat and replacing it with a wooden box so we could haul tools, fence posts, seed corn etc.

My younger brother and I used it to fix fence. We even stretched the wire with it. Dad had also built a pulley wheel that attached to one of the rear wheels so it could be used to drive a pump jack so we could pump water when the wind didn't blow. (We lived in southwest Nebraska so it didn't blow all the time) It was a hunting car and also a method used to bring the milk cows in for milking.

During my high school years I learned to secretly turn off the gas valve with my toe so it would "run out" of gas within ten feet of a nice place to park in the dark. The ignition switch was burned out so there were two wires that were twisted together to start the car. The engine had been used so much that I think the pistons could change holes on the way to town and back. A friendly filling station owner in town would watch for any cars that he serviced that had "cleaner" oil than most and save it for me to use in the A. I had two five gallon cans, one I carried in the back of the car and the other I left with Cloyd to fill up so I could trade when my first can ran out.

All of this is leading up to the "next to my most embarrassing moment" (maybe your next topic). The Bureau of Reclamation came to Trenton to build a dam on the Republican River. The Director had an especially cute daughter. I as well as all of my male classmates were trying to be the first to date her. Guess who won? Bingo. I was the fortunate one. On the appointed night I arrived in my "A" to pick her up. We were off to the local Theater for an evening of fun. (I will not name the young lady as she would probably like to forget she even knew me) As we arrived at the "show" all my buddies were standing in front of the theater. All I could think of was "eat your hearts out".

I was parked and untwisted the wires, jumped out and ran around the car to open her door. (Just like I had seen in the movies) I escorted her in, paid for the tickets and we enjoyed the movie. I have no recollection of the movie but when we came out after the show, those guys were still standing and watching. Being the Perfect gentleman I opened the door for the lady, she entered and I closed the door, ran around and jumped into the drivers seat. But, ----when I started to wire the switch ---- the most eerie whistle started under the hood. This was followed by the loudest explosion I had ever heard. Only after the young lady slammed her door open and hit the ground running did I realize those guys had wired a car BOMB to my car. Needless to say that was my first and last date with that girl.


Suburban, Plow and Chain
By Adele Penhollow

I will keep the secrecy of the lady who lost her sweater during a return trip from a hockey tournament up North.. you know "over the Border?" Wrong! It wasn't me! One of my unofficial duties in those years was to offer transportation to these games to moms who were afraid to drive in winter. And just you guess what vehicle I had back then ??? Yes, the '76 Chevy Suburban.**with Fisher 6 ft plow** AND my tow chain, a gift from my 'former' motorcycle riding friends. I still have that chain.

As you know, I never had a bike or a horsey, and I certainly never had my own car. After I was married, the auto was never registered to me...(gee, what a surprise). So that November, when we bought this "thing", it was put in my name and I was raring to go. I could hardly wait for the first real snow. I wasn't disappointed. The Blizzard of '77 is still discussed by many hardy souls who played and cursed in it here in western New York.

When the snow was at its craziest (Jan.'77) I was out every morning at 6 am cleaning up my driveway and my neighbors' driveways...played music and chewed gum at the same time...and later in the day, when the snow was piled up again 18 inches, I'd put baby Julie in the kid-seat, bundle a blanket around her and go looking for more snow to plow and she got a charge out of that, too. Little John was not quite 3 yrs old, and he was SO happy to play in snow....the foretelling of his subsequent hockey career.

One late afternoon, a girlfriend who live across town got stuck in a ditch. At that time we were "into" using CB radios. Yes, my handle was 'Butterfly'. Catchy, eh? I had just finished plowing my own driveway, heard the call and I drove to rescue her. (lol) She came out of the supermarket, loaded up her car and then ceremoniously slid her station wagon into the ditch at the far side of the supermarket. Did I laugh ?...No. Did I worry ? Just a little, 'cause it was now twilight. Doing rescues in the dark wasn't my cup o' tea.

I asked Linda if she trusted me. She said "Of course not !!"...So, I hooked up the chain to her frame, hooked up the other end to my rear frame end, turned up the volume on the BeeGees 8-track and pulled her out. She hugged me and went home.

I thoroughly enjoyed driving that thing. Many stinky hockey-players rode in that after winning and losing games all over creation...and the evidence of 'moving meals' were always found when I vacuumed. French fries, wrappers from cookies and crackers, and the occasional wad of gum.

