The Union Recorder


November 26, 2013

BROWN: Daddy’s baby blue T-Bird

MILLEDGEVILLE — Early autumn was an exciting time for the citizens who lived in and around the Richland area. During September, the unveiling of the brand-new models of automobiles was a most anticipated event. In those days we had both a Chevrolet and a Ford dealership on our main street, so we were treated to two festivities each autumn.

The new styles were quietly brought into town, sometimes several weeks before the highly anticipated unveiling. The dealerships had to be sneaky about getting the vehicles into town without being detected; sometimes they actually drove the cars down our main street, but under the cover of darkness. It is rumored that vehicles were sometimes unloaded from a transporter, in the middle of the night. The mystery cars were covered with dark canopies and hidden deep inside the dealership, or in empty warehouses. Great care was taken to keep the models hidden from the spying eyes of curious public.

During the last days of August, the dealerships offered fantastic sale prices on the remaining automobiles; it was time to make room for the brand new offerings. Exciting television advertisements showed split-second glimpses of the new ones, but detailed pictures were never released until after the national day of presentation.

Then without warning the plate-glass windows at the dealerships were covered with sheets, soap, or window wax, and the floors were highly shined so the show models could be displayed. The vehicles were still completely covered, but the ceremonial darkening of the windows was part of the mystique.

On the announced day, the show windows were uncovered, and by the middle of the morning, the shiny cars were finally revealed. People drove for miles to view the exhibition; there were family sedans, station wagons, and at least one sporty model displayed on the showroom floor.  The doors, hood, and trunk of the cars were opened so everyone could examine the offerings.

During the much-anticipated celebration, the dealerships gave out gifts; custom-made key rings, pens and pencils, rulers, and yardsticks to name a few. There were balloons, popcorn, peanuts, and ice-cold soft drinks for the enjoyment of the customers. Late in the afternoon the music started, and trays of food appeared.

Anyone who purchased a new car during the celebration received a special gift from the dealership such as leather goods, small appliances and gift certificates. Our parents owned the local propane company, and over the years they purchased vehicles from both of the dealerships. Our family attended the unveiling of the new cars, and sometimes David and I were presented with a miniature model of one of the new cars.

Looking back, I never remember either dealership displaying a new model of a truck. In those days pickups were considered to be work vehicles, and no one was interested in seeing a display of trucks.

In 1962 Daddy looked at two show models with interest, a red Chevrolet Impala, and a Ford Thunderbird. After a few days of shopping around, he purchased a baby blue T-Bird that is still one of my favorite models.

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