First Ride--My First Car!

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By: Wayne Brown

I recently found myself reminiscing about the automobiles which I have owned over the course of life.  There have been a few but as you can relate, some are a lot more exciting than others.  Some are exciting for other reasons…mainly just because they were your first car.  First cars are great because up until that moment you did not have one and now you do.  It’s that simple. What the car is in terms of year, model, etc., plays little into it in the end because you are just so glad to have “your own car”.

 

I was especially proud when that opportunity came around for me.  I was in the latter part of my junior year in high school.  I really wanted a car because I had acquired my driver’s license at the tender age of 16 and I hated begging dad to use his car all the time.  I use to ask him, “Hey dad, can I have my own car?”  He would laugh and go, “Sure!”  I would get excited and ask, “When?”…thinking that he was getting me one.  The reply was always the same, “Just as soon as you can save up the money!”  The answer never changed but I never tired of asking the question.

 

You know what they say about praying for things and wanting something until your little heart just aches?  Well, that is the way I was about a car.  I just had to have one.  I had a part-time job working as a delivery boy for a local dry cleaner.  The $25 bucks a week that I was earning was not exactly piling up at rapid speed. Besides that, I had expenses so my net contribution to saving for a car was somewhat reduced…damn near to zero!

 

There’s an old adage that says all things cometh to he who waits.  Well, in actuality, I had no choice, I had to wait or take up car theft.  But, I will have to say I do put a lot of stock in that old adage now because sure as your born, my waiting eventually paid off for me and my wish finally came true.  You can’t leave without hearing this story!

 

A friend and I had been exploring a wooden area north of the little town I grew up in.  It was not a large area but large enough for us to eventually become disoriented and have to guess our way back to civilization.  We could pick out the sun through the trees so we began to work our way west through the trees.  Eventually, we came to a two-lane highway that we recognized which meandered out of the north of town.  We thought that we would walk back up the home toward home.  In the interest of reducing the walking time, we cut across some fields in those areas where the road would curve.  It was here that I spotted it…while casually walking my way back home totally without any transportation other than my own two feet.

 

The pasture we were cutting the curve on was situated adjacent to an old house with a barn behind it.  As we approached the area nearest the house I happen to look back toward the barn and spotted the front end of a car.  My friend and I headed over to the barn to take a closer look oblivious to the idea that our presence might be construed as trespassing by whoever lived there in the house.

 

The car was a 1949 Ford 2-door Custom Coupe.  It was originally painted a light green sheen but rust and sunlight had robbed much of that.  The seats were original of a gray flannel-like material.  All in all it looked pretty good…four tires, etc.  I ran around to the front of the house and knocked on the door.  An older lady finally came to the door and answered my knock.  I told her that I had spotted the car and was curious as to whether it was for sale.  She indicated that it was and stated that she would take $35 for it.  I almost peed my pants right there on the porch.  I started dancing around, told her that I had to run home and see my dad but please don’t sell that car to anyone until I come.  She just nodded and closed the door. I don’t think she figured to ever see me again.

 

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(storage.canoe.ca)

Well, we hoofed it home and the trip was not as bad as it could have been because I was almost willing to run all the way.  Needless to say that my friend was less excited and did not buy into the running but we did hurry.  When we arrived, my dad was out cutting the grass.  I flagged him down and he stopped the push mower and shut it off.  As he looked at me with that look of “what are you interrupting my work for”, I began to blurt everything out.  I just could tell him fast enough about it. I was dancing, jumping up and down and about every other breathe yelling “Can we buy it dad? Can we buy?  He didn’t say much at first but then finally asked me how much she wanted. When I told him $35, he brightened up a bit and then asked me, “Does it run?” To which I replied, “I don’t know, I didn’t even look to see if it had a motor now that you mentioned it.”  He finally agreed to drive back over with us to take a look but with the caution that if he did not like what he saw, that was the end of it.  So away we go!

