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October 28, 2013

Vintage car a part of the family

(Continued)

Miss Dodge really got around; my Aunt Jeannie and Uncle Buck took her on their honeymoon, and she was also the first car my mother learned to drive back in 1968. I remember, as a child, riding in the back seat with my sister and brothers while my mom, who had just gotten her driver’s permit, drove Miss Dodge up Burke Mountain with Great Grammie coaching her, saying, “Give it a little gas, give it a little gas so it won’t stall.”

In a letter written to my mother, Rebecca, in 1970, Great Grammie, who was by then 81 years old, had given up driving and was ready to sell her beloved Miss Dodge. She wrote, “I shall cry, probably, when she leaves my barn for good, but you and Dick may have her for $400. Pay when you can. Take good care of my old girl. She’s always been greased every 1,000 miles, and has never refused to do what I asked of her.”

That spring my mother and dad, along with my little brother, Ricky, made the trip to Vermont. My Dad drove 16-year-old Miss Dodge back to our home in rural Maine, where she found a new lease on life. I fondly remember summertime day trips with the family, and later, when my mother began working at the public school, Miss Dodge was her transportation. By 1979, when Miss Dodge reached the age of 25 and was considered a classic car, she was taken out only for the occasional joy ride or vintage automobile show.

I have always loved Miss Dodge, and my heart was set on giving her a new home, so last year she came to live with me in the Adirondacks. I’m proud of the fact that she is in unrestored, original condition — with the exception of a paint job on some scratches Great Grammie put in her. She’s also just got a little more than 63,000 original miles on her rebuilt straight six engine. Miss Dodge has a fluid drive transmission — so I can start off in any gear — and she’s got three gears with the shifting lever on the column (we like to call that “three on the tree”). She rides like a dream; you feel like you’re floating.

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