Model A Stories

Henry’s Lady

The phrase “Henry Ford’s Lady” is a reference to the Model A, much more a modern automobile than the Model T which originated in the horseless carriage days.

Bob’s first Model A

I bought my first Model A at the age of 19 in the spring of 1964. It was a dud. Bought it from Tom Case for $150. He had a huge collection of A’s in sprawling sheds behind his house in Bend, Oregon. My first
A was a 1931 steel top pickup with Dodge rear fenders. It smoked and had cracked front fenders and ugly white peeling paint. Tom agreed to help me tow this thing across town to my parent’s place.

My dad came home from work, saw the truck and asked, “Where did that thing come from?” I replied that I bought it. He blew his stack! I got down on my knees and begged him to let me keep it, swearing
it would not be a problem. Reluctantly my dad said o.k. but if it became a mess, it would go. I put it in our detached garage and dismantled it immediately. I worked from 7am to 11pm every day until I was broke. It took three weeks to restore it and get it running, smoke and all. Dad was beginning to warm up. We drove each of our Model A’s to work together. I to a job at a box factory and he to Brooks Scanlon saw mill.

In June, I accepted a seasonal job to spend a second summer on a BD (brush disposal) crew for the Crescent District in Deschutes National Forest, about 50 miles south of Bend. There I met “Alabama”, the Crescent Lake Fire Guard who had a 1929 roadster pickup. We arranged to meet on a Saturday so
he could take me on a tour of old 1930’s logging camps around the district. Using my truck we
embarked early in the morning for the all-day outing seeing many abandon model A’s.

During the day Alabama began to admire my steel top. He thought all it needed was a ring job. Would
be ideal in the winter snow in LaPine where he taught school, rather than a roadster. Right on the spot I offered to trade Model A’s and to my surprise he accepted with me keeping my pickup bed with tailgate. We waited until his wife was a sleep, unbolted the beds, swapped and re-installed them. Meanwhile it was dark and getting cold so he loaned me a sheep skin coat and ten gallon hat. He started my new treasure then advised me to put the ears together. I took off and it ran like a goat. By midnight I was back to my Forest Service station at Del Camp. Next day I surveyed my new acquisition. It was home- made from a touring car sawed off behind the front seat bucket. Guess what? It had identical Dodge rear fenders. But I didn’t care, I loved it.

I drove that little truck as my only car from ’64 until ‘73, nine years. It was cheap to maintain and
reliable on campus at the University of Oregon in Eugene and with numerous trips over the Santiam Pass
to my family home in Bend plus eight summers working in fire control at the Deschutes National Forest. A college classmate going through hard times called me twenty years after finishing college and asked “Do you still have that old truck?” I replied “It is about 30 feet from here.” She said she was so relieved that something in her past world had not changed.

One thought on “Model A Stories”

  1. Use the “Reply” function to add a story

    Let me know if you want to write your own self-contained stories — all you need to do is to email them to me or paste them into the Contact Us comment form. I will create a separate page for each independent story.

    Thanks, Archie

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