Anderson Family History

Branding

In 1936 Dad purchased a new Chevy sedan. It was black, like most all cars were at that time, and loaded with a defroster fan mounted atop the dashboard, a radio, and even an ash tray and a cigar lighter.

The latter item was what got me into trouble. I liked to sit in the car and pretend I was driving it, making all the motor sounds and shifting sounds as I did my imaginary touring around the highways and byways of South Dakota. Vroooming up and down the mythical backroads, I stopped to enjoy a pretend cigar, being that there was such a conveniently located ash tray and lighter mounted right there on the dashboard.

I couldn’t play with the radio, because that had been expressly prohibited by my father in no uncertain terms. It would run the battery down and it was a no-no. However, nothing had been said about the cigar lighter so I decided to see how it worked. I had seen Dad use it. All you had to do was hold the lighter in for a reasonable length of time, then remove it to reveal a red-hot glowing circle of fine wires, which when placed up to a cigarette, would light it. A wonderful accessory to the Chevy.

I decided to try my hand at operating the lighter and carefully pushed in on the knob and held it there for a few seconds. After what seemed like enough time for it to be fully operational, I removed the lighter from its socket. To my dismay, it was not glowing red like it should have. I had not held it in long enough to reach the cherry-red stage. At the time I did not know this and to see if it was even luke-warm I pressed it hard against my left thumb. Such pain I had not felt in a long time and I began sobbing in agony. Dad heard me and immediately came to see what happened. My thumb was neatly branded with brown concentric circles in the exact pattern of the still warm lighter. Not hot enough to glow but plenty hot for branding.

I carried my brand for several weeks before it completely went away. And as near as I can remember, no spanking or other punishment was rendered. I guess I had suffered enough with my thumb being scorched.

By Allan Anderson, 2005.

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