Some of the best memories are from Christmas of '79. Another "friend" who spent WAY too much time in the workshop, connected a P.A. speaker in the grill for me. I played authentic bagpipe 8-tracks while plowing, and didn't even glance at the people who assumed I was disturbing the peace. No Christmas spirit, I guess. ; )

Another memory that my oldest son won't let me forget is the one which had his 5 teammates + Mom pulling in to a food stop, and getting out....leaving the keys in the ignition. And the guys had, of course, locked the doors. No wire hanger would work with the typical 'break in ' trick. Erik remembered a valuable thing, though. The tailgate handle on the vehicle had a flipback handle which cranked the window open and thereby allowed the tailgate door handle to be reached from inside.

Guess whose Mom got shoved through, climbing over odiferous hockey bags, to the driver's seat? It wasn't a pretty sight, but it was one heck of a memory.


About the mom who lost her sweater? It wasn't *really* a naked lady thing. She didn't declare her woolen purchases (bought in Canada)...made in Scotland, and that's something the Border Inspectors discovered on that trip. She didn't want to pay the duty (she was being unreasonable), so she left it behind. Jennie wasn't the brightest bulb on her Christmas tree, but she was fun.


By Ginger Axford

The dastardly deed done to L.B.C. happened the night the Blizzard of '49 began on a ranch near Ainsworth, Nebraska. It was Thanksgiving Day of 1948. The family that owned the ranch had gone over the river & through the woods to their maternal grandparents in Oregon. Only a very young couple, whom we shall call V & B were left in charge.

B was the boss now. He was busily doing chores in the wild & woolly wind and rapidly descending thermometer. V wasn't much help since she was six months pregnant. LBC was in a building nearby. LBC was from Washington State and only 15 years old. He had been a problem in the previous summer until his rubber shoes had been replaced. B & V had gone to a movie twenty miles away and LBC had trouble with first one shoe and then another. Unfortunately, he didn't have a spare. Once he got new shoes, he made it fine from Washington to Nebraska. Now, he was left all alone in the cold, dark barn.

V was only three years older than LBC & like I said a little round around the middle. She was really not too good for much of anything. She really liked LBC since he was the first one she had ever owned.

B began to worry about LBC in the freezing weather. He explained to V that she would need to take a flashlight and go crawl under LBC and loosen the petcock until LBC's water flowed freely. This was not an easy task for V.

1. She hardly knew what or where the petcock on LBC was. 2. It was a little challenging to get her body down under LBC. Happily, she reported to B that she had found the petcock and that the water was flowing freely under LBC.

Unfortunately for all concerned, the temperature was much colder than anyone knew and the petcock orifice froze over before poor Little Black Chevy could release all of his water out of his block. Thus the dastardly deed had been done to LBC. Where he went from there, the author doesn't know. Maybe to Car Heaven.


Garage Gouging
By Elaine Osborn

This writing is intended to be in total defense of my driving skills. Let me say first and foremost before relating my problems with the car in the garage, that I have never had an accident on the road in all my years of driving. There are those (specifically my children) who will attest to (what they feel is) the fact that other drivers are aware of my driving style and give me a wide berth. I beg to differ because of the many drivers I have had to vie for my space on Interstate 25 going to work in downtown Denver for over 12 years. When I would mention some of the experiences, hand gestures etc. that I witnessed on my drive to work, there were also those that were sure that I would end up shot by an irate driver. Since I am still accident free on the road and living to tell about it, I can continue with my garage escapades.

When a teenager, I lived in the country 5 miles west of Ainsworth. As always, I was running late for school and with books under arm, ran to the garage, jumped into the car and backed up. The thing I neglected to do was open the garage door. Totally understandable since those were the days before automatic garage door openers that allow you to open the door as you enter the garage and before getting behind the wheel. The hardest part of that event was going back into the house to tell my Dad that the garage door was "slightly" damaged. Survived to tell about that one!

The second garage debacle was while living in Loveland, CO. I had returned from the grocery store and again due to no automatic garage door opener, I stepped out into the snow, opened the garage door, got back into the car and proceeded to drive into the garage. Preparing to stop, I put my foot on the brake, but being slippery from the snow, my foot slipped from the brake pedal and landed on the accelerator. This time I entered the kitchen wall via the front bumper of the car. My husband's remark to the kids as they were relaxing in the family room was, "Sounds like Mom is home." Again I survived to tell about it!

So you see now that we have garage door openers, it is totally safe for me to get behind the wheel of a car and you need not pull off to the side of the road when you see me coming. ;-)

By Leroy Wacker 

My first-ever car. What a thrill!!! Yes, no, maybe or all of the above! A 1937, 6 cylinder Ford. My father bought this car to transport his two twin sons (doesn't sound right but how else do you say it?) to school and back.

