Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Lady

I recently purchased my great grandmother's 1955 Ford Fairlane from my aunt.  Affectionately known as "The Lady," the car has been passed from one member of the family to another since its purchase.  The slideshow above shows the many adventures the Lady has been on and below is a short history (much credit is due to my Uncle for helping write about much of the car's early years).  I hope to continue adding photos and stories as I collect them as well as sharing the new adventures the car sees, enjoy!

The Lady was purchased new in 1955 by Dora E. L. Colby or "Mimi" as she was known.  When she died in 1960 it became her husband's (John Colby) car until he gave up driving at age 90 around 1965 or '66.  Because John could no longer drive himself, Arthur Langton or "Dub," began driving his grandpa around in the Ford.  Arthur was student teaching at the time, but looked forward to being eligible for a real job.  Grandpa John gave the car to Arthur shortly after he started teaching in the spring of '66 (Arthur first taught period 6 in Room 6 on 6/6/66).  The car only had about 29,000 miles on it at the time so it was practically new.  Though it was now Arthur's car, he continued to drive Grandpa Colby around in the Lady until Grandpa died just after the first moon landing in 1969.

Arthur enjoyed many adventures in the Lady.  He drove it to Camp Whitsett the last year he was on JLT staff and then on to Kings Canyon NP where he did a solo backpacking trip up Bubb's Creek to check out a campsite the Post might use on an up coming summer trek.  He was the Post adviser by then so the Lady took him and the crew on many adventures.
John and Dora Colby also had a green Ford purchased in the late 40's which was named "The Lizard."   There weren't any grand children old enough to drive then so it was probably traded in to help purchase the Lady.
Grandpa Colby gave cars to all his grandsons, a tradition that started with John Colby III receiving Grandpa's Model A Ford complete with rumble seat and running boards.  Like a good engineer to be, he took the motor completely apart, reassembled it, and got it to run.  Unfortunately, a girl he was sweet on objected to being taken out on dates in such an old car.  Eventually, the girl dumped him anyway and John sold the car.

Kennard was next in line and received John and Dora Colby's '36 Ford which they had used throughout World War II and until new models came out after the war.  Kennard drove the '36 Ford up to the Kern River where it overheated and cracked the block head.

Grandpa Colby, not having any spare cars at the time, gave G. Alan Hunter the money to buy a used Dodge Dart.  None of Grandpa's gift cars were new.  Alan used it to commute between Sacramento and UC Davis.  Until he graduated, he also drive his sister, Pamela Hunter (now Johnson), to and from Davis.  He likely drove the car back to Chicago where he was a graduate student at the University of Chicago in Political Science.

Stephen Langton received the Lady from his brother Arthur after Arthur bought his Uncle John's '66 Ford station wagon which he had used in his contracting business and would pull a trailer.  At the time, Stephen was driving his mother's (Irene) '57 Ford which had loads of horsepower.  Fuel efficiency was not an issue in those days.  When Irene bought her '68 Ford, Grandpa Colby gave Irene the estimated cost of the '57 Ford just to keep his record in tack, that he really had given each of his Grandsons a car.  What about his Granddaughters you ask? Grandpa Colby was extra generous with them when they got married, or so I'm told, and all were married prior to his death.

Stephen drove the Lady to commute to LA High from the San Fernando Valley for some time before buying a more efficient diesel VW Rabbit.  He then gave the Lady to Debra Flu (now Gruttadauro) one of his wife Jeralynn's younger sisters.  Debra drove the Lady in Los Angeles and San Diego while attending college and continued enjoying the car as a weekend driver after she married.  She showcased the car in a few shows and lent the Lady to her friends as a wedding getaway car.  After enjoying the car longer than any of the previous owners (30+ years), she sold the car to me in 2012!


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