Memories on wheels: a look back at Moeller means of transport
Commentary by Bill Moeller / For The Chronicle
Maybe no one else is interested, but I recently started trying to remember how many cars I’ve owned in my lifetime. The listing does not include the 1923 three-door sedan I mentioned before because I never owned the title. So here, in order of ownership, are a few that I remember. My memory isn’t quite right these days. Some entries may differ from the actual facts, just like some news stories we hear these days.
The first car I held the title to was a 1933 American Bantam bought in high school. It was one of only three known to exist in Tacoma. If one were for sale today, it would be priced way beyond my current income status. It was a small thing with barely enough room for two (and not at all for tissues). My dad found it for me. He was so small and light that when I walked out of class at Stadium High School one afternoon, I found him several rows down from the pavement – somehow sitting in the stadium. -same. With three friends, we were able to bring it up to the roadway. After high school, there were five years of service in the army and dad sold it while I was away.
After being liberated my first car was a 1941 Pontiac coupe. It was almost dark when I first saw it but I was so eager to get a car that I bought it on the spot. I should have waited. The frame was so twisted it almost looked like it was going sideways down the road, and I later discovered that the eight-cylinder engine had been replaced with a six-cylinder.
Eventually marriage became a factor and a “reasonable” car was needed, so the next one was a 1949 Plymouth sedan. By this time I was already working for a radio station, KMO in Tacoma.
Then when my wife Frances’ dad passed away, we inherited a nearly new ’88 Oldsmobile from 1953. I accepted a radio station in Wenatchee and it was a great car to drive up and down the passes of Wenachee Mountain in Tacoma – something I did frequently until the rest of my family could finally join me on the other side of the hills.
Then we felt another car was needed, so a 1940 Ford coupe was acquired. It was perfect for short trips around town and, who knows, it might be someone’s hot rod today. I traded it in as a down payment on a new 1955 Ford station wagon, bought after a partner, and started our own hit radio station. With the kids growing up, it was a smart buy. After a few years, I sold my interest in the radio station to a possible third partner and a look of wealth was in order.
So the most expensive car I’ve ever owned appeared on the scene: a 1959 Ford T-Bird with white leather seats and the big Lincoln engine. It has become my status symbol in the community. Fast? Once, when no other car was in sight, I “opened” it on a straight stretch of freeway in eastern Washington and the speedometer was still going up to 125 miles per hour when I pulled over. am deflated.
Then, shortly after moving into a house on Curtis Hill Road, a 1953 Chevrolet Sedan was the car we bought from a Winlock dealership once we realized we couldn’t keep up the payments on the T- Bird. It was almost as bad “lemon” as my old Pontiac. We eventually traded it in for a down payment on a brand new 1962 Rambler station wagon, bought from Howard Hutchins’ agency next to the exit of the railroad overpass on Gold Street. It was a good car, the one my wife used on her Avon route, which meant we needed another vehicle for me to get to and from work.
The one we found was a 1952 MG TD sports car sold by a GI in Fort Lewis. It was a pure delight with many features not seen in today’s cars. For example, the windscreen could be folded down over the bonnet (a feature which meant less drag if raced against other cars of the same ilk). It was the perfect place to hold a martini poured from a thermos bottle at the old drive-in cinema. Remember these?
One day in October I took the Rambler to work and left it at Howard Hutchins for a routine checkup. It was the night of the famous “Columbus Day Storm” of 1962. I came home to the sight of a collapsed garage with the MG inside!
I was able to rebuild the garage and restore the MG, but it wasn’t practical for hauling hay bales to our beef supply, so the next move was a real oddity: a 1960 Chevrolet Corvair pickup truck. Like the sedan of the same name, its engine was at the back, which made loading difficult but this was compensated by a hinged side panel which could be lowered and used as a ramp, a great idea!
I don’t remember why, but it was traded in and replaced with a 1953 DeSoto “Woodie” station wagon. Eventually it let go on the highway as I was coming back from cleaning up a shack we had built on the Entiat and whose maintenance was too difficult at this distance. I left it along the road and hitchhiked home and often regretted that move.
Then we sold the farm and moved to Centralia. I’m well past my usual space, but – never fear – one day there will be an update to newer cars from the Moeller family.
Bill Moeller is a former artist, mayor, bookseller, city council member, paratrooper, and pilot living in Centralia. He can be contacted at email@example.com.