It is said that the Ford Model T put America on wheels and for one young man it put him on a road to the American dream. The year was 1946 and young Salvador Alvarado was 13 years old and working on a Texas farm as a sharecropper. He had never attended school, ever, and knew if he continued in this environment he would never leave this farm. He had saved up a little money and bought a 1924 Ford Model T Roadster for $18.64. He and another friend had heard some fellow farm hands speak of a town in Michigan called Rosebush, where “they had to sweep the money off the streets there was so much cash to be made”. That was all Young Salvador needed to hear. He and an older friend who was 14 years old to be exact, ran away from the Texas farm in the Model T. In 1946 road maps were scarce so he asked directions of some of fellow farm hands. He was told the following; “drive East one day, then drive North one day, then East another, then North again for a day, and then East one more day to the city of St. Joseph Michigan. There you head due North to Rosebush. It ended up taking about 15 days for the duo to make the Michigan line, there they got some more specific directions to Rosebush.
Once there he found the streets were not littered with cash, but there was plenty of work. For a month or two he camped out near a river, where he startled a fishermen. “I thought for sure this man would beat me up, because I startled him so as I climbed out of my cardboard box. But as he questioned me about what I was doing, his anger settled and he took me in as winter would soon come and he helped me find work. So while I did not find the city to be littered with cash, it was rich with good people happy to help and employ an ambitious young man who was willing to work hard.”
Things went well for Salvador, he found many jobs and was able to keep up the maintenance on his Model T, keeping it reliable and looking good. In 1953 he drove it to Mexico to see family and then again in 1959. As you can see in the photos it looks like new. I asked Mr. Alvarado when he restored his Model T, and he advised not really ever. “I would repair and restore parts of the car as needed. If it needed paint, I would paint it and be sure and do as thorough and complete of work I could to make it like new! So what you see is just a really well maintained Model T, not a restoration.” He explained.
I met Mr. Alvarado at the Cherry Festival Heritage Parade on July 4th. I asked if he trailered the car up and he told me, “No, I drove it!”
He told me it takes about 8 hours to drive up from his home in Lansing, but can take up to 14 hours if the 84 year old proud owner stops to talk about his adventures with his Model T. Mr. Alvarado has drove the Model T before in the Heritage Parade, with his first time being in 1948.
I’m certain Henry Ford is smiling down on Salvador Alvarado who took to heart his intent to allow the American people to enjoy the wide open spaces in a Model T.