In 1932, the Dort
I remember when I was just a little guy – I must have been maybe five- or six-years old and my dad had an old car called a Dort. It had a little cut-out device on the exhaust so that it would bypass the muffler and make a lot of noise — roaring noise. Plus the exhaust used to go straight down from the pipe onto the road and when you would open up the cut-out, it would blow up a big cloud of dust so you couldn’t see all around the car. There was this one guy that nobody liked. So when we used to go past his place, my dad would open up this cut-out and deliberately make a whole bunch of dust so that the guy would be shaking his fist at us and cussing us out. My job used to be (when I was a little guy) to pull the little wire that would lift the cut-out away from the exhaust and open it up. And then when we were driving along, my dad would say “No… Not yet. Let me tell you when.” So then he would say, “Now you can,” and I would pull up on the wire that went through the floor board and then the car would make a roaring sound and the dust would blow up. We thought that was a pretty good joke.
I remember some of the parties we had. My mother’s father would come over, I called him Grandpa Brada, and there was a relative, Nick Brady (married to Strina). They used to come over to the old house. They both had cars called Whippets that were notoriously famous for not starting as soon as it got down to zero or so. You had to crank them with a crank and even then they wouldn’t start. After a dinner and celebration, they wanted to go home and tried to crank up the old cars which wouldn’t start. I remember Nick Brady was so mad, he said “You darned rotten car. If they don’t want to start – don’t want to run – I’ll fix it so you can’t see.” And he took the crank and he smashed the headlight out which was sitting right on the fender. Everybody was laughing about that.
I can remember when Dad got the newer car after the old Dort gave out. He got a car called the Oakland. About the only thing I remember about it was that it was a sedan (a four-door sedan), and it had wooden wheels. The spokes in it were wood. The wheels would deteriorate and fall apart and I remember that once in a while Dad would have to go over to the junk yard in St. Cloud and get another wheel so he could replace the broken one.
The Willys Knight
They had something called a Willys Knight, which was a great big thing like a hearse. It had big high wheels and the wheels were so big that it would go through the biggest of snow drifts. We used to go cross-country through the fields to try to avoid the big snow drifts that were on the road in order to get to town for church or to get supplies.