University of Nevada, Reno




From wagon to automobile

By Emma


EmmaPrior to the Ford, we had a surrey, just like in "Oklahoma," but with no fringe on top. The Ford, like the surrey in that movie, had two seats and side curtains for use in inclement weather. Both had running boards and both were black. The similarity ends there.

The car had three pedals on the floor—a clutch, a reverse and a brake. On the steering column were the spark and gas levers. To start the motor, we had to use a crank at the front of the car.

Starting the car was tricky, because of getting the gas and spark adjusted just right and the crank turned hard. Sometimes it would backfire and would give a real jolt to the arm and the shoulder of the person turning the crank.

Often there was difficulty getting up the hills, particularly after a rain. We would have to let the car roll all the way down and take a run for it, trying to make it all the way to the top of hill. The roads were not paved or graveled. Just dirt—dusty in the dry season and muddy and slick when it rained or snowed.

Also in the bottom grounds, we would sometimes get stuck in the mud and everybody except the driver would get out and push. We would be mud-splattered from top to bottom when we got out of there. Not much fun.

At that time, there were few women drivers—they were all men. That changed rather quickly as people realized the advantages of being able to drive. Of course, many women of that era never learned.


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