Betsy and 2 True Stories
What my first car meant to me.
Here's a picture of me checking the oil of my first car. It was probably a "staged" picture as I'm sure that I never looked like that when working on my car. Dad's old toolbox is sitting there so, really, he must have been the one fixing the car.
Many have fond memories of their first automobile. As you read this account you will realize why my first car meant so much to me and how she came to have the name "Betsy."
A few things having Betsy meant for me were: freedom, peace of mind and the ability to travel. It meant freedom to escape from a noisy family to sit on a quiet lake shore. It meant I could help an elderly friend on the other side of town when she needed it. But most of all, it meant that I could travel to other places whenever I wanted to (if I had the money, of course).
Did you have a first car that meant a lot to you?
Our Move To The City
Summertime fun and then hoofing it.
When I was in my senior years at school we made a big move into the city.
Our family arrived in the summertime and we had fun swimming in the river and lying in the shade on the hot, sun-burning days. Then fall weather wasn't too hard to take, with the colorful leaves and cooler weather. Hardship, as I saw it then, came in the form of a new school, new classmates and finding the quickest and safest route to and from school.
Life didn't get better for me for a while. The school I attended was a very long distance from where we lived (about 5 miles). There were no buses to hop onto and as Dad needed the only car we had, to drive to work, I was left to hoof it to school on my own two feet. A few of my classmates had cars, not elegant mind you, but cars nevertheless.
Then Winter Came In Screaming - It looked a lot like this
Winter arrived! Now that, let me tell you, was something! This northern city was known for it's cold weather! A lot of snow! Cold windy days! I wasn't used to this! What I wouldn't have given for a car of my own!
Many times while I was walking to school, bent over .. leaning into the freezing wind, a car with a couple of my classmates would whiz by me .. sending icy snow whirling around me. These kids had grown up together, gone to their first grade together, and were great friends. I was the odd man out, so to speak. Oh, how I wished I had a car! I'd have stopped for THEM if I had a car, if my car wasn't full.
I felt that first year in a new school was the longest year of my life.
Graduation Came and Went - I started earning money.
Graduation came and went.
In those days, there was employment available to anyone who wanted to work. Just out of school, trained as a secretary, with a recommendation from the school, I started earning "real" money. I lived at home so, although I contributed toward my keep, the money I earned was pretty much mine to do with what I pleased. Dad taught us that we should save something out of every pay. Most of my friends went mad buying clothes with their first pay but I wanted transportation, so the first few months I tucked away most of my earnings in anticipation of that .. my first car.
I remember my first purchase, something nice for mum. My very next purchase was a small, robin-egg-blue, Austin Mini. It was a second-hand car but dad, who helped me pick it out, said that it seemed like a good buy.
My, how I loved that car! It was a while before I could drive it far because, "Gas costs money, you know!" I spent a lot of time, days in fact, shining it up, checking the oil, fiddling with the spark plugs and just sitting in it and dreaming about the trips I would take when I had more money.
The name that stuck. - Forever more.
I didn't crop this picture because it is a story in itself. This is at the back of our home and in the background you may notice all of the cars. At the time this picture was taken there were about three families living in the house there, a lot of kids and a lot of cars. One of the adults drove a school bus. (I wish he'd been around when I was going to school!) You might notice too, the bicycle handles in front of my car. I have two younger brothers and they must have left them there when called in to dinner .... or when making a quick escape.
Even though one of my brothers doesn't have anything good to say about my little Austin, I will always remember that car with fondness. I wish that I still had her, my Betsy.
Betsy's First Trip
I had taken many short trips with my new-to-me little car. The day had come and now I was finally going on a trip, to Vancouver, B.C. A friend and I decided to go for a long weekend and although there was snow on the roads, the weather was fine with no storms predicted. As we were climbing out of the valley up a long steep hill, my car kept going slower and slower. That is when she got her name, "Come on Betsy, come on," I urged her.
Story continued below ..
Can you tell that Betsy is robin-egg-blue?
Betsy's exciting trip to Vancouver - Cont'd. - A True Story
This image is owned by Ashley Dace and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license
My first big trip to Vancouver provided a lot of excitement for me. I had never been on a long trip with Betsy so I didn't know what to expect, but the sky was clear when we left Kamloops and we didn't expect any problems.
In those days there was not the modern, super-freeway, "Coquihalla," to travel, we had to go via the Fraser Canyon Highway.The canyon road was known for its rock/snow slides, mud and accidents. Being young and inexperienced we did not worry about the possibility of any of these conditions as we set out.
When we were about 25 miles from home we were surprised that there didn't seem to be many cars coming from the opposite direction, toward us. The road was getting a bit mucky but I had driven in worse. Then the sky darkened and snow started falling very heavily and building up quickly. I noted that we were traveling behind quite a few big trucks. They must have been heavily loaded as the ruts they were making in the snow were getting deeper and deeper as we drove along.
At first, when the snow wasn't very deep, we had to follow in the tracks of the trucks ahead of us or we feared that we would get stuck in the snow.
A big problem soon became evident .. the trucks had a wider axle base than my little Betsy so I could only follow in one of their tire tracks, the other side of the car was up on the middle hump. I tried straddling the tracks but kept on slip-sliding into one or the other. I was really worried that this was going to damage Betsy's under-carriage, rip the oil pan or the tailpipe off. I was hoping that a grader would come along soon but I could tell that no grader had plowed the road as yet, and we hadn't even passed one going in the opposite direction.
