Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Cars of Orlando

Tom Jeffries is my brother in law of forty four years. Tom is younger than I am by about four years or so, was a 1962 graduate of Weston High School and was in the United States Air Force when I married his sister, Barbara. From the time I have known Tom he has been “car crazy”, with an avid interest in anything with wheels. Apparently Tom was afflicted with this condition from about the time he was able to walk and it has continued until this day. Tom never met a car salesman he didn’t like as you can tell from his article about the cars of Orlando . -David Parmer

To the left is Tom with one of his loves in Hawaii where he was stationed.

By Tom Jeffries
I have had a love of cars all of my life which started in my childhood. I always had eyes for the cars in Orlando that belonged to our neighbors and I remember them vividly even today.

The first car I can remember riding in was a 1936 or 1937 Chevrolet owned by my Uncle Charles McCrobie. It was a brown four door sedan. In 1949 he traded for a black 1949 Chevrolet Deluxe four door sedan. Uncle Charles used to park his car off of the road in the lot next to the Nina Mathews residence. In 1950 a flood came to Oil Creek and got well into the car. Uncle Charles had the car towed to Burnsville to be dried out and repaired. In the process of being towed the chain jumped off the tow vehicle , flipped back and broke out the windshield. I wasn’t present to hear what was said. He later owned a blue 1953 Chevrolet sedan and a 1957 Chevrolet sedan. The 1957 Chevrolet was an aqua green and white Bel Air.

Doc Henline owned what I believe was a brown early 1950s Chevrolet truck and a 1954 Mainline four door sedan. In 1958 he traded for a 1958 Edsel. The Edsel was a V-8 with lots of power. He promptly backed it over the rails of the railroad track as he was backing out of his driveway. No doubt there was major excitement until it was extricated from the tracks.

After the Mathews family moved Cecil Skinner moved to their former house. Somehow there appeared a 1949 blue on blue Oldsmobile 88 coupe next to the house. I cannot remember the car ever being licensed or driven! I do remember that it was a Rocket V-8 which is considered by many to be the first muscle car. I really wanted to see it run.

In 1954, Worthington Hurst bought a new green on green 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air. He built a garage on the left side of the road which went to the Orlando School to house it. The garage is long gone as is the car.

Arden Thomas lived in the house which was adjacent to the school. In 1953 he bought a new Plymouth , black in color. I didn’t think too much of Plymouths.

This is Charles Cole's auto, with two of his boys, Slim (Alvin) and Harold Q. The picture was taken at their home on Three Lick in the late '20s or early '30s.

When Burl England moved to Orlando he owned a black 1951 or 1952 Packard four door sedan. He also had a Model A Ford Tudor which I think was also black. I was impressed by both of the cars but I never looked at them up close.

Nellie Casto never had a car but there was an old car that sat behind her house that was stripped for parts and later pushed into Oil Creek behind her house to help retard erosion of the creek bank. I think it was a Model A.

Mike Moran owned several vehicles that I remember. The first was a 1946 Ford Sedan. I believe it was red. He also owned a pickup truck and a long black funeral car that was kept in the red building on the left before you crossed the bridge into downtown Orlando . In the spring of 1949 Mr. Moran bought a new red Ford Tudor sedan. It was bright and shiny as it glinted in the sun as I stared at it from across Oil Creek. I was four years old.

Tom Jeffries, left, about the time Mike Moran brought home his shiny red Ford Tudor.

Deck Brown liked Buicks and owned a few over the years. The one that I remember most was a two tone green 1953 Buick Super. I rode in the car once or twice and it sure did ride smoothly. That Buick had Dynaflo! He also owned a flat bed ton and a half truck that was used around the store to deliver feed and so forth. I never saw Mr. Brown drive the truck. Ford, his son, drove the truck. The truck was an early 1950s green Chevrolet.

