Category Archives: Automobiles

Dude, Your Bus is Rad!

California Surfer License Plate postcard

The ’68 VW bus has arrived in Kansas City.  How will this surfer-mobile fare in the Midwest, far from any toasty waves? 

The saga is detailed on The Thing About Life Is.


Filed under Automobiles, Cars, Family, Kansas City, Life, Travel, Writing

Take a Ride With Me on a San Francisco Streetcar — 1906!

This amazing movie of a San Francisco streetcar traveling down Market Street was filmed four days before the massive April 18, 1906 earthquake, then shipped by train to New York for processing. It’s a trip back in time to the chaotic streets of early-day San Francisco, where horse-drawn wagons shared the road with streetcars, men on horseback and pedestrians. A sightseeing streetcar passes through the scene. Newsboys cruise the streets, some seeming to pose briefly for the camera. Other boys grab onto the back of a car and run along. The crowd is mostly male, everyone wears a hat and most are well-dressed.

The area shown in the film was destroyed by the big earthquake and fire that followed. In the film, the clock tower at the end of the street at the Embarcadero Wharf still stands. The film originally was thought to have been made in 1905.  David Kiehn with the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum figured out exactly when the film was shot. Clues he used were the New York trade papers, wet streets from recent heavy rainfall, shadows indicating time of year, the weather and conditions on historical record. He even determined when the cars were registered and who owned them.

San Francisco is the favorite city of my mother-in-law and daughter. My husband went to kindergarten on the Presidio within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, but he doesn’t have the same romantic attachment to the city as other family members do.  He did alert me to this video, though! He prefers the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, which is also earthquake-prone.

Watch the video in full screen, if you can. 
U.S. Geological Survey’s discussion of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Movie of San Francisco not long after 1906 earthquake.
Wikipedia — 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
The original version of “Trip Down Market Street” from


Filed under Automobiles, Communication, Entertainment, History, Life, Movies, Nature, Photography, Science, Technology, Travel

Freedom on Four Wheels

Many years ago, my husband built this Classic Roadsters kit version of a 1936 Mercedes Benz.  He said it was fun to build and to drive around.  We sold it when the kids were getting ready to drive.  We needed more practical cars.  Here are my daughter and son, years ago, waiting for a spin in the cool car.

Many years ago, my husband built this Classic Roadsters kit version of a 1936 Mercedes Benz. He said it was fun to build and to drive around. We sold it when the kids were getting ready to drive. We needed more practical cars. Here, two youngsters wait for a spin in the cool car.

I don’t like to drive when there’s someone else in the car who can take the wheel.  I’ll happily hand over my keys.  “Baby, you can drive my car” is my anthem. Maybe I’m lazy, maybe I talk too much and don’t focus on the road, maybe I don’t like backseat drivers. 

But when I drive by myself, I enjoy it.  I turn up the radio very LOUD and jump from station to station — my fingers wear off the numbers from the buttons — always looking for a better song (unless it’s Led Zeppelin or Chris Cornell, then I settle down and stop looking until it’s over.)

Now that gasoline prices are so high, I thought again about what cars mean to us.  They mean freedom.  It’s that simple.  And when you can’t drive your car, you lose some freedom.  Some family members go on errands that could easily be combined in a more efficient route. Sometimes they make two or three trips, when one will work.  I wanted to help them figure this out.  Of course, I was rebuffed.  They liked the drive!  They could blast the radio the way they couldn’t at home in a house full of people.  Ok, now I get it. I don’t make special trips just to get out, but now I understand all of the extra driving.  Freedom, baby. (The Kansas City area has more miles of road per driver than most cities, which makes it easier to cruise. Just avoid rush hours.)

It’ll be hard making the adjustment to less driving as gasoline prices continue to rise.  Even me, the staycation queen, likes to get out once in a while and blow out my eardrums as I go exactly where I want to go when I want to go.  I’m sure that if public transportation were better, I’d love to leave the driving to someone else and maybe find a new kind of freedom. I never missed a car while traveling in Europe, for example. I loved the trains! The overcrowded buses — not so much.


Filed under Automobiles, Cars, Family, Humor, Life, Personal, Random, Travel

1928 Ford Model A Coupe

My neighbor Bill is starting his Model A for its last tour of the neighborhood before the new owner takes it away. Photo by Cathy Sherman.This was the first and last time I saw my neighbor Bill drive his 1928 Ford Model A Coupe. He was taking it for a farewell spin, honking its ooga ooga horn.  The coupe has been sitting in his garage for more than two years, and now he’s sold it.  It was no longer a thrill for the youngest grandkids — now young teenagers — to putt around the town.  In a decade, they’ll miss the old car. 

The first day the ad ran, a man from Bonner Springs bought the car.  The new owner restores Model As and corvettes, and Bill predicts that after the new owner shines and improves this Model A, it’ll bring an even more handsome price than he had to pay.  The cheapest Model As rolled off the assembly line for $385.  Now these antiques command many tens of thousands of dollars.

Ford produced about 4.85 million Model As from 1927 to 1931 in dozens of body styles, including coupes, sedans, pick ups, panel trucks, station wagons, mail wagons, town cars and roadsters.


Filed under Automobiles