Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My Dad's Pink and White Ford

My fathers nickname was J.U. which was short for James Upton. He was always partial to Fords. His pride and joy was a 1959 Ford Galaxy 500 with all the bells and whistles and the color was Geranium and White.

This is a picture of the car except his was a 4 door hardtop. I figured you had to see the color.To my friends and I it was Pink and White.

When he brought it home, we all thought he had cracked up. It had dual spotlights, which were illegal in South Dakota, but he had a hidden switch that turned the right one on and if it didn’t work it was legal. He had it installed with a cow caller. For those of you that have not spent very much time on the range, a cow caller is used by ranchers to call the cows as it sounds like a cow. The cows are trained to do something, usually come and eat, when the cow caller sounds. My Dad did not have any cows except he bought one just after my Mother and he were married but then they didn’t make cow callers and you just rang a bell or hollered and the cows came. Shortly after getting the car, he ended up in a spot inspection roadblock launched by the Highway Patrol. He passed with flying colors except when the trooper walked in front of the car, yup you guessed it, he blew the cow caller at him. He received a very stern lecture and all sorts of threats because the cow caller was illegal. My Dad never forgave the trooper for being so thin skinned and lecturing him. This is a man that is the largest employer, except the federal govt., in town with about 200 men working for him and he is going around blowing a cow caller at the State Police. Go figure.

He never had a cow caller before but he had dual chrome air horns mounted on the fender of his other cars. At our High School football games, you could park a car right up on the front line if you were early enough. There was a cable you parked up to, then the running track and then the team benches. We always had his car on the front line. My Dad could sit in the car, or by the car, and blow the air horn for good plays or touchdowns. I was 7 or 8 and loved to sit in the car when he was blowing the horn. Once in a while he would even let me blow the horn. His cars were always work cars and they were always loaded with everything under the sun. He had a wooden box with hand holes, on the side, that was in every car. It held chains for his car, a towing chain, jumper cables, a brass carbon tetrachloride fire extinguisher with a handle coming out the back and flares. A shovel for killing rattlesnakes and a double bitted axe. The axe and shovel were really just in the trunk and not in the box. Sometimes for long periods of time the box would be in the back seat? In the glove compartments were rings and rings of keys. Keys to every padlock he ever owned and a key to every house he ever built. Even 10 or 15 years after he built a house, an owner would call him up and say they were locked out and could he help with a key? Of course he complied.

Rarely did I get to use my Dad’s car for dates but always my Mom’s 56 Chevy which was OK because it was a cool car. My friends and I had a triple date going on a Saturday afternoon with the Pink and White and had been to the lake swimming. On the way back to town I saw about 50 head of cows that belonged to Mr. Hoyle up on a hill and I got an idea. In order to be cool and clever I stopped the car and blew the cow caller at them. Apparently Mr. Hoyle was doing the same thing when he dropped off feed. Here come the cows, down off the hill, through a little stand of Cottonwoods and across the prairie to where my car was. We were all laughing hysterically at the cows and as I slowly drove the cows were still following until they got to the spot where the fence was down and they came through it. Now I am in trouble as here come the cows. Holy Cow, what do I do. As I look in the mirror I can see the cows coming down the road and I speed up only to see the cows do the same. Now they are running full out. Finally I put the Pink and White to the floor to escape but we’re on a gravel road and the big Police Interceptor engine has put me sideways on the road. Finally I got the car under control and we escaped. I didn’t go back on that road for a couple of months because I figured the cows would recognize me and probably turn me in.

One summer, when I was working out in the woods scaling logs, I got caught in a major storm complete with golf ball sized hail. The Pines weren’t offering much cover and besides lightning was hitting all around. I was running dead out trying to get back to our work camp, which was about a mile away, and as I came around a corner there sat my Dad in his Geranium and White 59 Ford, Galaxy 500, sitting out the storm. I was never so happy to see a 59 Ford. He had been driving in on some old logging roads to check out some timber.

After I left for the Navy, my Dad turned to buying a new Jeep Waggoner every couple of years. Obviously the Jeeps were much more practical for a man that spent a good amount of time in the timber, cruising timber sales and checking up on his crews but it was tough to get the man out of the Fords. He had bought a used 61 Ford, Highway Patrol Car for some reason or another but that had so many problems he went to Jeeps.

He found that taking the Jeep to the shop every 3 months or so was the way to handle jeeps as they had a lot of problems also and preventive auto care was the answer. He took such good care of his Jeeps that everyone in town wanted J.U.’s trade ins and he carried a card in his pocket with the name and phone number of everyone that wanted to be called when he traded. It was first come, first serve and when it was time he would go down the list until he found the 1st person that was ready to pay his price. He wasn’t greedy so it was always a good deal for someone. I’ll never forget when my brother Gary rolled one of the new Jeeps. He was coming back from a keg party with a full load of passengers and he was probably talking when he should have been watching but he took it over the edge of a fill on a gravel road. The Jeep rolled a couple of times but landed on its wheels so Gary put it in 4 wheel drive and climbed out of the cut to leave it in the driveway at home. Imagine my folk’s surprise when they came back the next day.

Gary-I wouldn't tell all your stories but they are better than mine. I was the nice one - remember.

1 comment:

Cookie..... said...

Enjoyed readin this story Mr. Ted...we had a Ford very similar...ceptin fer the "Pink" color....good story....Cookie