My [Wendell Caley’s] father was driving a 1936 Packard eight-passenger with fold-down seats behind the front seat. We had five kids so we needed a big car.
When I was 16, I started driving and I was driving a 1933 Chevy for not much money. He gave it to my brother Paul and me when we were just 12 and 13 years old. We took the car apart and then rebuilt the engine. We were living at 100 Fairview, Yeadon, Pennsylvania (19050) and we had a big yard, so we’d drive the car around it. I eventually registered the car.
Our family had been sent to Camp Sankanac [68 Bertolet School Road, Spring City, PA 19475], near Pughtown, Pennsylvania. One of the men, Vaughn Smith, at Aldan Union Church was director of the boys’ camp. I think I was 16 when Wally and I were both counselors there.
They had an old, maybe 1928 or 1930, Ford truck that had been sitting there for years. It had no registration on it. Wally saw this old Ford truck and wanted it. And I don’t remember whether he paid for it or just took it.
I towed that car from Sankanac to the Duncans’ home with my ‘33 Chevy. I can remember driving along those narrow Pennsylvania roads, with a creek on the left side and a gully on the right, and looking in the rearview mirror to see Wally’s terrified face. I was going too fast. Thankfully, there was no mishap.
Wally got the car home to Riverview [325 Riverview Cove, Drexel Hill, PA 19026] and he drove it around Drexel Hill with no registration. He had to get it running first. After he got it running, he was arrested by the police. As I recall, he was not yet 16.* The truck was brought back to the Duncan home and he was reprimanded severely by the police and by his father.
I did help him work on it, but I don’t think he repainted it. Painting in those days was very tedious: paint brush and paint can.
Wally came over to my house in Yeadon and he was helping me work on the ’33 Chevy. He was using an old-fashioned pump. He was pumping the tire up on my car or my bicycle. His hand came down quickly and the tube cut his hand. It was a pretty bad cut, but I don’t remember if we took him to the local hospital, which was Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, near where I lived.
He could bike over to our house. And I would bike to his house, too. It was quite a trip. We lived 6, 7, 8 miles apart. We took busses also.
*NB: Wendell Caley was born in January of 1928. If he was 16 in this story, then it was 1944. Wally was born in May of 1929, so he would have been 15.excerpt from a Skype conversation between Wendell Caley (longtime friend of the Duncan family) and Dawn Harrell (Steve’s daughter), January 29, 2013
Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).
- Do you remember this story? What other details can you add?
- Does anyone have a photo of the actual car?
- Is there a photo of Wally around 1944 that we could use?
- Do you have stories about your own or your parent’s time at Camp Sankanac as a camper or counselor?
- Can you contribute any pictures of Sankanac that are period of close to it?
- Dad, can you tell the story of Wally spray-painting the car by attaching the vacuum hose to the opposite end of the vacuum?