Q. I recently watched "An Unfinished Life." It stars Jennifer Lopez, who escapes an abusive boyfriend by moving with her daughter to a Wyoming ranch owned by her father-in-law (Robert Redford). But the Redford character still blames Lopez for the death of his son in a car crash. It was a heartwarming film, but here's what I can't understand: I swear I saw a pickup truck with a Mercury emblem. I didn't know Mercury made trucks. What's going on?
-- Bill Hearty, of Cahokia
A. You shouldn't be so surprised. The magic of Hollywood often takes us places we don't even know we've been -- and this is another perfect example.
Yes, the movie is described as being set "against the ranchlands of Wyoming." But do you know where the movie was really shot? Why, in various locations in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, including Vancouver and Medicine Hat.
And guess where they used to make and sell Mercury-branded pickups for 20 years? Yep, you guessed it -- Canada. So, I suppose they figured Wyoming was close enough to the Canadian border that it would seem perfectly natural to have an old rancher driving one around the badlands of Wyoming. Or they figured not many viewers would have your sharp eyes.
I don't know whether you'll find this surprising, but the Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. was in business in Windsor, Ontario, in 1904, a year after Ford of the U.S. was founded across the river in Detroit. Then, immediately after World War II, the Canadian firm launched a new marketing strategy to boost sales: Because many rural Canadian towns had either Ford or Lincoln-Mercury dealerships (but not both), Ford in Canada began producing Mercury trucks for its Mercury dealerships.
Essentially they were identical to Ford, according to www.mercurypickup.com, which celebrates the old vehicles. Often, it was simply Mercury vs. Ford lettering on the hoods and tailgates, although the Mercury did have distinctive medallions and a bit more glitz because it had a slightly more upscale reputation.
However, the website says, there were times when the Mercury grills were sleeker and the plastic dash moldings were different colors. Then, in 1948, when Ford introduced the F-1, F-2, etc., in the U.S., Ford in Canada went by vehicle weight, turning out, for example, the Ford F-68 (6800 pounds) and Mercury M-68. In 1953, the two countries got back in lockstep, matching the new F-100, F-250 and F-350 with corresponding M-classes.
But the Automotive Trade Agreement signed by the U.S. and Canada in 1965 spelled the end for the Mercury truck. With a free flow of vehicles now permitted, Canadians no longer faced the extra dose of excise taxes formerly added to U.S. vehicles. Mercury M-series trucks were phased out by March 23, 1968, although their spirit apparently still occasionally motors on across the silver screen.
Q. Help! I can find the Florida Panhandle and the Oklahoma Panhandle, but I can't for the life of me locate what weatherpeople call the Texas Panhandle. Can you help? Also, in genealogy, most people refer to their grandaunt as their great-aunt. I think that's wrong. Isn't line of kinship aunt, grandaunt, then great-grandaunt?
-- Bob Rettle
A. I can understand your confusion. If that were a real handle, it certainly would make for a most awkward way to hold a pan. Rather than long and sleek like Florida's and Oklahoma's, the Texas Panhandle looks more like the state's chimney.
But it does make it easy to find on the map. Most define it as those 26 northwest Texas counties that jut north from the main body of Texas -- and lie directly south of the Oklahoma Panhandle. It's a roughly square area of about 26,000 square miles bordered by New Mexico on the west and more of Oklahoma on the east. The Handbook of Texas says the southern border of Swisher County is the southernmost point, although some take it down to Lubbock County.
Your other question is relatively simple, so to speak. Dictionaries and genealogists agree that "grandaunt" and "great-aunt" are interchangeable. It seems to be a matter of where you live: Just as people differ on their pronunciation of "aunt," people in the Southeast, for example, seem to say great-aunt while those in the Northeast use grandaunt. Another case of tomayto and tomahto ...
What is the London address of the first lord of the treasury?
Answer to Saturday's trivia: After her final concert in a two-week string of sellouts in London, "Mama" Cass Elliott went to bed in Harry Nilsson's apartment on July 28, 1974 -- and died of a heart attack, perhaps related to recent extreme dieting. (She did not choke on a ham sandwich.) Four years later, The Who drummer Keith Moon died in the very same apartment after overdosing on sedatives prescribed to alleviate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Both Elliott and Moon were 32.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2465.