NIAGARA, Wis. — For the past few months, we have all been living under a “coronavirus cloud” that also has made its way into this column. This week, I am indulging in a bit of reminiscing in the hopes of providing a lighthearted escape from our current situation. My husband and I recently bought a “new” used car that brought back a flood of memories surrounding cars we had as children or used to own ourselves. In our decade’s long marriage, there has been a parade of cars that not only provided transportation but also served as markers of the progress we have made in our life together.

My husband remembers a 1954 Plymouth from his childhood that carried home a Shetland pony! His father worked with a man who needed someone to take care of his pony while he was on a trip. His dad agreed, knowing he had a huge yard at home and his four young kids would love it. So, he took the back seat out of the Plymouth, which gave him the room he needed. To this day, my husband laughs about the time his dad brought home a pony in the family car.

I have vague memories of a 1948 Chevy with a running board and an old Studebaker that, from the front, looked like an airplane missing its propeller. I also remember the time we went to watch a parade in our hometown. My mother was in a hurry, so as soon as the parade passed, she herded the four of us into our car, and we headed for home … except the parade was not over. It had passed us, but it still had a way to go before its designated end, and in between there were no side streets open onto which we could turn. Yup, you guessed it … we brought up the end of the parade until its final destination, which seemed like a 100 miles away. I can still remember my mother yelling at us to sit up, saying, “If I have to drive in this, you at least have to sit up!”

I met my husband the summer of 1970, when I was 19 years old. We lived 40 miles apart, so it was a good thing he had a car of his own or our relationship would not have grown much beyond the night we met. Despite my age, I did not even have a driver’s license, let alone a vehicle. I had learned on a car with an automatic transmission. Our family car at that time had a stick shift, so there was a big disconnect between driver’s education and what sat in our driveway at home. My mother was not really motivated to teach me and, quite frankly, I was in no hurry to learn.

My husband had bought his dad’s Ford Galaxy. When he learned that I did not have a driver’s license, he promptly said, “Well, we have to fix that! I can teach you how to drive.” And he did. Before long, I was doing figure eights in reverse and parallel parking. He let me use his car to take my test and, thanks to his patient teaching, I passed on the first try. On one of his many trips from Menasha to Ripon, the Ford threw a rod just before he arrived at my house. His father picked him up, and the two of them came back a week later and towed the Ford back to Menasha. The one consolation, for me anyway, was that I knew he could not go out with anyone else while his car sat in my driveway 40 miles away!

Next came the Rambler, which was a fun little car. We took it camping to Elkhart Lake to see the car races with hundreds of other kids our age and had a blast driving and spinning through the mud after a night of rain. It even survived the accident my husband had with it on one of his many late-night return trips to Menasha from Ripon. He had fallen asleep and woke to the sound of crunching gravel as the little Rambler left the highway and clipped off a road sign — appropriately labelled OO. There he was at 2 in the morning with two flat tires and one spare. He was rescued by a trucker and made it safely back home. However, as dependable as the Rambler had been, it was no match for the telephone pole that came later that winter when its driver was in too much of a hurry to get back to Ripon.

The first car we had after we were married was a Chevy Impala. It was a very dependable vehicle but developed a “very automatic” transmission. We lived in Neenah at the time and had to drive on Highway 41 to get back and forth to work. Sometimes we had to drive around a bit to get the car to move through its gears before we dared go up on the highway. And there were times when we would be driving along in traffic at 60-plus mph and the transmission would slip into first gear. Now that was not a pleasant sound!

When our boys were very young and we were involved in Cub Scouts as den parents, we drove a big Chevy station wagon. It easily carried our entire den of seven Cub Scouts on various field trips. Eventually, that car started to burn a lot of oil, but that did not stop us from driving to lower Michigan to visit my husband’s brother and his family. We folded down the seats and packed our boys in the back with a bunk bed mattress, some toys, and a case of oil … and headed for the bridge. We made it safe and sound — six quarts of oil later. My husband and his brother cleaned off all of the spark plugs for our return trip.

We drove a Plymouth Scamp for awhile. It was a very peppy little red car with a slant six engine. It ran like a top until it didn’t … and then there was no fixing it. It never failed; that car died at the stop sign whenever there was a home basketball game and everyone was leaving the school at once. And there we were stalled in the intersection. It also decided that it would only travel in reverse! So, we waited until late at night and backed it down our hill in Niagara with the intention of getting it to Bousley’s service station for repair when everyone was home sleeping. But we forgot about the mill traffic; just as we backed onto Main Street, we found ourselves staring into the headlights of the second shift as they were heading for home!