I/we were really getting worried until we noticed a lite-up building not too far away. There, bless them, someone had put up a little restaurant out in the middle of nowhere. What a welcome sight was that, "OPEN" sign.
Apparently, Betsy wasn't the only car that was having trouble as there were two other cars parked in front of the restaurant. As the trucks went ploughing on through the ever deepening snow, we skidded our way into the shoveled-out driveway of this little haven.
The Little Haven - and hot chocolate
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attrision 3.0 Author - ltisdacurtz
The restaurant proved to be a warm, inviting (I say again) little place, the red checkered tableclothes were like out of a movie set. The proprietor was a rotund, jolly man who kept up a lively banter with one of the other travelers. We each ordered a hot chocolate and a freshly baked cookie. Never has a hot chocolate tasted as good. (Years later I returned to relive the "hot-cocolate-moment" but alas, the restaurant was no longer there.)
The weather started to improve - the snow stopped, but we had to wait for about three hours for the highway department to clear the road. We carried on and eventually reached Vancouver. We had a great time with our friends. The highway was back to its normal, muddy self on our return trip but no snow, thank goodness.
Betsy had survived her first long trip and passed with flying colors.
Make your car look like new. - No need for elbow grease.
To name or not to name that is the question. - What's your answer
I realize that I get a bit attached to my cars and tend to talk to them, pat them and pamper them as though they can hear me and are alive. I encourage them, praise them and sometimes plead with them, depending on the circumstances.
I am wondering if you do the same or ... am I weird.
Am I weird or do you name your car and also talk to your car?
I have been known to name my cars and also on occasion talked to it.
Just published ..
A harrowing experience for my Betsy .. and me! - This story involves one of these monster trucks and hauler.
Betsy proved to be a good little car for me with few mechanical problems. Her one difficulty was: she had trouble holding on to her brake fluid. This wasn't a very serious problem ... I just carried a bit of brake fluid with me, checked under the hood often and added the fluid when needed.
One day mum asked me to travel a distance of about 30 miles to bring a friend of hers to a special meeting and off I went with my little chug, chug, Betsy. Well, it is pretty flat country around Kamloops but this trip took me up a long hill and over a few shorter hills on a winding road.
Arriving at Lorna's (not her real name), I checked the brake fluid while waiting a short time for her to come out of the house. It was fine. I noted subconciously that the trip hadn't seemed to have reduced the level of the fluid very much. When we arrived back in Kamloops, at her meeting place, I checked the fluid again and added a bit for the return trip.
About 3 hours later Lorna got into my Betsy for a ride back to her home. It was a lovely day for a drive. Summer as only Kamloops produces. Warm, but not too hot.
It seemed everyone was out driving and I wondered, "Where is everyone going? Maybe they are going to see the big construction site that is the talk of the town." Huge earth movers were leveling an area on top of the "Big Hill" (over one mile long) on Highway #1, to make way for more motels and a new shopping center.
The drive to Lorna's was uneventful and we talked, listened to the radio and I remember singing "Blue Suede Shoes" along with a newly discovered singer, Elvis Presley. Ahh, life was good!
After saying goodbye to Lorna I hurried on my way back, to reach home before dinner time. Everything was fine until I reached the top of the Big Hill. I applied my brakes to allow a driver to pull in front of me from a side road. Betsy didn't respond right away but then braked the slight amount needed.
I must tell you, this is a steep, steep, hill and brakes are certainly a necessity. I had traveled this road many times and never had any trouble with my brakes. This time though, as I pushed on the pedal to brake .. nothing happened. I repeat, NOTHING HAPPENED! I quickly assessed the situation. The road ahead seemed clear. But, "Oh! No!" There was a huge Euclid Rock Truck and Belly Dump Hauler with heavy tires taller than my Betsy, just beginning to cross the road - about one block in front of me. The driver was using due caution and was going very slow. I laid on my horn hoping to draw his attention to my emergency. I just knew that he wasn't going to be out of my way by the time I got there! I was really scared! Betsy was going faster and faster, plumeting down the road toward the big truck. I could see that we would clear the truck but I felt for sure that we'd plow into the trailer!
Now, a strange thing happened, it was quite a surreal experience, like watching a movie scene in slow motion. I was no longer afraid. I didn't even hear the horn I was blasting! Everything was silent and calm as could be.
Well, obviously, we missed hitting him as I am here to write about it. I estimate that we had about 2 inches to spare. I glided to a stop at the bottom of the hill and sat there for a long time.
Needless to say, I got Betsy repaired so that would never happen again.
Just like this one!!! - Yikes!
My Austin Mini - Named Betsy
Could one of these mini cars on display be my Betsy?
1. The "miep miep" car
2. The race car
3. The nail car
4. The de-seamed classic
5. Mr. Bean's car (yes, really!)
First Car - Do you remember it?
I think that most people remember their first car, either fondly or otherwise.
Do you remember your first car? Please tell me what it was in the comments.
Easy as one, two, three
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Was your first car a Ford - Mustang, Vauxall, Porche, Lamborguinii, red Chevy truck or a little beauty like mine. I'll be pleased if you'll leave me a comment.