Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
© September 2009
Dad's love of Ramblers was still in evidence as we headed to Africa for our second term on the mission field. Before heading back in the fall of '59, Dad custom-ordered a 1959 station wagon, with the steering wheel built on the right, to take back to Africa aboard the S.S. African Pilgrim. I always wondered how they were able to make the dashboard look standard, as American Motors was not building for export to countries using the other side of the road. The gear mechanism on this 'adapted' model used a cross-over in the engine compartment, right next to the firewall, and those two cross-bars would regularly get jammed. While they were not difficult to jiggle free, it was seldom convenient - because of weather or traffic - to step outside, pop the hood and jiggle the crossover bars while someone inside simultaneously jiggled the gear lever.
By 1964, five years of weather and rough roads had badly deteriorated the exterior of the '59. It had been a workhorse for us, often carting as many as twelve at a time to one activity or another. When our furlough was delayed for a year to accommodate another missionary family's needs, Dad debated purchasing a replacement, but decided instead to give the old gray wagon a spruce up. Somehow confusion resulted over the colors chosen or maybe they just looked so very different when actually on the car. No one ever agreed to accept the credit (or to take the blame) for the resulting distinctive look, and Dad couldn't afford to have it repainted. Mom was embarrassed to even ride in the newly-styled cream and red wagon. The whole town was well aware that the Stanleys had come for supplies when that "fancy-colored American car" came driving down the street.
Dad never lost his love for Ramblers. On the 1965 furlough he purchased the one I practiced on to get my driver's license. It was a 1963 "e-stick" - no clutch, but you still had to change gears. "It's the poor man's automatic transmission," Dad explained.
I remember driving on a trip with him that year when he announced "You must be exceeding the speed limit a bit." I knew he couldn't possibly see the deep-set speedometer from where he was sitting. It turns out he was counting telephone posts going by. Knowing the distance between poles, timing them, and doing the necessary math, he worked out how fast I was driving.
As the furlough came to an end, a beautiful new white '65 wagon appeared, to take back to Africa - my personal favorite of our Rambling days. But Dad kept a firm grip on the keys; he was not keen for his 17- and 18-year-old sons to wrinkle it before he could get it out of the country.
While in college, I drove the last of Dad's Ramblers to the east coast, bound for Africa. It was a blue '71 sedan. The family had transitioned to flying rather than forcing Mom to endure that month-long sea-sick trip. Kathy and I navigated our way to the Big Apple, stopping at Gettysburg along the way. We visited the Statue of Liberty that cold drizzly day before finding our way to the New York ports (not an easy task in the pre-GPS era) to hand-over the keys.
Dad stretched out the life of the '71 as long as he could. By then it had become prohibitive to import American cars after each furlough. So, deep into his 40-year missionary career, he started purchasing vehicles assembled in South Africa.
That didn't mean Dad had become unfaithful to his first love. When he asked me to keep my eyes open for a vehicle for him to drive while he was on furlough in 1979, I willingly agreed if he would just give me an idea of what size and kind of car he might like. His first response was that he had always dreamed about driving an Oldsmobile - but then again, perhaps I could just check out what kind of deal I could get on one of those new Pacers, by American Motors.
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Tuesday, Oct. 27 - "The 1940 Armistice Day Blizzard" happened without warning; an early-season snow Nov. 11, 1940. Don Graham, historian and business owner, tells about this life and death "storm of the century," digging out after the storm, and much more. A remarkable part of our famous Minnesota winter storms, you won't want to miss. The quick annual meeting includes Board of Director elections. Bring your family and and friends to Kimball's historic city hall at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27. No admission charge, everyone's welcome. Light refreshments.
Tuesday, Nov. 17 - Third Annual Holiday Potluck Social from 6:30-8 p.m. in Kimball's historic city hall. Come celebrate, visit about the past summer months' happenings, voice your ideas that our society could feature, and just enjoy some good old-fashioned reminiscing, while dining and viewing the 'new' historic Kimball City Hall. It's breath-taking. Bring a dish to pass. Beverages and eating utensils are provided. All are welcome, bring friends. No charge. We're looking forward to another special occasion with you! Hope you can come.
Looking for a special gift? Christmas is just around the corner and we have just the thing that can please your family and friends. Keepsake souvenirs include a history book of Kimball's beginnings, society cookbook, note cards, coffee cups, commemorative trivet, all between $7 and $10. Shop at the October or November gatherings mentioned above. Want more information? Contact the Kimball Area Historical Society at Box 100, Kimball MN 55353, or by phone (320) 398-5250 or 398-5743, or e-mail
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Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations.