Revised & condensed version: Merlaine Samuelson, "Three Pedals And A Lever." In The Midst Of, Cokato Historical Society (Winter, 1995) vol. 15 no. 1.
This is all history now but in the spring of 1947 we went farther back in history. Lois Bergman and I decided we should buy a car so we could get beyond the confines of Cokato when the weather was so nice. With a teaching salary of $280 per month we knew that the car could not be new or even recent, so we went to Harold and Rub Harkman for some suggestions. They told us of a bachelor living in town who was now too old to drive; he had a 1917 Model T Roadster that was in excellent shape. We went to meet Mr. Gust Flood and bought his car for fifty dollars. Gust had only used it to go back and forth to Stockholm to care for and harvest ginseng (a medicinal plant which he marketed in New York) which he raised on his farm in Stockholm.
We could both drive cars of the 40s, but here we faced something that was operated by three pedals and a lever. Who
could teach us to drive it? Harold Ryti, a young man in the Ford garage, knew all about Model T's so he was our good
instructor and soon we were on the road.
The three pedals each had a purpose. One was the brake, one was for going in reverse, and the one to the far left acted as low gear. You really pushed that one down when the roads were muddy or you were climbing a hill. The lever had to be
moved ahead very slowly to get the car moving. Henry Ford was a very ingenious man.
We were very venturesome. Each weekend we went to either Minneapolis or Grey Eagle without even thinking we might need a spare tire. One time, as we were speeding down Highway 12, Clifford Hedberg pulled up beside us and shouted "You're doing thirty-five miles per hour!"
Of course with no battery we had to crank to get it started. With only one door we knew that the one who was not driving had to do the cranking. It was so embarrassing for me to get out to crank at the bank corner in Cokato or at the corner of
Hwy 100 and Lake Street in Minneapolis when Lois would kill the motor when she tried to start it up.
When Paul and I started dating and were married, our "Little Ophelia Bumpus" was not needed anymore so we put her to rest in the shed on our farm. There she rested for forty-two years until we moved to Cokato. I'm sure the new owner can't
ever have as much fun as we had that year with three pedals and a lever.
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