With Peter Winnewisser
As author of this column, I am constantly intrigued by anecdotal stories about old Fords and the people connected to them. The following is an edited version of my favorite story from my files, and concludes with a note about its author.
In the fall of the year, when the frost was on the pumpkin, the corn was in shock and the geese honking above, I was on my way to River Bridge, New Brunswick, to visit my sister, Olive, and her family. In late afternoon, when I was about 20 miles from my destination, a Model A Ford roadster was stopped by the side of the road with its hood open. An old timer in farmer’s overalls was working on the engine that had overheated, because of a faulty fan belt. He introduced himself as Zeke Hill and his wife, seated in the car, as Molly.
“This is the only car I ever had,” Zeke said. “Bought her new in 1930 and kept it all these years. Like me, she is getting there, but ain’t over the hill yet. Tomorrow, Old Man Lovitt, over in River Bridge, will fix my leaky water pump and install a new fan belt. Be good as new again.”
Certain that Zeke would be able to get the Ford home, I parted company with him and drove to my sister’s home. Interestingly, she had never heard of Zeke or Molly Hill, but knew Old Man Lovitt, who was quite the local character.
The next morning, my nephew, Francois, and I visited Lovitt’s Garage and found the owner working on some old relic of the past. Lovitt was tall, straight as a rake handle and proud. The only thing that betrayed his age of four scores plus one or two was his face, which was as weather beaten as the banks of the Petitcodiac.
Lovitt was quite willing to talk, but when I asked him what time Zeke was coming over with his Model A, an expression came over his face as if he had just seen a ghost. His answer was a real shocker. “Zeke Hill ain’t coming here or going anywhere else, he’s been dead for 25 years.”
“But I was talking with him yesterday,” I insisted.
“Someone has been playing a trick on you,” Lovitt said. And, then he told me the story of Zeke Hill.
Zeke and Molly lived on a small farm about two miles from town. They owned only one car, the Model A. One day, Zeke was coming from town when a young boy on a bicycle drove right into his path. He swerved to avoid hitting the boy, lost control of the car and went over the bank into the river close to the bridge. He died in the accident. Molly moved away after that and died a few years later. The farm is now abandoned.
I changed the subject and asked if he had any car parts left over from the early days. He looked around and all he could find was a Model A fan belt.
“Here, take it,” he said, “I’ll never use it now.”
As we left, Francois said, “Did you see the tag attached to the belt?” My heart almost stopped when I read, “For Zeke Hill” written on the tag. More bewildered than ever, we visited the abandoned farm, which was a lonely place in poor repair. Francois suggested that we leave the old fan belt there for “the ghost of Zeke Hill.” We left the belt hanging on a wooden peg near the door.
Once back home, I decided to forget all about it since no one would believe me anyway, but the ghost of Zeke Hill was not through yet. The next spring, I received a phone call from an excited Francois. A few days after I had left River Bridge, Francois and a friend took a bicycle ride to the old farm and, much to their surprise, the fan belt had vanished from where we left it. But that wasn’t all. Recently, a construction crew working on the road had dug up the remains of an old car near the bridge. Old Man Lovitt had identified it as Zeke Hill’s car. There wasn’t much of the car left, most everything was rusted or gone, except the fan belt, which appeared to be brand new.
This story was written by Laurent d’Entremont, a Canadian story teller with his feet firmly planted in the lore of the Canadian Province of Nova Scotia. Regarding his story, he says, “Although I’ll swear that it is true, it will be hard to prove that I saw the ghost of Zeke and Molly Hill. On the other hand, no one will ever prove that I did not see it, either.”
Laurent is well-known throughout Nova Scotia as a writer, radio personality, comedian, humorist and master story teller. He is also a car guy with a special interest in old Fords and currently owns several, including a 1931 Model A station wagon which he drives frequently when the weather allows. His most recent book, “Footsteps in the Night,” was published in the fall of 2012 in a paperback edition. It contains 69 stories which form an oral history of the people and places of Nova Scotia, which he knows best. A profile of Laurent d’Entremont was published in this column in the June 29, 2006, issue of Firsatsaatleri.
For information about d’Entremont’s books or to order, contact him at [email protected]. If you contact him, tell him the author of “Watching The Fords Go By” referred you.
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