Fifty Six and Twenty Two

by kfrego

Our family bought a new 1956 Chevrolet Station Wagon in the fall of 1956. Our old 1952 had been a good car. Mom and Dad decided to return to the northeast area of New York State when school was out for the summer of 1957. The new station wagon was needed for the trip. In April of 1957  my twelfth birthday present was a twenty two rifle. It was a tube loading semi-automatic. The picture of me holding the rifle in front of the 1956 station wagon is part of our living room decor today. The hood ornament on the car was even with my shoulder in the picture. If the rifle was standing vertical it would have been about the same height.

Spokane was in the midst of many changes when we moved east in the summer of 1957. As children we saw these changes, however, we didn’t realize how significant they really were. The old propeller driven bombers at Fairchild Air Force Base had been replaced by the massive jet powered B-52 Stratofortress’. They frequently flew low enough over the city to be able to read their identification numbers. The steam locomotives which built our countries rail networks were being replaced by the modern diesel locomotives. They could travel long distances much faster and more efficiently than the old steam locomotives. At times it was quite a contradiction when one of the low flying B-52’s came over while a train with multiple steam engines was huffing and puffing up the grade heading east out of Spokane. Two opposite worlds.

Our years in Spokane were a great experience for all five of us kids, but we looked forward to making the move back to New York. The trip back to New York was relatively uneventful. It’s pretty hard when you spend five days on the road with a large family. You only want to get where you’re going and get out of the car.

We did have one interesting stop at the U.S. side of customs going into Canada at Sault Saint Marie. The customs officer made Dad open our small U-haul trailer. He pulled a bunch of items out of the trailer and scattered them around on the pavement. As he walked off Dad said,”Hey, you’re the a______ that took the stuff out of my trailer. Now you put it back in it.” He meekly returned and repacked the trailer. Dad thanked him.

There is an identical 1956 Station Wagon which has been in my own family since 1980. Upgraded with more power, modern brakes, and different colors it’s like one of our kids………and the twenty two rifle stands in my gun case.