Volume VII, No. 2, Winter 1979

Transforming A Tin Lizzie


Tin Lizzie is a popular nickname for that symbol of American ingenuity--the Model T. And two particular Model T's owned by Cecil Pepper of Lebanon were transformed from much-worn and corroded old cars to sparkling and rejuvenated classy automobiles all in a series of brisk spring afternoons. Armed with rags, brushes, sponges, soap, wax, brass polish and plenty of elbow grease, varying teams of staff members worked on the Model T's at Cecil's home.

One Model T, fondly nicknamed Betsy, was stored in a shed. The first afternoon we tried and tried to start her, but to no avail. Finally, Joe got aggravated and called her an old heifer. But Mary Day said, "Oh, come on, Betsy. I know you can do it!" and kissed her on the fender. Very soon after that Betsy sprang to life. We were so excited that Mary held the tape recorder microphone by the exhaust pipe to record Betsy's backfire, providing a permanent record of that momentous occasion.

The other Model T, Jane, wouldn't run at all and had to be cautiously rolled out of the garage into the driveway where we could work on her. Her first washing, it started to rain and we had to push her right back in. Speaking of rain, when we were rinsing off Jane, Joe looked up over the hood and got sprayed in the face with the hose.

The time we spent with Betsy and Jane was quite productive. We washed and waxed car bodies, cleaned windows, pulled up pine floorboards and swept dirt through the holes, dissolved corrosion, polished brass radiators and headlights, took apart and cleaned kerosene taillights and removed mud dobbers from inside the parking lights. Besides learning about these details, we also learned something else--what a beautiful piece of machinery a Tin Lizzie can be.


Many hands make light work as staff members spruce up one of Cecil Pepper's vintage Fords. By Mary Schmalstig.


Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.

Next Article | Table of Contents | Other Issues

Local History Home

 Springfield-Greene County Library