The numbers and letters won't mean much to anyone not in our family. And yet they have a long connection with us. Nearly 80 years, in fact.
They're the license plates my grandfather first ordered in the mid-to-late 1930's. And they're still in use today.
Here's the earliest picture I find with the plates on my grandfather's car ...
And then, perhaps a year or so later, the plates are on this vehicle.
I remember the story that grandpa told many times, that a family friend, Ernie Smith, had similar plates, only backwards. I found a slide taken in Bear Lake, Michigan, with Ernie standing beside his car. Yep, the plate says ES49.
I thought he had ES43 but I was mistaken.
So, what's the significance of 43ES? When my grandfather first ordered reserved plates (later called "vanity plates") he wanted his initials and the two digit year. I understand that he ordered 3-something followed by his initials: ES.
They weren't available, In fact the first year available was "43" so he went ahead and ordered that.
In 1970, with his death, I had the plates transferred to my car. This will be the 47th year I've had the plates. I'm wondering if that's some sort of record? Has anyone in Ohio had the same reserved plates for nearly eight decades?
It used to be that the plates changed every year ... new color, new designs. In recent years we've been allowed to keep the same plates for some time (even though the designs have continued to change). When new plates are required I order new ones. Otherwise I leave the same plates on the car. My current plates are dated 2003.
Whenever I remove a plate, I hang it in the rafters of the garage. I have 1964-1969 which my grandfather had saved.
It's sort of a collection as metal memories. And, oh!, if these plates could talk.