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Centennial memories are evoked by tour during Canada 150

27 Jun 17
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Jean Brown remembers her father’s fondness for saying with wanting to stay home to milk the cows, since he was done, he sold the family farm.

To which her mother would interject: when the hand and she did most of the milking Why would George say anything?

In any case, the result was Jean Brown grew up being with motion at ease: her parents took later moving into Gorrie to driving, in southwestern Ontario, where a welding shop was opened by George.

As the June 29 beginning of the Coasters Cross Canada Tour approached, and she felt zero apprehension at the prospect of Canada with husband Norm in their DeSoto Airflow. Why would she, after marking the centennial in 1967 of Canada when the Browns’ 1929 Chrysler maintained.

Holiday trips into Northern Ontario and Muskoka dubbed Normoskas, organized by the Automobile Club of Canada and were predecessors to the drive. The 60th edition runs on Manitoulin Island that Aug. 19-26. Jean was a passenger on the 13 Normoskas.

She turned 15 at Russell, Man., as the family made their way to the beginning at Vancouver Island, visiting friends who had moved west, some of these as travelling threshing crews.

That was as bad as it got, although she remembers the ancient Chrysler’s mohair upholstery being scratchy for shorts. Although only nine of 125 entries made it all the way to St. John’s (the Browns dropped out at Expo 67 since Jean’s brother was getting married), she’s just a faint memory of making one stop in a dealership for a certain part or other.

Trains with over a hundred cars stretching across the prairies were a revelation — “our city got two-to-four-car freights a couple of times a week.” The beauty of endless undulating fields was another present, “not only seeing to the border of a 100-acre farm, but for miles.

“I learned to be really proud of being Canadian — it was a fabulous time to be a teen, fabulous seeing the country and Expo 67. The world was coming to Canada!”

As the Chrysler held a 45 mph, her parents sang along. “My mom said it had been a passenger’s duty to keep the driver alert. Hymns, songs that are popular. One my father loved to sing was Betsy Brown, ‘There was a small girl/She lived in city … ”’

The family joined the parades and paused for community centennial celebrations. Riding the bicycle-propelled outhouse offered by the fire department in Marathon, Ont., was a screamer for Joan; the door would pop open and a fireman would appear with a hose to spray onlookers.

Cars were the continuum in her father’s life cars sold, bought and made fit as a fiddle — bridging into Norm’s and Jean lives. George and Ethel towed the Airflow that is to take them from Saanich to St. John’s, home from Placerville, Calif., in the late 1970s. Placerville had been the center of rush country locating an Airflow was a moment for George Brown.

“He had possessed an Airflow from the forties, and decided he had to have another,” Jean says. “He just liked how it looked, how it ran.”

Mind, how her father would recall is neither run by the Airflow, nor looks the same. The eight-year of Norm build awarded it a Dodge Ram V-8, a suspension at every corner with four buttons that are dash-mounted and, for Jean, power steering.

Looks? After the Airflow made its debut at the 1934 New York auto show, the Market Research Corp. of America requested visitors that new car they thought best and worst: The Airflow topped both classes. Sales resulted closing down production.

The Acqua Minerale Blue finish Norm and Jean decided the curves makes it near impossible to avert your eyes. “It is awful, it’s beautiful,” Jean says. “If you think of it coming out so soon after Ford’s Model A, a very boxy car, it was, ‘Holy cow, what’s this thing?’ The common man was not quite there yet.”

All across Canada, the stretch is going to be heard yet again this summer: “Holy cow, what’s this thing?

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