Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

The Powers Building on the corner of Fourth and Beale Street in Kingman, Arizona opneed just a few weeks before statehood. @Mohave Museum of History & Arts

It is one of the last territorial era buildings built in Kingman, Arizona. And its history chronicles the ebb and flow of prosperity in the historic heart of the city.

On September 2, 1911, an article published in the Mohave Miner noted that, quote, “M.I. Powers of Flagstaff based Citizens Bank was in Kingman for a few days getting acquainted with the people of the town. It is Mr. Powers intention to open a bank in Kingman about the 15th of November.” It was noted that construction was scheduled to commence within ten days.

However, shortly after the cellar was dug it was announced that Lovin & Withers, the contractors for the project, had altered the buidlings plans. Quote, “Lovin & Withers Company Thursday last announced that a second story would be added to the building to be built on the corner of Fourth and Beale Streets. The ground floor will be used for the new bank, the post office, and a store. The upper floor will be used for office purposes.”

The Powers Building, or Citizens Bank Building, was completed in January 1912, mere weeks before Arizona statehood. But it was spring before all the interior details were completed.

Then in 1917, corresponding to the construction of Central Commercial a full remodel of the Powers Building and Citizens Bank commenced. A brief article in Volume 18 of Coast Banker published that year noted that, “The Citizens Bank has taken possession of its remodeled banking room, and now has one of the most modern and best equipped banking headquarters in this part of the state.”

On February 11, 1921, announcement was made that Citizens Bank and Arizona Central Bank were merging with Valley National Bank. In Mohave County this affected the Arizona Central Bank branches in Oatman, Chloride and the location on the north corner of Fourth and Beale Street. The Citizens Bank branches affected included Oatman and Kingman.

In this announcement it was noted that quote, “for the present operations will be consolidated at the Arizona Central Bank. The Citizens Bank will remain open during regular banking hours for the convenience of safe deposit patrons until arrangement for moving the boxes is completed.” With consolidation the Citizens Bank clock that had figured prominently in advertisement was transferred to the Arizona Central Bank building on the opposite corner.

The Valley National Bank operated from the Powers Building until 1957. With relocation of that bank to the corner of Fifth and Beale Streets, the Powers Building was again remodeled and was included as a part of the Central Commercial complex. In 1978 the building was purchased by Babbitt’s and the façade extensively modernized.

It was restored to its original appearance after acquisition by the Ott family. The building retains numerous original features or features added during the 1920s remodel. This includes the safe, the leaded glass windows and tile work on the floor. As the ArtHub the old bank figures prominently in the historic district renaissance.

The historic Powers Building is just one of the points of interest on the narrated self gudied historic district walking tour developed by Kingman Main Street. The entire project is another example of how Jim Hinckley’s America shares America’s stories.

 

Sharing America’s Story

He was an ambitious young man. And judging by his accomplishements at Marquette University in Milwaukee where he was elected president of his law school class, he was intelligent. He earned his law degree in 1935, and at the age of 30 became a circuit judge in Wisconsin’s Tenth Judicial Circuit. WWII interrupted his career and in July 1942 he joined the Marines as a first lieutenant .

He was also an ehtically challenged opportunist. In the midst of the war years he changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, and ran for a seat iin the U.S. Senate. He lost that election but in 1946 his second run was successful. Joseph McCarthy was the youngest member of the Senate.

The two primary pillars of his campaign were his legal career, and his military service. In several interviews he talked about combat experiences and his wounds. These would be the ghost of Christmas future. McCarthy was not a wounded combat veteran.

During his first term in office McCarthy toiled in relative obscurity. But McCarthy was a man that craved the spotlight. In 1950, during his second term in office, McCarthy had a moment of devious inspiration. It changed his career, and America.

In 1950 the Republican Party offered elected officials to Lincoln’s birthday event organizers. McCarthy was assigned to speak at the Ohio County Republican Women’s Club, in Wheeling, West Virginia.

McCarthy had scrawled some notes for a couple of speeches and gathered a few press clippings, but he had no speech prepared. The buzz of conversation at the gathering before his speech sparked an idea. People were anxious and concerned about the rise of the Soviet Union, and the threat of communisim. And so soon after taking the stage, he waved a piece of paper with a flourish, and in the best imitation of a fire and brimstone preacher, claimed that he had a list on which were the names of two hundred and five Communists that were working in the State Department. It was a bluff, there wasn’t a list.

But he he had tapped into a national anxiety. The Associated Press covered McCarthy’s speech, and a spark became a wildfire that he was glad to fan. Intoxicated by the coverage he had received, he gave into his ego and in Reno, Nevada gave a similar speech. But this time he claimed that the paper he was waving had even more names.