When two share a car you do have to have some rules. The rules were: Leon gets it one week, Leroy gets it the next week. Leon was first, as he was a half an hour older. I think that Ford made two models, in fact, I know this. One was a "hump-back trunk", an 8 cylinder job. The other was my beloved 6 cylinder with just a "straight trunk". There were two colors, black & gray (Ford was pretty 'daring'). I know all of this 'first hand info' as mom & dad bought their 1st "new" car in 1937, the 'hump-back, 8 cylinder.

So on with the story. First, Ford didn't have a clue as to what the NE winters were like, so "heaters" wasn't in their designing plans. We did end up putting in a 'gas heater' but you were in that dilemma where it was either too hot, not hot enough or didn't work at all. In addition, Ford didn't plan on NE clay roads when the frost went out, so the 6 cylinder model often had a transmission or a clutch go out. But, they were easy on gas, only 12 cents a gallon at that time, but then you also got great gas mileage.

Back to sharing. Leon is my best friend, brother, twin brother and older brother, BUT, he took advantage of me. You are saying, "oh boy" what's coming now. No, it wasn't all that bad, but Leon, being of that 'advanced age', fell in love with his present wife before Leroy became involved with the 'fairer sex'. So, on Wed. & Sat nights when Battle Creek people normally congregated, even if it was my turn, I let 'brother Leon' encroach on my turn for the car. The problem was that brother Leon would 'forget' that I was "on foot" and when the streets of Battle Creek started rolling up, Leroy was left with two choices, either stand on the darkened streets or walk home (two and a half miles 'no big deal') and many of time I chose to walk.

I did survive and will always look back on that little gray Ford with love at giving me that 1st glimpse of what we now call "independence". Thanks for letting me share this story with you.


Soft Shoulders
By Anne Osborn

My worst incident was driving a guy's car into the ditch (it had rained) after he insisted on "teaching" me to drive. I was so embarrassed because we had to walk to the nearest Ainsworth filling station and have it pulled out. Only years later did I learn that my sister and her boyfriend that very same night had to be pulled out by the same garage and the guy gave them a really hard time---so she knew about "my" incident---but never let on---we were both totally embarrassed I guess.

When I was going with Kenneth, I warned him about how soft and slippery the shoulders of the road got when it rained, but he didn't listen to me, and the next thing we knew, we were tipped sideways on the shoulder looking down at Bone Creek. All I remember was him telling me to open the door---which was impossible because he had a huge old Oldsmobile and the door was really heavy tipped sideways. I think Mr. Micheel had to bring a tractor and pull us out---with every cow they owned coming over to find out what was going on. Boy do you feel stupid when the cows look more intelligent than you feel.

And that brings to mind a story told to us (years later) by the wife of a buddy of Ken's from a prominent Ainsworth family. (Since I don't think they are still making this story public so I won't name names). They had a large church wedding in Ainsworth and headed to their honeymoon destination after the reception. They were late in the evening getting away from the "Middle of Nowhere" and one of those Nebraska "gully washer" downpours came up. Anyway, they couldn't see, and they got lost somewhere in a Godforsaken part of Nebraska and got off the road and she said they had to spend the first night of their honeymoon trapped in their car in the middle of some strange cow pasture and the next morning the cows were peering into the windows. She said they were so embarrassed that they had never told anyone of their predicament and how they spent the first night of their marriage. (No, I swear it wasn't us!!!) And yes, they have lived happily ever after.


How Purdy Dog Got His First Car
By Don Nelson

Harken Ye Back in time to circa, 1945-6 or thereabouts. I put on my hiking boots put my old billfold in my hip pocket and ambled over toward the kitchen door of 313 Oak St, Ainsworth. Me sainted Mother, (bless 'er soul) Not only did she have eyes in the back of her head, she had them all the way around, sorta like R2-D2. "And just where do you think you're going, young man?" she asked, correction, she demanded! 

"Johnstown." I said, "Gotta go see Pooch Beebout, "

"And just why are you taking ALL your money?" (Working at Harley Honaker's cream station, I had $18.00) As Harley would tell you, I use the word "working" rather loosely here, I knew very little and I'm sure I was a lousy employee. Harley was a very patient man, to me, I'm sure Sid or Chip would tell you different though. My Mom gave me the evil eye and asked, "Then why are you taking all that money!?"

"Gonna buy a car, Mom" I proudly stated.

Then she REALLY got skeptical, "OK now let me get this straight, You're going to take $18.00 bucks, hitchhike to Johnstown and BUY A CAR WITH IT ??!!

"Yup, that's just what I'm gonna do, Ma."

Even back then $18.00 wasn't much for a car, she just put on her sly look, grinned at me real knowingly and, yelled, " GOOD LUCK, BUDDY !!" As I strolled out the door. That woman could load more sarcasm into three words, than most people could get into two paragraphs!!

