Mary Jane Dexter and her "Poppy Red" VW
Gary Fiske [ March 2015 ]
Mary Jane Dexter tells the story of going to Germany with her husband Bill to pick up their new, factory fresh, VW like it was yesterday. In fact the poppy-red VW Convertible Beetle is 50 years old now and still sits in Mary Jane’s garage. Ninety one years old Mary Jane said the Beetle heads to her Colorado nephew, Russell Dent, when she decides it needs a new owner.
Asked about the process at the German factory when they arrived to take possession of the car and she said it took about 3 minutes and they were down the road with it. They had ordered and paid for it before they left their hometown in Rumson, New Jersey. They toured Germany, then dropped the car off in Belgium for a ship to take it across the Atlantic, the Dexters then picked the car up at the port of NJ.
Mary Jane said they even have a name for the VW. During the German tour and the drive along the Rhine River they came upon a huge rock on the eastern river bank called the Lorelei and that name also became the name of their Beetle. I forgot to ask if it was because their VW resembled the rock and if it has to do more with the fabled feminine water spirit that comes from that same area. Another neat point was the fact that, at that time, convertible VWs were built for export only. I am sure the German tour resulted in some second looks as MJ and Bill motored the German highways.
This from Jim Sears... Mary Jane was the original “Badge Lady”. She and Bill belonged to a woody club and those members had name badges that identified their club affiliation. She thought that VAE members should also have their own unique name badge and took on the task of designing and getting badges for us. I’ve heard that if you attended a VAE function without your badge there was a 50 cent fine. I have three badges that I purchased through Mary Jane and I still forget mine. Good thing for me we no longer collect the fine.
The year I was in charge of the appreciation dinner Mary Jane wrote all the name tags using her calligraphy pens. They were so elegant and appreciated.
A possible hint of Mary Jane’s love for VW Beetles...
This from long time friend Jan Sander... Jan remembers a day at MJ’s home during a VAE gathering when Jan’s son David had brought his VW to the gathering. Jan said that for some reason she had tripped and fallen against David’s car. Jan still remembers MJ’s response to her irreverent VW collision. Mary Jane simply said “ Bad mommy... leave the car alone”.
This received from Mary Jane, just at Wheel Tracks’ deadline...
Yes, indeed, Bill Dexter was a Ford Man. From his first 1934 Ford Roadster with a rumble seat to the Model A’s and then to the Ford V8 Station Wagons, he has a lot of Fords. He Stayed with this model as it fit his needs of transportation of students to games and meetings, and for ski trips and camping.
Then I came along with my penchant for “bugs”. Bill tried to show an interest in these cars and became fascinated when I acquired a poppy red VW convertible. He marveled at the ease with which it soared West Hill Road when snow was heavy on the road. Bill was interested!
That summer, was planned as a trip to Europe and Bill thought it might pay us to purchase a VW overseas and use it for our transportation. So we took delivery of our 1965 Poppy Red convertible in Germany. This was our chance to break in the car in its own language! It was a blast. VW was then still making the convertibles for export only, so this vehicle which we named “Lorelei” received plenty of attention. Vas is los?
She was a marvel in the mountains, speeding up the steepest of hills, passing the other cars, large and heavy, panting and steaming along the side of the road. We just zoomed along with a satisfied smile and a “Gruss Got”.
We had our sleeping bags along with us to save overnight expenses. Two people in that little bug was a challenge. We tossed a coin to see who would get the back seat (preferable) or the front seat winding in around the gear shift, brakes and other protrusions. It went reasonably well except for one night, it rained. Bill forgot to bring in his boots! In the morning, he found the boots well filled with Black Forest water!
We shipped Lorelei home and I drove her off the dock in New Jersey. She has been in many parades and shows and she knows her was around the Stowe Show field very well.