 

 

Once we returned to the old barn and my dad looked over the car and found that at least there was an engine under the hood, we were at a decision point as whether to buy.  I could tell that my dad was not real excited about making the purchase but with the continued urging from me, he went ahead and sealed the deal with Mrs. Kelly.  Soon we were pulling this old Ford down to highway to home behind a friend’s pickup truck and I was on cloud nine.  All my dad could say was, “You’re gonna pay me back that money whether this thing runs or not!”  I could tell by his look that he was not kidding.

 

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(images.craigslist.org)

 

The old Ford had belong to an old fellow everyone referred to as “Cuz’ Kelly”.  I take it they called him “Cuz” because he was kin to all of them in one way or another.  I don’t know, I never investigated that part.  It seems that Cuz was a renown coon hunter in those parts.  I believe they are more appropriately referred to as “cooners” in today’s vernacular.  Since I did not keep up with coon hunting as a sport, you can understand why I was oblivious to Mr. Kelly’s reputation as a “cooner”.

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(amazon.com)

 

Coon hunting as it has been explained to me is a shorten term for the art of “raccoon hunting” which does not roll off the tongue as easily.  From what I understand, the process of coon hunting calls for having a couple of dogs who really are focused on finding coons.  Then you join up with some others who also have dogs and enjoy the sport and you go out into the woods and build a big fire.  Then you turn the dogs loose and let them go in search of coons.  The hunters then sit down by the fire; may brew up a pot of stew or just proceed to pass a bottle of whiskey around until it is gone. 

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(choiceshirts.com)

From what I understand you don’t even need a gun to go coon hunting.  The dogs will run and hunt most of the night. Once they get on a scent of the coon, then they begin to bark and howl.  By the wee hours of the morning, the dogs will normally have the coon treed or trapped up a tree if you will.  Then, if you can still walk, you go find the dogs, confirm that it was a coon that they ran up the tree and then go home.  That’s pretty much the art of the sport as I understand it.  It’s easy to see how a man could both become addicted to it and also create quite a reputation as a coon hunter at the same time.  Never have I heard anyone mention that coons were good to eat.

 

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Well, enough about coon hunting.  As I progress here, it will become much clearer to you why it is that you needed to understand the sport, if indeed, it is a sport.  It really sounds like an excuse to get out of the house for the night to me and I can see where some guys would really like the part about sitting around the fire sipping whiskey.  One thing is for sure, if it is indeed a sport, it is one steeped heavily in southern tradition and born of southern roots.  The term “redneck” may come to mind.

 

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(quailhillkennel.com)

Anyway, ol’ Cuz Kelly was a coon hunter and he apparently used the car quite often to haul himself and his coon hounds out to the various hunting sites.  This was not revealed to me when we bought the car and since I bought it in “as is” condition I guess Ms. Kelly did not feel compelled to tell me.  All I could think of at the time was how well the interior had been maintained…I mean it had the original seats still in the car!  The other conclusion that I reached was that Ms. Kelly, knowing Cuz’s reputation as a coon hunter, could only believe that I had heard of him and knew well the history of the vehicle.

 

Well, we get the car to the house and begin to examine it more closely.  This examination was going on under the hood because getting the engine to run was a high priority as I did not think that I could push the car around town.  I think my dad figured that if it didn’t run there was still $35 dollars worth of metal here for the junkyard man.  Either way, he was getting his money back.

 

We put a battery in the car and got the engine to turn over but it would start up and run.  We then installed a new set of ignition points into the distributor.  I turned the key on and hit the starter button.  The engine turned a couple of times and nothing.  That was when we realized that all the gasoline in the tank had probably long since evaporated.  So, it was off to the gas station with a can to get a couple of gallons to pour into the tank.  Once we accomplished that step, I repeated the process of turning on the key and pushing the starter button.  This time the engine rolled over a few times and then roared to life.  We were stunned and I just about peed my pants thinking quickly that I now had a car with an engine in it…and the engine would start and run!

