Murray family enjoys ride of a lifetime

July 18, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The dark blue Plymouth Special Deluxe two-door sedan was only two months old when newlyweds Nevin and Louella Murray went on their honeymoon to Niagara Falls in November 1948.

Later, through the years, it brought every one of the couple's seven children home from Waynesboro Hospital where they were born, beginning with daughter Nancy on May 15, 1950, down to Dale, the couple's only son, on March 28, 1964.

Today the Plymouth has 206,000 miles on the odometer and is still in use, although only on special occasions. Louella wants to relive the honeymoon by taking the Plymouth back to Niagara Falls next year when she and Nevin celebrate their 50th anniversary.


"It will get there and back," her husband said.

The years were starting to show their effect on the aging sedan so Murray had it restored with new paint, a new interior, a rebuilt engine and other work about six years ago.

The car starts just as it did when it was new. A turn of the ignition key on the dash to the right of the steering wheel, a push on the big chrome starter button left of the wheel and the big six-cylinder engine purrs to life.

The Plymouth has no radio, but it came in with a heater and defroster, both options in those days.

It was bought in the years immediately following World War II, a time when the American auto industry was working furiously to catch up with the demand for new cars by returning GIs.

Murray, a Greencastle native, came home in 1945 after more than three years of service with the Army engineers in the Aleutian Islands and in Japan.

He found a used 1942 Plymouth when he got back, but it had a lot of miles on it. He put his name on waiting lists with all the new car dealers in the area. "I didn't care what kind of car I got as long as I got one. I had been waiting for more than a year when this one came in," he said.

He bought the Plymouth from Barkdoll Motor Co. on Lincolnway East in Chambersburg for "$1,500 and some change," he said. The leather key case that came with the car, and which Murray still uses, shows that Barkdoll sold Desoto and Plymouth cars. The dealership's telephone number on the key case is 74.

Murray commuted in the Plymouth to his warehouse job at Letterkenny Army Depot. It was 23 miles from his office to the parking lot at work. He retired in 1979.

The family took a few vacations, including one to Illinois and one to New York State in the Plymouth. Mostly it drove the Murrays across North Mountain for frequent family picnics at Cowans Gap State Park.

The park became so popular with the family that they bought a cabin there in 1981. The clan, now bulging with 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, celebrates all major holidays at the cabin, including Christmas and Thanksgiving, Louella said. The Plymouth still goes on occasion.

Louella said the car has only let them down twice in the nearly 20 years - and both times for minor problems.

Murray decided not to trade it in when he bought a new Dodge Dart in 1974.

In 1987 he traded in the Dodge for a new Jeep Cherokee which still looks like new. He got $1,100 for the Dodge on trade. Six years ago he spotted the Dodge at an estate sale and bought it back to $500.

Today three cars share the long brick garage at the Murray home in the 2000 block of Buchanan Trail East. The Jeep is up front, the Dodge is in the back and the Plymouth is safely tucked in the middle.

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