A trip to the store by Al Howlett

In 1945 the war had ended and men were returning from the services. Many things had been suspended but were starting up again. House building had started in the village and someone doing something was always an interest to my brother and myself. I was 13 and Jim 12 and we were always on the lookout for some event underway. This is before Television and electronic diversions that are so common today. So a house building falls right into something to check out.

On this day we arrived on site to see how the building was coming along . We knew the men who were doing the work so there was no problem volunteering to help. Back then everyone would assume responsibility for themselves and look after the other fellow as well. Of course this sort of thing is not allowed these days. Kids helping on a construction site? How ever that is how we learned back then the lessons on how to work and do it safely. 73 years later I can safely say that I am still here with all my parts intact and able to relate this story.

As I have said volunteering to help your friends was just something almost everyone did. The pay would come back to you in many ways. In this case the home builder had an ample supply of beer on hand for the helpers. Since us kids were to young for beer we were given some small change to go and get some cokes at the store. The general store was about 1/2 mile away over on the other side of the river. Well it seemed like a long way to go for a coke and miss the building action. So one of the men said take my car!

Wow did that ever put us up on our heels & toes. The fact that neither one of us had ever driven a car before was lost in the joy of the moment. Jim and I had spent a lot of time sitting in friends and neighbors cars like most small boys, dreaming of the day when we would get to drive our own cars. So we had the gear shifts all figured out or so we thought.

The car we were about to go joy riding in was a 1935 Ford coup one of those that had a rumble seat. So we eagerly climb in and start the flat head Ford V8 with a good deal of power for those days. Well knowing what gear to put it in and how to coordinate the spoon shaped throttle and clutch would test my ability to the limit.

Releasing the clutch pedal with the car in low gear while stamping on the gas produced two rear wheels digging a lot of gravel in the driveway. After a few feet my driving skill improved and I was able to get into 2nd gear. Not wishing to cause any more disturbance we crept slowly down the road in 2nd gear towards the river crossing bridge on the way to the store for the cokes.

On the way down towards the bridge it suddenly occurred that we might meet the law driving without a license and not old enough as well. Caution was required so we kept a sharp eye peeled on the road ahead. Jim blurted hey there is a car coming down the hill over on the other side of the village. I immediately pulled over onto the side of the road and shut off the engine. Shortly none other than the constable in his old Hudson came by and only justglanced at two boys playing car as he continued on his rounds.

Knowing that the law would not likely be back for some time we resumed the trip to the store. Got the refreshment and cautiously headed back to the house building site. The car owner greeted us saying you boys were sure in a hurry to get those cokes , but what took you so long?

The moral of this story!

Know what you are doing and keep an eye on the road ahead!

Al Howlett 2018