Category Archives: Auto photos 1921 – 1942

The Reed Brothers – Selling Dodge’s for Ninety-Four Years, Part II

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  • The forth update to the showroom and gas station, during the mid-thirties

In Part I of the Reed Brothers Dodge story, we covered the changes the Rockville, Maryland dealer had gone through from its start in 1915 to 1930. To bring things up-to-date with the manufacturer, the Dodge Brothers name was changed in 1930 to Dodge, and the company started offering both six and eight cylinder cars for the first time.

Even though times were tough during the Great Depression, the Reeds were doing well enough to finance yet another face lift and renovation; the front of the gas station and the canopy was remodeled as shown above during the mid-thirties. You can take look at the earlier photos in Part I here for a comparison.

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  • A new Parts and Service Department facility was built in the mid-thirties

After years of hard work that also helped to establish an excellent reputation, once again the Reed’s needed to expand. At about the same time as the gas station was remodeled, the car dealer split up the sales and parts and service operations by constructing a new building; it was located nearby at the intersection of Dodge Road and the Rockville Pike.

At this point, eight new cars and trucks were being sold each month, along with a number of used car sales. Many purchases at the time, as had been the custom for years in the automobile business, were still initiated at a prospect’s home or job site; as many of the customers were farmers, the Reed’s had an active team of salesman in place who called on prospects right on their property.

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  • 1953 demolition of the gasoline station and showroom

After the war when new car production started back up, and the firm once again had new cars and trucks to sell, it continued to grow. By 1953 both more modern facilites and more room were needed once again. The photo above shows the demolition of the old service station and car salesroom to make room for a new free standing Gulf Service Station and a new showroom.

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  • Lewis Reed and James Gartner, Salesman, 1961

The photo above, and the left and center photos below show the new buildings that were constructed during 1953. The parts and service department seen below right, was also enlarged in the post-war years. Lewis Reed still going strong in 1961 can be seen above in front of the new car showroom. At this point, we are going to end the story here on The Old Motor as it continues on into the modern era beyond the time frame that we cover here.

You can pick up the rest of the story with Reed Brothers Dodge celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 1965 and continuing on to its end of selling Dodges in 2009, ninety-four years after it first started in 1915, at Reed Brothers Dodge History.

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Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942, Auto photos 1946 - 1965, Garages and Dealerships, Gasoline stations | Tagged , , , , , , |

Reno Junior and the Snowshoe Advertising Service American Austin Bantam


The advertising car has been on the roads and streets of the America for many years and may have originated quite early in the realm of motoring. Today the bright vinyl advertising that you see covering automobiles is referred to as ad-wrapping, but it appears these modern efforts could take a lesson or two from Reno Junior and his cute little car.

The little American Austin Bantam he drove had an iron rack that was welded together and included some blacksmithing work at the very top, which was used to hold the round Edises Jewelers sign. Just below it and the taxi sign is one by Bob & Fred Signs whom we assume lettered the rest of them. It appears to have been equipped with either a PA system, or a radio so that Reno Junior could gather even more attention, its horn is lettered as having been installed by Mariner in Reno.


The Dick Whittington Studio in Los Angeles took the photos during 1930, and the invoice for them was made out to Austin of Los Angeles. The sticker on the windshield is a non-resident permit from the State of California, so it is possible that he used this car to drive back and forth between the two cities; note the Reno to Los Angeles lettering on the hood. You can learn the interesting American Austin Bantam Story here on The Old Motor. The photos are courtesy of the USC Libraries. 

Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942 | Tagged , , , , , |

John Volpe, a V-16 Cadillac and the Gangster’s Last Day

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  • John Volpe’s V-16 Cadillac coupe equipped with bulletproof glass being towed away after his death 

During the years of Prohibition in America, a fortune was to be made by those bold enough to take charge of bootlegging in a city. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania gangster John Volpe was just such a man, and by 1932, he and his brothers ruled the supply of alcohol in the Steel City and also ran a busy rackets operation.

At the time, the organized machine of ruthless bootleggers also included his brothers James and Arthur (Louis Volpe was serving a few months in Allegheny County Jail on a bootlegging conviction) and half-dozen of the gang’s henchmen. His younger brother Chester Volpe had died the previous New Year’s Eve in a car crash in the city.

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  • Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh near the Allegheny County Courthouse

The set of photos seen in this article are from an outstanding account in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, written by Steve Mellon. In his report of Friday, July 29, 1932, titled MidDay Massacre, he tells an engaging story about the gangster’s operation and the events of John Volpe’s last day; the story starts at noontime when he got a shave and a shoeshine in Frank Manna’s barbershop at 527 Fifth Avenue close to the scene of the above photo.

After leaving Manna’s, Volpe and former numbers racketeer Charles Modarelli, walked a few blocks through the city’s Lower Hill District to the Rome Coffee Shop seen below, at 704 Wylie Avenue. The shop served as a front for his numbers operations. There he and Modarelli parted company and Volpe went inside and met up with his brothers and associates.

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  • The Rome Coffee Shop, at far right, on Wylie Avenue and a 1927 Chevrolet

Shortly afterward Volpe went back outside and was gunned-down by a team of three hit men. Finished with killing the gangster, the trio then entered the shop and brutally shot and killed two of his brothers, James and Arthur. Their job accomplished the gunman emerged and fled the scene in a dark blue Ford sedan. The Volpe brother’s deaths brought the toll to one hundred unsolved gang murders between the years of 1927 and 1932 in Pittsburgh.

You can read a more detailed and very intriguing accounting of the situation then we have the time and space for here at, Pittsburgh: The Dark Years, by Steve Mellon. There you see many more photos and learn more about: Prohibition, both political and police corruption in the city, the aftermath of the killings, the funeral, the Volpe family and the details surrounding the location of dozens of bars, “bawdy houses” and gambling dens.

Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |