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My First Car: 1933 Chevrolet, Charles Huhtanen, Port Richey

'33 Chevrolet

The U.S. Marine Corps no longer needed or wanted me. After training for a landing on the shores of Japan in 1945-46 and after spending six months in Hawaii (hard duty!), I was mustered out at the Great Lakes Naval Center. At home once more, I was surprised to receive a mustering-out check for $100. Two more checks for the same amount came in subsequent months. With the $300, I looked around for a car. They were pretty scarce after the war. I finally found one for sale — a 1933 Chevrolet rumble seat coupe. The owner gratefully accepted my $300, a lot of money at the time. There were no titles in those days; you just gave the owner the money and drove away. I went back to school at Cornell University and found no trouble finding parking spaces; almost no one had a car and there were few restrictions on parking. I even parked it behind Balch Dormitory where I found a dishwashing job to pay for my dinners. It was there that I met a gal — Silvia Birdsall (top photo) — who also was working there. I introduced her to the Chevy and we had some great rides. She enjoyed the car as much as I did. One night with friends in the rumble seat we were rambling through Ithaca when, to my great mortification, I ran out of gas right in the middle of an intersection! Cars in those days had very rudimentary gas gauges. We pushed the car away from the street and I managed to find a gas station where I got enough gas to resume our travels. My '33 Chevy had wood floor boards and we could sometimes see the road under the car. It also had wood door posts, requiring the use of twine to keep the door closed. I took good care of the car. I did my own repairs including replacing rod bearings and rings. It was still a "clunker" by modern standards, but I managed to keep it running for three years. I once drove the car to Salt Point to meet Sylvia's family. Her brother, Bill, right, was taken with the car and helped pump up the tires. He also had a mischievous streak and teased us, once opening one of my letters and reading it out loud. I allowed Sylvia to take the wheel one day in the country. She had very little experience driving and, after just a few miles, lost control of the wheel. We went careening into the ditch taking some of the guard rail with us, as well as a piece of the bumper. The left side front fender also sustained damage as shown in the picture. I drove out of the ditch as fast as possible and did not report the accident. We sold the car after a few years, and, after graduation, I acquired a beautiful 1940 Oldsmobile. Sylvia Huhtanen (we were married on Sept. 11, 1948, a notable date in 2001) and I drove the Olds with an attached 26-foot Masonite house trailer (bought with my college savings of $600 and a note for $900 backed by Sylvia's father) to my new job in Bay Shore, Long Island.

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My First Car: 1933 Chevrolet, Charles Huhtanen, Port Richey 04/16/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 18, 2014 6:47pm]
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