I called him “Pop”
Today marks my grandfather’s birthday. Lewis Reed was born in Darnestown, Maryland on November 25, 1887 and was the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. My grandfather was an amazing man, and he taught me many things during my 17 years of childhood. It’s safe to say out of all the people in my lifetime, my grandfather was one of the most influential people in my life. If he were still around, he would be 128 years old today.
In this special post, I thought I’d take a moment to recount a few of the wonderful memories my grandfather has given me that has helped make me into the person I am today.
I’ve never met a man who worked harder than my grandfather and I’ve tried to emulate that admirable quality. He went to work every day until the day he died. Some people might have called him a workaholic, but he never gave anything less than 100% to a job or task. He has handed down his natural leadership abilities, which have helped me achieve a number of career “firsts” while I was with the The United States Air Force Band, and ultimately reach the top enlisted position as the first female Command Chief of a premier Air Force unit.
Lead by Example
Growing up in the car business, one of my favorite things to do as a kid was to go to the dealership with my grandfather on weekends. My grandfather was always on the showroom floor or walking around the dealership talking with customers and the employees. What I didn’t know at the time, was that by being accessible and not spending a lot of time in his office behind a desk, he was actually building rapport and trust with his customers and employees. Because of this, I always tried to make myself visible to my co-workers and not be seen as a leader that managed from a distance.
Learning to Change a Flat Tire
This is one of life’s lessons he taught me and one I will never forget. While most little girls were handed a box of Crayola Crayons and a Cinderella coloring book, my grandfather proposed some quality time to teach me how to change a tire. Somehow, the tire on his car had gone flat while sitting in the garage. He taught me step-by-step how to change the flat tire. I’m certainly no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I am very grateful to him for seeing the value in teaching me this.
Shooting a Gun
My grandfather taught me how to shoot a .22 rifle back in the 1960’s when I was a teenager. He spent time showing me how to operate the gun, the safety rules of handling the gun, how to aim, and how to slowly pull, not jerk, the trigger. He used to let me shoot the rifle in the basement of his house. I would fire though the door from one end of the finished basement into the unfinished part into a huge block of wood with a paper target on it that would (hopefully) catch the bullet.
Knack for Fixing Things
I seemed to have inherited my grandfather’s knack for fixing things … AND taking them apart. When I got a little older he gave me access to his tools and taught me how to use them. Because of him, when I was about about 14 years old, I completely disassembled and reinstalled all the keys on my brand new saxophone. Oddly, this later led me into a larger role of repairing musical instruments for a local Music & Arts Studio.
Learning to Drive
My grandfather taught me how to drive a car even before I was able to see over the top of the steering wheel. He used to let me reach my foot over from the middle passenger seat to push on the gas pedal. Soon after, he let me sit on his lap and steer. I was barely able to see over the steering wheel, but while he was working the clutch and brake, I was driving!
Work Hard and Don’t Quit
My grandfather’s greatest gift to me was the drive to persevere. When you look back and consider what has taken place in the world in the past 100 years or so, you gain a perspective of what my grandfather faced. He overcame a lot of obstacles throughout his life. He steered his dealership through World War I, The Great Depression and World War II. When Reed Brothers had no new cars to sell for three and a half years and many dealers went bankrupt, he converted his car showroom into a display room and sold GE washing machines and other appliances. That was proof for me that anything is possible. This example taught me to run with my dreams and never give up. No matter how many times people say it can’t be done, I’ve learned to always follow my dreams.
There are several things that can be done with a person’s legacy. We can completely forget it. We can constantly recount it while never emulating it. Or, we can evaluate it, sift it out, and reap the rewards of putting the positive lessons into practice in our own lives. My grandfather has been gone many years now (48 to be exact). But, he is never gone from my heart. What my grandfather taught me as I grew up — some just very simple things; others are very valuable life lessons that I will never forget. Thanks, Pop!
One hundred and one years ago on this date –November 14, 1914 — the very first Dodge car, “Old Betsy”, rolled off the assembly line. On that day, the Dodge Brothers (Horace and John) were photographed riding in the rear seat of the first car to bear their last name. It cost $785, had a 110-inch wheelbase, and was powered by an L-head 4-cylinder engine that proved so reliable it was continued until 1920 with very little modification. Total production for 1914 was a mere 249 touring cars. The following year. Dodge offered a two-passenger roadster which also sold for $785 and the plant went into full production.
