The Evolution of Uncle Wiggily

Welcome to the first Eff-Stop post of 2014! I stretch the bus-centric theme for this week's Sepia Saturday post just a hair by featuring some vehicles from my father Nelson Bentley's life.

Here's Nelson around 1920, going hogwild on his scooter, near the Bentley Bros. general store, next door to their farmhouse in rural Michigan. Meanwhile the family truck lurks in the background. It looks to me like that's a spoked spare wheel leaning against the wall.

Here's a better view of the truck, a year of two later. That's sister Margaret sharing the sandpit (the farm was situated on a sand hill).

This is the family car around the same time. I can't tell the make, but historically my grampa George Bentley loved Chevrolets. I imagine that's him at the wheel. Nelson appears to be wearing a Scout's uniform. I wish cars still had running boards.

As a teen, Nelson drove the new International delivery truck, named Bosco. The dogs are Pluto (on the hood), Mike the Airedale, and Chingo the chow. Reportedly there were also three cats, Dempsey, Tunny, and Firpo, named for contemporary boxers.

Jumping ahead to college years, this suave pose has Nelson letting the Michigan winter wind up his leg.

And the same car (whatever it is...perhaps my mother's Dodge, which she bought with University of Michigan prize money for her fiction) in warmer weather. Note the pocketful of pens, which were forever a trademark of my father's, and the sockless moccasins, in which he wouldn't have been caught dead in later years.

Speaking of my mother, here she is with our family's first cars, Uncle Wiggily, a cream- and-gray 1950 Chevy, at the Pacific coast circa 1957.

Uncle W's replacement was, of course, Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy the Muskrat Lady Housekeeper, a 1955 Chevy of a unique washed-out blue. Here I am joined by my friend Mark and my sister Julian, around 1965, soda bottles in hand, on a trip to Bellingham, Washington.

Bonus:  Uncle Wiggily and Nurse Jane
There are a few more of the Bentleys' autos at this 2010 post, Detroit Wheels...


  1. Oh I do like pictures of old cars and I wish they still had running boards too! Lovely post.

  2. You've told a story well with that great series of photos.

  3. Glad too see that dogs got into the act as well as the cars.

  4. Yay so nice to see sepia dogs! Just like me...on saturdays :D

  5. The old motorcars had curves and shapes that are missing in today cars. Not that all those designs were classics but I see few contemporary cars that have the same charm.

  6. Enjoyed your family auto photos. I don't have much in the way of family photos, but I do have my mother's childhood Uncle Wiggily book.

  7. I'm jealous that you can identify the cars and even remember all the dogs' and cats' names.

  8. Ah cars back in those days had so many places to sit on or lean against. If you try leaning against a modern hatchback you just slip to the ground. Great photos. Happy New Year Sean.

  9. Me too, running boards were great. As I grew up I had to remember there was a difference between a running board and a drain board. Silly child, eh?