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Then & Now: Montgomery County Police Department Motorcycle Unit

This blog entry is posted today to commemorate the anniversary of the Montgomery County Police Department. It was 98 years ago on July 4, 1922 that the MCPD was first established, consisting of five officers and a Chief. Each of the officers was issued a police motorcycle for routine patrol duties and was allotted $300.00 a year for the upkeep of their motor. Thus, the Montgomery County Police Department was formed upon the foundation of the motorcycle.

Montgomery County Police Department Motorcycle Unit (THEN): 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. For several years, since there was no police station, the officers would meet for “roll call” on the steps of the Red Brick Courthouse in Rockville at 2:00 p.m. every day to let each other know they were alive and well. Chief Cooley was given the privilege of a Model T Ford. The chief was paid $1,800 a year (the chief now gets $112,564) while the officers got $1,500. 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. Jones patrolled Silver Spring, Rodgers the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area and Burdine, Clagett and Gaither the Upper County areas.

The county’s population in the early 1920s was just 35,000 (it’s now more than 800,000). Much of the county was farmland, which accounted for the thefts of livestock. It also was the Prohibition era, when bootlegging and moonshine still factored routinely on an officer’s shift.

The officers worked 14 hours at night, 10 hours in the day, with two days off every two weeks. But they were on call at all times. Since there was no mobile radio contact (the first one-way radio system was installed in cars in the early 1930s), the officers tended to hang around the courthouse or a local firehouse that had a phone.

One of the officers came up with the idea of placing a flashing red beacon light on a pole atop the Rockville courthouse. When flashing, it would alert police that they had a call or were wanted at the office. In 1927, similar lights were used at district stations in Silver Spring and Bethesda.

Montgomery County Police Department

This is the first known photograph of the entire MCPD. Pictured left to right: Earl Burdine, Lawrence Clagett, Guy Jones, Chief Charles Cooley, Leroy Rodgers, and Oscar Gaither. Photo taken by Lewis Reed on July 4, 1922.

Montgomery County Police Department Motorcycle Unit (NOW): Currently, the Motor Unit consists of forty-two full-time motor officers who make up six decentralized motor squads. The squads are assigned to each of the six district police stations and are under the command of a sergeant. The primary missions of the squads are traffic enforcement, collision reduction, pedestrian safety and maintaining the orderly flow of traffic in the county. The squads are also involved in special details to include, dignitary and Presidential escorts, funeral escorts, the Montgomery County Fair, the Tiger Woods Golf Tournament and numerous foot races and parades.

The Motor Unit currently fields twenty-eight 2007 and 2008 Harley-Davidson Police motorcycles of which four to five are assigned to each of the district stations. The squads at each station are divided into a day work and evening shift and those officers share motorcycles as necessary. The current work period for the squads is eight hour shifts, Monday through Friday. The current work period for the squads is eight hour shifts, Monday through Friday.

The Unit also fields a Competition Team which participates in events that include both the United States and Canada. The team has received numerous awards in both the individual and team categories at these events. The Unit will also be hosting the Mid- Atlantic Police Motorcycle Safety Competition in Gaithersburg, Maryland in September of 2010.

The Montgomery County Department of Police Motor Unit continues its traffic safety mission today as well as the furtherance of police motorcycle safety and awareness throughout Montgomery County and the State of Maryland.

MCP Motorcycle Unit

MCP Motorcycle Unit Competes in Annual Motorcycle Rodeo 95 years later.

Thank you to the entire Montgomery County Police Department for all you do in keeping our community safe. Salutes!

Sources: “Montgomery County, Two Centuries of Change” by Jane C. Sween
Montgomery County Police Department

Early Montgomery County Road Paving Equipment

These vehicles below, strangely recognizable as forerunners to our modern equivalents, date from 1909. At this time, a lot of the equipment was still horse-drawn, such as the horse-drawn tanker wagon. Steamrollers (more correctly called road rollers) were literally powered by steam, like locomotives, and were similar to motorized farm vehicles of the time period. Road rollers were the last type of steam engine to be used on the roads. Before the hot tar has a chance to cool, sand, small pebbles, or small pieces of crushed rock are spread on top of it and compacted with a road roller, which also helps to bind it all together into a long-wearing, waterproof pavement.

vintage paving truck

PAVING TRUCK, 1909 – photograph by Lewis Reed

The early 1900s paving truck seen in the photo above is equipped with a high-powered spray mounted on the back of the truck. The truck consists of a storage tank, a burner below it to keep the asphalt hot and liquid, and a pump to pressurize it and send it to the spray bar and through the nozzles in the back. You can see the massive chain that puts power to the rear wheels.

