Studebaker Stories:



"THE TRAILBLAZER"

By Ed Fusco

Dumont, NJ

The wind gusted off the frozen East River and funneled it along with sheets of snow up 45 th Street at express train speed. That winter night in 1940 my father and brother were working late to get the next issue of Belgium set up and ready to run. By the time they finished up, the snowstorm was nearing its full fury.

After closing up shop, they decided they still had time to make it up to The Bronx without too much trouble. They then exited the building and as soon as they stepped out onto the sidewalk, the wind off the East River hit them like a brick wall. They then started walking down 45th Street , taking breaks in doorways to clear the snow out of their eyes and   to catch their breath. Bob walked in front of dad as a windbreak to keep him from taking off like a kite. Finally getting to the garage they wasted no time in starting up the Studebaker to make a run for home.  

Out onto First Avenue went the Studebaker in foot-deep snow on a now deserted street. With no chains, (snow tires were unheard of then, except for farm tractors,) dad guided the rugged '39 President up to the East River Drive, also a now deserted wasteland to the drawbridge to The Bronx. They then proceeded north on Bruckner Boulevard. By this time, they had run into a full-scale blizzard. Snowdrifts were beginning to slow the Studebaker down.   When they reached the intersection of Adee and Radcliffe Avenues they plowed into a snowdrift too deep to navigate and the Studebaker came to a sudden stop!

Now this totally unnerved my father. He tried to get moving again with his old tried, (and failed) method of slam shifting thru all four gears. Back and forth it went, tires screaming, smoking and send rooster tails o snow into the night sky. Bob then yelled at dad to knock it off, that it was useless. Then he shut down the engine opened the door and bailed out, immediately disappearing into a huge snowdrift. Bob made a hasty exit out his door, ran around the car and stood him up.

After calming him down, they got back in the car to size things up. They were about eight blocks from my aunt and uncle's home and about four or five from our home. Dad, starting to lose his cool again insisted that the relative's house was closer and they go there. Bob tried to convince him that our house was closer. Then, he really got out of hand. He said he was going Paulding Avenue alone. With that, he opened the door and bailed out again, and again, he disappeared into a huge snowdrift.  

Again, Bob had to run around the car in the howling snowstorm and get him back in the Studebaker. This time Bob, being fed up with his shennanigans told him that they were heading for home. Then, he proceeded to make a path around the huge drifts so that dad could follow. He had no choice but to follow.

With Bob in the lead, they made their way toward Colden Avenue, Every now and then he had to turn back and pick dad up, as he stumbled and fell every few yards. He was short-winded, but that didn't hinder his cussing, screaming, and bellowing at my brother to slow down, (Bob, was a frisky twenty-two-year-old back then.)

Upon reaching the house, rather than take dad up the long driveway to the back porch, he led him to the front cellar door, which was at street level. He then propped dad up against it, then ran full throttle up the driveway. He thundered past my mother in the kitchen who asked, "Where's your father? What happened"? Moving so fast he probably didn't hear her through the broken sound barrier. Opening the inside cellar door he vaulted down the flight of stairs and sprinted to the front of the basement in record time.   Then, he swung open the cellar door and caught dad as he toppled into the basement. He had saved dad from the storm!

That night, dad was too exhausted to kill my brother!

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