Initially, the innovative Corvair was manufactured and marketed as a 4-door sedan.
The compact Chevrolet Corvair was designed to compete with Volkswagens in the US market.
The 1960 Corvair went on sale on October 2, 1959, and was the first American compact sedan with a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine, unit-body construction, three-across seating, and the availability of an automatic transmission. Only four-door sedans were available at first, then came the 2-door coupe, convertible, 4-door station wagon, passenger van, commercial van, and pickup truck body styles.
Though inspired by Volkswagen’s four-cylinder engine, Chevrolet engineers used Porsche engines as a guide.
To stay competitive with the VW Beetle, the new Ford Falcon, and Plymouth Valiant, Chevrolet chose to cut corners right where it showed: on the interior. The basemodel 500 was particularly drab. Everything inside was gray, both the fabric and vinyl upholstery and black rubber floor mats. The 700 models came with three interior colors from which to choose. Extra-cost options on both the 700 and 500 models includedthings we take for granted today, like sun visors for both driver and passenger, armrests, or a cigarette lighter.
The Corvair sales took a significant upturn when the Monza coupe debuted at the 1960 Chicago Auto Show.
Though the Monza would rewrite what everyone’s idea of a Corvair was an alternative to the typical front-engined American family cars of the period.
The death knell for the Corvair came when Ralph Nader’s 1965 book “Unsafe at Any Speed” claimed that the car’s design that incorporated swing-axle suspension created a far greater risk of the vehicle rolling, which he described as “the one-car accident.”
Even though the suspension had been redesigned for much better handling and safety, the damage was done. Nader’s book became a best-seller, but in the consumer’s mind, the reputation of the Corvair was tarnished forever. Chevrolet ceased production of the Corvair with the 1969 model.
I hope you had a good Thanksgiving yesterday. This holiday has always been one of my favorites, if only for the wonderful food. I do love a Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the trimmings, but turkey is a lot of work and yields a lot of leftovers, esp. when you only have four people at dinner. So this year we opted for beef roast with some of the trimmings: mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, garlic bread, and sauteed asparagus. Plus pumpkin pie, of course. It’s my theory that if the Pilgrims had had beef, there would have been no turkey dinner. They were English, after all!
And as a history freak, I love that so much of the traditional Thanksgiving food are native to the Americas.
The food supply expanded when Europeans “discovered” the New World. Prior to Columbus’s first voyage, there were no turkeys, potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, cranberries or maize, i.e. Indian corn, in the Middle Ages. There was a cereal grain called corn, but it’s more like wheat, not like the ears of corn we’re used to. Halloween Jack o’ Lanterns were originally made with turnips!
And there was no chocolate. Chocolate is native to the Americas, so the Spaniards were the first Europeans to encounter it. It became popular at court after the Spanish added sugar or honey to sweeten the natural bitterness. From there, chocolate spread through Europe in the 1600’s and grew into the international obsession is has become today.
Can you imagine a world without chocolate? I really wouldn’t like that at all!
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving treat?
Note: This is normally the day I blog about OCC/RWA online classes, but we will be dark in Dec. and Jan. Class blogs will resume in January.
By: Denise M. Colby
Since my post is set for the day we celebrate Veteran’s Day and I love history, I thought it would be fun to celebrate my family in the military and do a bit of research. I don’t have a long list of family members in the military, nor do I have a lot of stories passed down from generation to generation. What I do have are snippets and a few photos.
I will start with my great-great-great-grandfather James Clyman, who I wrote about a few months ago. He wrote down information in his journal and it is here that I learned he enlisted as a private in a company of Mounted Volunteers on June 16, 1832. He was in the same company with Abraham Lincoln for a month (and together they fought in the Black Hawk War). He is quoted in James Clyman, Frontiersman (quoting a quote from another book by R.T. Montgomery, “Biographical Sketch of James Clyman”) of saying “We didn’t think much then about his ever being President.”
He was then commissioned as a second lieutenant of Mounted Rangers, and later appointed as assistant commissary of subsistence for the company. It’s here that several of the receipts and inventory papers he signed are in the Huntington Library. I was able to go through these papers and take photos a couple of years ago, which was an amazing experience. And finally, I get to use them in something I’ve written.
Clyman transferred to the First Dragoons and nine months later sent in his resignation, which was accepted on May 31, 1834. He wanted to get back to his farm and business and, according to the Frontiersman, after he returned home, “he was besieged with accounts from the Commissary General of Subsistence at Washington, requesting the return of vouchers and abstracts of ration issues made during campaigns in the field, some of which were dated back to the time of his predecessor in 1832. Clyman stood charged on the books with over $400.” I’m interpreting this as basically the government sent bills to pay for the vouchers and ration issues made while he was in the field.
I believe that my grandfather, Carroll W. Marsh, Sr. was in the military, but I don’t have any specifics on him. As I’m writing this, I realize I need to ask and find out something. We have lots of details on my grandmothers side of the family, but not my grandfathers.
Next on my list is my father, Carroll W. Marsh, Jr., who left the National Guard long before I was born, so I didn’t know him in that capacity. Nor, was his service really talked about. He didn’t fight in any wars that I’m aware of, nor did he have any big stories that were shared to me as a child. My dad passed away over twenty-one years ago and the information I have on my dad and his stint in the Army National Guard is actually very small. But, I decided to find out more.
It’s amazing to be able to research via Google. This large company photo has a title above it that says “Local Boys In Sonoma County’s National Guard Company”. One of the men holds a banner with 579HQ on it. I was able to search up the number. The 579th was an Engineering Battalion, based in Petaluma and still exists today. My dad turned 18 in 1950. I don’t know how many years he served, although I do know he was still in when my parents were married, which would’ve been beyond 1952.