Mr Gave Allman owned a 1951 or 1952 black Chevrolet that he kept in immaculate condition. It was kept in a garage just down from his house. The garage was built into the hillside with block and was located on the road that went to the Stutler house. I remember him bringing the car down to Oil Creek in front of the Henline house to wash it on many occasions.

I remember Oras Stutler owned a 1941 or 1946 Chevrolet two door sedan. It was hard to tell the difference between a 1941 and a 1946 as they were so similar.

To the right are Oras and Edith (Skinner) Stutler next to Oil Creek, downstream near Burnsville. Their grandson Neil Beckner is near the back of the car. For most of their lives Oras and Edith did not have a vehicle.

Layton Riffle owned a beautiful 1955 Oldsmobile 88 Tu-tone blue, I believe. It was a real nice riding car. Once around 1960 there came a flood while I was in Burnsville that flooded Dumpling Run. Layton gave me a ride home by way of Heaters and Walkersville. It was a really nice ride from a really nice man.

Presley Bragg had several vehicles that I recall. He owned the first Jeep that I ever saw which he used to deliver mail. I believe it was red with a white hard top. It had to be a late 1940s or very early 1950s model. He also owned a green 1953 Buick Super as well and a red Chevrolet sedan at one time, He also owned a 1953 Ford cattle truck that was a light blue color. He kept it in the barn across from his house. He built a concrete block garage to house his fleet next to his house. Later he owned a 1961 Buick that he used to pick me up when I was hitchhiking.

In 1954 my father Coleman Jeffries bought a 1951 Chevrolet in Summersville. It was a three quarter ton, light blue in color and rode like a road wagon ! But it would haul all the lumber that you could put on it. When Dad brought it home he had to get Burt Skinner to drive it home for him because his driver’s license had expired years before! It remained parked for a month until Dad got his license. In 1957 I went with him to Feeney Chevrolet in Weston to take delivery on a new 1957 Chevrolet one half ton! What an improvement in ride and power as well as looks. I learned to drive in that Chevy truck.

He may not have known how to drive at the time, but to the right are Tom's dad, Coleman Jeffries, and Coleman's cousin Tom Thomas posing proudly next to a snazzy auto.

There are many other cars and trucks that I recall as a child and a teenager from Orlando that I will save for a later date. My lifelong love of automobiles began as a young child in Orlando and continues until today. I have owned over two hundred fifty vehicles in my life. Talk about an expensive addiction!

Comment 1 Steve Barnett
My grandparents never drove a car. My grandfather Bill Barnett supposedly traded a horse for a Model T as a young man. He and some friends went for a ride out into the country. As my great aunt Lura told the story he lost control of the car and ended up running the car up a large tree that curved out in a u-shape. He left the car where it stopped and never drove again.

Comment 2 Donna Gloff
I've always wondered how folks could leave old rusted out eyesores littering the beautiful WV landscape. I recently learned that my own grandfather contributed to the blight! I understand that when my grandfather, Oras Stutler, was a young man was a wild one. One of his exploits resuted in his '46 Chevy being wrecked in Oil Creek, and he just left it there! In his defense, I want to point out that in later years grandpa did a lot to beautify Orlando by demolishing several abandoned buildings downtown, including Mike Moran's offices and the Charlie Knight store. At the right is a stock photo of a '46 Chevy sedan. Maybe grandpa's looked like this.

Comment 3- David Parmer
Heaterhuck Henline’s first and only car was a 1924 Overland . Heaterhuck was proud of his Overland but rarely drove it. He came to conclude that there were “enough fool people in the world and he didn’t want to add to the number.” Uncle Zeke, chiding Heaterhuck, reported to all the people in Orlando and Braxton County in his Braxton Democrat column that “E. R. Henline is the proud owner of a brand new Overland . He says he is just a little afraid of it at present but he calculates having it de-horned just as soon as the weather gets cool.”
To the left is Heaterhuck Henline's 1924 Overland512

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