When I was a baby, my oldest brother, Mike Jr., gave my Dad a ’42 Buick Roadmaster that he had bought and drove for about a year. At the time, my Dad had a ’37 Chevy with a rumble seat — and 5 children living at home. A ’37 Chevy with a rumble seat really didn’t make the grade, but at the time was the only car my Dad could afford.
Well, the ’42 Roadmaster became a family legend. It was nicknamed “The Green Hornet.” In my opinion, it was a freak. Nonetheless, it wore its model name with pride!
My brother Johnny would tell me the stories about The Green Hornet. When Johnny was 17 years old and I was 2, we were making a trip upstate in New York and bringing everything we thought we needed — and everything we could fit in the Buick. This is where it gets really interesting: My Dad removed the rear seat cushion and filled the space with 50-pound bags of potatoes. On top of the potatoes rode two of my brothers — Richie and Bobby — our German Sheppard, Duchess, and myself.
In the trunk were 5 bags of cement, the spare tire and some tools.
In the front seat were my Dad, my brother Patsy, and my brother Johnny.
Do you think there was enough weight in this Buick?
We were making a 150-mile trip and on the way, there were some steep hills. My brother Mike Jr. and a childhood friend, Frank, were following us in a 1948 Dodge. When we got to this one long, steep hill, Frank started blowing his horn and flashing his lights because we were going too slowly. The Green Hornet was really loaded down, so Frank thought his ’48 Dodge could outrun it easily.
To Frank’s surprise, the Green Hornet started to pick up some speed, so much speed that it waved good-bye and left the ’48 Dodge, with only two people in it, in the dust!
Yes, that ’42 Roadmaster was a freak! It out-pulled Frank’s car so bad, the Dodge finally disappeared in the distance.
My Dad parked the car for good in 1956, and it hasn’t run since the year after that. It’s still in upstate New York, though lacking some of its parts.
In 1960, my brother Johnny bought a 1948 Buick Roadmaster with the Dynaflow transmission. He still drives it!
Obviously, Johnny was really impressed and I was overwhelmed by the stories. I bought a ’48 Roadmaster Model 76S just so my Dad could ride in it. I asked him if he wanted to drive and he said, “No, just take me for a ride.”
That was just 4 months before he died. I kept the car for 39 years in his memory, but then I realized that whether I had the Buick or not, I had my memories — of my Dad and his Roadmaster.