Classic cars: Twin brothers, twin cars

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Richmond Beach native Scott Anderson responded to the invitation to share stories of beloved cars with this wonderful story about his father, his father's twin brother and their cars.

By Scott Anderson

As they say, a car can be restored any number of times but it’s only an original once.

This reminds me of another set of originals I once knew. The cars, 1950 Pontiacs. The brothers, a couple of identical twin blonde farm boys named Jim and Jack. While sitting on a dock fishing in Poulsbo one afternoon 13 days short of their 19th birthdays, they heard some news about a harbor in Hawaii being bombed by the Japanese. Often already dressing identically – sometimes even by accident- they soon found themselves in matching clothes of a darker shade of green than the car below, and spent the next years watching out for each other through some very interesting times.

1950 Pontiac steering wheel and dash

In 1950 they each bought a car – on the same day, at the same time, they walked into the same dealership and ordered two identical cars be to built. Dark green Pontiacs. They’d have the Silver Streak model please, the one with the chromed Streaks on top of the hood leading straight down to the hood ornament bust of Chief Pontiac himself; it even lit up at night. By day the prism on the dashboard lit up in hues of green, yellow, and red to echo the traffic light because the visor was so low – much like the brim of the mens’ fedoras. Even the license numbers differed only by the last digit. Never – and I do mean never – would they go out on the town, these men and their machines, but the cars were clean, polished (it’s Simonized!) and looking as sharp as the creases pressed in their doublebreasted suits.

Louise, an Army colonel’s daughter, meanwhile was returning from Europe through Seattle and answering a girl named Margie’s ad for a room mate wanted. As luck would have it, Margie was seeing Jack, and since neither Jack’s brother nor her friend and room mate were attached, a double date seemed a good idea. One date lead to another, and soon Jim and Jack became Jim and Louise and Jack and Margie. They were more identical than would seem plausible to those that didn’t know them but the passing years don’t alter the many ‘TwinThings’ that really happened. For example the time the usually very popular Jack’s longshore coworkers in Everett suddenly shunned him because he’d been seen walking in Seattle at the World’s Fair with an obviously ‘expecting’ woman who was Not - His - Wife. Only a lunchtime trip home to retrieve a photo album restored Order on the Waterfront through the phrase “Oh that must have been my twin”.

Lighted hood ornament of Chief Pontiac
As the years went by Jim and Louise had a son, who himself often couldn’t tell his dad from his uncle.  But the sound of that big GM straight eight motor echoing off the garage walls early in the morning or late at night – that was something he could tell anytime from any other sound. In the morning it was the starting gun for the race to the window for a glimpse of a proud fender disappearing round the corner, and in the night it was the knowledge that all was right with the world filtering through a little boy’s cowboy dreams.

They’re gone now – the handsome men, the gleaming green Pontiacs, and the panache of their times. But the son does remember sitting up so high in the front seat of Jim’s car, feeling the firmness of the padded mohair upholstery and yet oddly the springs beneath it too, barely able to peer over the large radio speaker in the center of the dashboard … I’d love to say that even then I knew there was something special about those days, but its magic was something as beyond the grasp of so young a boy as that huge steering wheel in my little hands when I was once even allowed to “drive”. Still it’s a friendly shadow, something of a time I carry with me that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Thanks for coming along, I hope you enjoyed your ride!


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