I walked out west on Hwy 20 by that old water tank that was still there in 1995, I know because I saw it when I was back there for the first time in 48 yrs and it was still BLUE too! I usually stood down by that little crick that went under hwy 20, and did my "thumbing" from there. Hitch hiking to Johnstown was nothing new to me, I had done it many times. I got a ride right away, got out at Johnstown and walked up to Beebouts place, I believe I had told Pooch I was coming down the week before, so he'd be home. He was home and we walked out to inspect the merchandise, He showed me a few things about it including a trick way to start it, by manipulating the spark and the shock levers and hitting the starter, yes I actually HAD a starter. However I NEVER learned to use it and always cranked it when I wanted to fire it up. You see, we were looking at a 1927 Model T Ford coupe !!

We lost no time in the transaction, I handed him the 18 dollars and he said, She's yours!! Yes that was it, no signatures, no titles, no registration, no license plates, just "She's yours!!"

I got in and VERY PROUDLY pulled away from Beebouts, with my very first car !! WHAT A FEELING ! ! I was already on my first "trip" too and not a penny in my pockets for expenses either. Hadn't gone 5 miles, around the Air Base, She started thumping. I stopped, got out and inspected the tires, found one (Left rear) that had a bulge about the size of a softball, I knew I had to re enforce that before it blew off the rim so I took my web, military belt off and WRAPPED IT AROUND THE TIRE !! and cinched it up tight and drove on home. (The belt was shot) but I got home with 'er, Come clattering up into the back yard and blowed my A o o o g a a!! horn at my Mom, just to show her I DID IT!!

She came out of the house to see what the racket was, Took one look at me and started laughing.

I said "There she is Mom, and she's got a Rexall gear in 'er too!! (Something like an overdrive today) I can still hear her laughing too!!

Did I EVER have some experiences in that old Mod, T, OR WHAT !! I could tell you some wild adventures we had, but that's the way I got my FIRST CAR, ANY WAY !! 

Skunk in the Road!
By Raleigh Emry 

My car experiences go back to when I was just a little kid. I learned the mechanics of driving by standing behind the front seat of our old Model A wherever we went and watching the coordination of Dad or Mom's feet and shifting hand.

Once in a while Dad would let me drive the tractor, a little Allis Chalmers, on his lap. I finally soloed on a little, red and gray Ford. Those were Dad's first tractors. Up until about 1948 and the purchase of the Allis, our farm work was done behind Topsy and Lady, our two big beautiful draft horses.

So I learned how to drive on the tractor. Often times I could pull a hay-wagon while the larger folks would pick up hay bales. Before we bailed our hay we put it up in stacks. I sometimes was allowed to scatter-rake and pull the overshot stacker cable. I always enjoyed haying season. It made me feel useful and a little more grown-up than at other times of the year.

Sometimes when I helped Dad fix fence and do other chores, he would let me drive his 1950 Chevy pickup here and there around the fields and pastures. At first I was so small that I couldn't push the clutch in and stay on the seat. So I would start the pickup (starter button on the floor). While I was down there near the floorboard, I would engage the clutch and put the shifting lever into first gear. Then as I released the clutch I would hop up onto the seat and drive everywhere in first gear and use the hand throttle knob on the dashboard. When I got to where I was going I would just turn off the ignition.

My parents never owned a new vehicle before I left home. Eventually we traded our old Model A in on an old black '48 (I think) Oldsmobile for a while, then a 50 Chevy Sedan, then a 52 Chevy... two tone Gray and White. I learned to drive on the streets and highways in that 52 Chevy. You could get a learner's permit at fifteen and a half. The Chevy had a three speed shifter on the column. Those were the days when you could leave the ignition in the unlocked position and remove the key but still be able to start the car simply by turning the switch and pushing the starter button. I don't recall ever needing the key and I don't recall ever locking the doors. I guess my folks figured if a stranger took the car they needed it worse than we did.

My first hair-raising adventure, though, was a few years before when I wasn't quite street legal. My sister Leona was married to Charlie Mefferd at the time and they lived on a ranch down south-west of Elsmere. For you non-Nebraskans that's in the heart of the Sand Hills (God's Cattle Country) and about as rural as you can get on planet Earth. Charlie had returned from the Marines and was now a hired hand on a large cattle ranch. I suppose I was about fourteen or fifteen, as I know I didn't have a driver's license or learner's permit.

