Sep 28, 2008


My father was no fool.  When I turned 16, he knew I wanted a car in the worst way.  My brother and I had worked in a service station for several years and had rebuilt several engines.  My dad knew I was a gearhead and wanted a car.  He offered me a deal.  I could get any car I wanted and he would pay for half of it.  I would have to pay for insurance, gas, and upkeep.  Pretty simple terms.

He knew that I had saved up some money from my newspaper route, working in the gas station, mowing lawns and washing windows, but he also knew I'd find the absolute best deal to be had in a car, knowing that I was still on the hook for insurance and gas.  I started searching for the "right" car.  It didn't take long.

A friend of the family was Judge LeRoy (Roy) Walbridge of Saratoga County, north of my home county of Schenectady.  Roy's Aunt Margaret had a 1936 DeSoto 4-door sedan with 15,682 miles on it.  This was in 1956.  The car had averaged a little over 500 miles per year!  Aunt Margaret was in her 90's and had to relinquish her driver's license.  I was the beneficiary.  I negotiated a price of $100.00.  My brother had to drive the car home from Saratoga since I didn't have my license yet.  And my father was only out $50.00.

For the next couple of months I waxed the car every weekend and drove it up and down our driveway.  It's a wonder I didn't destroy the clutch.  I named the car Alice after my high school history teacher, Alice Holmes.  The car wasn't terribly attractive, was old, kind of dumpy -- well, you get the picture.

I commuted to my high school for the next two years and then drove the car all through college.  When I sold it (her?), her odometer showed over 120,000 miles.  Now that's economical transportation!

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