My nephew, Jason Burrows, just retired from the Navy earlier this year after twenty-four years of service. We are close in age, raised more like brother and sister. I’m quite proud of him. He’s been all over. Italy, Japan, Florida. On the Atlantic and the Pacific. The few times our families have gotten together, I have loved hearing his stories. The little things, that as nation we have no visibility to. The inside scoop. I remember staying on the U.S.S. Midway with my family for a scout event and finding how tiny the bunks were for even myself. I couldn’t imagine how they were for him for six months at a time given he’s 6’4”. He said when on ship he’d jog for exercise but would have to duck to clear the doorways. I loved every minute of my twenty hours on board, feeling closer and gaining an understanding of where he was and what he did.
I remember when my dad was sick and close to passing, email was new. Hard to believe now, but given my corporate job at the time, I was the only one in the family that could communicate with Jason and keep him updated so that he could be flown off the ship when the time came to come home.
As I’ve written this, I realize I have much more information than I thought I did about my family and their military history. I’m very thankful I have the ability write about it and an audience to share it with. Thank you for joining me in learning more about my family and its military roots.
Imagine you’re reading a fiction historical romance book set in the back country of Montana and one of the characters asks another character if he’s always been a freighter.
He responds with no. He was a trapper.
Aww. Cool. Immediately my mind went to my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather who was a trapper. I continued to read.
He was a part of the great mountain men.
Wait! My Great-Great-Great-Grandfather was called that too. Now my heart was thumping faster as I continued to read. Somehow I just knew what I would see next.
Mountain men like Jedidiah Smith and Jim Clyman.
Stop the presses! That’s my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather’s name! Here in the fiction book I’m reading!!
How cool is that?
I ran around the house showing everyone my Kindle I was so excited!
A lover of all things history, I’ve wanted to write a blog post on James Clyman and our family history for a while, but I’ve been so busy with other topics, I hadn’t gotten to it, but I just had to share this exciting news and tell you a little about him now.
He called himself a mountain man. A trapper with Jedidiah Smith, he was the one who sewed Jedidiah’s ear back on after a bear almost swiped it off. He also came over the pass in the sierras and encountered the Donner Party, advising them not to go that way since winter was settling in. And unfortunately they opted not to listen.
Just how do we know all this? He wrote journals. Daily. Details describing who he met and what he did. Those journals have been printed into books. One titled Frontiersman, was printed in 1960 in a limited number mostly for libraries.
He apparently wrote it all on slates and his daughter composed it into a book. I haven’t read it through completely but there’s a chapter on the Black Hawk War and being in the same unit as future President Lincoln and another on his later years when he settled in Napa, Ca.
Another smaller version came out in the 1980s. My dad signed that one for me. Writing on the inside cover that I’m the 6th generation born in Napa to James Clyman. Pretty cool.
And even more cooler…I’ve actually seen the original journals. They are in the Huntington Library in Pasadena.
He’s in the 4th grade history books as well, which was a real treat for my boys whenever they got to that particular unit.
He’s buried in the same cemetery as my parents and his grave is part of a historical tour they host every once in a while.
Another historical nugget – the original ranch house is still standing. My dad used to spend his summers there and when the land was sold off for housing developments my parents purchased in the neighborhood. You could see the top of the ranch house if you stood in my parents backyard.
There’s more but I’ll save that for another post. I have plans for him to make an appearance in a book or two someday. With all the books out there to read, how fascinating I found someone who beat me to it.
I’ve been doing research on birthstone history and the 7th Cavalry for a new book, and I’m reminded again of how much I love the Internet.
When I started writing, the Internet was just barely starting, so I had to rely on print sources. The research for my first historical romance, Rogue’s Hostage, took a long time. Some questions I had weren’t answered until my husband and I made a trip to Quebec City in Canada! (Plus it’s always fun to see the places you’re writing about. Any excuse for a chance to travel.)
In any case, the Internet is now chock full of wonderful information for writers to access in minutes or hours, rather than days or weeks. Ah, ye old inter-library loan.
Anyway, I had decided I needed a valuable piece of jewelry for the new plot and thought it would be cool to connect it to a character’s birthstone. But how old was the concept of birthstones?
Quite old, as it turns out. Apparently the concept of assigning gems to categories goes back to the Old Testament when Aaron’s breastplate had 12 gems on it, each representing one of the tribes of Israel. In the Middle Ages, Jewish jewelers transferred the gems to the signs of the Zodiac and introduced them to Europe. It wasn’t long before the gems became associated with months of the year rather than the pagan astrological signs. You can read more about birthstone history here.
But are the birthstones still the same today? Not exactly. Here’s a graphic of the modern birthstone system, though there are now subsidiary gems assigned to the months as well. The “modern” list dates to 1912.
Again, thanks to our wonderful World Wide Web, I was able to easily locate a Gregorian Birthstone poem that was published by Tiffany and Co. in 1870, perfect for my 1893-set Western historical romance. Most are the same, but not all. March, June, August and December vary.
But which gemstone to choose? Which was the most valuable at the time?
According to an article written in 1949 that some lovely person digitized and uploaded the Internet, I learned that “from 1872 to the present day (1949) the emerald has been the most expensive stone.”
Here’s the verse for the month of May:
Who first beholds the light of day
In spring’s sweet flowery month of May
And wears an emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and happy wife.
Great, but what kind of jewelry?
I talked to my neighbor, whose father was a jeweler, and she suggested a brooch. They’re not very popular now, but were in the 19th century. I found this photo of a vintage brooch at Deposit Photos and I think it will be perfect for my book, since it has not one but two large emeralds.
Would someone kill for that? Maybe, if he were desperate enough.
What are you researching?
Linda McLaughlin / Lyndi Lamont
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