 

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(remarkablecars.com)
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(affordableclassicsinc.com)

The old Ford had a manual three-speed transmission with the shift lever mounted on the right-hand side of the steering column.  The engine was an in-line six cylinder with a flathead meaning the head piece over the cylinders was flat.  In the top of the head was the threaded openings into which six spark plugs were placed…one to fire each cylinder.

We took the old car for a test drive and it seemed to run like a new sewing machine.  No doubt it ran a hell of a lot better than it looked.  But that was all right with me because no matter how it looked, I could still say “get the hell away from my car!” and take pride in the fact that I did in fact own one.

 

I began driving the car to school each day and then to my part-time job after school.  The warmth of spring was making its presence known so the car would heat up a bit inside while it sat in the parking lot at school.  In those days, I would drive the short distance back home and have lunch there each day instead of suffering the grub created in the lunch room by the ladies who wore the white dresses and big bras.  What I was about to encounter unknowingly was not going to improve my appetite.

 

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(freerevs.com)

I open the driver’s door and get into the car excited to be headed home for lunch. Any excuse to drive was a reason to be excited in those days. As I fire up the engine, I notice a rather strange odor not that apparent before. It was strong too. I rolled down both of the front windows to let some of the smell out. Woo…it was overpowering to say the least. On some days, the warmer ones normally, the smell was stronger than on others. Some days, I would have to drive home with my head hung out the driver’s side window to avoid to odor.

As I related my dilemma to folks around town, they would ask where I got the car. I would tell them that I bought off of a Mrs. Kelly up on Highway 25. Many of them would then go, “Oh yes, I thought I recognized that car. Why that’s ol’ Cuz Kelly, the coon hunter’s car. He used to haul his coon hounds all over the county in that thing.” Well, I admit that was not good news but it did explain the odor that I was experiencing.

Another phenomenon that I soon encountered dealt with those original equipment seats in the old Ford. On a real sunny day , you could slap you hand down really hard on the seat surface and the air would be filled with dust and dog hair. Putting the odor together with this and now I am starting to understand just how much dog must still be in these old seats in the car. I then did a major detail of the interior, beating the seating, vacuuming them, and then spray just about anything I could find into the seats and under them. It helped some with the smell but slap your hand on the seat and up flies more dog hair. Still, it was a car, and it was mine but I could not envision myself going on a date in it. Well, I would go but I was not sure whether any of the girls would!

As it worked out, either I finally conquered the smell or I just got use to it…I don’t know to this day. All I know is that over time I began to notice it less and less. I drove the old car for several months and it was very reliable and sipped gas ever so lightly. As luck would have it, another 1949 Ford turned up on a used car lot in town. This one was a 4-door sedan and had a pretty nice black paint job. I worked out a swap and traded Cuz’s old 2-door Custom in on this black beauty. I had really stepped up in the world. I now actually owned a car that a girl would go on a date in. I was seen in some circles as a rich man but that’s another story for another day.

My old light green 2-door Ford Custom Coupe was eventually bought off the lot by an old gent who lived a few miles out of town. He would drive it into town picking up supplies occasionally and it would catch me eye. I always had a tender spot for it. One day I see it and could not believe my eyes. This man had taken a brush and hand-painted the old Front a 2-tone blue and while color. You could see the brush strokes from a block away on the metal. It lost some of it shine for me after that and I found myself looking away when I spotted it. Looking back, it was probably good that I got rid of the car when I did, for unbeknownst to me, being seen driving that car on a regular basis was spreading my representation as a “cooner” all around the county and I did even own a dog even if my car did smell like one.

© Copyright WBrown2010.  All Rights Reserved.

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Comments 37 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Amazing! We both had a '49 Ford for our first car.

Mine was a faded blue with a V8, but otherwise...!

Great hub!


SilverGenes 5 years ago

Great story and lots of fun to read! Those cars were so nice - they had seats like couches and were so comfortable, except maybe for all that dog hair that settled into yours LOL. My first car was a Volkswagen Beetle that had a bumper attached with a coat hanger.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Wayne, that is a really cool story. I'm sure you brought back a lot of memories for many of your loyal followers. We all remember that "first car" with fond memories, regardless of what it was. Some of my richer friends always had nearly new cars, but probably didn't appreciate them as much as I did my first pile of rust. I did learn a bunch about auto mechanics because you had to keep it running. But back in those days you could buy a rebuild kit for almost every part in a car. Today it seems to make more sense to throw the car away and buy a new one.

Great story my friend.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

Love the memories. The car I remember most was a Chevy, 1954, that had a stick shift that fell off constantly and an interior door that separated from the outside whenever you tried to close it. It was my boyfriend's car and it embarrassed the hell out of me. I married him anyway and our cars have improved significantly. By the way he's a Tennessee Squire (Jack Daniels) so we know all about coon hunting!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@WillStarr...Do you think that was what made us want to write westerns? LOL! Actually my first two cars were 49 Fords so I guess you could say that I was ridin' for the brand! Thanks Will...need to get by and see you and catch up on my reading...like the way your score is climbing and your fans...that's what quality will do for ya! WB

@SilverGenes...With a coathanger huh? And I thought I was the original poor kid! LOL! A coathanger is a very effective engineering tool in capable hands it's right up there with duct tape and baling twine. Thanks Alexandra! WB

@Old Poolman...Yep, at the time I thought I was deprived but if it had gone the other way, my stories wouldn't be as good. I too learned a lot mechanically from those two '49 Fords. Today, my son marvels at how I could know anything about a car because he just did not come along when you could work on one without a computer. I taught him how to do his own brake jobs and this Christmas I gave him his own first set of "C-Clamps" so that he would quite borrowing mine. I guess he thought I had the last "C-Clamp" left on earth! LOL! Thanks for the good words! WB


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@breakfastpop....My college roommate had a 1947 with an apple crate for a driver's seat. Personally, I perfer the hairy seat. When he took off too fast his apple crate turned over and interrupted the driving! LOL! Thanks for the memories! WB


sueroy333 profile image

sueroy333 5 years ago from Indiana

It's amazing how your first car is perfect and wonderful and beautiful, even if it isn't!

My first car was a dodge colt hatchback with no air and vinyl seats. I sold real-estate in that thing. All the other agents had their town cars and cadillacs. I didn't really fit in, but it sure was fun, and, in my mind, my little blue colt was the prettiest car there! I still miss her!

Thanks for giving me a smile and for sharing the great memories!


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Now I know why, Wayne, whenever I mention your name to my friends, they all say, "Oh, yes, Wayne Brown, the renowned Coon Hunter?" Just joshin'.

Loved your story - took me way back to my first ride with my newest boyfriend in his 40-something car where the passenger side didn't lock and I had to hold it with a rope to keep from falling out. Married him anyway. :)


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@sueroy333...It is amazing and it is amazing how many different funny stories there are out there about first cars. Wow! I think if my first car had been a new one that I would have missed something in the process. WB

@drbj...You can always spot a good woman...she holds the door shut with a rope while you drive...a partnership in the truest sense. We endured a lot just to go on a date huh? Then married anyway! LOL! Thanks for the great comments. WB


Dale Mazurek profile image

Dale Mazurek 5 years ago from Canada

What an absolutely great hub. Its hubbers like yourself that deserve accolades for great writing. Definately getting voted up by me.

Dale


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I tended to buy off brand cars. My first was a 1947 Studebaker. It probably had about as many problems as your Ford except for the dog part.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Nice write! The video "1949 Ford Custom Club Coupe--Fanny Mae" says we go to youtube to see it but that's cool too. The best vehicle I've ever owned was a 53 Ford pickup. I love that big smile on the grill. The flathead had a cracked block but ran great! God bless!


TimBryce 5 years ago

Wayne - Delightful to read. Thanks. I needed it this morning.

