“Ask The Man Who Owns One!”

“Ask The Man Who Owns One,” was the slogan for the Packard MotorPackard cars 3 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.

1959 Pink Cadillac

1959 Pink Cadillac

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,

This is what the Packard looked like.

This is what my grandfather’s  Packard looked like, but it was black.

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 Packard car 10few 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

This incredible act drew more people than any other.

This incredible act drew more people than any other.

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

Coming out of the pool after a jump.

Coming out of the pool after a jump.

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

The Steel Pier at Atlantic City.

The Steel Pier at Atlantic City.

like we’ll never again see  a horse jump from the Steel Pier, either.

I’m hoping to hear your comments on this ShirlandYou post. Just click on the headline above, scroll down to the bottom of the column and a form will be there on which you may write your comments.

14 thoughts on ““Ask The Man Who Owns One!”

  1. We had one for a while when I was in elementary school. It must have been a model from the 40’s. I was very disappointed when my dad sold it and we got another car.

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    • Obviously, Linda, you appreciated the bigness and might of the great Packard. I have a feeling your dad did, too. He had an interest in cars all his life. It was good hearing from a Sweet Valley (Broadway, Pa) girl. Hope you’ll write again.

      ,

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  2. Well I can’t very well pass up a story about cars. Another interesting story linking family and history. I would guess everyone can remember their first car. Mine was a ’60 Ford and I saved up the $400 to buy it by mowing lawns and a paper route. Sure made me appreciate and take good care of something I had to work so long and hard for. Something that may be lacking in our 16 year old’s today. The car took me to work and also dates with Nita. Gas was around 30 cents and I use to stop at our local gas station and ask Stanley to put in a dollars worth so I could cruise for the evening. He would wash the windshield and check the engine oil for no additional charge. Our town did not have a high diving horse but I sure did have fun in that ’60 Ford.

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    • Hi Ray: Your comments brought a smile to my face. How well I remember how we often we had one dollar’s worth of gas put in our car. It would only be a drop today. I remember what a shock it was when there was that change in service at the gas stations. No one to wash, your windows, check the oil, and sometime even the air in the tires. Changes, they keep coming. I look forward to your next comment. -Shirl

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  3. Cars certainly have changed, and so have the prices on them. My son loves the old muscle cars; and I think that he would have been happy to be born in the 1960’sor 70’s. Of course, the packard that you mentioned is much older than that. It seems that the price of gas has also kept up with the increasing price of cars. I remember when gas was less than .99 cents a gallon!! If only the minimum wage/income was increased to keep up with the cost of living. Thinking of the cars that one has owned in the past, can certainly take you back to a time and a place. With that thought in mind, I can say that there are at least a few cars from the past, that I would rather not think about. I suppose that my favorite car was the 1987 red mustang convertible that I was driving, when I met my husband. Does Burl still have the old car that he had (with a rumble seat in the back of it)? As I recall, he had one at one time. Thank you for another interesting blog. 🙂

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    • Hi Colleen: It must be that your red Mustang was a good car. Do you ever wish you still had it? Yes, my husband has a 1931 Model A Ford, with a rumble seat. It still runs and he gets it out every summer. My dad had many cars in his life time of 90 years and he could name every one of them and what he paid for them. As always, I liked your comments. Thanks.

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  4. My sister-in-law’s father was president of the Federal Barge Lines in the 1950s. He had a 1950ish Packard. What luxury.

    I wonder how many young readers can visualize what a car jump seat was. I remember seeing them in a Pearce Arrow and a Rolls Royce but never rode in one. I wondered about the etymology of the term “jump seat” but couldn’t find anything authoritative on the web. I did see that in the mid 1800s they were a rear-facing fold down seat on the back of a carriage. Perhaps when the seat was folded down the carriage passenger had to “jump up” to get in the seat.

    At http://oregonstate.edu/cla/polisci/faculty-research/sahr/gasoline.pdf they show that gas prices, when adjusted for inflation, have not gone up as much as we might think. Adjusted for 2009 economics, gas in 1950 was about $2.20 a gallon in 2009 it was $2.52 a gallon.

