The Cars of the Shafer Dynasty

Dad & Ed May 30, 1948

Every once in a while, a blind pig will find an acorn.  Such was the case with these pictures.

My father, the youngster in the picture above, turned seventy in December.  As part of the smear of presents he gets between his birthday and Christmas, his phenomenally younger sister gave him an illustrated and editorialized album full of Shafer family history.  One of the comments she wrote positively jumped off the page: Why do Shafer men always have a car in the background of nearly any outside picture?

Cha-ching!  She had already gathered and scanned pictures I could cabbage onto–how fortuitous!  So let’s take a brief tour through time.

Mom & Ed 1944

This is a 1944 version of my grandmother and my father.  The Ford in the foreground, likely belonging to my grandparents, is definitely swoon-worthy but the car with the dinner plate sized headlights in the background is what truly has me curious.  My dad said he doesn’t remember that far back.  Go figure.

Incidentally, my grandmother is still alive and doing quite well at nearly ninety-two years of age.  She bought herself a new weed eater this past summer.  Last fall, she climbed a ladder to clean out the gutters on her garage; not wanting to throw caution to the wind, she conned her eighty-seven-year-old sister into holding the ladder for her.  She is quite the formidable woman.

Despite the temptation, I am not writing an article about her.  There is a lot of fodder to work with, but the last two times I wrote about anyone over seventy-five years of age, they died soon thereafter (here and here).  Likely a coincidence, but I’m not going to jinx anyone by writing any more such articles.

Mom, Dad, Ed unknown year

Here is my dad with my grandparents again; my grandfather is also the man in the top picture.  While I cannot readily identify either car in the background, I can identify about a half-dozen chickens and a dog.  It is highly probable the car with the rear-mounted spare is a Ford.  Undoubtedly, somebody reading this will know what the other one is.

My father told me he once helped my grandfather scrap out a 1939 Packard coupe.  My grandfather had repeatedly tried to sell the car, badly needing money.  When it finally did sell, he had to repossess it as the buyer could not pay.  Still not selling, and still needing money, my grandfather took his ax to the Packard one Saturday morning and sold it for scrap.

Dad July 1959

This is my grandfather again with his 1940 or 1941 GMC.  My father drove this pickup quite a bit as a teenager and said it would do all of forty-five miles per hour.  As they lived about seven miles from the nearest paved road, the lack of license for both him and the pickup was never a problem.

From the date of this picture, my grandfather was the age I am today, if not a wee bit younger.   He died quite unexpectedly in October 1966 at age 47.  His younger brother Donald scoured the countryside looking for my father that evening, driving the 1963 Ford Galaxie that is currently parked out in the shed.

Me July 1959

Lastly, here is my aunt in front of the 1953 Plymouth my grandparents owned.  This is the car in which my father learned to drive.  A metallic green color, he said it was about as basic as anything Plymouth made that year.

As stated earlier, my aunt is stupendously younger than my father as she is currently thirty-seven years old–don’t believe that “me in 1959” filename she created for this picture.  Without her, these pictures would have languished for many more moons inside a photo album somewhere.  I’m grateful she got them out to see the light of day.