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From Depression to War, a Young Man's Transportation

The news says that Jimmy Dean, "Sausage King" has recently died. I'm sorry to hear it. I've always felt a connection to him, as well as Jimmy Dean, the movie actor. My Dad was known as Jimmy Dean, too. In fact, we used to joke that those other Jimmy Deans were impostors, as my father was the "Original Jimmy Dean". He was certainly older then they, having been born in 1915.

In my interview with Dad regarding automobiles in his life, I was surprised when he told me he got his first car at the age of fifteen in 1930.

He called it a Jalopy. With the help of his friends he combined parts of different junked cars in order to create one vehicle. Not too many kids can do that today. The cars that he used to do this were a '27 Ford Tudor, a '27 Ford Roadster, and a '24 Ford Coupe.

I am sorry now that I did not ask him some essential questions, but I didn't wish to interrupt his train of thought and the enjoyment he was having telling me about his car history.

I wish I had asked him if he was required to register his jalopy car as we would do today, and what model he claimed it to be. Certainly not a Ford Jalopy!

Photo on right is a 1933 Studebaker. 

His next car was purchased by my grandfather, Frank Dean the following year. It was a 1924 Dodge Coupe, which he returned to dealer as unsatisfactory. Even with a six year old used car back then, you could return your automobile! If only we could do that with the lemons we buy today! *Sigh*

From 1932 to 33 when Dad was 18, he said he had no car except a junked Studebaker President, which he worked on but never got running as High School was much more important to him. (Kudos, Dad!) In 1934, when he was 19, his father bought a 1932 Ford Sedan V-8 which was also returned to the dealer.

The following year Dad said he bought a '29 Chevrolet Tudor which was totally in his own name, truly a sign of his independence and first steps into being an adult. It lasted until 1939 when the car ended it's days with a broken rear axle. This occurred on Dad and Mom's honeymoon. They were headed to Niagara Falls from Port Allegany, Pennsylvania, a trip of about 160 miles. They made it as far as Olean, NY (30 mi.) and had to call my grandfather to come and retrieve them the next day after watching a movie and staying overnight at the Olean hotel. To hear Mom and Dad tell the story, it was quite an adventure.

The year my older brother was born, 1939, Dad bought a seven year old Ford Tudor V-8. Then in 1941 he bought a Ford V-60 HP right around the time Pearl Harbor was bombed.

"Pretty soon," Dad said, "it needed new tires. Because rubber was being rationed for the war, you couldn’t get tires anywhere unless you were working in the Defense Industry. I wasn't qualified at the time, so he returned the car to the dealer in and we went without  a car for a while.

In the winter of 1942 Dad moved to Niagara Falls for work in the defense industry at Bel Aircraft Corporation.  He bought a ’39 Studebaker, Champion for my mother, who traveled up from Port Allegany in the Studebaker to visit on weekends. Dad got a mid thirties Chevy for himself that he drove back and forth to work.

During the war years one could not buy a new car because of shortages. At the end of the war in 1945 one could only buy what was called a "new car" which had actually been manufactured in 1941.

Note: I took all pictures at the National Auto Museum in Reno, Nevada, USA, except the first one, a Roadster. The 1935 Chevy was taken by my older brother. I removed color to make them look like vintage photographs.

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