President’s Report – October/November 2017
It has been two months since my last President’s Report in October. In that time we saw a very successful Twin Bridges Rally as well as club participation in the Callington Show, Murray Bridge Show, Murray Bridge Christmas Pageant, Patron’s Run to Black Hill and the Mal Fountain Memorial Run. These events have all been successful and enjoyed by all.
Since Santa has arrived, many of us are focussing on Christmas. Our six grandchildren have “wish lists” for the 25th December. For me, the focus has been on two funerals this week-special requests-one being for the 1960 Ford Fairlane Hearse to be used in Murray Bridge, the other the 1924 Nash Hearse to be used for a funeral at Monarto. Whilst not a long distance to travel, when the temperature is around 35 degrees, it is certainly a lesson in appreciating the vehicles we drive today-air conditioned, cruise control, power windows, blue tooth mobile phone connection, etc.
In its day, (that being the 1920’s and 1930’s), the Nash Hearse was a very exclusive vehicle-imported from the USA as a cab chassis and custom built by Pengilly and Co, Coach Builders in Edwardstown, Adelaide, with the chassis being lengthened by 24inches (600m). The body work built entirely from timber with acid etched plate glass windows all added to the weight of the vehicle. The original radiator was used, which led to overheating in hot weather driving, particularly up hills. On my drive to Monarto, when small droplets of water started to appear on the windscreen (and it was not raining), I knew it was time to slow up a little.
My father, who used the Nash hearse from 1933 to 1952, told the story that a funeral at Meningie (90 miles return trip), could take up to 8 hours in hot weather-3 hours travel each way plus 2 hours for the funeral-extra water to top up the radiator was carried in cans strapped to the running boards. Dad never called that era “the good old days”. He sold the Nash in 1952 and purchased a 1952 Chevrolet hearse which was a big improvement and then in 1960, the Ford Fairlane with a 332 cu.in overhead valve V8. Now we could make up some time on the road.
Dad always stated “time is money-you need to work and achieve as much as possible in 24 hours to get ahead”. That sometimes meant a trip to Pinnaroo in the hearse was done in a little over an hour-102 miles/166kms. Of course, there wasn’t as much traffic on the Pinnaroo Road in the sixties and seventies, but there was the occasional mob of sheep being moved along the road which tested the Ford braking system.
I started working with my father on funerals, using the 1960 Ford Fairlane, whilst still at school in 1965. To say that there were some very memorable trips would be an understatement! And that is what I reflect upon when driving the Ford or Nash hearse-appreciating what we have today and also reflecting on the work ethics that our parents and grandparents had and the era in which they lived.
Anyway, Christmas is almost here, so appreciate your family and friends and have an enjoyable Festive season and a happy and safe New Year.