    My first car was 1950 Buick two-door fastback that my brother gave me in 1960. I repainted it with lacquer paint and thoroughly enjoyed it. I drove it on a 40-mile round trip, on mostly highways, with my date (now my wife) when I was 20. I parked it in her parents driveway. When her Dad got home he asked what happened to my car. When I went out I was alarmed to see the front right bumper was about 5 inches off the ground and the right wheel was tilted askew. The root cause was a fracture in the upper A frame that supports the wheel. Had that fracture occurred at highway speeds we may not have survived.

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    • Good comments, Wade. I like your figuring on gas prices. Maybe we should all stop complaining. Rather scary to hear of your car’s A frame fracturing. Glad it happened at home or we may not have two very enjoyable friends with us, you and Joan. 🙂 I’ve never seen a jump seat, but I like your reasoning on how it probably worked. Thanks for writing.

      On Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 11:37 AM, shirlandyou

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  5. My 1st car was a 1961 Buick LeSabre…dad sold it to a young newly married couple for $35…dad always had a generous heart…I then bought my 1st car with my own money…a Plymouth Arrow 5 speed stick for $3800…gas was only 22 cents a gal…all us kids were only a year apart so our driveway looked like a parking lot. People would not stop in to visit because they thought we had company. George taught me how to drive a stick in his MG. And about the Steel Pier…my husband spent many a day there watching the horse and lady jump into the pool. He used to tell me about that years ago…it left a lasting impression on him also. I love hearing about your family…and they had GREAT cars.

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    • Hi Karen: It’s time to remember what our first car was, yours sounded very impressive. Always love hearing about your dad and his generosity.It’s true that seeing the horse jump at the Steel Pier leaves a person with memories they never forget and so it is with your husband. It must be you missed seeing it and so did I. Thanks for writing, Karen.

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  6. Such an interesting post! I loved hearing about my great grandfathers and their fancy cars! I’d love to hear more about the Sweet Valley fire too. I didn’t know about that. And all about the barber shop. I’m so glad you are writing down your memories. Just precious to me!

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    • We parents seem to have a way of thinking that our children know all about our families. That’s not true. Will tell you about the fire, it was such that the volunteer fire company was formed. Thanks for writing, you are precious to us.

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  7. Well, I am late reading this, but the 19 cents a gallon took me back to the early 60’s when Dad and I had a Texaco service station in Jermyn, PA. As you know Dad did many different things over the years to help keep the family while pastoring rural churches. I was pastor of a country church at the time as well. Any how in the late 50’s and early 60’s there were what was called gas wars. Service stations would undercut each other on price that were in the same area. It’s a long explanation as to how this was done, but suffice it to say the lowest I remember was 18.9 for a gallon of gas. You could buy 5 gallons for a dollar without a problem. Today where we live we pay from 3.49 – 3.59 a gallon.

    I remember young people coming in one time on there way to the movies to get 60 cents worth of gas. One problem the one who was sitting in the back had the change in his pocket which had fallen out down in the crack between the back seat and the seat. They had to get out and pull the seat out to get the money to pay us. The rest only had enough money to get into the movies.

    Had a lot of interesting experiences in those days. Some funny and not so funny. I will share one more. One morning a lady pulled into get gas and as others have said we pumped gas, checked oil, washed windshields, headlights, etc. I had put the nozzle in the filler pipe and started pumping her gas when she discovered that we were 1 cent higher per gallon than at a station on the other end of town. Before I knew what was happening, she put the car in gear and drove off pulling the hose off the pump as the nozzle was yanked out of the filler pipe and my hand. Gas all over until I could get the pump shut off. When she got to the other station the man who owned it asked why her gas cap was gone and the filler pipe bent. She told him she had discovered that the Brandon’s gas was a penny higher and she drove off. Well, long story short he wouldn’t sell her any gas and told her she better come back and pay for the damages before she got into trouble and her husband found out about it. Everybody knows everybody’s business in small towns. Such were those days, but they were good days.

    By the way, I too would be interested in the Sweet Valley fire. I don’t ever remember Dad mentioning it. Sorry for the long epistle, but this blog brought back memories.

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    • Hi Emerson: What great stories you have to tell. I remember your dad well. He was a man of many talents and could do anything and everything. I appreciate the sacrifices made by your dad and his family, (and your family, today) in order to stay in the ministry. In the future, I plan to say more about the Sweet Valley fire. It was good hearing from you and I hope you’ll write again.

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