We Were An Oldsmobile Family

Cars and photography seem to go well together in the United States. We traverse the country by auto, get out at some known or unexpected vista and take a photo or ten. Our family was no different. My grandparents and father, then later my grandparents with my aunts and me, drove all over Colorado and New Mexico, Mexico, Texas and Michigan.

In the process of researching my grandfather’s photo archive for travel photos, I learned of my grandparents quirky, car-buying habit.

Apparently my grandparents were an Oldsmobile family. Researching these “car photos” I realized my grandfather and grandmother devoted all their auto dollars to Oldsmobile. Three different Oldsmobile 88s moved them through their lives for more than 30 years.⠀⠀

The first instance of their Oldsmobile love can be found in the photo below. My father and grandmother prepare to go skiing and have loaded their skis on to the ski racks of their Oldsmobile 88, possibly a 1950 model. ⠀

Color photo of Jon Allen and Fabyan Watrous, Climax Colorado, circa 1953.
My grandmother on the right and my father behind her. Possibly in front of the Climax Molybdenum Mining Co. hotel. They are preparing to go skiing. Climax, Colorado, ca. 1953

A few years later my grandparents bought a brand new Oldsmobile 88. The importance my grandfather felt about the car are on full display in the below photograph. My grandfather photographed this car as on object in its own right more than any other car he owned.

My grandmother, father, Scottie the dog and my grandparent’s 1955 Oldsmobile 88. Shot at Maroon Lake, elevation 9585 feet. The Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado are behind them.

It makes a prominent appearance, almost as a member of the family. In the 1950s Climax Mining Company, my grandfather’s employer, was very prosperous. America was the only superpower after World War II. The American economy exploded and lifted many people into the middle-classes.

My grandfather was able to receive the benefits of that monetary growth. Like many Americans who moved into the middle class in the 1950s, the Oldsmobile 88 reflected his class standing, hopes and dreams.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

The last Oldsmobile they owned I recall with the fondest and sweetest of memories.

W R Allen Photography Robin Allen Oldsmobile Delta 88
Robin Allen in the back of an Oldsmobile Delta 88, circa 1973 or 1974.

My aunt Robin sits in the backseat of an Oldsmobile Delta 88 Hardtop Sedan (1973?), the final Oldsmobile in the Allen family. Summers spent with my grandparents and Deb and Robin are intertwined with being in this car. I recall a spacious tank with a sleeping area in the rear window fit for a kid.

Robin agreed. “That behind the backseat area was coveted. You could lay back there and watch the stars.” At night the stars seemed endless, whether we were driving in Colorado or down to New Mexico.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Deb added, “The stereo speakers were there and we loved listening to the radio.” Deb also shared that when she, Robin and my grandparents moved from Leadville, Colorado to Durant, Michigan, the Delta 88 led the way in a summer snow storm.

“We left Leadville on July 4 driving and it snowed that day.”⠀

I find this type of family history detail fascinating. Somehow knowing it brings me closer to my now deceased grandparents. Were they still alive I would want to know why they chose an Oldsmobile over a Chevy or a Ford. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Living as I do near Detroit, this a question of utmost importance.⠀


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