MY DAD'S MODEL T FORD
Today when we contemplate sitting in cars that will drive themselves, it's fun to dust off memories of the early Fords. Living in Island Falls, a "camp" or community with few people and fewer roads, people bought old cars to cruise around the island on gravel roads.
My dad, Tom Willey, owned a model T which we proudly said was "customized". This 1920's Ford resembled a truck - almost as if the back half of the car had been cut off creating the open back truck style. This Tin Lizzie was black of course and had wonderful wide fenders and running boards. Dad used a dip stick to measure the gas. If you saw some drops of oil under the car it was a good sign that the oil was still plentiful. The starter was a house light switch which dad had cleverly attached. We even had a crank to prime the engine if need be. I remember dad, on occasion, opening the hood and pouring water into the engine — I guess into a radiator when the car was overheating. For years I thought the car ran on water alone.
Dad loved naming things and he called the car the "Weary Willey." He'd start it up and chug down the road to work at the general store — Commissary 2. Or on weekends we'd pile in for a drive around the hydro plant or out to A Dam. We'd also pack a picnic and drive down a rugged road to a creek which we called Brenda's Creek in honour of our youngest sister. Here we'd berry pick, fish, picnic and give Tin Lizzie some cooling water. On the ride home we four girls would sing our hearts out. When we got home my dad would always say, "Dis is the end of da road." Not sure why, but we would always wait for the pronouncement.
I have warm and wonderful memories of that car and I can't help but smile just picturing it. Of course my friend, Diane Grayson's family owned a later model 1930's, I think, which had lovely padded seats. We felt like royalty riding around in that Ford but my heart always belonged to the "Weary Willey."
Judy Willey Mulligan is the second of four daughters of Tom and Charlotte Willey. Tom's position with the Churchill River Power Company at Island Falls was manager of Commissary 2, the general store, located on the southeast side of Camp, which served the people of Sandy Bay.
Thanks to Keith Olson for providing us with this photo of Tom Willey with his arm on Weary Willey's "tailgate." It was taken in October, 1962 when Tom drove Keith and Barbara around town on their wedding day.
[2016-06-11] The two photos above were provided by Hazel and Dennis Young.