Charlie had chore duty on the ranch. If he and Leona came to town and wanted to spend the evening, someone had to go back and do some evening chores. One Saturday afternoon I rode out with Charlie to help him. I suppose it was at least forty miles of bad road down to the ranch from Ainsworth. Old Highway 7, as many of you know, was just a gravel road from a few miles South of town all the way to Brewster and beyond. The trip from old Highway 7 to Elsmere was an even narrower gravel road that went up hill and down dale and by Willow Lake and finally on to Elsmere, Purdum and Halsey. If Ainsworth calls itself the "Middle of Nowhere" then the middle of the Sand Hills must not exist at all.

Willow Lake was a popular fishing spot. A local fellow by the name of Skunk Jones made a living trapping critters like muskrats and beaver and spent much of his time fishing in the sand hill lakes.

When Charlie and I finished chores and headed back to town, Charlie asked, "Want to drive?" I was behind the wheel in a flash. It was probably the first time that I ever had a car above about forty miles per hour and forty wasn't too safe on the road from Elsmere, especially for an untrained kid who thought he knew everything. As anyone who has driven there knows, the roads were covered with loose sand and gravel with ridges of gravel along either side. The ridges narrowed the roadway to about a car and a half if you were lucky. A county maintainer (road grader) went up and down the road every once in a while to even out the highs and lows and push the ridges back where they belonged. I was finally getting the knack of this high-speed driving by the time we came by Willow Lake and on straight stretches I may have seen the speedometer needle hit fifty or sixty.

We came up behind Skunk Jones in his old beater of a car and he and his fishing buddy were in conversation and oblivious to the fact that we had sneaked up behind. If I had been thinking, I would have given a polite honk on the horn (the standard procedure), Skunk would have moved over and maybe even stopped, and I would have blasted by in Charlie's old black '50 Plymouth. Well, I thought Skunk had seen me coming in his mirror, as he drifted to the right side of the narrow road.

I floored the Plymouth, gravel flew, and I pulled out to pass. I discovered that instead of giving me right-of-way, Skunk was lost in his world of fish stories with his buddy and was just meandering. When I got about to his fender, he meandered back into the center of the road. By then, I had about a ten miles-per-hour rate of closure and.... BUMP! I hit Skunk's old fish wagon from the left rear corner and off it went to the right. It sailed up and over the gravel ridge, bounced and heaved down through the ditch, through a barbed wire fence and spun around and around in a boggy meadow before it came to a stop.

Meanwhile, Charlie, who I guess was daydreaming and not realizing I would be so stupid as to pass Skunk on such a narrow stretch of road, came to life at the BUMP! He didn't know if I could control his car, so as he grappled for the wheel to turn it one way, I grappled to undo any positive correction while stomping on any unused pedals I could find on the floor. We did a whifferdil, spun out, and after about two turns right between the gravel ridges we ended up pointing in the direction we wanted to go... and with nary a dent or scratch.

We clambered out of the car. My knees were like rubber as we wobbled down to see how Skunk Jones and his buddy had fared. They were fine, but sitting there as if in shell-shock wondering what had suddenly gone so terribly wrong with their fishin-rig. The top barbed wire of the three-wire fence had not broken and had instead run up and over their car leaving deep scratches about four inches apart in paint, glass, chrome and dirt from bumper to bumper. Skunk was good-natured about it. He said it was just his fishing car, of course it was his only car too, but "no harm done". We helped him get it back on the road, fixed the fence as best we could and parted company.

Charlie, for some reason, decided to drive the rest of the way to town. We'd burst into giggles about every five miles and then remain quiet for a spell. We expected my Mom to be waiting dinner on us. Charlie said, "Maybe we shouldn't tell your folks."

I answered, "Yeah. Maybe we shouldn't tell my folks." Then we would burst out in these crazy adrenalin powered giggles. We walked into our home as straight-faced as possible and sat down at the dinner table. About every third bite, either Charlie or I would start to snicker and then both of us would be insanely laughing again. I imagine my mom was testing the wind to see if she could detect alcohol but we were stone cold sober. Nonetheless, it was about the best "drunk" you could imagine.

My dad liked to shoot pool. I walked into the pool hall a few nights later to see if I could hit Dad up for some movie money. Dad happened to be in the middle of a hot snooker game with Skunk Jones. When I saw who it was, I quickly turned around and walked back out the door and strolled back down the sidewalk. I looked across the street toward the Royal Theater, thought a moment about the movie I wouldn't see, and walked back home. I don't know if Skunk ever told my Dad about my sending him into low earth-orbit on the road near Willow Lake. My hasty departure saved Dad fifty cents which would pay for two and a half games of pool in those days. That is if you didn't lose it on big side bets.

I have at least one more car story in me, about the time my brother shot and killed our '57 Chevy with his 12 gauge, but I'd better just leave you with this one for now.

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