After working in the coal mines of Pennsylvania through the late 1920s and as an elevator operator in Manhattan’s Standard Oil Building during the 30s ( somewhere between the two jobs, I expect there was a moment of revelation), The California Boeing B-17 factory in the early 40s and finally settling down as custodian for a Synagog in Brooklyn for most of the 50s.
And never, through all that toil, did he ever own a car. The reality was that he didn’t know how to drive. But as sure as god made little green apples, when his boys grew up, they would go to school and learn to drive a car. His American dream.
Yet somehow, in Brooklyn of all places, he did learn to drive. And, damn the torpedos, his family would have a new car. My brother and I were ecstatic. ’53 was a hot year. The new Ford was a killer. That new turquoise Chevy was a chick magnet. And the Studebaker! Speed standing still.
When he arrived home in this thud of a car, my joy ballon burst and fragments of it can still be found on Coney Island Avenue. First, it had four doors. Any hopes of sleek were bashed by the clunky rear window. Second, it was a color green that didn’t exist in nature. And third, and probably the most serious flaw, it didn’t have a prominent flight sweep of chrome careening down the side panels. It was lifeless, dorky and very practical. A bottom of the line Dodge.
You see it pictured here on the cover of the ’53 brochure. Even the blue steaks of newness couldn’t enhance this cheese box. It even cast a shitty brown shadow.
One thing I did note. Most of the people who bought a new Dodge were men. In fact, they were all men. And most wore hats. Two of them were ad account execs, brandishing the new-age slogans. I love the guy sneaking a peek at the car’s rear.
It’s interesting that the chrome bumper and hub caps show a reflected desert scene with a tree-line on the horizon. Nice how the logos on the hub caps are perfectly horizontal. And the tires are absolutely round with no little flat spot where they hit the ground. How about those white-walls. And few of you will believe that the entire cover is hand-lettered. Little did they know that the 1952 graduating class of the New York High School of Industrial Art was about to hit Mad Ave.
As it turned out, it was the “goingest” car we ever owned. Made two trips across America with only one flat tire. Survived the rigorous dating requirements of two teenage sons. Tons of room. Extraordinary smooching vehicle.
Lovely? No. But the most faithful and trusted car-friend we ever had.