|1957 Chevy was Favorite|
Thursday, May 29, 2003
Elmer F. McKissick of Allen Avenue, Oxford, was a kid living in northern Maine when he spied his first automobile around 1917. There weren't many cars around, especially where his family with 15 children lived, "27 miles from town, out near the Canadian border."
The car "came up over a hill," he recalled. Now 91, Mr. McKissick knows a lot about automobiles. A car and bus mechanic most of his life--when he wasn't employed as a licensed electrician or a licensed diesel operator--Mr. McKissick has owned and maintained all kinds of motor vehicles.
"You name it, I've had it," he says, admitting "I never had a Pierce Arrow." The Pierce was one of the big luxury cars of the 1920s with high headlights to the far sides of the front fenders, he said.
He bought a 1957 modified Chevrolet from a couple of young fellows more than a year ago and has been tinkering with it since, Mr. McKissick says. The Chevy had a new super engine when he bought it. "I put all new upholstery in it, seals, mufflers, lots of things."
While he has more than $13,000 and a lot of labor in the car, Mr. McKissick has concluded that a super '57 Chevy isn't the kind of vehicle he needs to run errands. It's for sale, but he's not going to give it away.
Mr. McKissick tends to remember events by the car he was driving at the time. We talked about Charles Lindberg's emergency landing at the old Oxford airport in September 1929, not far from his current residence, and he volunteered: "I had a 1924 Dodge at the time."
His family moved to Charlton when he was a child and his first job was at Charlton Woolen Mill. "I was 14, worked 56 hours a week, and earned $14.21. I'd bring my pay envelope home unopened and my mother would open it and let me keep the 21 cents." This wasn't unusual, he added. It was just the way families got by at the time.
He worked as a mechanic for the old Worcester Bus Co. through World War II, Mr. McKissick said. Keeping an ageing bus fleet going when replacement parts were scarce was a challenge, he said. "Everyone was riding the buses then because they had to. They couldn't get gas for their cars."
If you want to learn something about automobiles, Mr. McKissick is the man to see. Asked about his favorite cars, he mentioned a forest green Buick, a 1959 Cadillac with back fins, a 1958 Edsel convertible and, of course, the
Webster native Debra (DuPont) Schmidt, a teacher at O'Hara Elementary School in Fox Chapel, Pa., received a $20,000 award for excellence in teaching from the Robert F. Wolf Teachers Excellence Foundation May 7.
She was selected from about 2,600 nominees from 39 southwestern Pennsylvania school districts, according to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Ms. Schmidt said "she loves the spontaneity of the children and their willingness to learn, to put faith in their teachers and to try hard when everything isn't easy."
William T. Clew of Dudley, once my boss at the Telegram & Gazette, learned about Ms. Schmidt some time ago on a visit with his sister, Elizabeth Kampmcinert, who lives in the same Pittsburg suburb. The women are acquaintances. Ms. Schmidt's father, Dr. Emile N. Dupont, was Mr. Clew's dentist at the time. Her mother was the late Marilyn (McKinstry) DuPont.
Ms. Kampmcinert forwarded the Post Gazette story to her brother, who shared it with me. Ms. Schmidt maintains a resource room for gifted children at O'Hara School and helps other teachers develop advanced lessons for all students, the story says.
Here's an update on the G.A.R. Post artifacts found last month in the attic to the Chester C. Corbin Public Library.
Custodian James A. Chauvin says the Civil War yield includes a couple of letters from Major Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside to his wife. Dated April 26, 1863 and June 28, 1863, both are postmarked Mewbern, N.C.
One of the notes has the General's photograph embossed on the stationery. They'll have<
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