Monday, January 9, 2017

Ask a man who owns one

Time seems to pass slowly on the farm, especially when you are waiting for something or someone to arrive. We girls waited for the mailman hoping that the toy ordered from the cereal box would arrive. For Willard and Ruth, they waited for one of the biggest purchases they would make, and it did not come in the mailbox. It was the end of WWII and factories were gearing up again for better years to come so sometimes you had to wait.
 
I do not know how Mom and Dad did it. Back then starting cost was $2274. A fortune to these farmers. The price of a new Packard 8 four-door sedan. Their family was growing with the addition of baby girl Loxley. I am not sure how big they thought I would grow to, but this car had enough room for several species of animals that took a ride on an ark.  Plus without seat belts, we could comfortably seat 6-7 people.

Packard brothers, James Ward and William Doud, ran Packard Electric Company in Warren, Ohio, where they manufactured wire and electrical equipment. Evidently, James owned a Winton and was extremely dissatisfied with it. So in 1899 the brothers began manufacturing the Packard. In the beginning, it was a car only the wealthy could own. A car that represented prestige and status. After WWII, the need arose for mid-priced cars. So owning a Packard was indeed a big deal.

Sometimes the media called the Packard "bathtub" or "pregnant elephant". Indeed it was a beast of a car. I remember sitting in the backseat in all my shortness unable to see out the windows. Since Mom and Dad loved to go visiting on Sundays, their youngest was often found sleeping in the back window. It was a lovely car. The girls wrestled in the backseat, played on the floor and sang at the top of their lungs. We had that old car for about twelve years.

June and I often talk about that old Packard. It was a mammoth. In retrospect I believe that Dad loved it for the sheer mass of it. He loved to drive trucks and this car could easily have been in competition with one. Also the graceful swan hood ornament might have reminded Dad of the Hollinger family crest bearing a couple of the long-necked beauties.

Confession: That old Packard was one of my favorite cars. Two of the Loxley girls could recline in the backseat after packing their little sis in the back window well. I can still feel the softness of the seats and the heat of a summer day. The car came to us after the farmer had lost his cattle herd. A time when a little girl was no longer bedridden. The one time when my parents decided to splurge on themselves. A rare event indeed.

Packard was the best-selling car during those years of 1948-49. The automobile catch phrase was repeated by kids and adults alike. "Ask the man who owns one." Ah, just as a kid who rode in one.

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