Steamrollers, more correctly called road rollers, were the last type of steam engine to be used on the roads. Before the hot tar has a chance to cool, sand, small pebbles, or small pieces of crushed rock are spread on top of it and compacted with a steamroller that’s powered by steam, which also helps to bind it all together into a long-wearing, waterproof pavement.

vintage steam roller

STEAM ROAD ROLLER, 1909 – photograph by Lewis Reed

This take-off of the steam traction engine was designed specifically for road building and flattening ground mimicking today’s modern rollers used for compacting road surfaces. A single, heavy roller replaced the front wheels and axle and a smoother rear wheels replaced larger wheels without strakes. (strake – name for the diagonal strips cast into or riveted onto the wheel rims to provide traction on unmade ground).

Steam Road Roller

STEAM ROAD ROLLER, 1909. Note the horse-drawn flusher adjacent to the steamroller – photograph by Lewis Reed

In 1900, ninety percent of the roads in Maryland were dirt roads; in Montgomery County the figure was ninety-five percent. In 1909 the State Roads Commission paved the 5.47 miles of Old Georgetown Road with a six-inch macadam covering, and the state did further paving in 1921, 1923, 1926, 1927 and 1929. You can see how much things have changed for the people who work on our roads.

Photos cannot convey the raw power of a steam road roller: the way its pistons, valves, gears, and wheels are locked in constant motion. You really have to see this machinery in action.

Here is a video of a vintage steam roller in action as it chugs along past a camera.

A Look Back at Montgomery County High School from 110 Years Ago

Montgomery County High School

Originally known as Montgomery County High School, later as Rockville High School and Richard Montgomery High School. Located at the corner of Monroe Street and East Montgomery Avenue. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1906.

The tradition of graduation ceremonies, complete with pomp and circumstance, caps and gowns, and awarding diplomas, marks a rite of passage at schools in Montgomery County and at other high schools across the country. Not this year. The coronavirus pandemic has left in its wake widespread cancellations of annual events and ceremonies. This year’s 2020 graduates will be honored in the minds and hearts of loved ones for their achievements, and individual efforts will be made to celebrate the moment, but this year’s graduating seniors won’t be able to participate in the traditional graduation celebrations. In honor of this year’s high school graduates, here is a look back at a collection of photos of graduates from Montgomery County High School that were taken by Lewis Reed in 1910.

A bit of history: Located in the City of Rockville, Richard Montgomery High School is the oldest public high school in Montgomery County. An allocation in 1892 by the then Board of School Commissioners of a $300 addition to the existing elementary school in Rockville brought to fruition the then named “Rockville High School” that served students from grades one to eleven. The first class of twelve seniors graduated in 1897. In 1904, the Board of Education purchased land at the corner of Montgomery Avenue and Monroe Street for the construction of a new school building, to be renamed “Montgomery County High School” at Rockville. Students came to the school by train, trolley, and later by school bus from all corners of the county. In 1935, when the new “Rockville Colored High School” building opened in Lincoln Park, the Board of Education officially renamed the old Rockville High School, “Richard Montgomery High School.”

1910 Montgomery County High School class photo

Montgomery County High School class, 1910. Photo by Lewis Reed

Back row: Edward Story, Lena Ricketts, Tom Young, Louise Larcombe, Miss Ford, Fred Hays, Lucius Lamar, name unknown, name unknown.
Middle Row: name unknown, name unknown, Jesse Wathen, Jesse Higgins, name unknown, name unknown, Mary Hyatt, name unknown, name unknown.
Front Row: Maude England, Rebecca Lamar, (first name unknown) Garrett, Helen Pumphrey, (first name unknown) Lehman.