He had grabbed the spotlight and wasn’t about to let it go. Eager to grab a share of the limelight, to garner votes, or to sell newspapers, journalists, elected officials, and patriotic Americans jumped on McCarthy’s bandwagon. The hunt for communists was underway.

The Korean War and growing concerns about communist activity in China and Eastern Europe provided fertile soil for McCarthy’s crusade.He wrapped himself in the flag, and vocally cast himself as a patriot. Like a schoolyard bully McCarthy called detractors that pointed out that he was unable to prove his claims, and that he was using the powers of government to trample civil liberties, derogatory names. He claimed they were on a witch hunt.

Before a nationally televised, 36-day hearing in 1954 that clearly showed the American people that McCarthy was a ruthless demagogue, his crusade damaged and destroyed countless careers, friendships, and marriages. It was a dark time in American history, but this too is our national story.

History is not to be sensored, and it is not to be used to establish victimhood or justify prejudices. If we have wisdom, it is to be used as a lesson. If we have knowledge, history illustrates a nations progress, and how far we have to go if we are to fulfill the lofty ideals enshrined in founding documents.

Lessons Learned

The embryonic electric vehicle museum is the first and only museum dedicated to this style of vehicle. Credit Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation

Mention Porsche and visions of fast, sleek cars come to mind. But for the company’s namesake Ferdinand Porsche it was electricity, not gasoline, that first piqued his interest.

In 1893, at age 18, Porsche electrified his parents’ house. Before the turn of the century he was working for the Vereinigte Elektrizitäts-AG Béla Egger company in Vienna. It was that company that he first began designing and experimenting with automobiles. They were battery driven electric cars.

In 1900 he designed a highly advanced automobile. The ‘Semper Vivus’, his second car, was launched as the production-ready Lohner-Porsche ‘Mixte’. It had an internal gasoline engine powered by naptha. But rather than driving the car the engine was used to power a generator that sent a charge to the wheel hubs for propulsion.

The first decades of the 20th century, much like the first decades of the 21st century, were an era of innovation in the auto industry. But the innovators of the 21st century had a slight advantage as they were standing of the shoulders of pioneers.

Byron Carter capitalized on the bicycle mania of the 1890s and produced a quality two wheeld product in Jackson, Michigan. Still, there was little to differernate his bicycles from hundreds of others on the market at the time.

His, cars, however, were another matter. The Cartercar was friction drive, which eliminated the need for a transmission. The Carter Two Engine was even more radical in design. It was a four cylinder automobile, with conventional transmission. The selling point was reliability. Under the hood was a second four cyclinder engine, in case of mechanical failure with the first engine!

Before the introduction of the electric starter on the 1912 Cadillac, steam and electric powered cars were the industry leaders. These were the trend setters. A White steamer was the first automobile to replace carriages at the White House. A Stanley built steamer set a land speed record of nearly 150 miles an hour in 1906.

Rapid advancement of gasoline engine technology, and development of an electrical system that included starter and lights, proved the death knell for steeam powered cars. Electric cars fell out of favor, but as we see today, they still pique the interest of innovators who see a different future for the automobile.

Detroit Electric enjoyed strong brand loyalty. And they found a market in the growing number of female drivers as they were relatively clean and easy to operate, especially in comparison to cars such as the Model T Ford. Still, by 1914 the company reached its zenith when annual production topped 4,000 vehicles. The comapny continued producing vehicles into the 1930s, and even built a limited edition vehicle that used by the postal service.

The past, the present and the future of alternative energy vehicles, and supportive infrastructure are a regular topic of discussion on Car Talk From The Main Street of America, a podcast from Jim Hinckley’s America. We guarantee that the program will provide lots of fodder for trivia fueled discussions, be filled with surprising stories, and will have you looking at Tesla built cars in a whole new way.

A Tale of Ambition, Daring and Vision

A Tale of Ambition, Daring and Vision

According to legend Floyd Clymer received recognition as America’s youngest automobile dealer by Teddy Roosevelt. That is an example of what happens when you have a father that encourages, teaches with hands on experience, and instills a sense of self confidence.

With his father’s assistance, Clymer had his own dealership selling cars manufactured by REO, Cadillac, and Maxwell by the age of eleven! Clymer’s amazing career was diverse and his life was lived in the fast lane. He set speed records with motorcycle and automobile racing and spent a bit of time in prison. He pioneered the mail order auto parts business, laid the groundwork for a thousand cottage industries, and transformed the publishing industry.

And on a recent episode of Car Talk From The Main Street of America, a podcast from Jim Hinckley’s America, I shared a bit of Clymer’s story and suggested that people do some reading about this fellow that was possessed with ambition, daring and vision.

