Ava Helen’s MG

Ava Helen Pauling, 1950.

In 1950 or 1951 I bought a MG TD sports roadster, green in color, as a present for Ava Helen. At the time of her death [in 1981] it had been driven 40,900 miles, probably 95% by her.

In the 1950s, when she was a member of the Board of the Los Angeles ACLU, she often drove by herself from Pasadena to Los Angeles or Hollywood to attend the meetings of the Board. This would mean that she left home at perhaps 6:30 p.m. and returned around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. She attracted a good bit of attention when she was driving alone in her little car. Once, I think on her way to Los Angeles, she drove up beside a large truck that had stopped at a signal. The truck driver leaned out, looked down at her, and asked ‘How is the weather down there?’

She took good care of the car, and she had studied the Owner’s Manual. Once in a while the starter would stick. She knew how to get it unstuck. Once, when we were in Cambridge, we had been watching the annual Oxford-Cambridge boat race. After it was over the spectators were leaving the banks of the Cam, getting into their cars and driving away. She noticed a young man standing beside his MG, with some indication that he had been unable to start it. She went up to him and asked what was the problem. He said that it just wouldn’t start. She discovered by trial that the starter was stuck, looked in his toolbox, got out a wrench, twisted a bolt in the counter-clockwise direction, put the car in gear, and rocked it back and forth until the starter was unstuck, while the young man stood there with his jaw dropped.

-Linus Pauling, 1982.


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