Tonight my friend Jack Darnell posted a blog showing a picture of an old Morris Oxford, a car with a bonnet and a boot.
Now I'm sure that if you are reading this and you are from Great Britain or one of her Colonies - or former colonies - you are going to have quite a different "read" of this post than most of my American friends will have. You see, for us here in the USA, when we say "bonnet" we think of an elderly grandmother with her old-fashioned head-gear which was worn regularly by our pioneer women to protect their hair from the weather. When we say "boot" we are thinking of something we put on our feet.
The year was 1966. We were on our first overseas assignment for the Church of God as missionaries to British Guiana. Shortly (within our first six months) they gained their Independence and became known as Guyana, South America. Still the British influences saturated everything. There was "Fogarty's" a big chain store where you could buy food and clothes and books and maybe even some furniture for your home. Booker's, Ltd, was the place to buy cars. Our missions board provided the funds (I can't be sure but it seems I remember $3000 being the price) for us to purchase a new one. The traffic all rode on the opposite side of the street we were used to driving on back in Tennessee. It was nerve-wracking but I actually did manage to get under the wheel and negotiate traffic in that town of 500,000 people driving "on the wrong side of the road"! I had spent the previous 5 years in Tellico Plains, TN, a town of less than 1,000 people at that time. What a challenge.
The car was a wonderful car. It was Automatic shift and we were getting 30 mpg on fuel use. After about six months or so of driving in this strange new environment, on the opposite side of the road, learning that I had to have the "bottom washed" before the mechanic would change the oil and lubricate it, I remember driving into the dirt road leading to our home. I pointed the bonnet towards our gate (which everyone knows you had to keep shut and locked) jumped out, switched off the engine and unloaded groceries. When I got back into the car to put it into the garage and lock it up, the engine would not turn over. My neighbor, Pragdat, who ran buses up and down the coast was quite the mechanic. He saw me with bonnet and boot both standing open and the worried look on my face. Walking over, he asked, "Would you like me to help?" Of course I said, "Yes!"
Try the engine once more. Nothing but "click" each time I tried. Then he looked at me and said so seriously that I just knew for sure he was joking - "Why don't you crank it?" Me: "Uh. Yeah. Well... I thought we just tried that?" "NO!" He said, "Crank it with your crank!" "But this is an automatic", I protested. "But you should have a crank in the boot or under the bonnet."
Sure enough, to my chagrin, He located the crank (like we used to use for old Model A Fords) and gave just one small twist before the engine started! I could not believe how easy it started. What a quality car. Pragdat then proceeded to take my starter off the Morris and clean it of the road dirt that had caked up on it, took it apart, greased it, and put it back. The starter never failed again.
Wish I had a picture of that car. The license plate was PT602! There, the initial number given on a car's license plate always stayed on it until the car was no longer usable. It could be that even now PT602 is still being used to drive around the little country of Guyana.
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- Fred Alton
- Cleveland, TN, United States
- I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.