52 Ancestors Week 19: Step on the Gas

52 Ancestors Week 19: Step on the Gas

This week’s theme in the 52 Ancestors challenge is “There’s a Way”.  I’d like to relay a funny story that my grandmother told me from her childhood.

Anna was the third child of Harry Jackson and Marguerite “Margaret” (Jones) Jackson.  She was a bit of handful as a child, getting herself and her friends into various scrapes.

When she was about 12 years old, someone she knew bought a Star Car.  This would have been around 1924 if my grandmother’s account is accurate.

This is my grandma’s elementary school photo, 1924


1924 Manzanita School Class Photo

Here she is about the time this story took place.  Innocent looking child, wasn’t she?  She even got to hold the banner.

annajacksonshellabargermanzanita schoolcloseup471

The kids coveted that car and they yearned to drive it.  One day they decided they wanted to go to the beach.  They got it in their head that they would drive themselves.

I’m not even sure if it was possible to drive from Oakland to the beach back in 1924, but they were kids and probably had no sense of the direction they were heading in.  I can’t imagine how many cars were on the road.  It couldn’t have been too many since my mom remembers very few in her early days of the late 1930s.

They got the car started and they set off on their adventure.  No one was tall enough to steer and press the pedals, so they had one kid driving and someone else did the pedals.

They never made it to the beach.  The neighborhood police officer thought something was amiss when the car passed him.  That driver looked awfully young.

The children were scared out of their wits.  They knew they had to get out of there fast!  Where there’s a will there’s a way.  When the police officer started running towards their car, two of them put the pedal to the metal and they sped off…at about 15 miles per hour.  The police officer was close behind on foot.  It must have seemed like a scene from the Keystone Cops.  I wouldn’t have been surprise if the police officer didn’t pass them.

According to my grandma, they got away.  Their parents never knew about it and they didn’t get punished.  I find this hard to believe since the neighborhood officer probably knew everyone.

I loved to hear her tell this tale.  She always broke down in hysterics, laughing so hard when she told of their speedy get away.

I did a little research on the Star car.  It appears that two different companies had cars out with this name in the 1920s.  Durant Motors Inc. was run by a former CEO of General Motors, William “Billy” Durant.  As this was an American company, I suspect this is the car my grandmother and her friends took their joyride in.

The Star Model C station wagon seen below came out in 1923.  Was this the car my grandma and her friends took for a joy ride?

This Star car came out in 1923

The Star was in production from 1921-1931.

I am always interested in learning more about the time periods that my ancestors lived in. 1920s fascinate me. It was a high time for America but it also lead to the economic crash that began one of our country’s darkest times. Knowing how people lived gives us insights and understanding.

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Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com

3 thoughts on “52 Ancestors Week 19: Step on the Gas

  1. I love this story! These kinds of things are even better when they’re told by an elderly person, like it confirms they were young once and are probably still young at heart.

  2. Monica, thanks so much for you comment! This was one of my grandma’s favorite stories. She would laugh so hard when she told it. It is funny to imagine “speeding” at 15 mphs! LOL

  3. What a fun story! We had some wonderful story tellers in our family, and they loved to embellish, so it’s easy to imagine that’s what your grandmother did.

    Still, I can imagine she may have told the truth, or nearly so. I’ve seen photographs of the area in the 20s, and the city was not nearly so dense then. There were plenty of ways to get to the beach from Oakland. After all, it’s not that far.

    Too, if the children got home safely and didn’t damage the car, the police officer may not have wanted to embarrass himself by sharing the story. It’s also quite possible that certain families were off-limits to police interference for “kids will be kids” offenses. I grew up in towns where only certain kids got in trouble for shenanigans. The others could pretty much do anything they wanted.

    Either way, it’s a fun story. Thank you for sharing it, and congratulations for your feature today on No Story Too Small.

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