Florence Lawrence loved high performance vehicles and in 1912 acquired a Lozier. Photo Historic Vehicle Association
Florence Lawrence was a passionate automobilist as well as a very accomplished mechanic. And she was one of the first superstars of the silver screen. Of course, all of this made her a media sensation, especially since she lived in an era when women were not allowed to vote and the Jaxon produced in Jackson, Michigan was promoted as a car so easy to drive, a child or woman could operate it.
Scheduled for publication on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, the stroy of Florence Lawrence and the contributions of a few pioneering women to the development of the American auto industry in its infancy is the subject of episode two of Car Talk From The Main Street of America. Developed in partnership with producer and engineer Stan Hustad this new weekly audio podcast blends interesting and inspirational automotive history stories with a bit of road trip inspiration.
Rest assured that this new endeavor is not a replacement for the interactive audiopodcast travel program, Coffee With Jim, on Sunday morning. Instead it is an ehancement, if you will, of the Jim Hinckley’s Americanetwork with its diverse array of programs.
Telling people where to go is what I do. That and telling stories. And, of course, I always share the adventure.
In coming months we have an array of fascinating programs and presentations scheduled and planned. This is just a sample of what is coming down the pike.
In the formative years of the auto industry there were motorized bicycles and vehicles with four, six and even eight wheels. They were powered by steam, gasoline, kerosene, electricity, oversized clock springs and even compressed air. They began as a manifestation of eccentricity and scientific curiosity but soon morphed into side show curiosity and promotional gimmick. Then in the blink of an eye the automobile was a multimillion-dollar industry. Names became brands. Streetscapes were transformed with gas stations, garages, electric vehicle charging stations, billboards, and dealerships. Society was transformed. The world of transportation was transformed. Our lexicon was transformed with the addition of words like motel. Generational businesses were decimated. Time honored careers were transformed into historic footnotes.
In 1872 Studebaker based in South Bend, Indiana was billed as the largest manufacturer of wheeled vehicles in the world; wheelbarrows, freight wagons, prams, carriages, surreys, ambulances, buckboards. In 1897 the company built the first of several prototype horseless carriages, and in 1902 their first production models, an electric designed by Thomas Edison, rolled from the factory. The company continued producing horse drawn vehicles until 1920 albeit in ever smaller numbers as the company evolved into one of the largest automobile manufacturing companies in the United States.
In 1889, Elmer Apperson and his brother Edgar opened the Riverside Machine Works on Main Street in Kokomo, Indiana. As the brothers were talented machinists and blacksmiths, they prospered and development a reputation for quality workmanship. This was the reason that an eccentric Kokomo businessman named Elwood Haynes retained their services to install a Stintz marine gasoline engine in a carriage. That horseless carriage took to the street on the Fourth of July 1894. From these humble beginnings the Apperson Brothers Automobile Company was launched. Even though it is largely unknown today, the company continued producing automobiles until 1926, and pioneered an array of developments.
Clinton Woods lacked the business savvy needed to attract investors or successfully form a corporation. But he was a visionary obsessed with a simple idea; the horseless carriage was the future and the future of horseless carriages was electric vehicles. In 1899 financier Samuel Insull and several board members of Standard Oil purchased Woods designs and patents, and with an astounding $10 million in capital stock launched the Woods Motor Vehicle Company.
The company immediately began producing an electric Hansom Cab that sold well in New York and other cities. In 1900 they began producing a Victoria that was displayed at Chicago’s first auto show. It was here that the manager of the Honolulu Iron Works saw a Woods, placed an order, and imported the first automobile into Hawaii.
The company enjoyed moderate success even though the electric vehicle was being quickly eclipsed by gasoline powered vehicles. But the companies crowning achievement was the Woods Dual Power introduced in the summer of 1916. The car used a Woods designed four-cylinder engine as an auxiliary to the electric motor. At speeds under 15 miles per hour, the gasoline engine idled and the car was driven by the electric motor. Faster speeds were obtained by using the gasoline engine with the electric motor as an auxiliary. The Woods Dual Power was a hybrid!
