Skip to main content

More On The Model T

May 2024
1min read

In our household, where my mother and father kept a drugstore open from 7:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. seven days a week, the women handled transportation.

Aunt Gallic bought a Ford touring car about 1916. On cold mornings she would get up early to see if the car would start. If it did not start, she would send me back in the house to get a hot-water bottle, which she tenderly placed under the hood. Whatever had broken since yesterday could be fixed, usually with a wire hairpin, adhesive tape, or a clothespin.

Many a morning I’d handle the correct maneuver of spark and gas to start the car while Aunt Gallic cranked. My other aunts and my grandmother learned to drive the car, but only Aunt Gallic could change a tire. After she married and moved to New York, 1 was elected to be the tire changer.

By 1921 we had an enclosed Model T. On one 210-mile, twelve-hour trip to San Antonio we “enjoyed” five flats. It was twilight and still more than a hundred degrees when I was tightening the fasteners on the last tire. The first gentleman to stop to help us that day rushed up and exclaimed, “Little girl, you can’t do that!” My grandmother was shocked when I replied, “Like hell I can’t!”

However, when the grandmother and schoolteaching aunts departed on vacation, I became the family chauffeur at age eleven. It was a magic rug to travel far and wide.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.