“Light Dodger” Project to Commemorate Reed Brothers Dodge

Titled “Light Dodger,” the sculpture by Tj Aitken will stand 19 feet high and will have stained glass lens components over 6 feet in diameter. Currently being fabricated in Michigan – the home of its accomplished sculpture, Tj Aitken – it is slated to be installed March 2015 at Bainbridge Shady Grove Apartments at the entrance to the Shady Grove Metro Station on the Red Line to Washington, DC.

The project will commemorate Reed Brothers Dodge and focus on the dealership’s history to turn the brunt of the complex into a prominent residential landmark in Rockville.

Dodger proposal

Bainbridge wanted an artist who could design something modern, abstract but still using the automotive theme. Tj presented many alternatives after studying the Dodge line and history for the former Reed Brothers Dodge site.

site model miniature

Site Model Miniature

A large concrete sculpture was chosen titled “Light Dodger” which melds the design of two classic lamp and fender designs from the Dodge line into one three dimensional work of art. Aficionados will recognize the ’39 Dodge and the ’57 Dodge pick up in the sculpture which is currently being constructed in concrete.

studies for Hemi Street Lamp

Studies for Hemi Street Lamp

Along with the Light Dodger, a set of “Hemi street lamps” will grace the curving walkway. These functional  lamps are based on the famous Hemi piston.  They will be flaked by head gasket graphics along the walkway that winds along the building promenade towards the metro train station.

 About Tj Aitken

Tj Aitken is an Installation artist and established Industrial Design Consultant. He creates public sculptures and has had commissions and exhibitions in many cities. Tj grew up near Detroit, worked assembly, die models, show prototypes, and then did a sculpture BFA in ‘77. In the 80’s his Colorado studio cast museum replicas and his work. ‘87 back in Michigan, he managed 3D auto design and became a Design Director, while sculpting art privately. Living in Europe in the 90’s and lecturing at the University of Hertfordshire School of Art and Design he began developing the ideas for Art Savvy. He worked in Milan, Cologne, Munich, and Coventry. These years allowed him to study the art masters in Paris, Amsterdam, Florence and Rome and gave him a new perspective on Americans and their relation to art. His work on aesthetics has been validated in studies published by the University of Michigan in 2004. He taught thousands how to understand beauty and craftsmanship in industry at companies like Johnson Controls, General Motors, Avery Dennison, Newell Rubbermaid, and Tata of India. He holds design and process patents and his materials have been translated into 5 languages. He has been a conference speaker on “Quantifying Aesthetics” at the Harvard “Front End of Innovation,” The Innovation Network, and the Creative Problem Solving Institute’s annual conferences.

Website: Sculpture by Tj


July 4, 1922: First MCPD Posing in Front of Reed Brothers Dodge

This blog entry is posted today to commemorate the anniversary of the Montgomery County Police Department. It was 92 years ago on July 4, 1922 that the MCPD was first established. In those days, Montgomery County was farm country, sparsely populated, automobiles sharing dirt roads with horse-drawn wagons. But it was changing into a proper suburb, and there needed to be a police department.

Posing in front of Reed Brothers Dodge on July 4, 1922 Chief Charles Cooley, center, and his men of the first mounted unit of the Montgomery County Police Force, were on their first day of duty. (click image to enlarge)

The MCPD consisted of five officers and a Chief. Each of the officers was issued a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a .38 Smith & Wesson handgun, a black jack, law book and was allotted $300.00 a year for the upkeep of their motorcycle.

1922 Montgomery County Police Force

Photo by Lewis Reed

Source: Montgomery County, Two Centuries of Change by Jane Sween

Reed Brothers Dodge Featured in Norris-Banonis Calendar

I was delighted to provide Kevin Banonis of Norris-Banonis Group with several photographs that will go into the month of May 2015 wall calendar which features a 1952 Dodge Coronet.

The calendar is entitled, “Broken Down Heroes”, which showcases twelve months of old abandoned, but not forgotten vehicles found in fields across the U.S. The calendar is in high resolution black and white and highlights the artistic nature of the photographs. Also included throughout are significant and unusual dates in automotive history.

The top part of the calendar features a photograph of Lewis Reed and a snippet of history. At the bottom of the calendar there is a photograph of the 1936 Reed Brothers Dodge canopied Gulf Gas Station and the original 1915 Rockville Garage. (click on image twice to enlarge) 

This amazing calendar like no other – it’s more like a coffee table book than a calendar and a must have for old car enthusiasts. The printed calendar will be available for purchase soon on norris-banonis.com.

