Monday, January 21, 2008

The Orange Desoto

1005 E. Galatea Street was our second house in Azusa. One day Dad came home with a 1949 Desoto (I think that was the model year). It was faded grey in color and the upholstery on the ceiling was pretty battered. Well actually I should say it was torn and battered by the time we got done with it.

This car quickly became my favorite. It was very roomy and I loved going for rides in it.

Dad and mom took us for automobile rides quite often. It seems like we would often go for rides on Sunday afternoons. There were a lot beautiful places to see in southern California. Orange groves, avocado trees and beautiful subdivisions, were some of the sights we would see.

I loved sitting in the large and tall backed seat. There was a great space above the seat where the back window was, that was the perfect size for lying down on. I don't think it had seat belts, but that was before I had heard of Ralph Nader and OSHA. I remember hot smoggy days when the pollution seemed really thick. It must have been really bad because my eyes would water and sting.

Before we would go for the rides, Dad would ask us if we needed to go to the bathroom. Then we were off for another adventure. I'm not sure what kind of teasing nonsense that the three of us older kids were up to, but it seemed like it was pretty often that Dad would tell us to "knock it off". We of course would totally ignore his counsel and continue our nefarious behavior. I suppose we were touching each other in some annoying manner and simultaneously yelling at each other "stop touching me".

At some point Dad would get fed up and start yelling in earnest. After continuing to disregard his instructions he would then execute a multitasking maneuver which included: steering the car with his left hand, swinging his knuckle clad fist at out legs, and swivel his head to the front of the car and then back to our wildly flailing lower limbs, as we tried to avoid his violent assault.

In our family the most dangerous seat in the car was the middle part of the back, bench seat. Of course we fought to sit by the door, especially the one behind the drivers seat, as it was rare that he could inflict much pain to the person sitting directly behind him. I'm pretty sure Trevor sat in the middle the most of the time.

Speaking of Trevor, I'm not sure but I think he may have been the most strategic of the brothers when it came car ride theatrics. After he was certain that we were a significantly safe distance from home he would quietly but efficiently launch one of his infamous SBD stink bombs. I'm not talking about your basic garden-variety flatulence. These were world class, somebody died, eye stinging, nausea invoking, stinkers. Now that I think about it, the eye stinging pollution may have come from him.

If you think my Dad would get mad when we would fight, you should have seen how the fast the fuse would burn when Trevor would launch one of these scud missiles. The first words out of my Dad's mouth were always the same; "I thought I told you to go to the bathroom before we left!" I'm no doctor, but I swear a stench this bad could only be produced by dead people or by holding it for at least a week. Wow! Did I mention Terry and I always fought for the window seats? Wow!

Anyway, I loved the Desoto. Honestly, and I can say this without any reservation, my parents are the most giving people I know. Throughout my entire life they have always been extremely generous with their possessions. No matter what their situation was, they always thought others first.

One day I noticed the Desoto was gone! I asked my parents where it was. They explained that they had given it to someone else that needed it more. I remember being disappointed. There was a family of Samoans that lived in the ward and I found out they had given it to them. I remember this made an important impression on me as a young boy. I was impressed with my parent’s compassion and generosity.

Another day I was at church and I saw the Desoto and the recipient family. I must admit I was surprised. Instead of seeing the dingy grey car I missed it was now a shiny bright orange color.

On Sunday afternoons there wasn't much on TV. Most days there would be stock car races and the advertising sponsor was often Earl Scheib. "We'll paint any car for $49.00" they would brag. I remember doing the math and being very judgmental in my assessment of this good family. "We gave you the car. We couldn't afford to get it painted. How can you afford to paint it?" Such were my immature thoughts. I'm pretty sure I even mentioned this to my parents. I remember their reply to me was kind and compassionate.

I will always be grateful to my kind, generous and humble parents and for the wonderful example they have set for me for over half a century. But I still miss that old grey Desoto and the wonderful memories we made in that car.


Hugh said...

I... can't... stop... laughing...

Amy said...

is this the same car Grandma stalled on the railroad tracks?

Doug said...

No, that was the 53 Chevy Bellair. I'm going to write about that sometime.

Anonymous said...

Remember the combo lock on the trunk?

Anonymous said...

Did Trevor ever drive the desoto?

Doug said...

We got the Desoto later when we moved to Galatea Street. To my knowledge Trevor only drove the 53 Chevy on Factor Street. He was a better driver as a toddler.

Doug said...

Regarding the trunk lock. Dad drilled the lock out and used a peg board hook to open it with. Is that correct?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The car Mother stalled on the tracks was a 53 chevy.