The Car with the Rumble Seat - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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The College
January 5, 2019

The Car with the Rumble Seat

by John O. Edgar '31 (1908-2006), Reformed Presbyterian Pastor and member of the Geneva College Board of Corporators (1969-1994)

At the close of my first year at seminary, I decided that I needed a car for transportation. Money was scarce, but in some way I had accumulated $35. I began visiting used car lots, but everything was above my price range. Finally I did find car—a 1928 Ford Coupe. It was a robin’s egg blue and had a rumble seat. I made an offer of $35, and the dealer sold the car to me “as is.” And therein lies a story. The car had been in an accident and could not be driven. The fenders on the left side were crumpled and the running board was bent up against the door so that it could not be opened.

The dealer delivered it to the place where I was staying, and as I surveyed my purchase I began to wonder if I had bought a pile of junk. After considerable prying and bending, I was able to remove the fenders. The brackets holding the running board were straightened and the door could again be opened. In spare time I began hammering out the fenders, and little by little the dents and wrinkles disappeared so that the fenders were at least something like they had been originally. I spent a total of 30₵ for bolts to reattach the fenders, and the car was ready to go on the road.

I drove the car for two years and put a lot of miles on it. Despite its appearance, the girls were always ready for a ride in the rumble seat. 

At the end of my schooling I took a pastorate in northern New York State. The blue Ford was showing its age, so I decided that I should have a better car in which I could go about doing my pastoral duties. I went back to the dealer from whom I had purchased the blue Ford to see what he had to offer. He had a brown 1930 Ford Coupe with a rumble seat—just what I wanted. I offered $75 and the old car, and to my surprise, he accepted the offer.

Since I was single I was having some serious thoughts about finding a wife. Among the parishioners was a young lady who caught my eye. We began dating, and it soon appear that we had many interests in common. That year there was a national church conference in Indiana, so I asked the young lady if she would like to go with me to the conference. She was willing, but had some doubts about the propriety of travelling so far with the new pastor. We agreed that it would be best to find a chaperone. A spinster in the congregation, who also wanted to attend the conference, was willing to go with us. A girl, about 16, also wanted to go, completing our party of four.

With great anticipation we set out on our trip. But there was one problem. The spinster considered the rumble seat a little below her dignity, so my sweetheart and the 16 year old girl had to ride in the rumble seat. One thing to be said for it was that it was “air conditioned.” There was plenty of air, but on a hot July day the air was more hot than cool. Fortunately, it did not rain during the entire trip.

There was one vexing problem, however. The folks riding in the rumble seat could not communicate with those in the front. Attempts were made to look through the back glass and make signs, but no one was very effective at interpreting the signs. The dilemma was solved, however, when we went to a hardware store and purchased some garden hose and two funnels. By extending the hose back to the rumble seat and placing the funnels in each end of the hose we had an effective speaking tube. This helped considerably in conducting our courtship.

That fall the young lady and I became engaged, and the next summer we were married. We drove the 1930 Coupe with the rumble seat to Colorado on our honeymoon. Along the way we stopped at motels, sometimes called “cabin camps.” Not much could be said for the facilities in those days. Usually there was rather crude cabin with a bed, a wash stand, and sometimes a dresser. The toilet and bath were in an outside building. But the price was right—usually $1.25 or $1.50 per night. Once we had to pay $2.00, and felt we were being robbed.

On this trip west, however, we didn’t have to resort to using the “air conditioned” rumble seat, despite the fact that it reached 114 degrees one day while travelling across Kansas. We also were able to communicate much better without the hose.

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