Reed Brothers Dodge MAY 1952 Dodge Calendar



A Tribute to My Dad

Father's Day Tribute

Ernest Lee Gartner January 12, 1921 – June 13, 2009

In honor of Father’s Day, I would like to dedicate this blog to the memory of my dad who passed away five years ago on June 13, 2009. Ernest Lee Gartner, who married Lewis Reed’s daughter, Mary Jane, joined Reed Brothers Dodge in 1949. My father was a kindhearted, stubborn, difficult, witty, and an amazingly savvy businessman. I’ve had five years now to look back at his life, and as I do, I see his strengths and his weaknesses realistically. I am more than glad for those strengths. My dad gave me his strong points and showed me the blueprint for how to be successful: including a strong work ethic and instilling within me the belief that I can achieve whatever it is that I desire.

My dad taught me courage in the face of adversity, more than any other human being I have ever met. He was a hard worker, he was the type that persevered. I long ago forgave his faults and shortcomings, choosing instead to focus on the good he did for me, for my mom, my siblings and for a lot of other people as well.

When Lewis Reed passed away on January 28, 1967, my dad continued the business as Dealer Principal making Reed Brothers Dodge a second generation dealer. Representing the 2nd generation, my dad took on a new set of challenges. When the state widened the roads in 1970, he purchased 4.37 acres of land from Eugene Casey and relocated Reed Brothers Dodge from its original location at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike to a new state-of-the-art showroom and Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep service complex on Route 355 at 15955 Frederick Road Rockville Maryland.

In comparison to Lewis Reed, whose dealership survived through World War I, The Great Depression and World War II, Lee Gartner successfully navigated Reed Brothers Dodge through numerous Chrysler setbacks during the 1970′s and 80′s, including the first Chrysler Bailout, the sale of Chrysler to Daimler, and the sale to the private equity firm Cerberus. He applied his 30+ years experience with Reed Brothers to meet the challenges of gasoline shortages, high interest rates, severe inflation, and weakening consumer confidence which drove Chrysler into financial crisis. This survival is testimony that he not only conquered setbacks, but often rebounded to reach new levels of success. These are pretty remarkable things.

My dad succumbed to metastatic melanoma on June 13, 2009, just four days after the loss of the family’s Dodge franchise. Though he later ceded control to his sons, he rarely missed a day of work. Until his untimely death, he was a fixture at the dealership and could be seen around just about every day watering flowers, reading his newspaper, walking through the shop, and greeting friends and customers in the showroom. The word “retirement” was not in my dad’s vocabulary. He showed no signs of stepping away from the dealership that he helped build for more than 60 years. He remained Chairman of the Board until his death.

I will always remember my dad as a successful businessman whose persistent energy was always there for family first, but in equal measure for the public he served. He was smart and also honest and dependable – characteristics that kept Reed Brothers Dodge at the pinnacle of auto dealerships throughout his career. Men like him are few and far between.

I never had a chance to tell my dad how much I admired him, but I remain proud of him and his accomplishments. Lee Gartner continued what Lewis Reed built from the ground up and helped make Reed Brothers Dodge into a successful family business that lasted almost a century.

I think of you, Dad, every day. For all who read this post, if you are lucky enough to still have your father with you, honor and treasure him, if not, remember him with a happy thought and a prayer for all he gave you.

Happy Father’s Day.

1920s Auto Races, Rockville Fair

1920s race car

This race car is a total mystery…what on earth is it? It appears to be a two-man race car. Photo by Lewis Reed

Early action shots like these are rare, however, the following photographs were taken by Lewis Reed at the Rockville Fairgrounds in the early 1910-1920s. The fairgrounds were just outside Rockville, about where Richard Montgomery High School is today. The Fair lasted four days, from August 21st to the 24th, and drew visitors from local counties, Washington, and Baltimore.

1920s Race Track

Dirt track action. Photo by Lewis Reed

auto races at rockville fair

August 1923. Auto race, Rockville Fair

August 25, 1923. Montgomery County, Maryland. "Auto races, Rockville Fair."

Crowds at the auto racetrack, Rockville Fair, August 1923

The photo above depicts an auto race at the Rockville fairgrounds. The photo of a harness race below was taken from approximately the same vantage point, which you don’t see very often in pictures from that era. Fairground race tracks, typically one-mile or half-mile dirt racing ovals with wide sweeping curves and grandstands for spectators, were easily adapted for the new sport of automobile racing.

Harness race rockville fair

Harness race at the Rockville fairgrounds, circa 1910. Same vantage point as auto race above. Photo by Lewis Reed

Below is a 1923 Washington Post ad for auto race at the Rockville Fair.

1923 auto races at Rockville Fair

Sources: Dirt Track Auto Racing, 1919-1941 – A Pictorial History By Don Radbruch

Shorpy.com – a vintage photo blog of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s



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