Why my dream car is named Matilda

I’m excited about the car show at Ralph’s for two reasons:

  1. I get to sell compacts at a booth for the first time
  2. I get to start making car connections so when I’m ready to buy Matilda, Tim and I will have an easier time finding her, sourcing parts, etc.

Some of you are  probably wondering why I keep calling this 1940 Dodge that I don’t even own yet Matilda. I name inanimate objects that I spend a lot of time with. I always have. Call me crazy. Beyond that, I like the names I bestow to have some sort of deeper meaning. So here’s Matilda’s story:

Matilda Dodge with her children in the early 1920s.

My dad went to college at Oakland University in Michigan. The school was founded by Matilda Dodge Wilson–widow of John Francis Dodge. One of the Dodge brothers who started the car company. THAT Dodge. Matilda was his secretary. They married in 1907 and had three children before John died of the flu in 1920.  Matilda inherited his share of the company and became one of the wealthiest women in the United States. Five years later, she married lumber baron Alfred Wilson. Matilda did a great deal of charity work, supporting the Salvation Army and numerous arts organizations. She was politically active, serving as Leiutenant Governor of Michigan in 1940 and sitting on the state’s Board of Agriculture. All this earned my admiration.

But what really captivated me were my father’s stories about Mrs. Wilson.

My dad had just started at Oakland when she died and he recalls that the upperclassmen were grief-stricken. The students genuinely liked her. While the university was in its infancy and the dorms were still under construction, Mrs. Wilson let female students live in a wing of the Meadow Brook Hall mansion. She also hosted the students for a party every year on her birthday. The male senior with the highest GPA got to be her escort for the event and she provided him with ballroom dancing lessons so they could dance to–what else? Waltzing Matilda. According to my dad, this was a big deal–students competed for the honor.

Matilda wasn’t just a hard worker who was generous with her time and money. She was fun. That sold me. My 1940 Dodge has been christened. I may not have met my Matilda yet, but I’ll know her when I find her. She’ll be every bit as captivating as her namesake.


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