This forlorn four-door 1955 Ford Fairlane is wasting away in Lincoln County, Arkansas. It was last licensed and, we presume, last operated in 1966 according to the well-rusted license plate still attached to its rear. The vehicle survived 11 years before being literally put out to pasture. Once the pride of the fleet, it is now a planter for poison ivy and probably a condo for critters. 1955 was the first year for the "Fairlane" model designation.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
1955 was a watershed year in the car business. Archrivals Ford and Chevy both thrust dramatic new body designs, engines, and other innovations into a market thirsty for new cars. Chevrolet offered a V-8 engine for the first time. Ford called its V-8 a "Y-block engine."
The four-door Fairlane pictured here was near the top of Ford’s food chain. Options offered for the first time with the ’55 model included seat belts and factory air conditioning. 1955 also marked Ford's introduction of "wrap-around" windshields. They were beaten to the punch on the wrap-around by Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac in 1954.
Ford in 1955 was the first to include as standard equipment a "deep-dish" steering wheel, now more or less an industry standard. The spokes on the wheel angled downward to connect to the steering column, offering a new measure of safety in front-impact accidents. Padded dashboards had to wait until 1956 and were offered as an option.
Though some neighbors visited me while I was shooting the old vehicle, they offered no hints as to its provenance, but did seem to be glad when they discovered that I was not there to reconnoiter the area for a later visit. Suffice to say, I shared their gladness.
It was a day to find personal and real property fallen from grace. Not far from the ‘55 Ford was this old building, which showed evidence of someone wanting to stop the deterioration. On the front of the building you see the original wood, later "tar-paper," and finally the building material of last-resort, particle board now graying with age. Just to the left of the door is a stack of old wooden folding chairs, the standard for temporary seating before the advent of the ubiquitous metal folding chairs you see today. The metal ones are a vast improvement. They weigh less, have easier opening and closing, and don't have slats that can loosen and pinch the lower part of your anatomy. The old ones were also knuckle busters when it came time to fold the chair.
We've seen what might have been highly revered property now fallen to detritus status. There is an object lesson there, which might be: Place higher value on those things with staying power — parents, siblings, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, in-laws, associates, dogs, cats, and other critters.
And make it a point to tell one of the above that you love 'em 'ere you retire for the evening. In the case of the critters, a few scratches behind the ears may also be appropriate.
N O T E S:
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE....
Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog. — J. D.