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Adventures of Ron Huckleberry...#24 Dad Buys a New Car
Ron’s dad was a business man. He managed a loan company as well as performing his service to the military effort. He had not passed the military physical and was classified 4-F.
He was asked to fill the position as Director of Personnel at Red Stone Arsenal as his contribution to the war effort.
It’s 1944 and America was surviving with strict war-time rationing and most everything was rationed. Very few new automobiles are available and one can imagine the excitement when one is available.
“Luck of the Irish” sat on Dad’s shoulder one morning as he drove to work. As he passed by the local new-car-show-room Dad noticed a new grey and black Hudson Super-6 being unloaded from the transporter.
He could not immediately stop, but in the office he quickly phoned mom and asked her to arrange to go with him to the show room at noon. “Honey, this can be a very educational experience for Ron. As an inquisitive 9-year old, which he is, he will likely never forget this day? Arrange for Ron to come with you”. Dad explained.
Mom was early and they arrived at the show room round 11 a.m. The beautiful car was parked in the main show room and they stopped outside and admired it before going inside.
Mom and Ron walked over to look more closely at the car while Dad spoke briefly with the manger. The manager was busy, so Dad waited several minutes.
Dad finally joined Mom and was soon talking with Jeff, the salesman. Dad quickly noticed that Jeff was not trying to sell him the car. Jeff explained, “Sir, we only received one car, but we are hoping for another one in a few weeks”.
“I like this one and I guess we’ll buy it”. Dad stated. Dad noticed that Jeff was a little nervous as he excused himself to make a quick phone call.
“Honey”, Mom said, “When we came in I overheard Jeff talking with a man about the car. The man stated that he wanted the car and would back to pay for it soon after the bank opens at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.
“I guess two can play this game as well as one”. Dad said.
“”What do you mean”? Mon asked.
“Perhaps Jeff is getting a little bribe to hold the car for the man he was talking with. This isn’t unusual, but we just have to out smart him”. Dad explained.
Ron was really inspecting the beautiful car. The doors were open and Ron was first on the front seat and then on the rear seat. “Man, this is large enough for Sis and me to have a ball. We can even climb over the back seat into a huge storage area”. Ron was saying to himself.
Dad excused himself and returned to talk with his friend, the manager. He was soon sitting in the office filling out some type of forms. Mom and Ron waited a long time for Dad to complete the paper work.
When Dad left the office Mom could not wait to ask him what he had been doing. Dad explained that he filled out the paperwork to finance the car. At first Mom was a bit angry. “Honey, we agreed not to buy on credit”. She stated.
“Don’t worry; I’m not really going to finance this car. We just have to be smarter than Jeff and his friend. I’m sure that the other man told Jeff that he would pay cash for the car and would do so as soon as he got the money from the bank at 9:30 a.m. If we say that we will back tomorrow to pay cash, Jeff and the other man will find a way to finalize the cash sale before the store opens tomorrow.
By initiating the purchase paper work now, we have initiated the sale and purchase of the car as of the exact time and date I insisted be placed on the contract. I agreed to have a $500 down payment here no later than 10 a.m.
By initiating the finance contract, I’ve indicated that we do not have the cash, therefore the other man and Jeff will feel they have plenty of time and will not rush to have the cash here at 9 a.m. sharp”. Dad had explained in detail.
When we got home Mom immediately began doing some figuring and money counting. A little later Dad asked Ron if he wanted to drive to the office with him. Of course Ron was excited. They naturally drove very slowly by the show room and admired the car again.
At the office Dad went to the large back store room and began moving some boxes and furniture around. He then moved a heavy storage shelf and exposed a very large metal safe. He opened the safe and removed a small black leather case, from which he removed some money. After securing the money in the vest pocket of his jacket, he pushed the storage shelf against the safe and then moved the boxes and furniture in front of the storage shelf.
Dad went to the wash room and retrieved an oil floor mop and then began mopping the floor around the area where he had moved the boxes and furniture. In fact he mopped the entire room floor.
As they were driving home Ron asked, “Dad, why did you mop the floor”?
“Marks are left on the floor anytime one pushes boxes and furniture along the floor. I did not want any one to be aware that anything in the room had been moved. A burglar might immediately sense that a safe is hit along the wall”. Dad explained.
That evening as Ron lay in the bed he thought about his favorite radio program, “The Shadow” and how Dad’s detective-type actions resembled these adventures. Ron smiled as he thought how smart his dad is.
Mom had given Dad a list of items to buy at the grocery store. Dad stopped and shopped and treated us both to a big ice cream cone.
When we got home Mom and Claudia, our wonderful maid, had supper prepared. It was not unusual for Claudia to join us for the meal.
Sis was already bathed and Ron knew she would soon be in the bed. Ron normally got to stay up an hour later. During the meal Mom and Dad talked about the car. Sis asked what they were talking about and Mom stated, “It’s a surprise for you tomorrow”.
