Dusting Off the Old Ones was published in 1961 by W. B. Clarke, Miles City, Montana.
Problems of the Early Day Drivers
Few of you readers realize the difficulties experienced by an automobile operator in the early days of that industry. There were no service stations, garages or auto mechanics -- no good roads and no road signs. The cars of yesteryear were not near so trouble free as the cars of today -- tires could not compare with present tires, and were more expensive. A battery cost at least $50. The first cars had neither windshields nor tops -- they were all of the "Open Air" variety. Travel by car was not as comfortable as it is today. Nobody left on a trip of even a few miles without some baling wire hidden under the seat. There were no electric lights, and no self starters. We cranked and cussed. Another problem was the horse -- every horse in that day was scared of the gas buggy, and the horse owners did not think much of them either. In some localities, there were laws which required the motorist to stop and lead the horse past the automobile. If you wanted to buy a car, you had to finance it yourself -- and it was cash on the line. The banks did not consider an automobile as good security -- and there were no finance companies.

We cannot close our accounts of the early day automobiles here in this community without mentioning a fellow who has probably washed and serviced more cars for a longer period than any other local resident. We refer to Bill Conner. Bill was shining shoes when Bert Shuey picked him up in the twenties and put him to work in the Ford Garage, shining cars.

In the last few issues, we have given you readers the recollections of Ross Calvin Sr. as to the early day local history of the automobile industry. Think what has taken place in that industry in the last 60 years. In 1896 there were very few cars. Last month, the Bureau of Public Roads in the Commerce Department in Washington estimated that there will be a total of 50,954,000 passenger cars alone registered in the United Sates this year. Try to figure the percentage of increase since 1896.