In September 2012, I created a self-published book version of this blog, entitled “Portrait of An Automobile Dealer”. In short, it’s an updated and chronologically ordered version of this blog. A second edition was published in place of the first edition, which was released in 2013. Now, after five years, the third, and final edition, is available through Blurb.com print-on-demand bookstore. Overall, since the second edition, “Portrait Of An Automobile Dealer” Third Edition has expanded to 224 pages and is enhanced by over 600 photographs, some of them more than 100 years old, taken by Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. The third edition again has loads of small updates, including a new chapter: “Celebrating a Legacy”.
In this book, readers will find an historic timeline that showcases the company’s 95-year history, how Reed Brothers Dodge came into being, and how the company overcame the inevitable changes and challenges throughout almost a decade of being in business. “This book is of interest not only to those of us who remember Reed Brothers Dodge, but to others who wish to get to know Rockville as it was before they arrived”, said Jane C. Sween, former librarian at the Montgomery County Historical Society.
The author puts the former Dodge dealership in perspective by demonstrating that the dealerships influence continues to this day on the site of its former location, now the Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro Apartments. “Honoring the rich historical legacy of this site was extremely important to us,” said Tom Keady, President & Chief Executive Officer of The Bainbridge Companies. “With the sculpture and the floor plan names, our residents and visitors feel a real connection to the site’s past, and we pay tribute to Reed Brothers Dodge’s role in creating a vibrant Rockville.”
Blog creator and book author, Jeanne Gartner, received the 2016 Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development. The book is an “exemplary effort to inform, establishing a virtual commemoration of a landmark, which lacks surviving tangible form”, noted Peerless Rockville.
The book “Portrait Of An Automobile Dealer, Third Edition” is available through Blurb.com print-on-demand bookstore. If you would like to check out the hard copy book or purchase a copy, please visit: http://www.blurb.com/b/7746815-portrait-of-an-automobile-dealer-third-edition
As a special thank you to all the readers of this blog, this book has been placed online for everyone to enjoy for free. A complimentary eBook available for Amazon Kindle Fire, Apple iPad, Android devices, and Mac or PC computers is also available through Blurb: http://www.blurb.com/b/7746815-portrait-of-an-automobile-dealer-third-edition?ebook=614233
Note: It’s worth noting that Print-On-Demand (POD) books, are usually more expensive per copy than a book printed via offset printing. That’s because offset printing (the method used for most mass-produced books found in bookstores) requires a minimum order of 500-1,000 copies. Print on demand, on the other hand, needs only a minimum order of one copy. The smaller scale and different workflow results in a higher cost per book, since the books are only printed when they are ordered. This book is not marked up for profit; but sold at base price.
I thought it would be fun to create a special blog post of employee, friends, and family memories of Reed Brothers. So far, I have already collected some great stories from a handful of people sharing their personal favorite highlights of Reed Brothers. If you have any favorite memories, stories, or even photos you would like to share, please send them to me via the “Contact Me” section at the top of this page or click on this link: https://reedbrothersdodgehistory.wordpress.com/about-2/contact-me/
I will compile and showcase them here in a special blog post. This really will tell a very personal story of our company from the perspective of those who contributed to its 97 years of success.
Let’s hear them!
Get ready for a treat! Here is a film that the Dodge Brothers company made to promote their brand in 1917. Copied at 16 frames per second from a 35mm tinted print preserved by the Academy Film Archive from source material provided by the New Zealand Film Archive. Running Time: 28 minutes (silent, no music, incomplete).
In the 1900s, brothers John and Horace Dodge of Detroit became the major suppliers of drive trains to the Ford Motor Company. They achieved such a stellar reputation for quality that when they decided to manufacture their own automobiles, incorporating as the Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company in 1914, 13,000 dealers registered to sell the new vehicles before a single auto had been produced. In 1915, Reed Brothers was franchised as a Dodge dealership and service facility; less than one year after the first Dodge automobile rolled off the assembly line.
In 1916, the company created a film department to promote the Dodge brand. This film appears to be one of its first products. It shows the company’s assembly line in action, demonstrating to viewers the workmanship and care invested in each vehicle. The beginning is missing, lending credence to the hypothesis that the film may be the three-reel profile of the company’s production process distributed in 1917 to Dodge dealerships. The film finishes with close up looks at the Dodge Brothers’ models of the day: the Sedan, Coupe, Roadster and Touring Car. It also demonstrates Dodge’s capabilities in the snow and on steep hills (particularly fun to watch!).
If you have a half-hour to spare, kick back and enjoy this rare treat! You will get a true insider’s look at how the very first Dodge automobiles were made!
Vehicles from this era are fascinating and are often photographed with equally fascinating surroundings. The photograph above is a unique, early photograph of a Hagerstown Bus owned by Forsyth’s Garage & Transfer of Rockville. The bus is an early GMC. The tag on bus is dated 1922 and behind the bus on the left is the bus station with signs that say “Pay Gate” and “Pass Gate”. The banner across the road says “Montgomery County Fair, Rockville, MD” and the dates. Directly across the street is Reed Brothers Dodge. The photograph was found on WorthPoint.com, an online resource for researching art, antiques and collectibles, etc.
The photograph below was taken by Lewis Reed during the same time frame only from a different perspective. It is also dated 1922, and the bus stop would have been right in front of the boarded fence across the main road (later the Rockville Pike). The Rockville Fair Grounds are just beyond the boarded fence. Buses and trolleys used to go past Reed Brothers as they traveled up Rockville Pike. The Fairgrounds was one of the stops along the line.
I enjoy solving mysteries and digging deep to find information on vintage motor vehicles and today I am sharing what has turned up in my research.