My husband’s favorite car was a Mercury Sable. He travelled a lot with his sales job at the time, and that Mercury never let him down. As he drove it to Wally’s Auto Salvage with 225,000 miles on it, the power steering went out. I guess it was definitely time; that car had given all it had.

I drove a Chevy Malibu for a long time. It was the car that both of our sons learned to drive, and it bore the signs of having young, inexperienced drivers. Our first son hit a slippery spot and slammed the rear bumper into the corner of the Log Cabin Bar. It was dented and forever crooked, but it hung on. Our second son finished the job and came home with the bumper now hoisted up by one end of a rope that was held by his buddy riding as a passenger. Ten years later I finally heard what really made that bumper fall off!

Over the years, there were other cars — different makes and models in different colors. Each one got a little nicer and lasted a little longer. Some things were consistent — we never bought new, and we always drove them until there was no life left in them. Our primary concerns had always been dependability and affordability. We recently decided it was time to replace our 2001 Impala and spent quite a bit of time shopping on the Internet, given the contagious times in which we currently live.

We are now the proud owners of a 2017 Honda CR-V. True to form, my husband said “well, we don’t need heated leather seats and a power moon roof.” No, we don’t. And if we were buying a new vehicle, we would not pay extra for them. But, heck, since the car has it, let’s enjoy it! At this stage of our lives, we can get used to a few creature comforts.

So, that concludes my “ride” down memory lane. I hope you have enjoyed the journey along with me and that it helped jog some memories of your own. But I bet your family car never delivered a Shetland pony!


The usual senior living activity calendars and senior center menus will not be published this week in an effort to avoid confusion. Due to the coronavirus and the vulnerability of our elderly population, daily life in the senior living facilities and senior centers has changed dramatically.

All living facilities have closed their doors to public visitation, and the activity calendars have been modified to allow for one-to-one room visits only and individualized activities to keep residents engaged and active as much as possible while remaining within the health and safety guidelines provided by state health experts. Group games are being substituted with individualized activities residents can do in their respective rooms.

All senior centers also have been closed to any center-based activity. Until they re-open, no information is being published that talks about activities typically available at these centers. Meals continue to be delivered. Some centers are also preparing meals to be picked up.



Alpha-Mastodon Center


Amasa Center


Breen Center


Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


Crystal Lake Center, Iron Mountain


Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Chef salad with croutons, dressing and hard-boiled egg.

Tuesday: Swedish meatballs, noodles and broccoli.

Wednesday: Cabbage rolls, stewed tomatoes and biscuit.

Thursday: Barbecue pork sandwich, potato wedges and carrots.

Friday: No meals being offered to home delivered clients.

For questions, call Christine McMahon, 906-774-2256.

Felch Center


Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Hot dog, tater tots and five-way veggie blend.

Tuesday: Three meat roast, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots.

Wednesday: Barbecue pork, baked beans and corn.

Thursday: Swedish meatballs, egg noodles, green beans.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Chicken with mushroom gravy, rice, broccoli Normandy and fruit.

Tuesday: Stuffed pepper casserole, corn, garlic bread and fruit.

Wednesday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, Brussel sprouts and fruit.

Thursday: Chef’s salad, breadsticks, cottage cheese, pumpkin cake and ice cream.

Friday: Crispy chicken, black beans and rice, squash and fruit.

Fence Center/Town Hall


For reservations, call 855-528-2372. Home-delivered meals only, with same menu as ADRC.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

For reservations, call 715-528-4261. Home-delivered meals only, with same menu as ADRC.

Tipler Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-674-2320. Home-delivered meals only, with same menu as ADRC.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

For meal reservations, call 715-589-4491. Home-delivered meals only, with same menu as ADRC.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Iron River Center


Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Fish, macaroni and cheese, mixed vegetables and fruit.

Tuesday: Chili, corn bread and fruit.

Wednesday: Chef salad, cottage cheese and fruit.

Thursday: Hot beef sandwich, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and dessert.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


The center will remain closed however take-out meals will be prepared for pick-up — must call ahead. Menu for the week:

Monday: Bacon wrapped pork chop, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, salad, fruit, juice and dessert.

Tuesday: Mother’s Day dinner: Lasagna, broccoli, garlic bread, soup, salad and dessert.

Wednesday: Country fried steak with gravy, biscuit, red potatoes, salad, fruit, juice and dessert.

Thursday: Barbecue chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, soup, salad, fruit, juice and dessert.

Sagola Center


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