A Man Called Carl

A Man Called Carl

Ramsey’s transcontinental trip in 1909 forever changed the world. Library of Congress

He was a master salesman. He could sell MAGA hats to Bernie Sanders supporters and I Voted For Hillary bumper stickers to fans of Donald Trump. And he had vision as well as ambition.

For obvious reasons Cadwallader Washburn Kelsey preferred to be called Carl. Today, even among ardent auto enthusiasts, Kelsey is almost completely forgotten. This is rather surprising since he set the cornerstone for modern automobile advertising and marketing, and he played a pivotal role in transforming an automotive manufacturing company into a powerhouse that challenged General Motors in a head-to-head contest for dominance of the market.

Counted among his crowing achievements was a promotional stunt to sell Maxwells that centered on Alice Hulyer Ramsey. On June 9, 1909, a torrential downpour was transforming New York City streets into rivers. In spite of the miserable weather a crowd of reporters and photographers representing papers in Europe and the United States, and a sizable crowd gathered at 1930 Broadway to witness an historic event.

A dark-green, four-cylinder, 30-horsepower 1909 Maxwell DA touring car, a driver and three passengers, was about to embark on a cross country odyssey. The journey itself wasn’t particularly noteworthy. After all, people had been driving across the United States since 1903, and just a year prior daring drivers had competed in an epic road race from New York City to Paris.

What grabbed the world’s attention about this event was the driver and passengers. In the driver’s seat was 22-year-old Ramsey. Standing just a hair over five feet tall, Ramsey was no stranger to adventures with automobiles. But when she cranked the motor to start the car’s engine and set out with three friends on the first all-female, cross-country road trip, she was driving her way into the history books. And with that adventure she helped push Maxwell to the number three position for American automobile manufacturers.

On next week’s episode of Car Talk from The Main Street of America, sponsored in part by Kingman 66 Fest and the City of Tucumcari, I share the story of these two inspirational and fascinating people. Both Alice Ramsey and Cadwallader Washburn had quite an impact on the auto industry, and on society in general. And yet they are less than historic footnotes today.

This is our second podcast. Our first, Coffee With Jima live stream interactive Sunday morning program that is later archived on Podean and major podcast platform. The focus is primarily travel, but I weave a bit of history into the program. On Car Talk the focus is history and inspirational people, with a bit of travel added to the mix.

And, of course, we are also working to develop a busy fall and winter schedule for presentations, speaking engagements, and book signings. On September 30, I will be speaking at a Soroptimist dinner in Kingman, Arizona. It should make for interesting dinner conversation as I will be talking about murder and mayhem on the Main Street of America, legendary Route 66.

At the museum in Atlanta, Illinois on October 18, I will have a presentation about the evolution of transportation in the land of Lincoln. A few days later I speak about the importance and the power of grassroots initiatives in historic district revitalization, and tourism as a catalyst for economic development. I will be using Kingman, my adopted hometown as an example.

There is still a bit of time if you would like to schedule a presentation or appearance during the October, “Jim Hinckley’s America in The Heartland Tour.”

I have lots of stories to share. Perhaps that is why I have been referenced as America’s storyteller. And I have lots of road trips to inspire. That will be a part of fall tour as we create programs from the road, and share the adventure on Instagram. And I have a lot of ideas on how best to do both.

One of these is a contest of sorts. Spot Jim Hinckley’s America on the road during the fall tour and share a photo on Instagram using the hashtag #jimhinckleysamerica. I will share it on our network, give you a shout out, and enter your name in a drawing for a signed copy of my latest book, The Backroads of Route 66: Your Guide to Adventures and Scenic Detours.

Even better, get a picture with Jim Hinckley during the tour, and I will give a you a Route 66 souvenir as well as enter name in the drawing for a book. And we will both have a photo to share.

Stay tuned. Things are about to get interesting in Jim Hinckley’s America. Telling people where to go, sharing America’s story, and inspiring road trips. That is our stock in trade at Jim Hinckley’s America. But Jim Hinckley’s America is a shared adventure so join the fun and, as our theme song by the Road Crew says, come along for the ride!

Meanwhile, on Sunday morning join us for Coffee With Jim and share your adventure. And become a follower of Car Talk From The Main Street of America on Spotify to ensure that you never miss a single fascinating episode.