Curtis Perry Outtake/Auto-Biography: 1966 Ford Custom 500 – Nunmobile

The Niedermeyers’ move from Iowa City to Towson, MD. in the summer of 1965 was not a happy one for me. Compared to that little cosmopolitan and progressive university town, Towson was insular, conservative and dull. Nobody had ever been anywhere in their lives except at the ocean during summer vacation. They all wore the same preppy clothes. They were unfriendly. And they all drove big, boring sedan, especially Fords. Even the nuns at Immaculate Conception, who got three new ’66 Ford Custom 500 sedans in various pastel colors, one of them exactly like this blue one. I still struggle with the unhappy memories it’s brought up. Now I’ll have to share them in the hopes that it’s therapeutic. Feel free to sit this one out.

I was forced to go to Immaculate Conception school in Towson, which was run by a murder of nuns as if it were still 1890, compared to the very progressive public grade school I’d been in. Uniforms, mandatory confession, stations of the cross, and we were forced to walk in single file anywhere, including two blocks after school. The nuns had these little metal clickers in the hands which signaled us to stop, start, genuflect, and kneel. I felt like a wild animal that was being caged after it had run free all its life. I loathed it. And you wonder why I have a bit of a negative streak towards big Fords.

I won’t even go into the academic standards, which were highly variable. Some of these gals were completely out of their element by 7th and 8th grade, and we used to ask them questions in science, geography, civics and history specifically to trip them up. They’d say “oh; that’s a good question. Why don’t you look that up tonight and report back with the answer in the morning”.  As if.

And art class! In Iowa City, a terrific artist came in to teach us art, which I loved. I won 1st, 3rd, and 5th in a city-wide art contest in 5ht grade, with a mosaic, clay sculpture, and collage. There wasn’t a single art class at Immaculate Conception until about a week before Christmas when Sister Michael Francis brought in a shopping bag of kitschy used Christmas cards she had been saving, asked us to take one, and then copy it! Very artsy.

Enough of that, but it really was the most miserable two years of my life. And it didn’t help seeing that little fleet of stripper Custom sedans parked in front of the convent.

I don’t know what was under the hood of the new numb nunmobiles, but they had automatics. They might have had the 240 six for all I knew. Where did they go in them anyway? I don’t remember ever seeing them drive off for a night out on the town or anywhere else.

This fine example of a nunmobile obviously doesn’t have the six, with those two exhaust pipes. I’m going ot say that big Fords in this era were less likely to have sixes than Chevys. It might have to do with the old tradition of Ford having been a V8 only company for some years and the powerful association with the brand and V8s. Or maybe it’s my imagination.

Speaking of my imagination, a ’66 Ford Galaxie 500 sedan in this same blue inspired my only work of fiction here at CC: “All Points Bulletin”.