Friday, July 28, 2006

Riding Running Boards



When I was in high school very few of my classmates had their own cars. The war had started and you needed a ration card to get gasoline. Besides that, most of us were too poor to be able to buy a car. My job ushering at the playhouse paid 67 cents a night and even in those days, that wouldn’t finance a car. My folks had a 1933 Ford, but only an “A” card entitling the family to three gallons of gas a week. I couldn’t do a lot of joy riding on that. Under those conditions in summer, we thought our friend, Ted, was a looney when he said that he had gotten a job delivering the yellow page phone books door to door. Then we realized that he had managed to upgrade his mother’s gas card on the basis of the delivery job. He drove his mother to her job in the morning then had her car to use all day until time to pick her up.

His territory for the delivery was in a section called Short Hills. The name should be your clue that most houses were up or down steps from the road. It was also a well-to-do area and the houses were big, far apart and a long way from the road. But Ted had that all figured out (in true Tom Sawyer fashion). Every day he enticed several of his friends to help with the lure of riding on the running board, a feature of all cars in those days. You stood on the running board and hooked an arm around the pillar between the front and rear doors. It was more fun that riding in a rumble seat. Anyway, the upshot of all this was that Ted got to sit behind the wheel getting paid to play supervisor while we knocked ourselves running up and down hills carrying phone books that got awfully heavy before the end of the day. By then our main motivation was to empty the car of phone books so there would be room to ride sitting inside on the way home.

5 comments:

Marilyn said...

Ted was a genius. ;)

Keith Povall said...

A Ha, I've discovered another well written journal, so will become a regular and add you to my list of journals I read over at the Sturdy Soapbox http://sandalsandsocks.typepad.com

KP

Thyme said...

My dad had a car with running boards, (though not sure we called them that, being in the UK), but I was too tiny to do anything about it. A few years ago when I first got a computer (and graphics program) I put the tiny photo of the car into photoshop and enlarged it - lovely to see the old thing again, with me and my family beaming through the windows. Thanks for helping bring back a great memory.

DavidShag said...

Running boards! I couldn't believe it when they stopped putting them on cars. I was a tad bit too young to get many rides on them - and it was a lifelong wish to ride in a rumble seat (I never did). What we had to do for fun is ride standing on the back bumper of my friend's Rambler station wagon holding on to a rack on top of the car. Remember Izettas - those cars in the early '60s as wide as they were long, which had the door in the front, had 2 seats, and the steering wheel folded out with the door when you opened it? My friend had one with a top that opened and we actually used to double date - he and his girl in the seats, me and mine sitting on the roof with our legs thru the open roof and down beside the seats. Anyway, I am wondering if Ted rose to great success in life as a salesman? He had a great start...

Oestre-Bunny said...

what a beautiful car! your stories are brilliant, i love them