Pa's Cars

My mother’s parents were called “Ma and Pa” by just about everyone. While I suppose it was natural for their own children to call them by those names, all their grandchildren also called them “Ma and Pa”.

Since Ma and Pa lived in Worcester, Massachusetts and my family lived in Albany, New York, we rarely saw them. The distance just seemed too great for frequent visits. Consequently, I never really got to know Ma and Pa as well as I would have liked.

Ma and Pa always took great care of their cars. Of course, it was Pa who took care of the cars. His first car was a Model T. He later bought a 1924 Hupmobile with the option of solid wheels (instead of wire wheels) and windows that were buttoned in. The windshield wipers had to be turned by hand.

1924 Hupmobile

1924 Hupmobile

Pa later bought a Buick which he called his “Budick”, a pronunciation affected by his native language.

At the time he owned the Buick, Pa worked at Worcester Pressed Steel. He drove the car to work each day and he parked the car in an inside garage.

Although Pa was relatively well off compared to many of his neighbors, he couldn’t afford to buy antifreeze for the car. This presented a problem, since winters in central Massachusetts could be bitterly cold. He didn’t worry about the radiator freezing during the day, since he parked the car indoors while he worked. The big problem was how to prevent the radiator from freezing at night.

When Pa returned home at night, he would simply drain the radiator and, each day before starting the car in the morning, he refilled the radiator with plain water. Every day. And it seemed to work well enough. It was more important to keep food on the table than it was to buy antifreeze.

Written for the Carnival of Genealogy.

Copyright © 2008 by Stephen J. Danko

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4 Responses to Pa's Cars

  1. Jane says:

    Ma and Pa may have been a common grandparent title in Worcester, MA. My father grew up there and always refers to his grandparents as “Ma” and “Pa”. It confused me a bit when I was first quizzing him as part of my geneology research. I could not train him to say “grandmother” or “grandfather” so now I just translate in my own mind when he refers to his Ma or Pa.

  2. Steve, I’m still trying to imagine the button in windows and turning windshield wipers by hand. We’ve certainly come a long way in the automobile industry. Great automobile history in this piece.

  3. Denise says:

    I loved the anti-freeze story. My few winters in the frozen north (Air Force sent me to Nebraska), I refused to drive so my precious Mustang was parked with the radiator drained until the spring thaw.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    What a beautiful car! Great story, too, sound like something my dad would do!
    By the way, I just discovered your blog a couple months ago and have been pretty much a lurker, but wanted to let you know how much I enjoy it and I’m always learning something new when I stop by!
    Thanks for sharing all your hard work!


    Elizabeth :-)
    The Polish Genealogy Project

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