La Feria News

Passions

CentennialSeal

The city of La Feria is celebrating its 100th year anniversary and to commemorate the occasion we are digging deep into our archives each week to bring you images and stories from La Feria’s colorful past.

The following is part of a series of historical articles written by Michael Lamm that originally ran in the La Feria News in 2003. They are being reprinted with the author’s permission.

A 1932 Studebaker convertible, one of three Studebakers owned by the author. Photo: blog.hemmings.com

A 1932 Studebaker convertible, one of three Studebakers owned by the author. Photo: blog.hemmings.com

Something I need to make clear. As a kid and teenager growing up in La Feria, I loved horses and then developed an abiding, lifelong passion for cars. I’m not sure whether my interest in horses led to my fascination with cars, but both had to do with getting away, going places, control and power—all attributes that attract pubescent males.

My mother, Annie, was quite a horsewoman. She’d won several riding competitions as a young girl. This was in her native Germany between the wars.Anyway, in 1942, when I was six and my sister, Miriam, was four, my mother bought herself a lovely tri-color horse named Spot. At the same time, she bought us kids a little bay range pony named Pigeon.

Pigeon was larger than a Shetland but considerably smaller than Spot. My mother taught us to ride, and the three of us often went out together, two on Spot and one on Pigeon. My mother, as part of her medical practice, also occasionally made housecalls on Spot.

The countryside around La Feria was ideal for horseback riding back in the 1940s and ‘50s. Most roads weren’t paved, and farmers didn’t seem to mind if you rode across their open fields or through their citrus groves.

Horseback riding was mostly a boys’ activity at that time, and although Miriam and a few of her friends had horses, I usually rode with my school buddies. We often played cowboys and Indians on horseback, and it wasn’t unusual to take our horses swimming in the La Feria and Mercedes main canals.

But even during my love affair with horses, I was learning how to drive. That education started when I was 12. My best friend, Mike Eaker, lived out on Kansas City Road, and his dad owned a little Ford-Ferguson orchard tractor. Mike Eaker knew how to drive the tractor, and it didn’t take him long to teach me. So I was driving, albeit slowly, when I was 12.

Texas at that time allowed 14-year-olds to get drivers’ licenses if they had compelling reasons. When I applied for my license, I told the lady at the motor vehicle department that my parents needed me to run errands. This wasn’t strictly true, but it satisfied her. So on the day I turned 14, I went to the DMV in Harlingen, took my driver’s test and passed.

I subsequently worked at a succession of after-school and summer jobs that involved cars. I’ll talk more about them in the future, but for now suffice it to say that I worked first at Miller’s Garage and then at Joe Machner’s Humble filling station for a couple of years, loving every minute. These jobs taught me a lot more than automotive physics—they taught me the difference between good and bad bosses, good and bad workmanship and good and bad customers.

During that time, from age 14 (1950) through 18, when I went away to college, I bought, sold and traded a string of cars that I very much wish I still had today. One was a 1932 Cadillac V-16 sedan for which I paid $90. Another was a Ford hot rod roadster with a hopped-up V-8 and a Columbia 2-speed rear axle. I owned a 1938 Packard Super Eight 3-window coupe, four Model A Ford roadsters, two Ford flathead V-8s, two La Salle convertibles, a 1931 Hudson that my dad bought for me, three early 1930s Studebakers, a 1934 Buick that was given to me by J.C. Dunn, and maybe a dozen more.

I rescued most of these cars from imminent scrappage, and the average price I paid was from $15 to $30. A lot of them didn’t run when I bought them but did afterward. On some I made money, on most I lost, but again the experiences served as a good education.

The point is–and this will come up again and again as I write these columns–that my personal life involved, first and foremost, my family and second, horses and cars. These passions intertwined and overlapped to some degree, and except for the fact that I have no horses today, they still do.

MichaelLamm2ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Lamm’s family moved to La Feria in 1939, when Mike was three. Both his parents practiced medicine in La Feria. Mike grew up here and went away to college in 1954, first in Oregon and then in New York. He and his wife, JoAnne, and their three sons live in California, where Mike publishes books about cars. His company website – www.LammMorada.com.


Do YOU have any photos, books, or stories that might help us piece together La Feria’s storied history? If so please email us or call our office at 956-797-9920 and let us know!

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