Monday, June 1, 2015

Brownley's Love of Cars and Speed

Brownley Stewart moved to Parkersburg, West Virginia around the age of sixteen.  Living with his uncles he worked at the oldest hotel in the city.  He had several jobs from busing tables to providing room service. He was very conscientious; he did every job to the best of his abilities, he sent money home to his parents.  But he worked long hours and extra shifts, saving as much as he could.

As soon as he had saved up enough money he bought his first car for approximately $150. He found that he loved to drive, especially at excessive speeds.  He would race trains between the cities along Route 50.  In some cases the road crossed the tracks; so the goal was to beat the train to those crossings in order to win the race.

Brownley always took very good care of his automobiles.  He could perform most automotive repairs.  And he loved to regularly hand wash them. 

When he was called home in 1937 as his sister's illness became grave, it was her wish to go for a ride in his car.  He carried her to the car on pillows to make the ride as comfortable as possible.  Its not clear what he did with his car when he went off to war.  But he did have a car after his return.

After Brownley married and completed his post-WWII training to be a carpenter, he switched to a pickup truck so he could carry his tools for work.  As his family grew he used his carpenter skills to make the pickup child-friendly:  he installed a special child seat so his daughters could see through the windshield without sitting on his wife's lap; he also build bunk beds for long trips.

But as the family grew he switched to a Dodge station wagon.  And as he became more successful he added a pickup truck for work while retaining a station wagon for family travel; especially for those eight-hour trips to visit his relatives in Parkersburg, West Virginia and Belpre, Ohio on the way to his wife's relatives in southern Ohio.  It was also in the station wagon that he loved to take the children on secret high-speed joy rides.  It was hard to find a five to ten mile straight stretch of road in West Virginia where he could go over sixty miles per hour, but he knew where he could achieve much higher speeds.  (And we wonder where I got my love of driving fast ... )

The last station wagon was a Dodge built on a pickup truck frame making is very sturdy.  It was nicknamed the "war wagon".  It was the vehicle in which all of his children learned to drive.  It was the way we were transported to and from college with our trunks for the school year.  We til this day have not been able to part with the war wagon....just too many memories. 

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