By Keith Gushard
Newborn Everett Bartlett of Meadville should have quite a story — and possibly a family tradition — when he starts his own family one day.
Everett, who was born Tuesday at Meadville Medical Center, rode home from the hospital Friday in a 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline. It’s the same car that transported both Everett’s mother, Emily Bartlett, and his grandmother, Gail Krauss, home from the hospital after they were born.
“It was kind of surreal,” Emily said of the ride home with Everett, her husband, Brian, and her father, Nick Krauss.
The idea of having three different generations using the same car to go home from the hospital after being born really intrigued Brian when the idea was put to him.
“I thought it was really cool when her father suggested it,” he said. “Most people won’t keep a car that long. They’ll either trade it in or it’ll wear out.”
The 1951 Chevrolet only has about 40,000 miles on it. It originally was purchased by Emily’s grandfather, Harold Atts, who owned an auto parts company and towing service in Oil City. Everything on the car remains original except for the seat belts and tires, according to the Bartletts.
Emily came home in the car in 1983 after being born at Erie’s then-Hamot Medical Center. Emily’s mother, Gail, had gone home from Oil City’s then-hospital after she was born there in 1955.
“My dad thought it was the coolest thing when Grampa suggested taking me home in it like he had with my mom,” Emily said of her initial trip home 30 years ago. “I don’t know what made Grampa think of it.”
While 1983 was before Pennsylvania had mandatory seat belt and car seat laws for young passengers like Emily, the family made sure she was secured in a baby carrier on the way home.
“There were a lot of straps in place,” Emily said of what she was told. “Grampa drove and Dad was riding in the back.”
However, the family took absolutely no chances with young Everett’s initial ride home.
Since seat belts weren’t original equipment for a 1951 Chevrolet, Emily’s father, Nick, installed them in the car before giving Everett his initial ride home.
“He put in steel plates to anchor the seat belts,” Brian said chuckling. “He took it to Meadville Fire Department to have them check the installation and make sure it was okay. They told him, ‘It was better than what we would have done.’ ”
The Bartletts also informed Meadville Medical Center about the automobile.
“We checked with the hospital ahead of time because we didn’t want to have it there and have someone say, ‘This isn’t safe,’ on the day we were going to go home,” Brian said.
Taking Everett from MMC to the Bartletts’ home also required a little bit of driving help from Emily’s father.
“The car’s got a stick shift (for a manual transmission),” Brian said smiling. “I don’t know how to drive it. I’ve only driven an automatic.”
“It was just fun,” Emily said of the experience. “We’ll have to put it (the car) in storage for about 30 years.”
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.
Did you know?
A 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline cost about $1,630 to $1,680 new, according to Conceptcarz.com. Chevrolet made 189,603 of the model that year — 131,910 were two-door sedans with 57,693 as four-door versions.