Vintage Snapshots: Family and Friends

Maybe subconsciously inspired by seeing references to Marie Kondo, I’ve been on a clean and purge kick recently, and decided to go through moldering boxes of old family photos. Tossed a few, kept a few, and found some that might be of interest here. I’ll start with this one – dated 1937 in a handwritten note on the back. Unfortunately no location, and no hint of how it ended up in either my Mom’s, or her sister’s collection. I’m assuming it’s somewhere in the Western US, and my mother’s family didn’t come to the US until 1937, to the Washington DC area, and she didn’t move west until the 1940’s, so maybe it came from a friend. I believe this is a Ford V8, can anyone pinpoint the year?


This picture I know more about, though unfortunately not many details. The man on the right in the short-sleeved shirt is my maternal grandfather. I posted a picture here at CC before, of a Citroen he owned in China, but this picture is from the US. As I understand it, he and a friend, perhaps the other man pictured, drove across the US in this Ford, including a visit to the Ford headquarters in Dearborn. If this isn’t a Ford, well … don’t ruin the family legend for me! Based on the newer car behind his roadster, can anyone guess the year? As I mentioned, that side of my family emigrated here in 1937, and I am sure that the cross-country trip occured before then. Unfortunately I have no picture of my grandfather’s last car, a Dodge Dart Swinger which he let me drive as an unlicensed 15 year old.

The woman in this photo is my aunt, my Mom’s older sister. The license plate is from Virginia, 1954. I recognize both cars in the background as Plymouths or Dodges, but have no idea what my aunt and her companion are sitting on. If this picture in fact dates from 1954, my parents’ own car at the time (on the opposite coast) was a nearly new Hillman Minx. After 1960, we switched to Volvo’s, perhaps inspiring my aunt to later buy a 122S, with an automatic, that I remember riding in once. She had a lot of trouble with the Volvo, and blamed my Mom for selling her on it. She replaced it with a blue Datsun 510, also an automatic, that I drove a few times when I was 18.

If the man leaning against this Ford convertible is the same as the man in the earlier photo, he might be my aunt’s husband. Their marriage didn’t last long and I never met him. There were a few pictures of this Ford in the box of my aunt’s pictures, but this was the best one. With the help of a magnifier, I was able to make out that the plates on the Ford are also Virginia, but 1952. Is that a Chrysler in the background?

Moving now from family, to family friends’ cars, and now in my hometown in California. This Hudson Hornet Special belonged to a family we knew who lived a few blocks away. The woman worked with my Dad, and her husband was an engineer. I have vague memories of the Hudson, which at the time just looked an old car to me, but was told that Mr S. admired it’s technology and design. Any idea about the year?

As much as Mr. S. liked his Hudson, he replaced it with a Cadillac. 1964, I think? After he passed away in the early 1970’s, his widow offered me some of his tools, including a small metal lathe, a benchtop drill press, and a few hand tools. I passed the lathe on to a friend, but still have the drill press and a few hand tools. I also had a chance to drive the Cadillac, filled with junk on a run to the dump. I remember effortless power, steering with absolutely no effort or feel, and a cavernous back seat and trunk that swallowed boxes of discards. I moved away from home shortly afterwards, and on trips back would see the Cadillac aging curbside, until one day it was gone.