Russell Lee Photos – American Life on the Square in Waco, Texas

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  • Russell Lee photograph of the Waco Texas Square 1939

In November of 1939, talented photographer Russell Lee visited Waco, Texas and took photographs of the people and places there for the Farm Security Administration. The government agency that was in operation between the years of 1937 and 1942 was an effort during the Great Depression to combat American rural poverty. In total over ten skilled photographers were hired to report and document the plight of poor farmers.

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The two photos we have today are part of a series showing some of the automobiles, store fronts and automotive businesses that Russell Lee photographed in the City. The top photo shows left-to-right what appears to be a 1936 or 1937 a GM Sedan Delivery, a circa 1930 Cadillac Convertible and a late 1930s Ford Sedan. Below is a late-1920s Whippet Model 96 Sedan doing double duty carrying geese in cages. You can learn all about Waco, Texas history here at the Texas State Historical Association.


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

The Art Smith Baby Cars Travel To Japan


Earlier in the year we did a feature article titled: Art Smith - The Life and Times of The Comet. That post tells the story of Smith building his first airplane at the age of fifteen, his career as a stunt pilot, and a trip to Japan in 1916 with his plane, crew and drivers of his baby racing cars to entertain Japanese officials.

Since that time, Marc Tudeau of France has found an album with some of the best photos to be found yet showing the Baby Cars in Japan. The photo above shows one of the two Fiat look-a-likes. This car was driven by Vic Bertrandias and was later wrecked in Nagoya, Japan.

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Above left is the other Fiat that was driven by Kaiser Bill. The center photo shows the cars in front of the Crown Price’s stand in Tokyo before the first exposition race run there. It appears that there were at least two races run in the city at the time, and in at one of them Art Smith can be seen flying his Curtis Bi-Plane above the racers. The car on right above is wearing Peugeot style body work.

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The cars were built with the help of Dudley Perkins of the Dudley Perkins Company, a San Francisco Harley-Davidson dealership. The left and center photos above show the workshop where the racers were assembled by Smith and his crew in a shop located at 220 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. The left photo is dated as being taken during February of 1916 and the center photo is captioned as showing the assembly of the first car in March of 1916. The right-hand photo with Smith in the car is captioned: First car runs! -Tokyo- April 1916.


The photo above gives us the most-detailed view of the type of construction used to build the cars yet. The frames were constructed of wood with steel fittings, and the front frame horns appear to be steel forgings. The cars were powered by Harley-Davidson V-twin engines, but it is not known what was used for a clutch and transmission. This may have been an earlier car, as some of them used larger-sized wheels and tires.

The photos are courtesy of the San Diego Air & Space museum where you can see more photos of the trip to Japan. There are also more photos and Smiths life’s story at: Art Smith - The Life and Times of The Comet. The short film clip below courtesy of British Pathe apparently shows the cars at a later date after returning to the U.S.

Posted in Auto photos 1885 - 1920, Motorcycle photos, video | Tagged , , , , , , , |

The Western Clippers Designed by Brooks Stevens

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  • One of the late 1930s Western Clippers Designed by Brooks Stevens

Brooks Stevens was one of the most successful and prolific American industrial designers in the pre and post-World War II era. His firm Brooks Stevens Industrial Design produced concepts and visions for everything from coffee pots and kitchenware to the design of the famous Olympian Hiawatha Train for the Milwaukee Railroad in 1947.

We recently covered the Stevens designed Zephyr Land-Yacht (and have found the surviving tractor and talked with its owner and Steven’s Grandson) and would like to continue our coverage with the Western Clippers and its variants. One the Clippers, which is seen here were designed for the Western Publishing Company in Racine, Wisconsin to use as mobile sales rooms.

Seventy-five years after being designed and built, information on the Clippers and the related smaller motor homes is hard to find online. That is were you come in; we would like to ask our readers for help in finding more information about them, if you can direct us to anything covering these streamlined designs please let us know. The photos are courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum.


Posted in Trucks, Buses and Equipment | Tagged , , , , |

The Freemont Garage – Hoyt’s Ford Garage


Today we have postcard photographs of two garages for you to peruse, and while doing so maybe you can help to identify some of the vehicles at the establishments. The location of the Freemont Garage above is unknown, but we do know from looking at the front window that the shop handled both the Chalmers and the Jeffery.

There are no leaves on the trees in the background which should eliminate Fremont, California. We have found garages with the same name in Lander, Wyoming, Fremont, North Carolina and Freemont, Nebraska. Can anyone identify the location or the speedster out front?


This Ford Dealership is long gone, but the building has survived and is located at 242 Village Street in Concord, New Hampshire. Penacook is part of the northern end of the city of Concord and the building appears to be located on Route Three, a north to south artery. Let us know if you can to identify the non-Fords in the circa 1912 photo. Both images are from the MTFCA Fourm, and you can learn all there is to know about the Model T Ford at the MTFCA website.

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Posted in Auto photos 1885 - 1920, Garages and Dealerships, Gasoline stations | Tagged , , , , , , |