Old Rockville High School class photo

Montgomery County High School, Academic Department, 1910. Photo by Lewis Reed

Back: Harry S. Beall, Katherine Hughes
Middle: names unknown
Front: Edith Prettyman, Virginia Darby

From The Baltimore Sun, Thursday, May 26, 1910 newspaper:

The Baltimore Sun 26 May 1910

The Baltimore Sun, Thursday, 26 May 1910.

Old Rockville High School’s First Baseball Team

Inter-school athletics in Montgomery County began with a meeting, duly noted in the Sentinel of February 18, 1910, of the principals of the high schools at Rockville, Gaithersburg, Kensington, and Sandy Spring to formulate plans for a baseball league. Within a month, the athletic association of Rockville High School was formed with Roger J. Whiteford, principal, as manager of the baseball team, Edward Story, teacher, as assistant manager, and Jesse Higgins student, as captain.

Old Rockville High School Baseball Team 1910

Rockville High School First Baseball Team, 1910. Photo by Lewis Reed

Front: Billy Beck, Tom Young, Edward Storey, Harry Beall, Roy Warfield.
Back: Otis Hicks, Lucius Lamar, name unknown, name unknown, Jesse Higgins, name unknown, name unknown, Frederick Hays, Roger Whiteford
Holding pennant: Griffith Warfield

Announce Line-Up of High School Team. Special to The Washington Post, Sunday, March 13, 1910:

The line-up of the baseball team that will represent the Montgomery County High School this season has been decided upon, and the team will start the season as follows: Catcher. Harry Beall; Pitcher, Edward Story; First Base; Thomas Young; Second Base, Griffith Warfield; Third Base, Marshall Darby; Shortstop, Jesse Higgins; Left Field, Roland Garrett; Center Field, Frederick Hays; Right Field, Lucius Lamar; and Substitutes: Otis Hicks, Marshall Manion and William Beck.

Montgomery County High School 1910

Montgomery County High School 1910. Photo by Lewis Reed

Montgomery County High School 1910

Montgomery County High School 1910. Photo by Lewis Reed

On May 27, 1910, commencement was held in the Rockville Opera House. The major address of the graduation ceremony was given by Judge Hammond Urner. Then came the presentation of diplomas by Roger B. Farquhar and the seniors marched into the history of Montgomery County High School, as will their 2020 successors, all proud graduates.

Credit to: E. Guy Jewell, “Richard Montgomery High School.” The Montgomery County Story Vol. 24 (1981)
Other sources of information: Newspapers.com and Montgomery History

8 Years, 353 Posts & Thank You

8 Years

This month marks the 8-year anniversary of this blog. It’s been an honor to share the history of Reed Brothers Dodge – whether you’ve read our blog, followed us on Twitter, or “liked” us on Facebook. I would like to thank all of you who have visited, followed, shared, or commented on this blog, and many others, for their kind words and the visibility they have provided.

Here’s a look back at the last year.

What People are Saying Around Facebook:

“Amazing blog and postings. I spent sometime reviewing your site and found it both fascinating and interesting.”
“I am thankful for the documentation this site provides with images of a beloved hometown that can no longer be seen.”
“Love seeing the old photos.”
“This is soooo cool! Someone needs to do one of those historical books of Historical Rockville photos!”
“These photos are absolutely awesome!!!”
“Thank you so much for sharing! This is classic Montgomery County info.”
“That was so cool reading all your memory posts. Best thing I’ve read on FB in a while.”
“I love seeing these old photos and reading the history. Thank you.”
“Thank you for this history. There is so much we take for granted.”

Past Lectures:

2019 Montgomery County History Conference: Each year in January, the Montgomery County Historical Society holds a day-long conference on various aspects of local history. Upwards of 200 people attend this annual event, which has been held since 2007. Last year, I was very honored for the invitation to speak about the history of Reed Brothers Dodge at the Montgomery County History Conference on Saturday, January 26, 2019.

The PowerPoint presentation followed the dealerships 97-year historic timeline and included more than 100 photographs, 70 of them rare, historic images taken by the dealership’s founder, Lewis Reed. The conference was held at the Bioscience Education Center on Montgomery College’s Germantown Campus.

2019 Montgomery History Conference

Montgomery History Speakers Bureau: Officially added to the Montgomery History Speakers Bureau. My topic is, of course, The History of Reed Brothers Dodge“. It is my great honor to join the talented league of speakers at Montgomery History, and I sincerely look forward to sharing our 97-year family business history throughout Montgomery County and the greater Washington D.C. metro area.

