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For the Love of Old Fords and History

By Yvette VanDerBrink

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I have to admit; this GM gal has a dirty little secret. I love the 1930s Fords. Yep, I even have a pink V8 tattooed on my left ankle. I grew up with Chevrolets, and I never really saw or was around any of the old Fords. Though, I remember seeing them in the junkyards when we went with Dad for parts.

It wasn’t until I got married to Mr. VanDerBrink that I started looking more at the prewar car and trucks. When we were dating we’d drive around and talk for hours about old cars, tractors and growing up on the farm. When he found out my dad had a salvage yard, well that was just a bonus. Starting out we bought an old farm with acreage and started fixing it up before we got married. Heck, we were working on it right up to the wedding. I even tore the tag off my dress before walking down the aisle.

To make some extra money, we’d buy old tractors and Steve would fix them up and we’d sell them. I went to a lot of farm sales and bought tractors. When I was on maternity leave, I spent a whole summer reading about the 1930s and more about the era of the tractors we were buying. The history was interesting. As luck would have it, I was on the board of a threshing show in South Dakota, and while I was doing radio, a man called the station and said he had an old truck for sale. Steve and I went down and bought it. It was a 1939 International Pickup. Steve restored it and we still have it today. My researching of the 1930s no doubt had some influence on the purchase.

When I started auctioning, some of the early Fords were the first that I sold. Their sleek lines captivated me. While I listened to my sellers and owners talk about them my mind would wander thinking about history. Thoughts of not just the history of the owner and the car, but the era that the cars were from ran through my head. It brought clearer into focus the stories that I had heard from Grandpa Johnson and the memories of the trips to see uncle Irvin Nordstrom on the ole’ Nordstrom homestead. But it really wasn’t until I conducted a sale for my buddy, Lloyd May, on his 1934 Ford 2-door sedan that it truly sunk in. Lloyd and Cheryl loved that car; it was their Bonny and Clyde car. I listened to him talk about why he liked the car and yes, more about historic timeframe around the car. It was because of Lloyd May that 1934 Fords became one of my favorites. At the auction, my husband bid on the car, but stopped. We looked at each other in disgust as we watched it go to another happy couple. We still kick ourselves today for not buying Lloyd’s car. Since then I’ve sold hundreds of 1930s Fords, and one of these days, I’ll get one for myself. We came close buying a 1941 Ford Sedan. I thoroughly enjoy driving around with Steve in that car.

While we didn’t grow up in that particular era it reminds us of the stories we heard from our grandparents. One such story was that of Steve’s Grandpa who was on the crew building Highway 75 in Rock County, MN. about the time when their farm was wiped out by a tornado July 9th, 1932. His grandma told us of how the kids told her it sounded like a train and that she was always afraid of storms. I have the picture of the farm in my kitchen after the disaster. I enjoyed listening to my Grandma Johnson talk about the Dirty ‘30s and living on the farm by Garretson. I recall her stories about John Dillinger robbing the bank in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She talked about what it was like when Pearl Harbor was bombed and the politics of the day. Her brother Merlin Dubbelde was in the 101st Airborne and occasionally told stories about WWII. My Grandma Leona would tell stories about growing up by Parker, SD and meeting Grandpa Nordstrom and the story on how he started in politics. Those were tough years with tough people with the rich history of a generation that had taught us family first through faith and morality.

So when I look at the grill of those beautiful Fords it makes me think of the stories and people that I’ve known and met throughout the years. But most of all, it reminds me of my grandparents and all those great memories. Just like I always say, it’s memories that make cars special and the collector hobby so awesome. It’s all about the history.

Yvette VanDerBrink- Auctioneer
VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC

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