I found an interesting article in the Motor Age, Volume 41, March 23, 1922 on page 16, titled – General Motors Develops Motor Bus, and I have extracted the article as follows:
A twenty-passenger motor bus was introduced by the General Motors Truck Company, Pontiac, Michigan, which is mounted on a chassis designed for this type of body. By combining a long wheelbase with long, flexible semi-elliptic springs together with 36 by 6 in. cord tires, easy riding qualities have been the result. The body overhangs the frame slightly which, it is said, eliminates much of the side-sway and whipping more or less common with buses mounted on a wheelbase length considerably shorter than the body. The frame on the chassis overhangs the rear axle but slightly.
The standard G.M.C. 2-ton powerplant is used and it is claimed that a road speed of 30 miles an hour, to which the bus is governed, is readily obtainable. In test, the bus fully loaded, was driven at 25 miles per hour up to a 4% grade on high gear. The G.M.C. 4 x 5 1/2 in. powerplant, which has been described in these pages, incorporates features such as removable cylinder sleeve, removable valve lifter assemblies, pressure lubrication, dual cooling, hot-spot vaporization, etc, and the governor equipment is a fly-ball type which has also been described.
The bus body for this new equipment is furnished with two seating arrangements, one adapted particularly to inter-urban bus operation and the other designed for city passenger work. The body is built of oak reinforced with metal and is finished outside in smooth paneled surfaces. In order to accommodate the narrow roads, the bus has been built to a width of 74 in. and the seating arrangement has been made to correspond with this width without sacrifice to comfort of balance.
The interior of the bus is finished in paneled oak with rattan seats. The equipment is complete including non-rattling adjustable windows, complete buzzer signal system, front entrance door controlled from the driver’s seat and rear emergency door. The equipment also includes a rear vision mirror, dome lights and an advertising card rack. The fuel tank is located outside and is filled from outside without inconvenience or fire risk. The fuel is fed to the engine by vacuum system.
Pictured below is an original 1940s Reed Brothers Dodge-Plymouth three-pocket, service station shop coat made by Anderson Bros. of Danville, VA. The coat was previously worn by Marvin Shultz, Manager of Reed Brothers full service Gulf Gasoline and Service Station when it was located at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike. Marvin started working at Reed Brothers in 1941, and worked for 43 of the company’s 97 years before retiring in 1984 as a new car salesman.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Shultz family for sending me this shop coat, as it is the first, and only one, I have ever seen.
The coat is made of Herring-Bone-Twill with dark blue cotton collar and cuffs. There is one large chest pocket with a thread embroidered “Shultz” sewn on. The coat has two large front hip pockets, hidden snap buttons on the center line, and snaps on the cuffs. It has a matching belt with side waist buckle and side vent openings. The metal buttons are concealed to prevent scratching cars, and the belt buckles on the side of the waist for this same reason. It is in excellent condition considering it is 70+ years old.
What is SANFORIZED SHRUNK? Good question… I had to “google” it to find out. Sanforization is a process that stabilizes the fabric before it is cut by stretching and shrinking it. Named after its inventor, Sanford Lockwood Cluett, it was patented in 1930. During the sanforization process, the material is fed into a sanforizing machine and moistened with water or steam to promote shrinkage. It is then stretched through a series of rubber belts and cylinders before it is finally compacted to its final size. Sanforizing ensures that the fabric will not shrink during production or wear.
Early uniforms were created to protect an employee’s arms, legs, and underclothes from getting grease, oil and other automotive related by-products on them. Similar styles of this uniform is still seen in many automotive garages today, as they protect an employee’s underclothing from the grease and oil workers are exposed to when working on cars. Almost all automotive uniforms today still include an embroidered name patch on one breast and a brand logo patch on the opposite breast of the shirt.
The Dodge La Femme stemmed from Chrysler’s marketing department’s observation that more and more women were taking an interest in automobiles during the 1950s, and that women’s opinions on which color car to buy was becoming part of the decision making process for couples buying an automobile. The La Femme was an attempt to gain a foothold in the women’s automobile market.
Dodge introduced the new La Femme option package in 1955: For $143, you could have the Custom Royal Lancer feminized, with rose paint, gold script, and a nauseating shade of Pepto-pink interior complete with rosebuds.
The accessories which came with the car as standard equipment were where things started getting weird. The car came with a calfskin purse in the same shade of pink as the car’s interior. There was a special compartment behind the passenger seat for this purse, where it could sit with the buckle facing outward. This buckle was large enough for owners to have their name engraved on them, and this is what they were encouraged to do. Inside the purse there was a makeup compact filled with pale pink powder, a lipstick holder, a gold-toned cigarette lighter and case, an imitation tortoiseshell comb, a cigarette lighter, a vanity mirror and silk change purse.
These accessories were all finished in gold-color metal and (you guessed it) pink. For those who wanted them, Dodge also offered an umbrella, boots, a cape (seriously?) and a hat, all matching the seat upholstery.
It went nowhere. La Femme became La Flop. Women stayed away in droves and men weren’t about to be seen driving around in the darling Rosebud. The Dodge La Femme was sold for two years in the U.S. — 1955 and 1956
(Line from a long-lost episode of “Leave it To Beaver”)
“Gee Wally…. all the guys are callin’ me a sissy…. a pink and white car and it says La Femme on the side …. I just can’t be driven to school in mom’s new car anymore …. Yeah, Beave …. I know what ya mean …. that’s why I ride with Eddie …. and besides, mom’s not all that thrilled with the car either!”
Info Source: Dodge La Femme Wikipedia