Nov 21, 2016

The Pig...

A properly restored 1929 Ford Station Wagon
While I was still in High School, I often worked on vintage cars to make a little extra spending money.  One day I received a call from a lady named Sue Henyon, a lady who lived in Vischer Ferry, New York.  She lived on a farm called "Windways" with her colleague, Midge Hayden (one of the three adopted grandchildren of the electrical genius, Charles Steinmetz, but that's a story for another time).  Ms. Henyon advised me that she had a 1929 Model "A" Ford station wagon.  She had forgotten to drain the water from the radiator and engine, and the cylinder head had cracked during a hard freeze.  Did I have a replacement cylinder head and might I be able to repair her car?  I agreed to bring a replacement head out to her place on a Saturday morning and fix the car.

As I was working on the car, I couldn't help noticing that the original fabric-wrapped wiring was very tattered and in dire need of replacement.  The car was used to haul hay and was stored in a very old wooden barn full of hay.  A fire would have been disastrous.  I recommended to Ms. Henyon that she have me order a new wiring harness and that I would rewire the car on another weekend.  I did that, along with a few other minor maintenance items -- adjusting the steering box, repairing the exhaust system, replacing a couple of tires, and doing a general tuneup on the car.  After a few of these weekend service visits, Ms. Henyon asked me one day if I would be interested in buying the car.  She was in the process of acquiring another vehicle to haul hay.

At first I was shocked.  I told her I was unable to pay her what the car was worth.  At that time a complete, restorable Model A Station Wagon was worth about $500.00.  The very most I could even consider would be $125.00.  I was a freshman at the University of Rochester now, and I told Ms. Henyon that the best I could do would be to pay her $25.00 at the conclusion of my summer Midshipman cruise and then $10.00 per month for the next ten months.  She said that she had been offered $500.00 by more than one hot rodder, but she wanted me to have the car.  The deal was done.

She had owned the car for many years.  She had a son who had fought in World War II, and she told me that he had once sent her a poem that he had written about the car, which they called "The Pig."  This term had come from the fact that when these station wagons were first introduced, many farmers called them "Pig Wagons."  Her son's poem went something like this:  "While tramping through the Philippines, I saw MacArthur's limousine, And though 'twas nearly twice as big, 'Twas not as charming as "The Pig.""

I became the proud owner of the car in the summer of 1959.  My friend Herb Swartfiguer helped me find a storage facility for $5.00 per month.  In the fall of 1967, I moved the car to Norman, Oklahoma, with the intent of restoring it after I finished school.  This picture was taken at that time by my co-conspirator, Jim Kahrs.

Yours truly, a few pounds lighter, as we set out for Oklahoma
with "The Pig" on a single axle trailer!
I stored the car in Norman until 1973, at which time I received a call from Mr. Charles LeMaitre, of Hardwick, Massachusetts.  He had somehow become aware of my car and wanted to purchase it for restoration.  He offered me $2,500 for the car, far more than it was worth at the time.  I thought about it for several days.  I finally decided to sell the car.  He sent a driver and truck to pick it up.  My old roommate, Forrest Frueh, met the driver and executed the final sale.

Several years later, I was working in the Boston area.  I contacted Mr. LeMaitre and got to visit the restored car.  It was spectacular!  I had made the right choice.  It was a car that deserved a high-point restoration, and it had been done properly.

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