Sunday, July 1, 2012

My First Ride!

Fortunately, I never had to flip burgers or wait tables for summer employment whilst transitioning between youth and adulthood.  I managed to land good paying "adult" jobs.  I worked for two summers at Bethlehem Steel in Seattle between my Junior and Senior high schools years.


My summer job following graduation in 1961 was as a wiper on the Alaska Freight Lines tug M/V Martin (LT 143)

With a tidy sum of money stashed away from my Summer Permit on the Martin, on a Sunday afternoon,  lying on the living room floor perusing the used car section of the Seattle Sunday Times, my Dad casually asked me what I was looking for.

I told him I was looking for a car. In his disarmingly casual tone, he said, "Oh. I thought you were intending to go to Washington State in the fall."

Long story short, I ended up funneling my wages as a Wiper on the Martin into my first year at Washington State University (WSU).

Between my first and second years at WSU, I worked as a Fireman Recruit on the United States Coast & Geodetic Survey ship Hodgson, based on Lake Union in Seattle. I had read an article in the Seattle Sunday Times that the Geodetic Survey (Now called the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration - NOAA) was gearing up for summer oceanographic surveys, and was hiring!


Long story short, based on my sea time on the M/V Martin the previous summer, I was hired within a week by the USC & GS, and soon on another grand adventure.

I operated a Raytheon fathometer, recording depths in fathoms, on carefully measured runs across Puget Sound.
Our survey project was to re-survey the waters  between Hat Island (Gedney Island) and Mukilteo and Clinton Washington.


Partner open whale boat pounding in Puget Sound. Clinton ferry dock in background. Surveying is toasted!
Puget Sound gets pretty rough in the fall and winter, rendering surveying impossible. So, the field season ended for me in September. And since my PTA (Party Time Already) life style prevented me from returning to WSU, I decided to go into the service.

After almost a year at Western Air Rescue Center, my First Shirt (Sergeant) agreed to co-sign for an auto loan at the base credit union. Pretty secure loan. Who would be dumb enough to screw up loan payments co-signed by your First Sergeant?

My folks had owned Chryslers, and my Dad swore by them.

Hamilton AFB Tactical Air Command sticker on bumper under the left headlight. My unit Air Rescue Service decal under the right headlight.
So, it came to be that my first ride was a 1956 Chrysler New Yorker Two Door Hard Top, with Power Steering, Power Seating, Power Windows, Power Antenna, and Push Button Transmission!

There is enough steel in the front bumper alone, to build 10 modern automobiles!  I tried to add accessory lighting to the rear bumper and gave up after dulling three drill bits!

I purchased the automobile at a used car lot in San Rafael, just minutes south of Hamilton Air Force Base on the 101. It was a bright sunny day, and I was absolutely thrilled that at long last, I had purchased my very first ride!

Zipping onto the 101 freeway heading north to the Base, reddish orange colored water started spraying onto the windshield! The windshield wipers only smeared this reddish orange colored corruption into a dry paste, forcing me to pull abruptly onto the shoulder!

I finally figured out how to open the hood, and oh, what a sight! The top seam of the radiator was spraying hot reddish orange colored water all over the place. A passing motorist stopped to help (that was back in the days when motorist looked out for fellow motorist) and his only suggestion was, let her cool down, and get back to San Rafael As Soon As Possible (ASAP.)

Finally, I limped back to the used car dealership, and confronted the salesman who only a short while ago was my "best friend." Now, he coldly pointed to big sign, with small print: "All sales final. Sold as-is where-is." Then, he pointed to a radiator shop across the street.

That's me in the right lane, revisiting Hamilton AFB 24 years later (1991).  Handsome main gate, manned by .45 caliber toting Air Force Poilce, who rendered a snappy salute once your vehicle was accepted, now boarded up.
Yeah, that was only the beginning of the mechanical problems I suffered with that motor vehicle. But for the next three years, I really enjoyed my 1956 Chrysler New Yorker Two Door Hard Top with Power Steering, Power Seating, Power Windows, Power Antenna AND a Push Button Transmission!

1 Comments - Click here:

Marian Love Phillips said...

Nice car...I remember when...so, so long ago! Thanks for sharing your earlier experiences in your life. I enjoyed the ride! Marian :)

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