Monday, November 18, 2013

Sale, but No Sale

by Ken Neal

I often think of a black 1941 Dodge automobile and when I do I remember what a fine man my father was. I have many memories of dad and automobiles. We spent a great deal of time together talking about or working on autos.
My first car, described elsewhere, was a 1933 Chevrolet coupe. I sold the old Chevy in the spring of 1953 for $60. I worked in Tallent’s Snappy Service station that summer and managed to accumulate about $400, so I was looking for a “new” car.
Pop was my main resource. Before I tell the Dodge story, I have to tell about a 1934 Ford coupe that I did not buy.
A Dr. Allison was a well-known Sand Springs physician and he drove the Ford. It was a beauty. I think he had bought it new and it still looked new.
When he died, the old Ford was up for sale. You were asked to make a sealed bid. We thought the Ford was worth about $125, but Pop suggested we bid $126 in case someone had the same idea.
Someone did. My school chum, Lee Earl Hayes, bid $125. But I didn’t get the car. After the bids were opened, Lee Earl came into the service station with the Ford, bragging that he had bought it for a few dollars more than $125.
A Mr. Roberts, I think an executive with Public Service Co., had opened the bids and when Lee Earl and his father inquired, he told them they needed to raise their bid a bit. They did and I lost the car.
Knowing this, I jumped out Mr. Roberts, the father of another school chum.
He was flabbergasted that I knew he had betrayed me but of course couldn’t or wouldn’t rectify the injustice. He didn’t have the character to correct his mistake.
Which brings me back to the Dodge and my father, who did have the guts to do the right thing even when it penalized me.

Dad called me one day to tell me he had found a good buy. It was a 1941 Dodge he had found on the used car lot of a downtown Dodge dealer.
It was in good condition and Dad said he could buy it for $165. I trusted Pop’s judgment and agreed. Dad made the deal and I drove the Dodge home.
Pop was right. The Dodge was not flashy, but it was clean and had relatively few miles on it. It had a fluid clutch and was amazingly smooth, if slow.
Once home, we congratulated ourselves on the find and showed the car off to mom.
About an hour after we got home, Dad got a call. It was from the elderly salesman that had sold Dad the car. The salesman, Dad said, was near tears. He had sold the car for the wrong price. He had gotten it mixed up with a 1937 Dodge and the 1941 was supposed to bring $495.
Further, his boss was going to fire him if he didn’t get the car back, he said.
We had a dilemma. We had the title, the car and a canceled check. The vehicle was ours.
But. Dad put the issue to me. I could see how he felt. He had been unbelieving at our good luck at getting the car at $165 and so believed the old salesman about the mix-up.
Still, it wasn’t our fault. You already know I didn’t get the Ford because someone cheated me. Now I didn’t want to keep a car at the expense of an old man who made a mistake.
We drove the Dodge back to Tulsa. The old salesman was nearing crying. Dad handed him the title and the keys. He tore up our check and another auto adventure was over. I have often wondered how long the old guy kept his job.
       My dad was hot-tempered, but softhearted and was quick to forgive mistakes that he made and that others made.
       I didn’t get those cars but I got lessons that lasted a lifetime. Be forgiving. Be honest. Thanks, Pop.

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