All the Best,

Tim


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Dale Mazurek...Thanks much for those kind words Dale. I do sometimes feel like I am not pushing the right buttons when folks like you come along and give me some encouragement. I guess I'll not pursue that plan to submit pie recipes! LOL! WB

@dahoglund...Had an old uncle who had one of those. Spend many hours as a kid crawling all over it after it quite running. He had that one and a Henry J that I believe he ordered from Sears. WB

@Micky Dee...Yes, those were some fine years although the old flathead V-8 tended to need for anti-freeze that one radiator could hold in a cold winter. The "Fannie Mae" link still works...just punch it a second time! WB

@Tim Bryce....Thanks Tim...glad you enjoyed it! WB


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Wonderful to have such pleasant memories and thank you for sharing it with us. It kept me smiling all the way. I found the coon-hunting interesting. I am against hunting for fun, but don’t mind if it is done in order to feed or protect people and animals. Enjoy this last year of 2010.


Granny's House profile image

Granny's House 5 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

Great story. I felt like I was there. Brought back memories of my first car. Funny memories

voted up and the other thingies


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Martie Coetser...Yes those first cars and first kisses always linger fondly. Happy New Year to you as well! WB

@Granny's House...Thanks for the good words and Happy New Year! WB


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 5 years ago

Great write Wayne, brought back some great memories for me, it's ironic that your first job was as a cleaner delivery boy after school earning $25 per week. That's exactly what I did and I wrote about it in one of my short stories:0)I loved that job and made some great tips.

I loved my first car to, 57 4 door Chevy Belair. Dam I had lots of fun with that and some memorable moments with hot girlfriends:0)) I won't say anything more, he he

My uncle had a 49 Ford and I to remember those big grey cushion seats to sit in, really comfy for sure.

Those videos were great about coon hunters. I always thought they actually went out and shot them and brought them home to eat, just like rabbit? Isn't there even such a thing as a coon gun, or is it simply a shotgun.

Yeah the smell would do me in, not being able to drive my dates around would not be fun, that was most of the fun showing off my car and back seat to my sweeties:0))

Oh those were the days, so long ago, but great memories. Thanks for bringing some back my friend and a big Happy New Year to you and yous...


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@saddlerider1....I remember reading about a road trip you took in that car early on in your days here at the Hub. First cars and first kisses do have a way of sticking with ya! Happy New Year to you and family Ken...I hope 2011 is a great year for you! I know I look forward to spending many more good times here on the hub with ya. Thanks for all your friendship and support this past year...I am a better man for it! WB


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

Loved reading about your first car and other hubbers' car memories. There is something about coming of age in the south/west and a car. I am hopeful you will entertain us with additional tales on 4 wheels . . .

TS Sally


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Truckstop Sally...Glad you liked it! I wish I had kept a journal in my younger years as there are many fine stories like this one that have been lost in the years. If you enjoyed this one, try my hub "Firepower" and "Hey, Quick Draw!"...both are based on growing up experiences for me. WB


shynsly profile image

shynsly 5 years ago from Sierra Vista, AZ

Awesome hub! I tried to answer your question about favorite first car memories, and my "answer" ended up too long, thus became a short hub of it's own, lol. At any rate, thanks for the great story, and for reminding me of some of my fonder memories in the process!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@shynsly....Thank you! My sister reminded me today that she was with dad and I when we went to get the old Ford. She was only seven but still has memories of seeing it sitting in the barn that first time. Thanks for the read and the good words! WB


Scarlett My Dear profile image

Scarlett My Dear 5 years ago from Missouri

Dear Wayne,

"Give'em a sportin' chance!" I haven't had a good laugh like that in a while! LOVE that recording of Jerry Clower!! That's my kind of comedian/storyteller.

I absolutely love your story here about your first car experience. Your dad's hesitation, your excitement, a teenager with a lack of funds, an old coon hunter and a mess of dogs! The pride we feel when we make something so monumental as our First Ride happen, is what memories are made of.

Our son is a junior in high school. He's scraping and saving every penny to buy his first car. Until then, he drives "our" old Ford Ranger! All of his friends were given their first car. It's been hard for him. But, my husband and I feel this is something he must work for on his own. True appreciation really does come from those things we work for.

