Thursday, July 05, 2012

A bump along the parade route

My dad, who was a Chariton High School freshman during the year the museum's 1929 Model A Ford was new, used to talk about trials and tribulations involved in dealing with cars of that era. Gravity-feed fuel was one I remember.

Start up the Wolf Creek hill (in a Model T, I think) with too little gas in the tank, for example, and the vehicle would just stop half way up. That problem was resolved by coasting backwards down the hill, starting her up, turning her around and backing up the hill.

Although that wasn't the problem Wednesday, Jerry P. and I did get a taste of the good old days when the old A conked out about half way through the big 4th of July parade. It was a wonderful parade. The extreme heat didn't discourage attendance. We provided a little extra entertainment. That's good, I guess.

The Model A was fifth in line, just behind the nursing home down in front of Sacred Heart Church, with the rest of the entries stretching for blocks to the north. New magnetic signs arrived just in time (the guy who made them likes to push deadlines). Jerry attached them. We admired them --- and Al Pearson's two-seater Model A just behind.

My pathernal grandparents had a Model A just like the two-seater, complete with red wheels and rumble seat, but the spare tire occupied a recess in one of the front fenders and it looked a little sportier. I didn't know, until Al told me, that Model As didn't come from the factory this way. Henry (Ford) manufactured just the basics, Al said. Dealers and others then adapted them to fit their markets if they wished to do so.

And then we were off down North Main toward the square. Past the Vision II Theater, where the sidewalk was lined, and one of the coolest service stations in the south of Iowa.

The left turn onto Braden went well. Kids were darting in and out to pick up tossed candy, avoiding all potential hazards. The adult here, however --- part of a group marching behind the nursing home covertable (a vintage T-Bird owned by Jerry and driven by Mrs. J) --- for some reason became fixated on a sweet in the middle of the street and could have gotten herself rear-ended had the driver not known what he was doing. You just never know what grownups are going to do in situations like this.

The right turn onto North Grand went well and we were proceeding south at a stately pace (above) until we got to about here (below) and the old girl up and died. She'd start, then die again, although the crowd was very supportive. Finally, Al and others rallied round and pushed us off the southeast corner of the square and out of the way.

The Model A started and ran long enough after that to reach a safe parking place, Jerry started to make arrangements to get it out of there and I began the long march back to the Freight House, where I'd parked. While I was gone,  Mrs. J. pulled up in the convertable to take Jerry home for his big pickup and a tow rope and insult was added to injury. Left to idle a little too long, the T-Bird overheated and spewed. Vehicularly, it was not a good day.

Jerry felt really bad about this --- although none of it was his fault. The heat --- about 100 in the shade --- was a big factor I'm guessing. The Model A and the T-Bird went to the vehicular emergency room for treatment and I haven't heard the report. She wasn't overheating and had plenty of gas. Vapor lock? A plugged screen in the fuel line? We'll find out.

Anyhow, I enjoyed the abbreviated ride and am looking forward to September and the homecoming parade. All things being equal, we'll try it again. Maybe it'll be a little cooler by then.

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