Monday, October 10, 2011

My Grandfather's First Car

[Updated with photo below Oct 13, 2011]
On Tuesday, July 18th, 1922, Allen S. Crow went down to the Covey-Ballard Motor Company to buy his first car. The car dealership was owned at the time by Stephen M. Covey (1869-1959) and Melvin Russell Ballard Sr.(1897-1982). It was probably not the really big showroom at 464 South Main that was later turned into a dance hall. That did not open officially until February 1923. This was probably the showroom at 601 South State Street. The car he picked was a Ford Touring 1922. I'm no expert in cars, but I'm guessing that was what we today call the Model T.

The Report of Sale shows some great information about the deal. Aside from his name and address it listed the terms of the sale: amount of sale $537.40, a $25.00 deposit, with an additional $175.00 due on delivery which was to be on Saturday July 22nd, 1922. The balance was due in 60 days and there would be no interest charge. He also had to get the auto licensed. The dealer would provide him a spare "tire, tube & cover", 5 gallons of gas and 1 quart of oil, extra, meaning he would get charged for them. His salesman was Martin Gutke Brixen (1891-1979). If you have ever bought a car, you can almost hear the deal being made.

The car was ordered - he kept his copy of the Retail Buyers Order - but he didn't pick it up until July 25th. It was mostlikely that the car was just not ready. Plus it was Pioneer Day weekend, so not much else was going on business wise. I can just imagine his disappointment at not having the car for the pioneer day celebration. He paid his additional $175.00 and was given a free set of Ford tools from the Goodwin Dickson Auto Co. The address for the Auto Co. was on the same block as the showroom, so it was probably the service department right next door. After that he had the car licensed [$10 plus a $2 filing fee] and inspected by the Motor Vehicle Department for 50 cents by Elias J Strong (1899-1968). For a premium of $14.18 he had to purchase an automobile insurance policy for $450. His insurance agent was Joseph Arthur Jennings (1859-1943).

There was some personal information on the Conditional Sale Agreement. He listed his salary with the "U. S. Surveyor Gen." ($100 a month) and he had to list his life insurance ($1,000 with Metropolitan). He also said he was 24, unmarried, and had no dependents, which already I knew. He gave his address [156 East 17th South was his parents' home], and he stated he was buying the car for "Bus[iness] & Pleasure".

He saved a bill he received for the balance of $368.41 which he paid on October 5th, 1922, which was 70 days after delivery. It was 10 days late, but he does not appear to have been charged any interest.

A month or so earlier he started dating a young woman, Alpha Pearl Coolbear, from the Farmers Ward. But they hadn't been dating long when she was sent to live with relatives in Hinkley, Utah (near Delta) which was over 140 miles away.  I don't know if dating her, and her subsequent move, was his motivation for getting the car, or if he ever drove out to Hinkley to see her [I doubt it], but I do know she moved back home in August 1922 and they drove around together quite a bit before they were married in the Salt Lake Temple on September 18, 1924.

A few weeks before his 95th birthday, my brother was taping a conversation he and his wife had with my grandfather about how he met his wife. After describing their first date he slipped naturally into talking about his first car.

"But then I bought a Ford, and we used to go traveling around in the old Ford, and it had isinglass windows, and the snow would come in, and the cold weather, and the wind would come in the isinglass curtains on the side. So that wasn't a very satisfactory Ford, I was glad when we got rid of it. But I've had several since." (Interview 30 May 1993)

His stories of the car seem to be tied to his dates with Alpha. From a short autobiography written sometime after 1961 he said...

So our dates began. Once while parked in my old Ford in front of her house at 2294 South 9th East, someone bumped into us. Down into the deep irrigation ditch went the car. We dated and courted for two years...

In among the papers was an envelope from his office with penciled notes about the cost of the car. There was one item he included that was not on the sale paperwork (license) and he did not include the insurance, or the oil on his itemization. In total the car cost him....

443.00 Base Price
  18.60 Freight
  75.80 Delivery
537.40 sub total sale price
  13.43 Tire & Case
  12.50 license/inspection/filing fee (paid separately)
    2.50 gas
565.83 sub total (on his hand drawn note)
    0.90 oil
  14.18 insurance
580.91 Grand Total

  25.00 Deposit
175.00 Paid on delivery
368.41 Balance paid 70 days later
568.41 Paid to the dealership
  12.50 license/inspection/filing fee paid separately
580.91 Total Paid

I don't know how long he had the car. I see no evidence of it after they were married. But grandfather would not have replaced it until he needed to and he worked hard to save every penny possible. So barring some accident or mechanical failure, he probably had it for some time.
Allen S. Crow and his "Class in Auto Mechanics at G.H.S" (Granite High School?). My grandfather is in the center with the ratchet in his right hand. On the back are the names, Hyrum Jensen, Hugh Stanford, Allen Crow, Harold Knudsen, LeRoy Erickson, Henry Madsen. I'm glad my grandfather took the time to label his photo.


Ardis said...

Talk about extracting every possible bit of meaning from what some would have considered to have little family history value! I love it.

BruceCrow said...

You know as well as anyone could know just how much information can be gleaned from even the most ordinary document.

I looked around for a photo of his car, but only found a photo copy of one with him and five friends with a car that might be it in the background. I scanned it but the result was so bad, I won't bother to post it. Last night my father said he thought one of my aunts has the original.

Nicole Vickers said...

It's amazing that you're able to post about your grandfather's first car, complete with details. I barely even remember the time I bought my first car or why I bought it in the first place.

BruceCrow said...

I didn't think to keep the stuff from my first car either. Like most people, however, my first car wasn't new.

BruceCrow said...

My aunt sent a better scan of the photo with the car in the background. (see above) Unless he was taking a class at GHS as part of a adult education program, it couldn't have been his car. But I love knowing he took the class.