According to “The Dodge Brothers: The Men, the Motor Cars, and the Legacy” by Charles K. Hyde, here’s the full story:
The widely accepted history of the initial production of early Dodge Brothers automobiles in November 1914 is at odds with much of the evidence about the earliest Dodge Brothers cars. Automotive historians have thought that the first production car, later named “Old Betsy,” came off the assembly line at the Hamtramck factory on 14 November 1914. Guy Ameel, superintendent of final assembly for Dodge Brothers since the start of automobile production, served as John and Horace’s chauffeur that day. With the brothers in the back seat, Ameel stopped the first Dodge Brothers car in front of John Dodge’s mansion on Boston Boulevard in Detroit and a photographer recorded this important moment.
“Old Betsy” was more likely an experimental prototype car assembled several months before 14 November 1914 and not a production car at all…
The Dodge Brothers began an aggressive advertising campaign to promote their new automobiles and to attract potential dealers to sell their cars. Few people jumped onto the Dodge Brothers bandwagon earlier than Lewis Reed, and not many have lasted longer. Lewis Reed was an enterprising young man who put his future in the fledgling automobile industry. In 1915 he received his franchise to sell Dodge Brothers Motor Cars from John and Horace Dodge; less than one year after “Old Betsy” rolled off the assembly line. Lewis Reed and his brother Edgar, were the first to sell Dodge cars in Montgomery County, Maryland. That made Reed Brothers the oldest Dodge dealership under the same family ownership in Maryland, and one of the oldest in the entire nation.
The Beginning of Dodge | Chrysler Historical Video
Do you watch the History Channel TV show “American Pickers”? Don’t know what a picker is? Not familiar with the show? Well, the show follows Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as they travel across the country looking for rare artifacts and national treasures. Hitting back roads from coast to coast, the two men earn a living by restoring forgotten relics to their former glory, transforming one person’s trash into another’s treasure.
And, the television show that’s watched by about 2.7 million people on the History Channel each week picked Reed Brothers Dodge History blog!
The archivist for “American Pickers” found a 1927 photo of Reed Brothers Dodge on our blog and asked permission to use it in one of their upcoming episodes. The image was used in Season 7, Episode 34: “Can’t Catch a Break” when Mike and Frank find an old Dodge Brothers sign. Mike explains a bit of the history of the company and he used the photograph during his explanation.
Below are images extracted from the American Pickers “Can’t Catch A Break” video.
Click the link below to view the American Pickers full episode. The actual Dodge Brothers sign segment starts at 18:37.
American Pickers: Can’t Catch a Break
I recently received an e-mail from the archivist for the TV Show “American Pickers” on the History Channel. They found a 1927 photograph of Reed Brothers Dodge on the blog and asked permission to use it in one of their upcoming episodes. The image will be used when Mike and Frank find an old Dodge Brothers sign. Mike explains a bit of the history of the company and he will use the image during his explanation.
Today, I am excited to announce that the episode of “American Pickers” that Reed Brothers Dodge contributed to is scheduled to air this Wednesday, October 21st, on The History Channel at 9:00 EST. The episode’s title is “Can’t Catch A Break.” I hope you can all tune in!
In 1947, Reed Brothers Dodge added a separately maintained glass shop in their service department which was equipped to replace all types of automobile glass. In addition to auto replacements, glass was also cut for mirrors and table tops. Another innovation of the repair department was a separate paint and body shop which was located next to the glass shop. Reed Brothers was capable of repairing all makes and models from all manufacturers with factory-prepared paints available to match any color of car.
Below, the November 1951 issue of NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) Magazine highlighted a special article in the Service section on Reed Brothers Dodge Glass Shop. (click on images to enlarge)
NADA Magazine, Vol. 23, No. 13 November, 1951
Glass Shop Boosts Repair Business by Albert S. Keshen, Staff Correspondent, N.A.D.A. Magazine
Two Brothers Operate This Dealership