Alexander Winton established the Winton Bicycle Company in 1891, and five years later took his first experimental horseless carriage for a spin. On March 1, 1897, he organized he Winton Motor Carriage Company, and to promote his new vehicle, proceeded to drive from Cleveland, Ohio to New York City. By 1899, with the production of 100 vehicles, he became the largest manufacturer of horseless carriages in America. That was also the year he turned away a young mechanic as he was turned off by his ego and launched a rivalry that would last for years. That mechanic was Henry Ford.
Milton Reeves Octoauto. Photo authors collection
Winton played a pivotal role in the launching of one of America’s most famous automobile manufacturers. In 1898 car number twelve was sold to James Ward Packard who proved to be a very dissatisfied customer. During the drive from Cleveland to his home in Warren, Ohio, his new machine broke down numerous times and was eventually towed by a team of horses. Packard confronted Winton and made several suggestions for improvements. Winton was heard to say, “Mr. Packard, if you are so smart, why don’t you make a car yourself.” And so, Mr. Packard launched the Packard Automobile Company in 1899.
The establishment of automobile companies in the first years of the 20th century was a tsunami. But the market was very finite. This and a major economic recession in 1907 decimated the industry. An increased demand for vehicles, advancements in production and a growing middle class fueled another gold rush in the industry before WWII. The post war recession and the growing dominance of major manufacturers including General Motors, Ford, Hudson, Nash, Studebaker, and Packard forced many companies to close or merge. And then came the Great Depression, and the industry that was birthed with such promise for the independent thinker was forever transformed. Before the launching of Tesla by Elon Musk, only one man was able to successfully launch an American automobile manufacturing company after 1925 – Walter Chrysler.
For the past few days I have had the distinct pleasure of enjoying a visit with old friends, and an adventure or two reminiscent of the pre apocalypse era. For a brief moment in time I was able to forget monkey pox, COVID related issues, murder hornets, meth gators, the surreal and bizarre political circus side show, the Ukrainian tragedy, the shortage of (fill in the blank), what it cost me to put two tires on the Jeep and fill the gas tank, and what seems to be a growing list of potential impending disasters.
It was a grand holiday. It was a delightful opportunity to reunite with old friends in shared adventures. And it was a very welcome respite from deadlines, schedules, setbacks on various projects, home repair issues, and from the issues that are linked to the announcement that my accountant of more than ten years is retiring.
My dearest friend and I have been sharing annual adventures on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean with Dries Bessels and his charming wife Marion, foudning members of the Dutch Route 66 Association, for more than ten years. And then along came the apocalypse, and a motorcycle accident. As a result we haven’t seen our friends since 2019.
Well, a few months ago Dries informed me that he would be in Kingman in mid July. As it so happened, this was the day before another very good friend, Wolfgang Werz of Route 66 Germany was scheduled to be in town with a tour group. Needless to say, with the slightest adjustment to Dries’s schedule, which gave us an extra day for crazy adventures, we were able to put together an epic reunion.
Route 66 may be the foundation for our friendship and countless adventures, but Dries and I also share a deep fascination for ghost towns, historic cemeteries and battlefields, interesting taverns and saloons, road trips, and interesting people. In two days we were able to add some great memories that blended all of these elements to the scrap book.
Dries has amassed quite a collection of historic photos that he generously shares on Facebook. As he has been assisting Leanne Toohey in her ongoing efforts to chronicle the history of the old mining town of Oatman, Arizona, that is where this series of adventures began.
Shortly before sunrise I met Dries and Leanne in Oatman. She had arranged access and transportation to the Oatman cemetery that is off limits to the public resultant of desecration. Surprisingly, I have been visiting Oatman for more than 50 years and had never been to the somber and forlorn old cemetery with the rugged west slope of the Black Mountains as a backdrop.
The next stop on our day of adventure was to hike a section of the National Old Trails Road in Sitreaves pass above the ghost town of Golroad. This section of the old road with its 28% grade that was bypassed in 1921 still has its post and cable guard rails. With temperatures rapidly climbing past the triple digits this outing was cut short.
We stopped by the homestead to cool off a bit, to pick up my dearest friend, and to show Dries The Beast. And that was followed with a superb lunch at Calico’s, lively conversation, and lots of laughs. And later that evening we continued the theme of laughter and good conversation but substituted beer and pizza for coffee and a sandwich.