After a number of false starts, hiccups, frustrations, and months spent with a seemingly endless learning curve, podcasts (as in two) are now an integral part of the diverse Jim Hinckley’s America network. As with everything we do the idea is to share America’s story, to provide communities as well as authors and artists with a promotional boost, to inspire road trips and visionary thinking, and to tell people where to go.

Embedded players on the website allow people to enjoy both programs at their convenience, or to share them with friends. Likewise with archiving the progams on Spotify and other major podcast platforms.

Coffee With Jim has morphed into a replacement for the popular live video programs that was shut down unceremoniously when Facebook locked the Jim HInckley’s America page. The live stream program on Podbean, Sunday mornings at 7:00 MST, is travel centered. The interactive format usually adds an interesting dimension.

And for 2023, we are taking the program in a new direction. We are FINALLY able to begin adding guests on a regular basis. We attempted this about a year ago with Whitney Ortiz, the dynamic tourism director from Atlanta, Illinois.

But as I said, there has been a steep learning curve for someone that identifies as modern Amish. And that takes us to a new year and new opportunities.

Gregg Hasman (better known as Highway Hasman) will be our guest on the February 5th program. Hasman is a good friend and a fascinating young man that is an exceptionally talented photographer. He has a gift for turning a phrase and so is viewed, in my opinion, as a gifted writer. As a bonus he is an inquisitive fellow with a passion for road trips. So, this should be a rather interesting program.

And then on March 19th we will have a very special guest, Stephanie Stuckey. She is the CEO of Stuckey’s and a board member of the Society for Commerical Archaeology. So, who has fond memories of pecan logs and a stop at Stuckey’s onepic family road trips?

Car Talk From The Main Street of America is still in a formative stage. But working with producer Stan Hustad a good quality program is being developed. In essence the program is about the past, present and even the future of the auto industry. We discuss all facets of this topic from Route 66, road trips to museums, personalities such as Louis Chevrolet and Lee Iacocca, the evolution of electric vehicles, and events. Now, we just need some guests and help growing the audience.

Both programs are sponsored in part by Visit Tucumcari. We strive to give promotional partners a bang for their advertising dollar, and I am confident that this podcast will catch on soon. If you have a chance take a listen and give us your two cents worh.

Inspiration, Irritation & Infatuation

Inspiration, Irritation & Infatuation

The long shuttered Hotel Beale in Kingman, Arizona is linked to pioneering aviation history, and a number of Hollywood celebrities. Photo postcard Steve Rider collection.

He was possessed with an unbridled imagination. He was capable of visualizing amazing things, and then making them a reality. A means to balance high speed steam turbines and electric razors are two examples. Cruise control is another.

But, perhaps, the most amazing thing about Ralph Teetor wasn’t his ability to transform dreams into reality. It is that he did so while suffering from what many people would consider a debilitating handicap. As a child he had been injured in his fathers machine shop. Mr. Ralph Teetor was blind.

I stumbled on to Mr. Teetor’s story while researching stories for a monthly column entitled The Independent Thinker written during my tenure as associate editor for Cars and Parts. Even though the magazine has been defunct for more than a decade, I still recieve notes about the inspiration that inspired.

From a financial standpoint that column was not my most rewarding venture. But it remains one of the most satisfying things I have done in my career as a writer. And it has inspired everything I have done since my tenure at Cars & Parts. 

Our tag line at Jim Hinckley’s America is telling people where to go, and sharing America’s story. Linked with that is my infatuation with people that inspire. People like Ralph Teetor, Eddie Stinson, and Andy Devine, the character actor whose childhood years were linked to the Hotel Beale in Kingman, Arizona.

In my presentations, books, articles, and podcast programs it is my intent to inspire road trips as well as dreams of innovation, and to wrap these in tales that share America’s story. That often leads to irritation when a publisher wants to cut material or when there are issues with social media accounts such as the locking of the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page.

Recently, working with program producer Stan Hustad, I began reviving the independent thinker series as an audio podcast, Car Talk From The Main Street of America that is sponsored in part by Visit Tucumcari. On the episode for Friday, January 13, 2023, I shared the story of aeronautical pioneer Eddie Stinson.

Edward Anderson Stinson was born on July 11, 1894 in Fort Payne, Alabama. He and his sister developed a fascination for airplanes at an early age. His sister Katherine was one of the nations first licensed pilots.

Eddie, while still a teenager, traveled to St. Louis and talked his way into a job as a test pilot for an aviation company. At the time his only experience with airplanes were books that he had read!  During World War I he served as a flight instructor for the U.S. Army Air Corps, and a decade later he would launch Stinson Aircraft.

The dawn of a new year has filled me with eager anticipation. I am creating an extensive archive of inspirational stories for the podcast. And I am also working on a new series of programs for presentations. It is also my intent to dust off an idea from the pre COVID era. Stay tuned for details!