The Car Plane

Texas. 1963. I was five years old, wore cowboy shirts with  pearl snap buttons, cowboy boots and a red cowboy hat.  The big kids in the subdivision tried to feed me cat turds because I was a “Yankee” and they were “Rebels.” JFK was shot in Dallas but we lived in Houston in a house with a checkerboard linoleum floor and a treehouse built on top of a phone pole because there weren’t any trees and my father decided his sons needed a tree house. The Mercury program was putting men into space and Houston had a NASA space center which made me obsessed with John Glenn. I played in a rocket ship at a playground near the Houston Ship Canal. My little brother rubbed a beached Portugese Man-O-War on his chest, went into shock and was placed in a bathtub full of ice at a Corpus Christi emergency room.



There were snakes in the back yard. We owned two Siamese cats. We had art on the walls that I have seen on the walls of rooms in Mad Men.

I was given a Kenner Car Plane because I learned how to read from Dr. Seuss and traffic signs.

I loved my Car Plane. It was installed in the back seat of the Ford station wagon to keep me occupied during the long trip from Houston to Cape Cod when it was time to leave Texas and return to Massachusetts where my father was going to take over the family business. I flew it through Mississippi which scared me from the television news. I flew the plane past the Iwo Jima monument in Washington DC at five in the morning. And I flew it down the Mid-Cape highway, fighting for the right to play with it with my brother Tom.

It was the coolest thing I owned. I loved it. I mean I really, really loved my Kenner Car Plane. It was my Rosebud. The toy I’ve never forgotten.

And then it got smashed by an over-exuberant cousin whom I have never really forgiven.


Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

4 thoughts on “The Car Plane”

  1. My sister gayle had one. I had to “make do” flying my hand out the car window.
    the utterly weird thing about growing up in SO Cal around the defense industry were the rocket engine plants in my hoime town and a dad who liked to expose his kids to science…. So we went up to Nevada twice to see A-bomb shots in the desrt. Seeing the bones in your hand silouhetted by an A- bomb going off was memorable.
    Life was different then but one advantage to living in a town with a rocket industry was the free after school tutoring by the Churman engineers in Aerojet’s employee cafeteria. A whole bunch of my friends graduated from college because of the math and science tutoring programs.
    Neat popst Dave.

  2. I had one of these as a very small child-I flew it up and down the Eisenhower Expressway in my dad’s car for what seemed like hours (knowing the length of the highway, perhaps minutes . . .). Absolutely one of my favorite toys!

  3. I owned a couple of these in the late 1950s to early 1960s. I recall it was one of my favorite toys, mainly because you could control the action of the aircraft model, and the bank and speed instruments actually worked. The first one of these I owned was destroyed by my father when I was being punished for some now hazy indescretion (not sure he smashed it intentionally or by accident). I never forgot that loss.

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