The next day’s adventure commenced shortly after sunrise. The first stop was a short hike to historic Beale Springs. And the second was the historic cemetery in the old mining town of Chloride. And that was followed with exploration of the Pioneer Cemetery in Kingman, a tour of the fascinating Bonelli House built in 1915, and a demonstration of the new self guided, narrated historic business district developed by Kingman Main Street. And of course there was the obligatory photograph of me with the statue unveiled during the National Road Trip Day festivities this past May.
The day and our visit wrapped up with a wonderful reception hosted for Dries, Wolgang, and his tour hosted by the Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona and catered by Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner. Members of local car clubs provided transportation for the guests and as the event was open to the public, the showroom at the 1946 Dunton Motors Dream Machines dealership on Route 66 was soon packed.
But the evening and the fun didn’t end when the sun sank in the west. The tour group, my dearest friend and I, Wolfgang and Dries, and members of the car club moved the festivities to the Powerhouse Visitor Center for more lively conversation, laughs, and photo ops under the commerative arch.
It was such a delight to see old friends and to make new memories. And it was invigorating to see people embracing life with zest and enthusiasm.
Now it’s back to the real world that includes work, making plans and counting the days until the next visit and adventure shared with friends, a valiant attempt to stave off the seeming endless stream of bad news, and trying to find balance in life.
Over the course of the past couple of years we have been living through a seismic shift of epic proportions at every level from education and politics to technology and travel. As we all are painfully aware, these periods of tumult, uncertainty, and chaos can be very, very stressful.
But even in these times that try a mans patience, for anyone with a sense of humor, especially a dark sense of humor like I possess, there is much to laugh at. And, of course, in good times or bad, adventures shared with friends will always give reason to smile, for optimisim, and even fuel excitement for the future.
It is a landmark for Route 66 enthusiasts. It has appeared in advertisement for German based Condor Airlines and on primetime television programs. It is a tangible link to more than seventy years of Route 66 history, and to how immigrants have shaped America. And there is even a connection to the Harvey House and Harvery girls.
With certification of U.S. 466 that had its eastern terminus at Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona near First Street in 1935, and construction work to realign Route 66 west along Front Street, now Andy Devine Avenue in 1937, business shifted from the historic commercial district that centered on Fourth Street and the railroad depot.
In June 1937 it was announced that Roy Walker was to begin building a modern auto court at the corner of First and Beale Streets. In 1939, Oscar Osterman, the local Shell Oil distributor, purchased adjoining property and built a service station and café. Osterman had used the name Kimo for a station he had opened on Beale Street in the early 1930s. The Ki was for Kingman, and Mo was for Mohave County. He used the name for his new station.
Osterman and his brothers, John, Albert, Albin, and Ivar were Swedish immigrants that saw America as the land of endless opportunities. Aside from the Shell Oil enterprises the Osterman brothers were involved with an array of businesses including building and managing a service station in Peach Springs, the Dodge and Plymouth franchise in Kingman, and a motel in Newberry Springs, California.
An advertisement in the Kingman Miner dated January 1940 reads, “Kingman Café No. 2 formerly located at 224 Beale Street has moved into the new café building of the Kimo Shell Service. The same excellent food and service in a new and beautiful location.” A few years after opening it was renamed the Kimo Café and Oscar Osterman’s wife Clara took over management. Clara was a cook of local renown that had managed the Casa Linda Café on Route 66 In Kingman, and a former Harvey girl.
Generations of Kingman residents had fond memories of the Kimo Café. Located just a few blocks from the high school, it was a popular lunch stop and after school hangout. And for many young men, the station was a first job as the flow of traffic along Route 66 provided an endless supply of customers.
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In the mid-1950s, E.J. “Charlie” McCarthy leased the service station and garage. In addition to managing the Kimo service station McCarthy had established a Texaco station along Route 66, Canada Mart today. In 1959 he opened McCarthy Motors, a Studebaker dealership that also sold International Harvester trucks, next door. In 1967 he acquired the Ford dealership that is now TNT Engineering.
In 1991, Scott and Roy Dunton, owners of Dunton Motors next door, purchased the café and station. In an interview Scott Dunton said, “At the old Kimo the only part that was a restaurant was the narrow section when you walked in the front door. The kitchen was in the back. Everything from there to the east was gas station and garage. We did a full remodel and enclosed the pump island. We changed the name to Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner. Of course, the “D” in the name was a reference to Roy Dunton. The idea was to create a ‘50s style diner. A lot of my mom’s recipes ended up on the menu.”
