My parents were record keepers. Especially my Dad, who worked for 30 years as an accountant for the State of North Dakota. Every time he filled the car with gas, he would write down the price per gallon, how many gallons purchased and the mileage on the car. In his retirement years, he kept a daily log comparing the temperatures in Bismarck with those in Phoenix, Arizona, where my parents had a winter home. I’ve always thought it was a little much, but I recently came across something that made me glad they kept track of things.
In a box of things I acquired after Dad died in 2008, I found a nondescript black record book. Though I had looked through these things before, the book somehow escaped my notice. With the heading “Family Diary” at the top of the first page, the book contains lists of important dates – birthdays, weddings and deaths – as well as notes about where and when family vacations and weekend road trips were taken. One page details hospital visits. There’s even a list of when every kid in the family got eyeglasses!
But the page that I’d like to highlight here is the page titled “Cars”, which is a list of every car bought, sold or traded by my parents going all the way back to 1948.
I thought it would be fun to try to find photos of as many of these cars as I could, because for me, the inspiration for collecting toy cars goes back to the real cars that I was around when I was young.
I am the youngest of 10 children and my dad loved to travel, so many of the vehicles my parents chose were big enough to haul all of us kids around while pulling a big trailer for us to camp in.
My brothers, Myron (left), and Ramon (right), with my dad, Donald, in front of the 1950 Plymouth Suburban.
Brothers Ramon, Myron and Joel next to the 1960 Ford Falcon station wagon.
My siblings, Brenda, John, Myron, Tim, Joel, Patty and Carla in front of the 1965 International Travelall.
Dad saved the brochure for his Travelall.
The Travelall brochure includes hand-written notes from the salesman.
I was born in 1966. I have a very early memory of standing up between my dad and my mom on the front seat of our big Pontiac station wagon as we cruised down the highway on a road trip somewhere. If I could have any of these cars now, I would choose the Catalina wagon.
The 1965 Pontiac Catalina wagon with the 1971 Chevy Cheyenne Super pick-up, August, 1972, at Lake Tschida, N.D. The pick-up was new and didn’t yet have the camper shell.
This is the camping rig that took me all around mostly the western U.S. when I was young. Myself, Tim, John, Brenda at Sibley Park, North Dakota, in 1974.
Brenda, me, Dad, John and Tim, camping in Hastings, Nebraska, City Park in 1978. A good shot of the Chevy pick-up with the camper shell.
Tim, our niece, Kelly, myself and the N.S.U. Prinz 4 in front of our garage. Dad would park the Prinz sideways at the very back, turning it into a three-car garage!
Dad also saved a brochure for the N.S.U. Prinz.
The 1974 Chevy Vega wagon. Yes, it was white with fake woodgrain panels!
The red 1974 AMC Hornet, about 1978.
1983(?) Chevy Cavalier wagon. Much to my surprise, Dad let me borrow this car to drive myself and a friend and our dates to Senior Prom.
Dad standing by the motorhome somewhere along the highway, about 1984.
The 1985 Chevy Astro Van parked along side my parent’s winter home in Tempe, Arizona.