A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my grandfather’s purchase of his first car, a brand-new 1949 Ford Fordor sedan.
I’m gonna duck back to that for a couple more seconds, to share another memento that shows what the big day meant to my grandpa.
My dad was kind enough to scan this in from the family photo scrapbook my grandfather was keeping in the late ’40s.
The treatment given to the arrival of the new car was “bigger than anything else save for the arrival of Elaine and me,” my dad says.
(Regular readers here will recognize that my grandpa pulled out the explosion motif only for big occasions. He must truly have seen this as a major addition to the family. Did people in other countries get so excited about their cars, or was it just an American thing?)
It’s probably a trick of perspective, but the Fordor — touted in its own catalog as “a living room on wheels” and “a big car” — really doesn’t look that big to me, especially in the first of the two pictures.
I’m not going to go so far as to look up comparative wheelbase lengths, but the Fordor to my eyes looks almost … midsize. Maybe it’s a function of the car’s clean design. Or maybe you just had to be there.
All I know is, other cars that showed up in the Hope Street driveway over the years looked a whole lot bigger than that one.
Which leads into another Hope Street observation my dad made: You’ll notice the driveway in the 1949 pictures is pure grass, because no car had troubled it for any length of time.
When my dad got his first car — circa summer 1963, shown above — the back part of the driveway at Hope Street had been worn down to ruts. (The front section closest to the house and street was paved, but the back half never was.)
One last family note: You’ll see (especially if WordPress allows the photo to be expanded) that the first license plate number Connecticut bestowed on my grandpa was JR-932.
My grandpa saved all his license plates over the years, as well as the little punched-out metal tags that were placed on them as yearly registration markers. And when his grandson came along with an interest in cars and history, they got passed down.
(I’m not sure this plate was actually used in 1956; I vaguely recall mixing and matching the metal tags off my grandpa’s old plates once when I was a kid.)
I enjoy the thought of my grandfather looking through a parking lot — outside work, or at his kids’ school, or at the commuter rail station — and his eyes lighting on JR 932, and his simultaneously feeling a small swell of pride and the comfortable recognition of, yup, that’s mine.