Our ’94 Camry finally bit the dust. We needed a car for my 17-year-old son, Noah, to drive to his part-time job and pre-dawn lacrosse practices.
After two weeks of intensive online car shopping my husband found our replacement car: a 1999 Buick Century with only 35,000 miles on it. A creampuff! The auto’s original owner wasn’t a little old lady, but a 100-year-old man! A Buick Century owned by a centenarian!
Caretakers and family members drove the gentlemen around in his car the last few years of his life before he passed away in 2016.
His century of existence got me thinking about automobiles from the year he was born. So of course I had to search for a photograph of a 1916 Buick.
I also dug up an online image of a 1970s Buick Electra, the last car my grandpa owned. Noah and I marveled over the beautiful, barge-sized gas-guzzler that could fit a lacrosse team in the trunk.
Automobiles often play a role in family stories. People reminisce about their first car, get sentimental about epic road trips, and share experiences of quirky jalopies and their idiosyncrasies. I look back fondly on daily carpools with four kids stuffed into our Toyota Tercel hatchback, which went off to salvage heaven several years ago.
Cars make appearances in family photographs, either intentionally as a proudly displayed acquisition or more casually in the background at picnics, family vacation shots or other events. Car models can help date a photograph. Ancestral automobiles provide context and detail to a family member’s life story.
If you’d like to try to find images of early automobiles or other eye-opening photographs from your ancestor’s time, online archives offer rich sources of digital images like the one of the 1916 Buick I shared above. You can learn more in my free image-packed eBooklet, No Pictures? No Problem! 7 Great Sites For Finding Photos From Your Ancestor’s World.
Enjoy! And, as the Esso advertisements used to say, Happy Motoring!
Bain News Service, Publisher. “Golden Flyer” leaving N.Y., 4/6/16. 4/6/16 date created or published later by Bain. Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ggb2005021388/. (Accessed December 01, 2016.)
Buick Electra. By IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Accessed 3 December 2016 at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a0/Buick-Electra-coupe.jpg
Lee, Russell, photographer. Mexican repairing automobile. San Antonio, Texas. Notice the worn-out tires. Mar, 1939. Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/fsa2000013739/PP/. (Accessed December 06, 2016.)