The History of
My 1950 CJ-3A
It appears that my Jeep has had four owner's before me.
When I bought the Jeep, thankfully I found some old paperwork with the second
owner's email address. It seems they had the Jeep from atleast the
mid-60's until 2004. They were more than happy to share some neat stories
and even sent along some original photos!!!
Here are a few of the letters they sent me:
Hello Jonathan -
My husband, Carl, forwarded this message to me because I'm technically the
previous owner of the Jeep - my father was the original owner in our family.
We lived in the Bay Area, and he used to go duck hunting in the Central Valley,
in the area around Los Banos. Sometime in the early 60s he and some friends
leased the hunting rights on some rice fields out there during duck hunting
season, and they built the most awful plywood shack on a little piece of land on
the edge of the fields, and called it the Los Banos Duck Club. Kind of a joke,
but the freezer full of wild duck every winter was no joke, and believe me, they
were delicious. Nothing like the domestic duck you get at a restaurant (hope
you're not a vegetarian :-).
He had two Jeeps which he bought (used, of course) at the same time he started
the duck club. The guys would tow them out to Los Banos during duck hunting
season which was October through January or February, and drive them around on
the levees between the rice paddies, going between various duck blinds. I also
remember that he would sometimes tow a Jeep on deer hunting trips. We went with
him on some of those trips, and we would drive up into the back country on these
old trails that felt almost vertical.
After I got my driver's license, which would have been in 1967, I got to drive a
Jeep when it wasn't duck season. Of course, who would want to drive it from
October through February anyway - it was plenty wet and cold in the Bay Area.
I acted a little bit like a hippie then, and the Jeep just added to the funky
image I was trying to develop - I was "the girl with the Jeep" in a big high
school where I wasn't known for anything else. I almost immediately had a
parking-lot accident as a result of the really tight turning circle - I backed
out of a space turning sharply, and turned right into the rear corner of a
really long station wagon (remember this was the 60s) a couple of spaces away
which was sticking out too far.
I'm pretty sure the rest of my siblings all drove this or the other Jeep during
their last two years of high school. It was the perfect car to let teenagers
drive, because it couldn't go very fast, and absolutely couldn't be taken on the
freeway. Of course, times were very different then, and I would drive friends
around in this totally open vehicle with no seat belts or other safety devices
and no one worried about it, (even though my parents always required that seat
belts be used in their cars). I'm not sure when the canopy was purchased, but
it wasn't used very often - it's more fun to drive it in the open. The seats
have been redone a couple of times. I helped my dad pick out a beautiful deep
blue Naugahyde fabric and some nice foam and helped him re-do the seats on the
Jeep I was driving in high school. They felt like heaven compared to the
original seats - I seem to recall the springs were starting to poke through the
old speckled brown vinyl - and that might have been a former replacement, as it
looked like it belonged on a set of 1950s kitchen chairs, not on a Jeep.
Our dad kept this Jeep and disposed of the other sometime in the late 70s. He
died in 1981, and one of my brothers ended up with the Jeep in his garage,
basically using it as a rack to store his wind surfing equipment, which is where
my husband first saw it sometime after 1988. He and my brother talked about it
for a while, and Carl finally decided to tow it up here to Seattle where we
live, and has been working on it, on and off, ever since. We eventually decided
that it was not on our list of things to keep around, and he knew that there
were people out there who would really love to have it, which is what made me
(and my three siblings) willing to give it up.
I'll email my brothers and see if they have any more info on it. There have to
be pictures of me in the Jeep during high school, although it could be the other
Jeep. They were both the same, and in fact their registrations got mixed up at
some point, because when my husband got this one to Seattle and took in the
registration, they discovered that the VIN was different. We had to wait three
years before the WA state DMV would give us a clear title to it!
Let me know if this info is at all interesting :-)
Here is what Reid (a brother of the 2nd owner) added:
I don't remember when our Dad actually bought the jeeps (we had two),
but I remember using them out at our duck club from way back when I was
maybe 10 yrs old ('63? '65?). They were great for slopping around on
the muddy roads (south of Los Banos about 10 miles). We'd pile about
four guys and two dogs into each jeep at about 4:00 AM in freezing
weather and drive out to the duck pond from the cabin. We towed them
to and from Los Banos each year for the season.
We all learned how to drive with those jeeps, and they survived four
teenage drivers. I did a little bit of work on them during high-school
(I spent a fair amount of time in the metal shop). Then when I was in
college, Dad said I could drive one down to Riverside. Driving on
highway I-5 at 50 to 55 mph max was pretty hairy. The big rigs would
zoom by at 80 or so. But I couldn't go any faster because the front
end would start wobbling.
I did the drive during spring, after duck hunting season was over. One
year, it started raining on the way over the Grapevine. The jeep had
no top in those days. So I stopped and put on my waders, then
continued driving (Actually, it was snowing at the top of the
grapevine). Sounds kind of miserable now, but it was a lot of fun at
the time. I got quite a few looks from passing cars. I made that trip
to Riverside and back twice (two years).
Down at Riverside, I'd take it out to the hills behind the campus.
There were lots of dirt roads that were great for jeep driving. Once I
decided to take a short leg along a railroad track that was used only
about once per day. The embankment got steep and pretty soon I had to
ride right on the tracks. I misjudged a little and got off to the
side. I was afraid the jeep was going to roll sideways down the
embankment. I had no tools with me, but I knew I had a chain back at
the dorm. So hoping no train would come by, I left the jeep on the
track and hurried back to the dorm - about 20 minutes each way.
Grabbing the chain, I ran back and anchored the chain to the railroad
track and one axle of the jeep, swung it around, and hightailed it out
of there. Ah the things you do when you're young and stupid :-)
Anyway, that jeep has been great - it'll always be a fond part of my
memories. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.