Will Edwinson

Author & Storyteller

Jitneys and Other Monikers.

Model A SedanThe other morning I was shaving, and wondering what I could write about on this next post when I had a sudden flash—it seems I get most of my inspiration either while shaving or in the shower. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Model T Ford, better known as the Tin Lizzie.    I think most everybody is familiar with the nick-name Tin Lizzie, but there was also a nick-name  dedicated to the Model A Ford.

I wonder how many people remember the “Jitney.”  I don’t know if this was a term known all across America for the Model A, or if it was unique to our little area of Southeast Idaho.  I’m not even sure of the correct spelling, but it’s a slang term, anyway, so I don’t suppose anyone is going to call me down on it.  Dad owned a Model A Ford coupe.  You will recall from an earlier post (The Whole Nine Yards) I explained how Dad came by that car.  But I digress.  One of my older cousins also had a Model A sedan that his dad had bought for him. Both cars were known around town as Jitneys, as were all other Model As.  (Those folks familiar with the Andy Hardy movies will remember Andy’s Model A roadster coupe  was  a “jalopy,” but that’s a whole ‘nuther  story—one  I’ll leave for Mickey Rooney to tell.) 🙂

Dad also owned a black Ford pickup, a 1941 model like the one you’ve read about in Rube’s posts.  Black  seemed to be a favorite color of Henry Ford as late as 1941. (Remember his slogan, “our vehicles are available in any color you want—as long as it’s black.”)  In the early years of his company, most everything Mr. Ford  manufactured was black. Later on, however, when he introduced  the Model A, he did venture into a greater variety of colors, but for trucks, it was still mostly black or Fire Engine Red.

When I was not in school, I went almost everywhere with Dad; his associates used to tease me about being his shadow. I remember asking on more than one occasion as we were getting ready to go somewhere, “Are we going in the Jitney or the pickup, today, Daddy?”  As often as not, he would answer, “I think we’ll take the Jitney, today, son.”(Dad really liked driving that car).   Jitney got to be such a well-known term that it eventually morphed into the generic term for all cars.  Whenever anyone around town got themselves a new car, or even a different one, for that matter, the usual comment was, “I see you bought a new Jitney,” or “when did you get the new Jitney?”

We Americans seem to have a penchant for giving names to inanimate objects.  Dad owned a McCormick- Deering W-30 tractor we called Bertha, a truck that was equipped with a Thornton twin-screw tandem axle was the “Thornton.” He also had a 1941 Ford ten wheeler truck.  That truck was the “Forty-One ” (which was also black, by the way).  The black Ford pickup was “Little Blackie.”  Other pieces of equipment around the place had their own monikers as well.  That International TD 14 crawler  I nearly buried in the mud was the “Fourteen.”  The smaller Allis Chalmers HD 5 crawler was “Little Alice.”  Many of our farm neighbors and other townspeople had various  names for their equipment and autos or trucks.

I’m told there is a regular slang dictionary.  It would be nice to find one of those.  One could write a series of columns on the subject of American slang.   Maybe someday, I’ll find such a dictionary.

If you’d like to read about Buddy’s adventure in the Old Tin Lizzie, you can do so in my book, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures.  There are also many more adventures that might possibly take you back to your own childhood memories of simpler bygone days of lazying around on warm summer days.  Fishin’, biking, swimmin’ in the favorite swimmin’ hole, etc. You can also click on the “free download” button located in upper right of my homepage and receive a free copy of the prologue and first three complete adventures.  Enjoy with my compliments.  It’s also available for purchase at www.amazon.com.


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