When Claudia took Sis to bed, Dad removed the money from his pocket and placed it on a napkin on the table. Mom soon retuned with her money. There weren’t many bills, but Dad was a bit upset that Mom had so many one dollar bills, because he felt small bills were not good in a business deal.
The price of the car was $1250.00 cash. Mom had $350.00 (fifty in one dollar bills) and three one-hundred bills. Dad counted out the other nine one-hundred dollar bills, which he had removed from the office safe.
Without saying a word, Mom set up the ironing board and began ironing all of the bills.
“Mom, why are you ironing the money”? Ron naturally asked.
Dad stated, “Ron, remember that business men look more professional when they deal in new money. It doesn’t look like it was recently taken out of a mattress”.
Ron never forgot that statement; not because he thought it was a good idea, but because he thought it was phooey.
The next morning everyone was up early. Dad did not want to be one minute late. The show-room and store opened at 9 a.m. and we were all standing at the door at 8:45.
Dad wanted Ron to be with them and be part of the real action as they all drove off together in their new car. Sis and Claudia were happily there too.
When the janitor opened the door, Dad asked to speak immediately with the manager.
The secretary stated that Jeff, the salesman would be with Dad in a minute or two. Suddenly Dad seemed very upset. “Young lady, I want to speak to Mr. Smith. Just tell Gus that Gene is here”. Dad very sternly stated.
“Yes Sir”. The young lady stuttered, as she rushed off to Mr. Smith’s office.
Gus and Dad had been friends for several years. When Gus approached the counter, he immediately asked, “What’s the problem, Gene”?
They shook hands and Dad stated, “I don’t think there is any problem, but I really need to pay for the Hudson right now, since I’m in a hurry. Dad then counted out $1250 in cash.
It was apparent that Gus and the secretary were somewhat shocked. Gus counted the money and asked the secretary to give Dad a receipt. Gus excused himself as he answered the phone.
At that moment Jeff walked up to the counter. He did not see Mr. Smith and began talking with Dad. “Mr. Huckleberry, I’m, sorry, but the car has already been sold to someone else.
Dad turned towards Jeff, smiled and sarcastically stated, “You’re right young man. The car has been sold, but not to someone else. I just bought it”.
The salesman then sarcastically stated to Dad, “I’m sorry, but as I just said, the car has been sold to someone else”.
“Young man, will you please ask your manager to show you the sales slip of who just bought the car “? Dad stated.
Mr. Smith, waving the sale slip, stated, “Mr. Huckleberry just paid cash. The car is his”.
The salesman impolitely turned and started to leave the room when Dad said, “Gus, will you please ask that young man to come back over here for a minute”?
Gus did and Jeff was soon walking back to where all of us, including the sectary, were standing.
Dad then began, “Gus, we’ve known each other for years and we both have businesses and know that ethics are important. I’m sure you would say the same thing to me if the table was turned. At least I hope you would alert me of a possible problem as I am alerting you now of a possible problem”.
Everyone standing at the counter, including Mom and Claudia, were somewhat shocked at Dad’s firmness. “Gus, the problem is that this young man was more interested in himself and his friend, than in taking care of you and your business…and thus insuring ethics”.
Both Jeff and the secretary, who were likely working closely together to insure that Jeff’s friend got the Hudson, looked nervously at each other as Dad explained to Gus what had transpired.
Dad explained, “When Jeff saw me standing out side your door a little before nine this morning, he went directly to the phone. I’m sure he phoned his friend, who wanted the Hudson”.
“Isn’t that right”? Dad asked Jeff.
Jeff just looked at Mr. Smith and the secretary.
“Well, is that right”? Mr. Smith asked Jeff.
“Yes sir. I goofed”. Jeff stated.
“Goofed…hell. You made a big mistake, boy”. Mr. Smith yelled. “I can see we all have a lot of talking to do”. He continued
“Gene”, Gus said, “I’m very sorry about all of this and you can bet it will never happen again. Isn’t that right, Jeff”?
“Yes sir. That’s right”. Jeff apologetically uttered. “I am real sorry, Mr. Huckleberry”.
They all shook hands, the secretary gave Dad the car papers. Jeff took the keys and carefully backed the car out of the show room
We all followed the car to the back of the building. Again there was hand shaking before we all entered the beautiful Hudson.
Mom and Dad sat in the front. Claudia, Sis and Ron sat proudly on the rear seats. There were no seat belts in those days. We touched every single inch of the car that we could reach. Claudia seemed impressed at how large and long the back seat was. Naturally Ron asked Dad too many questions in too short of a period.
Mom gave Ron a note for his teacher just before they parked in front of the school. As Dad drove off, Ron stood and admired the car until it was out of sight.
That evening all of us again happily sat in the car as Mon drove us around for at least and hour. As Ron lay in the bed he reviewed every single detail that had transpired. Dad was right, Ron would never forget a single detail.
© GENE HUDGENS
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