Rev. Edgar F. Wheeler: 47 Wheels

When I was born on October 28, 1920, the automobile had begun to be owned by many families, not just the rich and famous. My parents first owned a Maxwell and later a 1919 Chevrolet. From that they moved up to a 1923 of the same make. Those were open cars, called “touring cars,” and later “phaetons.” In 1928 or 19029, Dad bought our first car with a closed body: a 1926 Chevrolet two door sedan.

Around the mid-Thirties, Dad bought a 1929 Model A Ford. It was in a junk yard, having been damaged in a collision. With his usual make-do spirit, he bought a two door sedan body and, with the help of a friend, replaced the open body with the sedan. That was our family’s first experience with a rather nimble car with an all-steel body. After much family use, it was sold to brother Charles. In turn, he sold it to me after my first semester in college at Wheaton, Illinois.

I made considerable improvement in the Model A for appearance and comfort, including a heater and some body insulation. It was my transportation to Milton College in Wisconsin in 1941. Then I drove it to West Virginia to Salem College, where I completed college courses.

The summer after my second year at Salem in 1943, Dad located a 1936 Ford V-8 sedan (two-door). I was working at home for the summer and bought the car from the original owner, a vet in Winchester. It was a pretty car , tan with red wheels, built-in trunk and rear-mounted spare wheel with metal full cover. I sold the Model A to a neighbor, Mert Crosswhite. He used it up on the farm, and finally abandoned it in his pasture.

Back to the 1936 Ford. I proudly drove it back to Salem. My very best memories of it are the courting days with Xenia Lee. We started our honeymoon trip on a Greyhound bus. Then, Xenia Lee’s mom and dad drove the car out to Kansas, where we met. We all traveled together to Texas to visit Xenia Lee’s brother, Bond, who was stationed at Fort Hood and back to West Virginia. That car came to a sad end. A fire burned up the wiring, and it never ran right after a mechanic attempted to repair it. It was hard to part with.

While serving a summer pastorate in DeRuyter, we bought a 1937 Ford tudor sedan. It had been pieced together in a junk yard. It served us quite well for a couple of years, ugly as it was.

When my brother, Bob, returned from service in Iwo Jimo to Salem College, he also had a 1937 Ford. It was much better than ours. Bob and I got the “fever” and traded our 1937’s on a 1941 Ford. After he returned to Kansas, I bought out his share. We drove the car for a year or so. It
was a very comfortable car. I don’t remember why we sold it, or to whom. We then bought a beautiful, low mileage 1934 Dodge sedan at an estate sale. We drove it many miles in West Virginia, New Jersey, then down to Hammond, Louisiana, where I attended seminary in New Orleans and preached in Hammond. After a collision with a cow in an open range area, I repaired it and later sold it to the Coalwell family, who drove it to California.

We decided to economize and have no car, but soon found that it was not too practical with three children. I bought a 1940 Chevrolet 4-door sedan, had it repainted, and got good use out of it, although it was not an exceptionally good car.

This was followed by a 1950 Chevrolet in Alabama where we were in the pastorate at Paint Rock. It was a good car over all, with low mileage. We sold it when we went to DeRuyter, New York, again in the pastorate. Very briefly we had a cute little Nash Rambler, which we got in trade for a Studebaker pickup truck.

We got word of a 1950 Ford sedan with 9,000 miles, traded on a new Chevrolet at the local dealer. We bought it, and it was a very good car. It served until we traded it on a 1955 Ford Ranch Wagon. Our family had outgrown the sedan.

During our eighteen-year pastorate at Ashaway, Rhode Island, we bought a new 1964 Ford six-cylinder station wagon. It was nice, but disappointing in power. Finally, I sold it and bought a 1976 Plymouth station wagon, which was exceptionally good.

Retiring and returning to West Virginia to take care of Xenia Lee’s parents, we sold the Plymouth to Ruth and Walt. I bi-passed a couple of Ford Fairmont station wagons prior to getting a Tempo and a 1966 Plymouth Valiant. I also had a 1985 Escort when I supplied as pastor at the Lost Creek, West Virginia church. I enjoyed it for personal use. Then I bought a 1991 Ford Tempo sedan, our best car to date. After it reached high mileage, we traded it for a 1996 Buick Century. We moved up in comfort, important because its comfortable ride was an aid to Xenia Lee with her back and hip problems.

I guess I fit into the American craze for cars. In a way it was an extravagance. However, I cared well for those cars and never had to have a major repair done. Now, in my eighty’s, I woiuld like to get away from auto ownership with insurance costs. However, nowadays a care is not just a luxury, but almost a necessity. I do not expect to buy another car. Of all the cars I have owned, my favorites were the Model A, the 1936 Ford, the Plymouth, the Tempo and the Buick.

Next Chapter: 48 Affection For A Car – About That 1936 Ford

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