In 2006, Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King put the diner, and its signature root beer, in the national spotlight during a segment of Oprah and Gayle’s Big Adventure. They stopped in for lunch and so enjoyed the root beer several cases were purchased for the studio audience on a future program.
Scott Dunton said, “The idea for the root beer came from my family’s trip to the World’s Fair. That was in 1962. I was twelve and every day I walked all the way across the fair to get XXX Root Beer. I always remembered how it tasted like it was filled with cream. My dad said it was the Rutherford family root beer, a tradition in Spokane. So, when we bought the Kimo and decided to build the diner, I remembered the taste of that root beer and tracked down the Rutherford’s. As it turned out they had sold the business with the formula to A & W. Then I talked with the franchise department but decided that being linked with A & W would limit our plans. I looked for other options and found Mutual Flavors. In our initial conversation I asked if they could make a creamy flavored root beer. They kept sending samples, and my family and I kept tasting it, but it just wasn’t right. Then I suggested adding caramel and Mr. D’z Old Fashioned Creamy Caramel Root Beer was created.”
It is fitting that the Dunton family were pioneers in the Route 66 renaissance as they had been providing service to travelers along that highway corridor since it was signed as the National Old Trails Road. N.R. Dunton had begun managing a garage and service station in Goldroad about twenty miles west of Kingman since about 1925. That was the year he built Cool Springs on the east side of Sitgreaves Pass.
On June 13, 1946, the Kingman Miner published a picture of a new dealership at the west end of Front Street between the Kimo Shell and Café on First Street and noted that, “The new building built by A.L. Owen now houses the N.R. Dunton Motor Company. One of Kingman’s finest new business houses, it has a modern display room for cars, an automotive parts section, and an up to date maintenance department.” Roy Dunton, with Herb Biddulph, Kingman’s first mayor, purchased that dealership in 1950. Today it is Dunton Motors Dream Machines managed by Roy’s son, Scott.
In the late 1990s Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner was leased to Armando and Michelle Jimenez, Las Vegas restaurant owners. Today the colorful old diner with its signature sign and world-famous root beer has become a landmark and a destination for legions of Route 66 enthusiasts.
Author Jim HInckley signing books after leading a neon nights walking tour in Kingman, Arizona. Photo Anita Shaw
I have been wandering this old world for more than sixty years and can’t count the number of times I have heard about a pet peeve. Now, pet dogs and cats have been a part of my life since childhood. We have some friends that had parrots as pets.
And I know some folks that call horses, donkeys, monkeys, hamsters, and even snakes as pets. Many years ago I befriended an old Cajun that lived in a house on stilts in a Louisiana backwater. He claimed that an alligator was a pet.
But I have yet to see a pet peeve. And that is just one of my pet peeves. Baby doctor, false advertising. Baby oil, see baby doctor. Hot water heater. Huh?
Old phrases and dusty words that were once in common use fascinate me. On the morning walkabouts I take the mind off its leash and let it roam free. Often this leads to some interesting, and even occasionally odd, trains of thought.
This morning I got hung up on a pet peeve. I know what a pet peeve is but where did the term come from? What is its orign?
Well, with that thought rattling around in my head, I began thinking of old and nearly forgotten descriptors. Over the course of the last few years a tsunami of political upheaval, the apocalypse that was 2020, two bouts of COVID, a quest for words to describe my frustration during work on The Beast, have inspired me to embark on a quest.
I am looking for old, forgotten, outdated or regional words or terms. And I am looking for opportunities to inject them into my writing endeavros and speaking engagements.
Busier than a one legged man in a behind kicking contest. Dead drunk. Rube, bumpkin, hayseed, hick, yokel. Older than dirt or older than rope. Nuttier than a truck load of praline. Ain’t got the sense God gave a shiny brown rock.
Sometimes one word or term started a landslide as they were linked to another phrase or term. Easy mark – “a weak or gullible person; a person who is easy prey. “an easy mark for a grifter.” Grifter – “a person who engages in petty or small-scale swindling. “I saw him as a grifter who preys upon people.”
