‘A’ car of a lifetime: Son restores his father’s first car

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Upon graduating from Edward Little in 1958, I purchased a 1929 Ford, Model A, two-door sedan for $75. Actually, I was “encouraged” to buy it by my father, an insurance agent with the Dunlap Agency at the time. Dad didn’t want me racing around town in a car with a big engine, so the “A,” capable of cruising at 45 mph, seemed just the thing to start with. I readily agreed, because I quickly fell in love with the old bomb.

I drove the car for the next two years, while working full time at Sanitary Market’s Foodtown on Spring Street in Auburn. I also began dating “the girl next door,” Claire Lodge, in the summer of ’58. Claire had another year of high school to go, so I would drive her to various events in the “A,” to the stares and giggles of many of her classmates.

In 1960, I finally realized that packing produce in the basement of the supermarket wasn’t the kind of job I could envision doing for many more years. That fall, I enrolled at Portland University’s School of Business Administration, and stored the Model A in back of the garage at home.

The next year the University of Maine at Portland merged with Portland University, and I matriculated to the UMP School of Business, where I graduated in June 1964. A week after graduation, Claire and I were married, on June 13, 1964.

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From that point on, it seems there was always one or another priority that rose above the desire to restore the Model A, and so it lived a nomadic life of storage, being moved from one place to another, until I was able to “bring it home” to our house on Gamage Avenue, formerly Claire’s childhood home, in 1978.

Restoring the old car was still light years away, considering the needs of a growing family that included three children.

In the fall of 1997 we sold the home on Gamage Avenue, whereupon our oldest son, Jim, well-established as a program development manager, volunteered to store the “A” at his home in Kennebunk, and further volunteered to have it restored if I would give ownership to him. I agreed.

In 2004, true to his word, Jim commissioned the restoration to a professional in New Hampshire, insisting that the car be restored to original specifications.

In 2005, the car emerged from the restorer’s shop, making me think that there are, indeed, rare times when a sow’s ear can be made into a silk purse!

Jim brought the car to the Yarmouth Clam Festival in 2007 and 2008, winning first prize in the antique car contest both years.

He left the car for my use in the summer of 2008, and it was an absolute joy to drive it to my 50th high school reunion, with Claire, and with my best high school friend, Bruce Chase, and his wife, Helen.

My generous son brings the car to Auburn each summer for me to drive for several weeks, before returning it to New Hampshire.

I think it is safe to say I will have access to my first car for the remainder of my lifetime.

Steve Marsden’s first vehicle, then and now: “These were taken, 50 years apart, straddling Gammon Avenue in Auburn, with Claire’s house on the right, and mine on the left (both houses face on Gamage Avenue. We hadn’t owned or occupied either house for many years, but Jim, waxing nostalgic, thought the after pic should be at the same site as the before!

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