Transportation: From Bicycles to Cars and Beyond

Today, February 1st, is my 100th Birthday and my old mind has wandered back to my childhood days. That happens to old people. If you live long enough, you’ll probably learn what I mean. So, come along with me to the late 1920s! Let’s take a look at life in early Frisco and some of the many modes of transportation I have experienced during my lifetime.

My dad was a barber – not very rich, and he did not own a car. He walked, rain or shine, the six blocks to and from his shop in “downtown” Frisco. As early as age five I loved to visit the barbershop. I rode my tricycle the six blocks, crossing several streets on the way. Dangerous you say? Not much, because the cars of that day, mostly Model T Fords, were so noisy you could hear them a block away. As I “tricycled” my way to the barbershop, I passed by, and sometimes took a short cut through, the Carpenter Brothers Ford dealership building. I entered the service department door and looked longingly at the cars, old and new, as I made my way out the front door. The owners were friendly and did not mind me trespassing.

I remember the date, December 2, 1927, when Ford introduced the Model A, replacing the long-standing Model T. We thought the new model was a beauty. It came in colors, unlike the all-black Model T. The Model A’s engine was quiet and ran so smoothly. The dealership demonstrated the smoothness by standing a nickel on edge on the fender, hoping it would stand without falling. It even worked … sometimes.

By 1929 I was wanting to improve my mode of transportation by getting a bicycle. I had saved about $20.00, but lo and behold, the Great Depression hit, the bank failed and I was left flat broke! One of my farmer friends offered me a used bike for $6.50 and said I could pick cotton to pay for it. I bought it, got a paper route and soon had earned $25.00, enough for a brand-new Sears Roebuck bike. At age 13 I had a girlfriend and wanted to take her to the Friday night movie. But, with no car, it was either walk or put her on the bike’s handlebars and pedal her to the movie. As you might guess, the bike was no good for dating, so we had to walk. As time passed, some of my buddies began to have access to their family car. When I was 15, Eugene Hays got his car and we decided to check out the dating prospects in neighboring McKinney and Allen. You know, “The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.” So, we tried it and found some nice girls. However, we soon came back to the “best” … in Frisco. By the way, six years later, I married one of the sweetest Frisco girls, Ann Bolin, who later became the mother of our five wonderful children! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In 1940, the summer between my sophomore and junior years at college, I got a job in McKinney and needed transportation. I bought a well-used 1933 Plymouth which I had to sell for tuition money at the end of summer. The same thing the next summer, a job in McKinney, so I bought a good used 1933 Ford for $80.00. At the end of summer, I sold it before returning to college for my senior year.

I married after graduation, and, with WWII in full swing, I joined the Army Air Corps and came back to Frisco while waiting for a call to active duty in pilot training. The call soon came and I trained a few months before joining the fighting in Europe. My wife kept the car until the wartime rationing of gasoline, tires, etc. made it too much trouble to maintain, so she sold it. When the war in Europe was over in 1945, I came home and went to work for Humble Oil Co. in Beaumont, Texas. We needed a car, but since new cars were not yet being built, we bought a used ’41 Chevy. Once new cars started manufacturing again, we bought a ’46 Plymouth, which, I’m sorry to say, was not a very good car. After a couple of years, we traded it for a new ’49 Chevrolet.

In 1951 I was transferred to an oil camp at Pickton, Texas, a small town near Tyler. By then we had five children and were rapidly running out of room in a two-seated car. We bought a ’51 Chevy, drove it for two years and then got a ’53 Chevy while looking longingly at station wagons. In 1955 our wishes came true! While I was doing my annual two-week Air Force reserve training in Okla., I traded cars and surprised the family by driving up in a brand new ’55 red and white three seated Ford station wagon. Our crowded days were over and the family was delighted. As some of our children were then reaching driving age, our transportation needs for a second car were quickly approaching.

In 1960 we got that second car, a ’57 Studebaker. Our next cars soon went thusly, all used: an English Ford, a Nash Rambler, a Pontiac and an old Dodge, which I won in a drawing. By that time (1966) we had moved to Abilene in west Texas and because of the marriage of our oldest daughter and college for our oldest sons, our transportation needs were changing yet again. The two youngest boys took a Chevy Two to college in Denton and we were left with a ’64 Chevy, the family car, and an old Pontiac, which I drove to work. In 1968 we moved to Midland and my wife went to work as a beauty operator, so she bought a new Chevy Impala. I got a used Buick and drove it until we moved to Houston in 1974. There we got a new Chevy El-Camino and I got a Ford Maverick to carpool to work in downtown Houston. In 1982 I retired and came home to Frisco. Since that time our transportation needs have been met with two new Dodge minivans, a new Ford pickup bought to pull a camper, two motor homes and now a 2011 Ford Taurus, which will finish out my driving days.

Those 25 to 30 cars, some good and some not so good, all bring many memories. Times have changed since riding my bike through Frisco, and so has the landscape. With it goes my transportation adventure – from tricycles, bicycles, cars and a few airplanes thrown in for good measure. The Lord has blessed me! Thanks for listening.