When Jim Long was a kid, his neighbor told him he was going to sell him a car. Life intervened, but after many years the car came into Long’s possession.
Long lived on 193 High Street as a child. He explained that across the street on 194 High Street “lived two bachelors, William Davis and his brother Ross. Mr. Davis was the Church of the Assumption Music Director for many years. He was well known in Bradford. “
Long described Mr. Davis as a very conservative elderly gentleman.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in anything other than a suit and tie,” Long said. Mr. Davis owned a 1940 Packard 110 which he kept in a garage on Rochester Street. To reach his house from the garage, Mr. Davis walked up an alley between Long’s house and his neighbor’s – the popular thoroughfare for those in the neighborhood that goes from point A to point B.
Long said Mr. Davis would always talk to the family when they were out when he came by.
“He always told me he would sell me the car,” Long said. However, Long was drafted into the army in 1966, and when he was released and returned home in 1968, something was different.
“I looked across the street and the house was empty. I asked my mom, ‘What happened to Mr. Davis?’ “Long said. He said his mother stated that Mr. Davis had gotten older and moved to the Holley Hotel because there were no retirement homes at the time and the Holley was a respectable place to live. When Long asked about Mr. Davis’ car, his mother said it had been sold to Paul Abernathy.
Long later learned that Abernathy had gone to church with Mr. Davis, which provided an opportunity to bond for the sale.
During a conversation with Abernathy’s daughter, who is a friend of the family, Long discovered that the car was not being driven. His understanding was that the car was not in tip-top condition when it was sold to Abernathy and he was concerned about its reliability. Instead of driving on the road, the car was idling.
After Abernathy’s death, the car was given to his son Sheldon, who Long said everyone called “Bernie” and who was a local postman. Like his father, the younger Abernathy stowed the car without driving it.
In 2003, however, Sheldon Abernathy had the car completely restored. Long said the work was done by Greg Davis, who has a shop in Westline and does the restoration, and the car was painted by Don Swander. The interior, which was fully restored after the 1940s, was made by a company in Buffalo, NY. executed
Long’s opportunity to purchase the car came accidentally after Sheldon Abernathy’s death when the car was in the possession of John Piganelli, Abernathy’s nephew.
“The funny thing is that I found it by accident,” Long said. He explained that his brother-in-law Lanny Layton had gone to see John Piganelli’s son Evan on an unrelated matter, and during the conversation Evan asked if he knew anyone who might want to buy an old Packard.
“Lanny said, ‘Yes I do,'” Long said. “Lanny called me and I contacted John Piganelli and said, ‘Don’t sell it. I’m going to buy it.'”
Long closed the deal on Aug. 3, agreeing to Piganelli’s condition to take him to the Packard – which he had never ridden in before.
Lange went to work replacing the fuel pump and other parts. The car was not yet ready to drive. Then Long’s friend and VFW colleague Steve Belleville came by.
“He said, ‘We’re going to your garage and we’ll get this thing up and running in five minutes.’ In fact, he was right, ”said Long. “The timing was a little off.”
Long said the car is now running smoothly and has been taking it easy for the past two weeks.
“The longest distance I’ve ridden is my brother-in-law’s house – he lives Stickney,” said Long. “It went well.”
Long said there was a consequence of the car sitting idle.
“Basically, I have a rust problem in the gas tank of (the car) that has been sitting for so many years. I put some fuel filters on it and it seems to be going well, ”he said. “I try to put a few short miles on it and make sure it starts every time I try to start it.”
Long is happy to have a car with such a personal story and to have it ready for new adventures. However, he does not plan to adapt his wardrobe to the decade.
“It’s a pretty decent car. Everyone tells me to get a pinstripe suit and a fedora, but that’s not my style, ”he said.