Survived by a 1952 Hudson Hornet Convertible
By AACA Member Martin Yespy
Our cousin, Eugene Smith, a member of AACA for decades, died recently after being disabled by a stroke 11 years ago. Gene, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of all cars from the 40s and 50s, was also an avid supporter of the museum and had planned to become a volunteer after his retirement.
In his obituary in the local paper Gene's family listed among his survivors a 1952 Hudson Hornet convertible. Gene and the Hudson traveled far and wide together, including several round trips from his home in Pennsylvania to Texas where he was stationed while in the Air Force. Gene loved that car and his number one topic during all the years of his illness was the Hudson - even if it remained in pieces and in boxes, crammed into his one car garage since 1972. As the story goes the Hudson ran perfectly well but during the historic central Pennsylvania flood of 1972 Gene opened his home to a flood victim friend. Well the two of them got to sitting around talking about the Hudson and impulsively decided to begin its restoration. So in a matter of days it was down to the frame, each piece meticulously labeled and catalogued. Gene planned on working on the car in his spare time but that didn't work out because Gene, who was the local postmaster, often worked 7 days a week. So as the years went by Gene always said he would do it when he retired. Then the stroke.
Gene's dream to ride in that car again never dimmed and in fact everyone agreed that the car kept his spirit alive. All those years he would go in his wheelchair out to the garage and regale anyone who would listen to his plan for finishing the car's restoration. Recently Gene was given a set of new wheel bearings and just the sight of them gave him hours of pure joy. To be fair there was some work done on the Hudson over the years, but today it still sits awaiting reassembly.
On a sunny day in May Gene was buried with a picture of his beloved Hudson. For good measure, his son-in-law threw a rear wheel bearing into Gene's grave before it was filled in.
There are lessons to be learned here, but we prefer to imagine Gene cruising in style on the other side of eternity in his '52, top down, an arm resting on the door. Arriving at the pearly gates we are sure he was waved right through and given a thumbs up to boot.
When I was a toddler, my family had at least two Hudsons that I can recall. I really loved those cars. We had a Hornet and a Wasp; both sedans. I remember being at drive in movies and my parents putting my sister Pat & me to sleep on the back window ledge; it was that big! I can just imagine Gene's car restored and driving around with its top down! Mike
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