Tuesday, February 14, 2012

She's Temperamental Lady, But Her Owner Swears She's a Dear

As some will know, I have been researching early car owners in British Columbia, Canada. This is a fun project for me, but one which will later benefit others looking for their families in BC.

Since it's Valentine's Day today, I could not resist posting this great find - a 1921 newspaper article about a woman's love for her car. (Sorry, little brother, it's a Ford.)

She's Temperamental Lady, But Her Owner Swears She's A Dear

by Winifred Philpot, Parksville, BC

Perhaps that is rather misleading, for my lady is not a car really—she is a Ford; but quite definitely she is a lady. She is altogether too subtle, too psychic, too consistent to be considered for one moment as of the other sex.

I should like to hear a certain well remembered Eugenics Society in Cambridge discuss my car, although perhaps that would hurt her feelings, and I would not do that for all the amusement I personally might derive from the discussion; but I feel sure they would declare she was of the dominant type.

She is getting old alas! she is nearly four, but her characteristics must be entirely due to heredity, and not in environment, for they were all strongly developed from the beginning. I am perfectly certain my character has had absolutely no effect on hers; that is obvious to everyone, for I am neither subtle, psychic, nor thank heaven, consistent.

I do not know the proper catalogue name for my lady but she is that kind that can carry five passengers if they are of exactly the right shape and she is all covered in.


She has always been dainty, eating to live, not living to eat, by which of course I mean she does not use much oil, and therefore keeps her clothes (I am so afraid you will not quite understand me, her spark plugs) clean. She has always disliked garage men, she is essentially dainty, and worked for two years without falling into their hands. Truly, she is a remarkable car. But then you must realize I am remarkable too. I have turned out in the rain, and the wind and the snow rather than allow anyone else to drive her. I have even been rude to others, going to the extreme point of hurting their feelings rather than hers.

I said my character had not influenced her, but alas! my family say she is rapidly changing mine. I am naturally friendly, generous, kindly, even a little religious—my car will have none of this, definitely and decidedly none of this. For instance, during the first three months of this year I used my lady solely for selfish, frivolous, sentimental and worldly pursuits, and she ran like a charm, then just before Easter we faced together the realities of life once more.


The very first day she gave me warning. Knowing her past history I ought to have realized what was likely to happen, but foolishly I had forgotten that no car owner is mistress of her own identity. She pulled me up gently at the beginning. I wanted to give a tired old man a lift. It was towards evening. There is much to do in the country in the spring. He only wanted to deliver some milk; it all seemed so simple, and so right; so natural to me. My lady would not even try to start, much less give a kick. That gracious impulse of mine, that snobbishness of hers, cost me $3 to get her towed into the nearest garage. I hoped the humiliation would teach her a lesson. Far from that; she merely decided I had not yet learned mine.

Things were much worse the next day. A wonderful collection of good thoughts and deeds were in my car. A weary mother with two small children to be taken on their way; a neighbour hard at work in most praiseworthy industry in his dirty, damp garden, able to continue because I undertook to deliver a message for him; yes, and even flowers for the Easter decorations of our church. Perhaps my lady would have suffered all this. I know not; but heedless of all warnings, I added later a grubby little child to the long list of indignities. One wild, awful moment of revolt, then later the report that the ignition had burnt out. The new man at the garage evidently thought it was my fault. I forgave him—he did not know my lady, nor that I can drive a car.

Just at the beginning of Lent last year our settlement was tremendously excited when we heard we must collect $2000 for some Church Forward Movement. Of course we had never heard before of such a sum, but were immensely proud to think anyone thought we had so much money. Some of us started to make cakes, and some of us to sew and some to beg. Now heaven forbid that I should ever bake or sew. It is absolutely foreign to my naturally generous nature to beg. I had a car, behold I would drive people who could beg.

Alas, alas! My dear lady was even then most definitely anti-church; net result, nothing for movement, broken gear and bill for $28 for me.


She is even anti humanitarianism. A dear old man, a great friend of my own, albeit humble, that is what my lady objected to. Albert humble was ill in hospital 30 miles away. Hist dear old wife was naturally anxious to see him. I am naturally of a kindly, sentimental disposition. My lady went and returned but gave me every possible trouble. Finally she choked up one wild sob on a hill up which she usually flies with [?] grace, and murmured, she could not and she would not. The old wife's hat and shoes were too horrible.

Now I never swear at my car—I talked gently and kindly. I even pleaded the beauty of my own hat and shoes, and we did get to hospital and we did return, but I suffered greatly. Perhaps I wrong her, it is so difficult to appreciate another's sorrows. She may have suffered more; but you will understand now that mine is a most peculiar and subtle car. But I love her all the same. No I will not sell her.

In 1921, Emily Winifred Lee Philpot, born in England to Richard Lee Philpot and Emily Louisa Baker, was the Proprietoress of the Island Hall Hotel. She and Joan Foster apparently opened the 28 room Hotel in 1917. Winifred married Dr. William James Woodman in Parksville, British Columbia, in 1922 and by 1927, he is listed as the Hotel's proprietor. Soon they left Parksville for the Far East. I would love to know more about her later life. Please do contact me, if you are related or have more information.

This article was published originally in the Vancouver Sunday Sun (automotive section), 19 June, 1921, page 30. The directory page shown is from page 504 of Wrigley's B.C. Directory, 1921, accessed from the Vancouver Public Library's digitized 'British Columbia City Directories' database. The Island Hall Hotel ad referred to in the directory listing was a text ad in the directory's classified section. ( Joan Foster is not listed.)

The Island Hall Hotel is now a condominium site. The Parksville Museum and Archives website has more about Parksville history and shows a photo of a car on the Island Highway in 1919.

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