Mom and I moved again, this time to a rent house on Furr Drive. In January 1939 I was finally fourteen and got my driver’s license. Mom bought me my first car for fourteen dollars. (That’s right, $14.00). It was a 1925 Model T Ford, a touring sedan with no top. The Model T had three pedals, the brake, the clutch and middle peddle that was reverse. My “T” didn’t have very good brakes; so I used the reverse peddle for a brake. That worked pretty good unless you pushed too hard and it would stand on its nose.
This was before self-starters, so we had to crank it to get it started. I was pretty small for my age, so my buddy, Robert Holzschuher, would ride his bike over to my house each morning. We would both get on the crank and get it started. When we got over to Horace Mann Junior High, we would park the “T” on a hill and put bricks in front of the wheels. Each afternoon after school, about eight or ten of us would rush out to the “T” and I would get behind the wheel. Several of the guys would pull the bricks out from in front of the wheels, give the “T” a push, and away we would go down the hill. The “T” would start as we rolled down the hill. When you watch the Olympics and see the bobsled with one guy pushing off and running along the sled till it gets going before jumping in, that’s what we looked like going down the hill.
The first stop was at a gasoline station up at Bandera Road and West Woodlawn. We would all go into the station office, put our change on the desk, and the owner would count it all out. Gas was 15 cents a gallon and the gas pumps then were really pumps. They were about seven feet tall with a metal base that contained the pump and a lever on the side of it. On top was a glass cylinder about three feet high. On the side of the cylinder was a mark showing how many gallons were in the cylinder. The man would go out and pump the gas up in the glass top of the pump, as many gallons as we had money to buy, and then we would put it into the “T’s” gas tank, which was under the front seat. The gasoline would simply gravity flow from the glass cylinder to the gas tank of the car.
Then off we would go again and ride around till suppertime. I would drop each guy off at his respective home. Then, Robert and I would take the “T” back to my house, put his bike in the back seat and I would take him home.
One day when we were going down Lake Boulevard, as I was taking the guys home and Walter Bielstein was sitting astride the hood. There were two or three guys on each running board. All of a sudden, a car shot out of a side street in front of me, and I absolutely stood up on that reverse pedal. I was small for my age-a little under 5’-and had to sit right on the edge of the seat to reach the pedals. I was completely off the seat standing on the reverse pedal, and the “T” just about stood on its nose. The cap on the radiator had a winged ornament, and when I stood on the reverse pedal, Walter went sailing off the hood. I can still see him sort of vaulting over that hood ornament. I hate to think what would have happened to him if he had not cleared that thing! I shed kids all over the street, but believe it or not, no major injuries, just a few scratches and bruises.
Photo of 1930’s Texas gas station found here.
Photo of Keystone Cops found here.