1946 was a good year for cars

We don’t need to be told that we have had some exceptionally hot weather recently. I like summer time with reasonable summer temperatures, but we have had to deal with temperatures that are not healthy. That is especially true for those of us in the more mature age bracket.

If you have air conditioning in your home, be thankful. Without it, our homes can be almost unlivable unless we have some fans to keep the air moving. Even then, it is tough without air conditioning.

Cars today are most all air-conditioned. I don’t think you can find one without it. We would find it most uncomfortable on a trip with no air conditioning.

The first car I owned was a 1946 Plymouth, a car that is no longer made. I was able to buy it new soon after World War II. I think I paid about $725 for it. It did not have a heater, air conditioning or radio, but, to me at that time, it was a great car.

Hot water heaters for cars were not available when I bought it. But a company was making heaters that could be connected to a gas line. I was able to get one installed before we had too much cold weather.

It tended to be directional and didn’t circulate the heat very well. But it was a lot better than nothing and I did appreciate having it. After the car was three or four years old, I was able to get a used hot water heater that was installed under the dash.

Like most young people, I wanted the latest in style gadgets for my car. While it wasn’t really a gadget, I was able to get a radio installed after a couple of years. I was really “living high” with that radio

White wall tires were in style a couple of years after I got my car. So to keep up with the times, I bought some plastic white walls that fit on the tires. They were easy to install and I guess I thought I was “cool” to put things in today’s language. Eventually, they went out of style so I took them off. I didn’t want to be old-fashioned.

As time went on, several different gadgets for cars became available. One was small wire springs with a little knob on the end that clipped to the underside of the car near the wheels. They were called curb feelers. They weren’t very expensive, so naturally I had to have a pair. They were fine until I got too close to the curb and bent them. Then they were useless, so I took them off.

Another device that I thought I had to have and that was inexpensive was a knob that clipped on the steering wheel. It was called a spinner knob you could use to turn the steering wheel. Because the car didn’t have power steering, the knob was hard to use, so I didn’t leave it on very long. Besides, it wasn’t safe because in an accident in which one’s chest was pushed against the steering wheel, it would cause major injuries.

Other accessories were available but I couldn’t afford them.

I drove that Plymouth until I was through college before I could afford a new one. It had well over 100,000 miles on it when I traded it in. It needed some major repairs at that time. It had been a good car for me and I enjoyed driving it for those many miles.

Today’s new cars are much different than my 1946 Plymouth. They come with air conditioning, radios, excellent heaters, power steering, turn signals, a comfortable ride and much more. They also cost a lot more money with all the accessories they come with.

Memories are great but today’s new cars offer a lot more comfort than my Plymouth.

Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Contact him at jbparker149@gmail.com.

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