He had his eye on a '66 Mustang this past summer. The poor old thing probably wouldn't even make it out of the guy's front yard, but he wanted it. My husband, not really a car enthusiast, thought his money might be better spent on something more "reliable". I told my son, "If you want that piece of crap, then buy that piece of crap, 'cause it'll be *your* piece of crap! Follow your dream today, kiddo, 'cause it only gets harder the older you get."

He didn't get the car after all ~ askin' price a little high for what he could do with it, but what a beauty it would have made. He's still lookin'. I'm still dreamin', even if it's for him, instead of me.

You are a wonderful writer! I look forward to reading much more.

~Scarlett


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Scarlett My Dear..At the time I thought it was cruel and unusual punishment but I had parents that worked for everything they had and appreciated it and they wanted us kids to do the same. The lesson I learned from it was that I didn't tear up what I paid for...a lesson lost on many kids today that will affect them in all facets of their life. My parents were a lot smarter than I could ever imagine. The memories I have of that time are wonderful. I replaced that first car with another '49 Ford which had some custom work on it and quickly became my pride and joy...I really learned alot about taking care of a car with that one. Maybe you need to let your son read my hub so that he can see that all is not lost..at least not forever and God does answer prayers...sometimes in a way we don't quite understand! Thank you for all your kind words. I have over 300 hubs here with everything from politics to poetry, western adventures to super natural...I hope you will return soon and read some more of them! WB


Scarlett My Dear profile image

Scarlett My Dear 5 years ago from Missouri

I sure will! Already am. (;


Becky 5 years ago

My sister bought a '64 Ford Falcon, standard 3-speed on the column. Since she didn't know how to drive a standard yet, her first driving experiences were memorable. She would let up on the clutch too fast, it would leap forward and die. The radio would start squealing and moaning quite often and we had to slap the dash to get it to stop. With all this going on, we named it "Eeyore", the mopey donkey from Winnie the Pooh. We both loved that thing. When it was time for me to learn to drive a standard, she let me learn on her wonderful car. Memories:)


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Becky....What a wonderful tale...you should write about it. That's a great story line which people would love. Thanks so much for the great comments! WB


Becky 5 years ago

Problem is I am not a writer and wouldn't even know where to start. Thanks for the kudos though.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Becky...None of writers were one when we started. It's a low overhead job...just a computer or pencil and paper. Keep on reading...you might get the itch! LOL! Thanks much for all your comments. WB


Jerry Janssen 5 years ago

Hey Wayne

I liked your first car story! Thanks for including my "Fanny Mae" YouTube video in your story. A 49 Ford was my first car also. Go to my URL blog for "My Story; Why I Bought a Shoebox Ford". Maybe I'll try and figure out how to include it on hubpages.com. Happy V-8ing!

Jerry aka Hi-Winder


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Jerry Janssen...Thank you. I hope that link brings you some traffic. I love that song! I will check out your story. I owned two...the one depicted here in this story which was a 2-door custom coupe. I later traded it for a 49 4-door flathead V-8 in black paint with red rims, baby moons and chrome trim rings. It had a high speed clutch in it and I could bark the tires when shifting to 3rd gear. It as a great little car. I'll get by and read that story. Thanks again. WB


Jerry Janssen 5 years ago

I just joined hubpages. Here's the link to my story: http://hubpages.com/autos/MyShoeboxFord

Thanks for the motivation, Wayne.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Jerry Janssen...Great! Hope to see your stuff floating around soon. I just went to your WordPress site and looked over your car. That's a neat one and looking at that old flathead V-8 sure brings back the memories. I had dual chrome upper radiator tubes on mine...looked good! WB


hiwinder profile image

hiwinder 5 years ago from Western North Carolina

Thanks Wayne...see you around the blogs.

Jerry


resspenser profile image

resspenser 3 years ago from South Carolina

Great story, Wayne! I also enjoyed the pictures and I haven't thought about Jerry Clower in years...


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 3 years ago from Texas Author

@resspenser....Woooo! Knock 'em John! Won't be long! Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks much! ~WB

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