Car trouble on a trip to New Port Richey Florida and a visit with my aunt Zoe and Uncle Ward

New Port Richey Florida

In 1961 mom dad and I took a driving trip to New Port Richey Florida. It’s approximately 1700 miles from Battle Creek Michigan to New Port Richey Florida. Dad always took his time on road trips so the trip was a three day trip with plenty of down time between drives. We got up very early, around 4 AM, on the first day of the trip. Mom had made me a “nest” in the backseat of the Plymouth for me to lay down and sleep during the trip. She had also packed some toys and things to keep me amused on the trip. There were no interstate highways at the time so the trip was on backroads. Dad would drive no more than eight hours then stop at a motel for dinner and a good night’s sleep. Mom had packed our lunches for the three day trip in a cooler and we would stop at rest stops to eat lunch.

1959 Plymouth

Somewhere in south Georgia, as we were traveling south, we heard a loud bang and the rear end of the Plymouth sagged down on it’s rear axle. Dad pulled over and got out to look under the car. He returned to the car and told us that the torsion bar on the Plymouth had broken. Originally devised by Bob Batchelor, Chrysler’s torsion bar suspensions were used across the entire lineup, from Plaza and Valiant to Imperial, for decades. Chrysler’s implementation was unusual for its universal use and for combining front torsion bars with inexpensive rear leaf springs, instead of rear coil springs, in back.

Broke Down Woes

So. There we were in the middle of nowhere crawling along at about 20 miles per hour in search of a automobile mechanic. Mom was scared and the worry lines on her face showed it. I had been going to Sunday school and had recently learned a new song that they taught us. It was called “Don’t be afraid”. I got up close to mom. I could see she was afraid. So I sang my song to her. “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Jesus is with you so don’t be afraid.” Mom looked at me and her fear melted away. “Thank you Jim. You singing that song helped. “

We finally found an mechanic so we stopped for the night. The mechanic promised that the car would be ready for us the next morning.

Uncle Ward and Aunt Zoe’s Home on Illinois Ave.

We continued our journey south the next day and around noon we pulled up into aunt Zoe’s and uncle Ward’s driveway. Zoe was my dads older sister. My aunt and uncle lived in New Port Richey on Illinois ave. I loved staying over at aunt Zoe and uncle Wards place. And I loved them too. Ward was a banker. He was a taciturn man. A man of few words if you will. Aunt Zoe was much like my father. She had a great sense of humor and took interest in people. She was a chain smoker and I could remember waking up on the hideaway bed smelling coffee and cigarette smoke. It was not unpleasant. It meant it is morning. Soon the smell of bacon joined the already existing smells. I was very young. However I remember a few things about the visit. A red step chair comes to mind. And uncle Ward telling me not to walk down the street as there was girls down there. I obeyed.

A typical Speedboat in the Gulf of Mexico

I also remember ward taking the boat out with my dad. I was not allowed to go! I was devastated. I remember crying and feeling angry that I could not go too. Such is life and I got over it. Later on in life we would stay again with uncle Ward and aunt Zoe when we moved to Florida. They had moved to Gulf Harbors and had great access to the Gulf in the boat. That time when we visited I got to go along. It was the first time for me to see the Gulf of Mexico first hand. Wonderful memories!

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