Written by Mike Morris
MHS graduations, back then, consisted of an all-night dinner/dance/music/prize event. If you lasted long enough to stay for the final prize drawing, you could see which graduating senior won a brand new CAR! Yes, a CAR. Now I don’t know who thought this car gift up, whether it was donated by Elder Chevrolet, or the school board budgeted it for the grad gift, or some generous Midlander gifted it, or just what, but in the preceding years, 1955, 56 and 57, one very lucky graduating senior had received a brand new car! Of course, this was the highlight of the evening (morning), so most of us stuck around to see who was to be that lucky person.
Ok, time for the drawing! Mert Baker, who ran the youth center at the time, was the MC of the event. He turned the wire cylinder containing cards with all the senior’s names. He drew a card. “The winner’s name is . . . .Mike Morris!” What! Me! Oh boy, a brand new 1958 Chevrolet Impala two door hardtop, the same style as the years before! I couldn’t wait to see it!
As we walked around to the spot where the car was located, I just couldn’t believe my luck. What was I going to do with TWO CARS! As we arrived, , Mert said, “Mike, here’s your car! I looked, but there was no new Chevrolet. I said, “But where is it?” Mert, pointing his finger, said, “Right there!” His finger was pointing at a fern green, 1948 Chevrolet 4-door sedan that looked like it had been driven straight off the farm! “THAT’S IT? BUT THAT’S TEN YEARS OLD!” Now I know receiving any gift is supposed to be a thankful event, but I had to reach way down deep to say “Thank you”. Only because of the precedence of the new car gifts in year’s past. Yes, I took it home and had fun with it, (I’ll add a story about that later), but the more I thought about the whole event, the more I finally came up with my theory of why things transpired as they did. Of course, I have, and will never have proof, that any of this is true. It’s just the way my hurt feelings mind worked at the time.
My theory is something got in the way of the school affording to give away a new car. Since I really didn’t know the source of the monies, that makes it a moot point. The big rub is with the what do we do now? Also don’t know who or how they came up with the idea of gifting a ten year old car. The big decision had to be how do we break with precedence to this degree and not hurt anybody’s feelings? Like can you imagine one of the rich kids winning whose father is a real political influence? That wouldn’t be smart!
So, I guess whoever was on this “car” committee left it up to poor old Mert to make that decision. He just had to think, who can I choose that won’t make any waves anywhere? So, when he drew that card, he announced my name, no matter whose name was on that card. I don’t think he ever showed anyone the card…he just put it in his pocket and went outside to show me the car. Now this is just conjecture on my part, and the drawing could have been completely legit, but just thinking about someone winning that old car whose parents were influential in some way really lends credit to my theory. Oh well, I really did enjoy that old car, so I guess, in the long run, I was happy about winning it. Lucky me!
My “New” Car!
1948 Chevrolet-4 door Sedan
You know, at the Class of ’59 party, they gave away a ’55 T-Bird. I didn’t win, of course. But I was talking to Myrt after the drawing, and he told me the story of the Class of ’58. He said the car was supposed to be a ’57 Corvette, but one of Mr. Elder’s mechanics wrecked it two days before the graduation event. Good thing, because you were an ‘Olds’ man anyway, and wouldn’t have been caught dead in a ‘Vette.
Believe it or not, I bought a 58 Vette in ’62 and kept it for 25 years! Still regret getting rid of it…but it’s sale allowed us to have a home without a mortgage. Family first, I guess. As we age, I have come to realize we shouldn’t regret not having items long gone, but rejoice in knowing we HAD or DID those things. The experiences are priceless!
Max…with that story, I think you topped the BS charts. Nice try.
Great story, Mike!