Harriet served us well until a house became vacant in town. I returned her to her owner and invested in a sturdy used car on which my youngest son bestowed the name Stanley. This time it was a Ford XR Falcon with one original owner and so was well looked after. It was part of the family for a few years One day after I’d finished my shopping at SSW (now Coles) I left Stanley in the supermarket car park on the butcher’s side and nicked up the street for an item or two. When I returned I was surprised to see a crowd had gathered. My son, who worked at SSW at the time, approached me. He told me that my car had been damaged along with three others. Apparently a gentleman in his nineties pulling out of a bay had hit the accelerator instead of the brake, ploughing through three vehicles. One was brand new! ‘But, mum,’ my son said proudly, 'Stanley stopped him hitting any more. He came to a sudden stop once he hit solid old Stanley.’
There was damage to the side, but fortunately I was able to drive home (it was a different story for the other three drivers). So, after a bit of panel beating and a paint touch up, Stanley was back on the road looking better than before.
Now, my two eldest sons were real car enthusiasts and members of the Chrysler Club, and they spotted a car in their travels that they thought would be great for me. They arranged the sale of our dear old Stanley and I became the owner of a CL Chrysler. Wow! What comfort! It was like driving in my lounge chair, tape deck, a heater that really worked and cloth seats instead of the usual cold vinyl. I didn’t give this one a name, but I think it should’ve been called ‘The Guzzler’ because it had a mighty thirst for petrol.
Eventually I decided to look around for a smaller, more economic car and on one of my trips to Chiltern to see my mum, dropped in on my two bachelor uncles. They were discussing my Chrysler. Dave, the younger, was really impressed. When I mentioned I was looking to swap it for a smaller car that wasn’t so heavy on the juice, he offered to buy it. I agreed that as soon as I found a replacement he could have it.
Not long after that visit I received a call from Uncle Paddy, the older, with instructions to meet him at the Benalla train station. As he was a man of few words I was given no reason. He’d booked into the Top of the Town motel with instructions to pick him up next day. This I did and he told me to take him to the Ford dealer, where he told me to wait in the car, as he was going to get me a car. Ignoring my protestations, he walked to the office and after some time he was back in the car ordering me to drive him to the bank.
This time I was in the position to voice loudly my protests. He just grinned and said he had plenty of money and he was "buying me a little bastard".
I accompanied him to the office, dumbfounded, as papers were signed, cheque passed over and told there would be a brand new red Ford Festiva arriving within two weeks.
To cut this story short, I had Marty Burke print up‘The Little Bastard’ and place it on the tailgate, then took myself off to Chiltern to take uncle Paddy for a drive as promised. He was immensely amused with the name, I might add.
That little car took me round the Great Ocean Road, having its first service in Warrnambool, and survived the floods in Benalla two months later.
Unfortunately dear uncle Paddy (full name Ernest Edward Patrick Coyle) passed away a few months later at age 81. But 'the little B' remained in the family for 16 years before joining a pizza business in Melbourne. Maybe it's still there, busy delivering pizzas.