Montgomery History Speakers BureauKensington Park Retirement Community Talk: Gave a presentation as part of Montgomery History’s Speakers Bureau at Kensington Park Retirement Community. Approximately 25 residents from the Woodlands Assisted Living facility attended. Such a joy me sharing, their listening, and appreciating the time spent together. Thanks to Activities Director Kate Moeller who invited me to speak.

Woodlands Assisted Living

Kensington Park Woodlands Assisted Living

Montgomery History Tuesday Talks: Montgomery History’s lunchtime lecture series, Tuesday Talks, takes place at noon on the first Tuesday of every month at the historic Beall-Dawson House in Rockville, Maryland. Enjoy presentations covering various aspects of history including local history of Montgomery County and the history of those who once lived here.

Montgomary History Tuesday Talks

Online Exhibit: Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed Lewis Reed’s photographs are now a part of a series of online exhibitions featured on the Montgomery History website. Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed displays extraordinary photographs in several themed categories (Transportation, Photo-magic, Recreation, & Daily Life) taken at the beginning of the 20th century by county native and founder of Reed Brothers Dodge, Lewis Reed. It is an absolutely unique window into how the people of Montgomery County lived over a century ago. Working in collaboration with Montgomery History Librarian and Archivist, Sarah Hedlund, I am proud to play a part in the preservation of local history, making these photographs available to all.

Through the Lens of Lewis Reed online exhibitI appreciate all of you for your continued support and making Reed Brothers Dodge History one of the places you visit during the course of your day.

Thank you

A Tribute to My Mom on This Mother’s Day

Mary Jane Gartner

Mary Jane (Reed) Gartner

In honor of Mother’s Day, I would like to dedicate this blog to the memory of my mother, Mary Jane (Reed) Gartner who passed away eight months ago on September 10, 2019. Her father was Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. It’s hard for me not to reflect on what an amazing person she was. As with most people, I have a few people in my life who really inspire me, and my mom is one of them.

One of the most important things that I ever adopted to help me in achieving my goals were those I learned from my mother. My mother taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to, and that anything worth doing, is worth doing well. With her as my inspiration, I have been able to fearlessly reinvent myself as my life and times have changed. I cannot express my gratitude for her in words, whose unconditional love has been my greatest strength. My mother has always motivated me to be successful, encouraged me in all of my pursuits, and instilled in me the belief that I can achieve whatever it is that I desire. Her motto is one that I still live by to this day, “There is no such thing as can’t.” Instead of giving myself reasons why I can’t, I always give myself reasons why I can.

I am an author of two self-published books: “Portrait of an Automobile Dealer, Third Edition” and “Lewis Reed Photograph Collection (1898-1960)”. My mother was my primary source for information in both books. There was little documentation that accompanied the photographs, leading me to research through mostly her accounts of where the photos might have been taken, or who was in them. She assisted me with family information, photographs, and photo identification. Throughout this, my mother’s stories have influenced my interest in local history in general, and my interest in the history of our family business in particular.

One of my greatest joys was looking through all of my grandfather’s photographs along with my mother. On many afternoon visits with her, we went through hundreds of photographs and wrote down names, dates, and locations to the best of her recollection. This weekly activity, working together with her sharing memories and photos about previous generations, has been one of the greatest joys of my adult life.

Watching my mom’s eyes light up when I gave her the first proof book of her father’s entire photograph collection — 350 pages and 2500+ photographs — was a beautiful thing to see. True magic happened when she opened that book and started looking through the pictures. The book was a monumental task, and almost 10 years in the making, but it had a monumental reward at the end. Bringing out all those cherished memories for my mom was truly a celebration of her life.

Mary Jane GartnerIf your mother is still living, don’t forget to say “thank you” to her often, especially on Mother’s Day. And if she’s gone, thank God often for the memories you have, and the life and legacy she gave to you. I lost my mom eight months ago. And I still miss her every day. But I find it helps to take the perspective that I didn’t really lose her. I know exactly where she is and where she’ll always be. She is alive in my memories and the link to all of the history I share on this blog. Mom, this is for you… Happy Mother’s Day!

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