History’s Attic

This week in History’s Attic

When Ford Ranchero’s could float. Everyone has a favorite Aunt or Uncle, and us Papousek kids had Ed and Blanche Chocholousek who lived a few miles from us North of Dixon. My Aunt Blanche was my dads sister, and she was frugal to the tee (but most of the folks that grew up during the depression were). The one thing they splurged on was cars. Ed liked them fast and powerful, and if they did not meet his expectations they were gone.

He really like the Lincoln Continental 1958 to 1960 years. They had big V8s in them with everything you could think of run by a push button. On a lucky occasion we even got to ride in it. We would slide in on those big leather seats and staring us right in our face was this plaque that said:  This car was custom built for Edward Chocholousek. We were in awe and silent for the most part, thinking that this was one special car.

Later when we were older Ed told us he once drove that car nonstop–just stopping long enough to get gas–100 mph all the way to California. He said that was the only car that could do it! he said you know why? (we sure didn’t have a clue). It was because Ford put truck radiators in these cars. That was the secret keep them cool under high speed when other cars would have burned up.

Well Blanche liked to drive but she liked a little economy gas sipper, so she had a 1962 ford Ranchero with a little 6 banger in it. She taught us kids her frugal ways. We would crawl in that little car and go visit the town and neighborhood dumps. We always had to beat a family that had a station wagon filled to the roof with all kinds of assorted dump finds. And it never failed they were always pulling out as we were pulling in, and then we would say so and so beat us again.

One day we decided to visit the neighborhood dump in the floating Ranchero. It had been a wet summer, and we had to cross a pasture to get to it. Well, we were tooling along till we heard a shout! It was two words:  “HANG ON!” Blanche stomped the gas, and we had found ourselves in a lake bed. That little 6 banger wound up with tires a spinning and a spray of water behind it that would rival any new jet ski on the market. That’s when we found out Rancheros would float!! We felt like we were in that Ampi Car the Dobesh Family had in Burke. But anyway, us kids dearly loved those two, and the many escapades and lessons they taught us.

Author Richard Papousek, March 2024