Dec 10, 2010

Great Moments in Automotive History

The same 1932 Plymouth about 40 years later!
In August 1965, I drove my 1932 Plymouth coupe from New London, Connecticut, to Norman, Oklahoma, to report to my new duty station.  I had been given orders to report to the Naval ROTC unit at the University of Oklahoma.  To make the trip even more interesting, I had to go by way of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I attended a two-week-long training session at Marquette University.

I decided to stay on secondary roads as much as possible, partly because the little Plymouth could only sustain about 55 miles per hour comfortably, and partly because I wanted to experience the old Route 66 as it would have been experienced in the 1930's.  Some people accuse me of being a nostalgia buff.

On a hot August afternoon, I cruised into Claremore, Oklahoma, in need of gas.  After passing a sign that informed me that I had arrived in Claremore, the birthplace of Will Rogers, I pulled into a Gulf station.  An elderly gentleman came out into the hot sun and asked if I wanted a fill-up.  I told him I did and asked him to check the oil and water as well.  This was, after all, a time of full-service filling stations. 

As the man was filling the gas tank, he noticed the New York license plates on my car.  "Did you drive this car all the way from New York?" he asked.  I told him that I had actually started in Connecticut, driven to New York, then to Milwaukee, and was now on my way to Norman.  He looked at me in disbelief.

"This is your day to get a free tank of gas," he said.  I looked at him curiously.  "Any damn fool that would drive a car this old on a trip that long gets a free tank of gas!" was his response.  Then he proceeded to check the oil and water.  And he really wouldn't take payment for the gas!
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