“Ask The Man Who Owns One,” was the slogan for the Packard Motor Company, manufacturers of the Packard automobile. You may not have any recollection of the Packard. They were big and luxurious. These days, cars are getting smaller. The last few years has brought us the Smart and Cooper cars, both extremely small. If you’ve lived through the 1950’s, or even if you didn’t, you’re aware of the cars from that era. They were big with fins, huge trunks, lots of chrome and fender skirts. The 1959 Pink Cadillac really turned eyes, and so did the Chevy during those opulent years.
We have to go back to the 1930’s, to find the Packard we’re talking about. It had distinguished lines, and nickel plated trim. It was considered a very elegant car. Packard advertisements said it stood out from the crowd and was “thrilling to drive and thrilling to own.” Maybe it was this hype that caught my grandfather’s eye. He, Herbert Britt, of Sweet Valley, Pa.. bought what we think was a 1936,
eight cylinder Packard, with jump seats, between the front and rear seats. Was that super eight easy on gas? Silly question, but then who was concerned about gas mileage when gas was 19 cents a gallon?
Herbert Hoover, who had finished a term as president of the United States a few years earlier, had a slogan that went like this: “A Chicken In Every Pot And A Car In Every Garage.” The management at the Packard Company asked, “Why not a Packard in every garage,” and so there was one of them in my grandfather’s garage. Another interesting aspect to my grandfather having a Packard was that he sold it to my husband’s grandfather, Albert Morris, of Sweet Valley. My husband was eight years old at the time. Everyone makes a trip after buying a car, and the Morris family began planning one which included my husband and his parents. Where did everyone sit? The eight year old sat in the jump seat, the rest crowded in. The car must have performed well, because it made it all the
way to Atlantic City and the Steel Pier. What my husband remembers about the trip was the horse diving into a pool of water off the Steel Pier, and a talking car displayed at the Ford or General Motors exhibits. Everyone having seen the diving horse has memories that will last a lifetime and so it is with my husband, Burl. With a pretty young woman on his back, a water loving
horse, with no fear of heights, would leap off a tower and into the pool below, a dive of about 40-60 feet. This act continued from the 1920’s to 1978. In 1993, Pier management tried to bring back the act but animal rights activists stopped it from happening. The Packard in this story cost about $1100 new. It was three or four years old when Burl’s grandfather bought it from my grandfather, but no one remembers what he paid for it. By the way, my grandfather bought a 1939 Packard to replace the one he sold to Burl’s grandfather. (It’s not as complicated as it sounds.) That Packard was burned in the Sweet Valley fire of 1943.( It was after that fire, that the Sweet Valley Volunteer Fire Company was formed.) He also lost his business, grocery store and barber shop.
I looked up what a restored car of this make and vintage would cost today and found one advertised for $35,000. Times have definitely changed! We’ll never see automobiles selling for $1100 again and looks
like we’ll never again see a horse jump from the Steel Pier, either.
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