Pete B 1949 Studebaker Champion Deluxe 2dr Sedan

TOO SOON OLD TOO LATE WISE

TOO SOON OLD TOO LATE WISE; Ben Franklin

On occasion Mom would let me drive the 49 Studebaker Champion around the neighborhood, especially down to Sparky’s Drive Inn to buy hot dog slaw for Saturday’s night supper. As I neared age sixteen more driving liberties were extended and when done so I would drive over to the Village One Complex in Sheffield. On many occasions the boyhood friend across the street went with me and we drive around a little while and then return home. Now this was before Jerry Clower of Grand Ole Opry fame made famous the Ledbetter Family but a more fitting Marcel and New-Gene Ledbetter depiction cannot be found as one day we discovered the boat ramp at the old Coast Guard Station on Spring Creek. Seemed like a fun thing to do at the time so New-Gene and I (Marcel) pulled up to the ramp and ever so slowly nosed the old Studebaker down the slope. Nearing the water’s edge I applied the brakes and sat there admiring the gently flowing waters when I noticed, the brake pedal was slowly easing to the floorboard and the car was creeping toward the water, in one fluid motion I quickly placed it in reverse, took my foot off the brake, gave it the gas and released the clutch. Expecting to go backwards! However, the old Studebaker only sat there, engine racing, clutch slipping and the car continuing to creep toward the water’s edge. What do you do? Engine rpm’s racing wildly, smoke bellowing out the exhaust; clutch slipping badly with the smell of the hot clutch lining filling the interior; Marcel (I) hollers to New-Gene, get out and push; New-Gene bails out of the car and positions himself between the front of the car and the water's edge, wraps his arms around the fender and starts pushing with everything he had and slowly the Studebaker; engine screaming, starts inching back up the ramp. Once on level ground New-Gene jumps back in the car and we both laughing hard to hide the fear we had experienced slowly left the parking lot; the old Studebaker with its engine racing and a trail of blue exhaust smoke in its wake.

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