Elizabeth and Huldie

Elizabeth and “Huldie”, about 1968-69.

The year was 1966, and an incredible event happened in our household. My brother Bobby bought a 1954 Ford from our neighbor, Gene Mayo. Up until this time, we didn’t have a car. My Uncle Charlie had a car, but we didn’t get a lot of rides. My mother, my brother, and I did “a lot of walking”

We carried groceries home by bicycle, a taxi, or sometimes a very kind bag boy from the White Store would push our groceries home in a buggy.

That was also how we got clothes to and from the laundromat. Then my mother finally bought a washing machine.

There wasn’t a lot of complaining; it was just a way of life, and we were used to it. But things were very different after that beautiful old Ford named “Huldie” entered our lives. My brother says that our Granny Lawson named her Huldie. I have no idea where or why she named her that. But that’s what we’ve always called her.

To begin with, she was blue and white. The top was white and the lower body was blue. She was beginning to have a little rust, so my brother bought a can of black paint and got a good paint brush from our Uncle Bill. He painted her a solid black, and she looked good.

Originally, she was a three-speed on the column, but Bobby moved it to the floor. He also had the engine changed to a Thunderbird engine. Gee how I grew to love that old car.

In September of 1967, Bobby was drafted and left for Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. I began my senior year in high school and enrolled in driver’s education. Of course, we were learning in an automatic car. I was determined that if that Ford was what there was to drive, I’d learn how to drive her.

That’s exactly what I started doing. We lived in the first house above The Church of God on Clay Street. At that time, the church was a very small church and you could easily get around it. I began driving Huldie round and round that church for practice. It wasn’t so easy at first because I hadn’t had anyone to show me anything about driving a straight drive.

It was probably right after the first of 1968, when I got my driver’s license. Somehow I was able to convince my mother to get out in town in old Huldie. I still had little idea how to drive a straight drive. I burnt out two or three clutches, but I finally figured it out.

Different people had to come to my rescue during my learning period. Gene Mayo rescued me once on Reno Street. Another time, Huldie got stuck in reverse and I was at the corner of W. Watterson St. and Hasson St. Bobby Gudger rescued me that day. He backed me out the street and safely home.

I started driving Huldie to school. I was as proud as most kids would have been driving a brand new Mustang. I started working part-time at the White Store after school and on Saturday. The grocery stores weren’t open on Sunday back then. I would get out of school early on Friday to go to work.

About this same time, Doc McConnell and Hale Vance opened a local teen center called The Barn down on Washington Street. That’s where me and my friends would be on Saturday night. Local garage bands would play. We had some good times dancing there on Saturday nights.

Well, we all got crushes on the boys from Morristown. The only person with any transportation was me with Huldie. We all started piling in Huldie and heading to Morristown.

We soon learned of a new hangout over there called The Dog N’ Suds, which was a drive-in restaurant that specialized in hot dogs and root beer. We all loved it. It was located on N. Buffalo Trail. The building is still there and has been different things including a doughnut shop.

As my mother and grandmother often said, we kept the roads between here and Morristown hot during 1968, but we sure had fun. We were out one night when we had a flat tire. We pulled into a gas station where some of those boys were hanging out. They said, “Have you got a spare tire?” Well, I didn’t have a clue whether I had a spare tire or not. As it turned out, the trunk was full of tires, but only one was good–a snow tire! So on she went.

I knew nothing except how to start her and to drive her. That was all that was important to me.

One time my friends and I decided we wanted to go t Morristown. To raise money, we went all over town to everyone’s families to get their empty Coke bottles to well for the deposits. We put gas in Huldie, and off we went. We even had enough money to buy each one of us a hot dog and root beer at The Dog N’ Suds.

That’s the way this careless teenager lived back in the day! Hope my great-grandchildren never knew how reckless I was! Lol

Last time I saw Huldie was some time after 1975 and she was being towed by a truck out Stapleton Lane headed for Jim Hall’s place at the top of the hill. If anyone has a clue what happened to her, this old girl would love to know.

In honor of those trips to Dog N’ Suds, here are one recipe for a great hot dog chili and two recipes for desserts using root beer.

As always, enjoy!

Best Hot Dog Chili

Two secrets to making this such a good hot chili are adding liquid to the meat before it cooks and using the potato masher to break the meat apart. Both combine to make a smoother chili.

1 pound ground beef

1/3 cup water

1/3 (10 ounce) can tomato sauce

½ cup ketchup

2 ½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon white sugar

½ teaspoon onion powder

1 dash Worcestershire sauce

Place ground beef in a large saucepan with water and mash the beef with a potato masher to break apart. Stir in tomato sauce, ketchup, chili powder, salt, black pepper, sugar, onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce.

Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until the chili has thickened slightly and the beef is fully cooked, about 20 minutes.

Root Beer Flat Pie


1 carton (8 ounces) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed, divided

3/4 cup cold root beer

½ cup fat-free milk

1 package vanilla pudding mix

1 9 inch graham cracker crust (about 6 ounces)

Maraschino cherries, optional


1. Set aside and refrigerate ½ cup whipped topping for garnish. In a large bowl, whisk the root beer, milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes.

Fold in half the remaining whipped topping. Spread into graham cracker crust.

2. Spread remaining whipped topping over pie, Freeze for a least 8 hours or overnight.

3. Dollop reserved whipped topping over each servings; top with a maraschino cherry if desired.

Root Beer Float Cake

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle root beer

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons root beer


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix, 12 ounces root beer, oil and eggs until smooth. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Poke holes in the cake with a skewer at 2 inch intervals. Pour glaze made with confectioners’ sugar and remaining root beer over cake.