Kakistocracy isn’t a word that rolls of the tongue easily. And it would be damned hard to work into a sentence. But if the past six or seven years are any indication, it is word that we might want to dust off and get comfortable with working it into a conversation. The definition is government by the worst people. According to Webster’s, Paul Gosnold used it in A Sermon published in 1644″… transforming our old Hierarchy into a new Presbytery, and this againe into a newer Independency; and our well-temperd Monarchy into a mad kinde of Kakistocracy. Good Lord!” Pa always said, it is better to fill the head with useless knowledge than no knowledge at all.
Gallivant – “to travel, roam, or move about for pleasure.” I like this one. I can find a use for this in a story or two. Wanderlust, that is something that I am familiar with. Going walkabout, an Aussie term that describes how I start most mornings.
Well, this gives you a bit of insight into how my mind works. Do you have old words or regional terms that you can share (and that is kid friendly)?
I spent a lot of the holiday weekend deep in thought. This particular bout of reflection on changing times was inspired by a request from a friend in the publishing industry. After seeing an article about a statue of me being unveiled at Depot Plaza in Kingman, Arizona on the National Road Trip Day celebration back in May, and a Google search of my name, she claims to have had a revelation.
She thinks that my story might be interesting. She thinks that I need to write an autobiography. Well, I am not sure what you might think about the idea but when she pitched this suggestion my first reaction was concern. Had she been kicked in the head by a mule or suffered from some type of head trauma since our last correspondence?
Just as with the statue, I am honoroed and humbled by the proposal. But this is different. A lot of names would have to be changed to protect the guilty. In times such as these when so many people are chomping at the bit for an excuse to argue, are passionate defenders of wild conspiracy theories, and see paranoia as a virtue or qualification for public office, an unfiltered book about me, my life and times, and my opinions about the ever changing world might upset a whole lot of folk.
And personally I am not as sure as she is that a book about me would be all that interesting. A lot of time has been spent with the mundane tasks that constitute the average life – a boring job or two, keeping the house from falling down, keeping the truck on the road, taxes, etc.
There is one more problem to consider. I hope to have at least one or two more chapters left in me. And judging by the past couple of years, there is the distinct possibility that they may be the most exciting. After all, in just two years I have survived COVID twice, written two books, had my business implode, initiated some lofty plans for the Route 66 centennial that include the acquisition and renovation of a 1951 Chevy panel truck (aka The Beast), and lost a few good friends. I have watched a previously unimaginable assault on our nations capitol, had a statue erected in my adopted hometown, launched a podcast series, and have been in discussion about projects that would require working in foreign lands.
To say that these are interesting times is akin to saying that Amboy along Route 66 in the Mojave Desert gets a tad bit hot in July. Born in the year of the Edsel, I have witnessed one hell of a lot of change over the years. But to the best of my recollection nothing compares to the past couple of years. In a mere blink of the eye, the entire world was forever changed – for better and for worse.
Even though I have lived a somewhate adventurous life filled with lots of opportunity to adapt to changing times, nothing really compares to what we have to do since 2019. As a result, reflecting on years lived leaves me looking to the future with excitement, eager anticipation, and just a hint of trepidation.
Would there be enough material to inspire people, to keep the readers interest? I have had adventures but so has most anyone that has lived five or six decades.
Several years ago I quit the steady job after developing an eye problem. I could see no reason to put up with the owners bs and they couldn’t see any reason to put up with my increasingly poor attitude. And so telling people where to go became the full time job that kept beans and taters on the table. But would this story interest readers?
There are lots of stories I could tell. In 2010, after a series of rather bizarre coincidences, I ended up in Jay Leno’s garage sitting down for a couple of interviews about two books I had written. My dearest friend and I kicked off 2015 with the first European adventure, courtesy Jan and Henk Kuperus, owners of Netherlands based U.S. Bikers.
There were a few European adventures in the years that followed. Let’s see, I spoke about Route 66 in the Czech Republic, helped tow a broken Fiat down the Autobahn with a rope, and had friends surprise us with an anniversary dinner and evening in a German castle built high above the Rhine River centuries ago.
The question remains, is my story all that different from most folks? Would a tale about Jim Hinckley really be THAT interesting?