My blue Model A Ford Phaeton, was bought new in 1928 by Alden and Carrie Hall of Damariscotta Mills, Maine. Carrie was my father’s cousin. She was a school teacher and Alden a farmer. They married late in life and named their first car Lizzie, driving her year round in Maine for about 18 years.
By 1946 Lizzie was getting pretty dilapidated. Carrie and Alden decided it might be nice to have a closed car for a change! My dad, Frank Hale Gardner, from Newton, MA was an old car buff who had always loved Lizzie as a boy. He offered to take Lizzie off Carrie’s hands and buy her a closed Ford replacement.
My dad and my mom worked together to restore Lizzie between 1948 and 1952. In 1953 after Lizzie was restored my Dad contracted polio. He lost the use of his legs, and therefore couldn’t drive for a while. He had several cars in his collection then besides Lizzie: a 1912 Stanley Steamer and a 1910 Knox. Dad loved to restore cars to as close to their original condition as possible. The Knox, a beautiful 7 passenger touring car, now resides at the Heritage Museum in Sandwich, MA.
As my dad recovered from polio with the inspiration of FDR and a lot of physical therapy, he had hand controls fitted to his cars and was able to drive them again. This was great for us kids since we could not go walking, play running games, or do camping with dad. Instead we would clamber into one of the cars and go motoring, stopping for a picnic or an ice cream cone along the way. We also went to antique car rallies, rode in parades, and my favorite – got all robed up in the jump seats for a “frostbite run” on a late fall day in New England.
After Alden died, and Carrie was too old to live all alone in her house in Maine, she moved in with us for several years before she passed away. What a treat it was for her to ride in Lizzie again during those years. I learned to drive Lizzie when I was 16. And, a dozen years later, she was the get-away car at our wedding in 1977. Later on she sat in a barn in VT for a number of years before my dad died. A few years later my mom offered to pass her along to me. I have enjoyed her here in PA since 2011.
Unfortunately neither my husband nor I are mechanics! So we have leaned heavily on JD’s Auto Repair to do an extensive mechanical overhaul—including adding safety features such as seat belts, running lights, and turn signals. I love motoring, so even though these features are not original to the car, they are important when taking grandchildren for a ride! We get a thumbs-up from drivers of sports cars, motorcycles, and other old cars. Lots of fun and good memories!