Contents © 2016, Harold Pfohl
For location, see: Farm of Wm & Augusta – 1915 plat map
For family members, see:1900 – 1930s – GUIDE TO THE WILLIAM & AUGUSTA LUEDER FAMILY
EARLY 20th CENTURY – PART 2 – THE AUTOMOBILE ENTERS THE SCENE
“fünfunddreißig Meilen pro Stunde fuhr er? kein Wunder, dass er tot ist.” “35 mph he drove? No wonder he’s dead!”
Source – Russ Waters, Cedarburg
THE AUTOMOBILE VS THE BUGGY
In the 1890s the Fromms in West Bend visited their in-laws, the Niemans, 22 miles away in Cedarburg for a wedding. The trip in a crowded carriage took most of a day. William and Augusta and their family visited West Bend after they had purchased an Overland touring car. The 22-mile trip might have taken the Overland somewhat more than an hour – perhaps two. The distance had ceased to be formidable.
It became practical for young people to frequently attend parties or dances ten miles distant, and to see and date someone living that far away. As cars and roads improved, adventurous souls undertook trips that were unthinkable to their parents when they were the same age.
While the auto was immensely popular, it was in a stage of rapid engineering evolution and cars were neither safe nor reliable. Many problems existed that often unfortunately manifested themselves on the road: leaking radiators, broken springs, frequent flat tires, hard starting, shorts in the electrical system, etc.
EXCITEMENT AT THE FARM – LUEDERS BUY THEIR FIRST CAR – AN “OVERLAND”
If the telephone, radio, electric light and electrically powered appliances were revolutionary in their impact, the auto was cataclysmic. The Lueders’ first vehicle was the Overland touring car purchased in 1915/16, seating for five but they stuffed in the entire family, Ma, Pa, and seven kids. The children had to get out and push if a hill was too steep, e.g. Holy Hill. During inclement weather, the top would be raised and side curtains would be attached. The side curtains were windows that were typically made from transparent isinglass, a soft, rollable plastic-like material.
Willys – Overland (same company that made the Jeep in WW II) produced several “touring” cars during 1915. Assuming that William and Augusta purchased the least expensive, that would have been the Overland 81 series. No hand cranking! The car had an electric starter. The starters (along with much else) weren’t entirely reliable so most had an auxiliary removable crank as well.
The Automobile Trade Journal reviewed the Overland – for continuation of the above see source – Google Books – digitized. Automobile Trade Journal – Overland Review
Wisconsin 1916 vehicle registration for the Lueder Overland
It didn’t take long for Wisconsin State laws and regulations to be enacted. Note the “Horse Power” at 35!! Son Gerald said the Overland at 25 mph was “moving right along.” It required low gear when facing a stiff west wind heading home from Cedarburg with Pa, Ma, and seven kids.
Gerald Lueder at the wheel of the Overland – about 1926 – 27
L-R: Harold, Cordelia, and Elda Lueder, cousins Lila Fromm and Evelyn Fromm, with Mrs. Ella (Walter) Fromm, and Ma, Augusta Lueder, in the back seat and cousin Helen Fromm standing at the right front. The others are unknown.
The first license plate that William kept is dated 1916. For many years the state issued new plates annually. William kept his and nailed them up in a shed.
UPGRADE!!! LIFE IS GOOD! PROSPERITY AND PURCHASE OF A “CHRYSLER FOUR”
Beginning in 1924 at age 14, Cordelia kept a daily diary. From a 1926 entry: “In afternoon sowed first early peas. Erwin Mueller (Lueder sibling’s first cousin) was appointed Highway Commissioner (plowed and repaired roads for Cedarburg Township). He fixed our road this afternoon. Wegner was here & sold us our Chrysler Four Sedan.”
The drum brakes were external contracting on the drum, a rather curious arrangement.
By contrast with the Overland, the Chrysler Four was regarded as a powerful modern machine with a cruising speed of 35 mph. Cordelia Lueder, as a little child, overheard a phone conversation in German that her mother Augusta was having with Cordelia’s Tante Anna Lueder: “Fünfunddreißig meilen pro stunde fuhr er? Kein wunder, dass er tot ist.” “35 mph he drove! No wonder he’s dead!”
From “classiccardatabase.com, picking the lowest cost version: Chrysler 4F 58 Series price tag was $845. The car weighed 2,300 lbs. and had balloon tires (as opposed to the high pressure tires of the Overland). Per Wiki the engine generated 38 hp.
A fine car was a source of pride. Sunday morning departing the farm, going to church in the Chrysler Four, 1926.
L-R: Harold Gerald, Cordelia, Edgar, Mother Augusta, behind her, Father William, Renata and fiancée/husband Erich Heckendorf.
A CAR FOR SON EDGAR – 1929 WHIPPET COUPE
Source – antiqueau.net – modern photo
In 1929, William bought a Whippet coupe for his eldest son, Edgar. the Whippet, emulating its speedy namesake dog, would tear along at 40 mph! From “classiccardatabase.com:” price – $535.
OVERLAND, CHRYSLER, AND WHIPPET AT LUEDER’S FARM – 1930
The family automobiles – 1930 – L-R: Overland – 1916, Chrysler Four – 1926, Whippet – 1929
The family automobiles – 1930 – L-R: Whippet, Chrysler Four, Overland
WHIPPET, FIRE AND THE 1933 CHICAGO WORLD’S FAIR
Gerald loved cars and used Edgar’s Whippet so much and so hard that he soon wore it out. By 1934, the piston rings on the Whippet were in bad shape. After stopping and idling for a bit at the Bridge St. and Granville Rd. Creamery, (a quarter-mile from Lueder’s farm), such a cloud of smoke ensued upon accelerating, that the vehicle was entirely hidden from view by family watching the car from the farm.
Source – David Rumsey Collection – 1924 Rand McNally Commercial Atlas – Following the early maps took some work.
The family was watching Edgar, Gerald, and their brother-in-law, Erwin Graese, leave for the World’s Fair in Chicago. The Whippet consumed nearly two gallons of drain oil on the round trip to Chicago – about 200 miles. The addition of oil was so frequent that Gerald ran a filler pipe through a hole he cut in the engine hood for convenience. At one stop sign in Chicago, another motorist frantically tried to tell them that their car was on fire!
The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair – “100 years of Progress”
William and Augusta’s sons, Edgar and Gerald Lueder, and their brother-in-law, Erwin Graese, had a great time at the World’s Fair. They were there for two days. To save money, they slept in the car – three men in a two-door coupe – by removing the rear car seat (rumble seat) and barrier to the trunk, and then sleeping with the length of their bodies stretched from the trunk through the passenger area. During the night, the trunk lid came down on Erwin’s head, which did nothing for his humor nor for his enjoyment of the fair.
To imagine a World’s Fair, think of Disney World on a smaller scale, with exhibits from many different countries and varying industries. It was high entertainment and a destination for millions of people.
HARD STARTING – OFTEN CANTANKEROUS
Model T – Wet ignition at the barn raising, June 8, 1923
Early vehicles were often miserable to deal with. Charlie Fromm and Ed Lueders, cousins of the family, were helping with the barn raising for William and Augusta on a rainy day. The Model T’s ignition system did not like the moisture and the car refused to start.
AWFUL ROADS – A COMMON MISERY
Stuck on a date – February 1925
Renata Lueder. Brother Edgar and friends were on an outing. The roads were often in terrible condition since they had not been designed to take the pounding that cars give. The scene portrayed was a common one, especially during the spring when frost and rain joined forces to weaken and soften the roads, turning them to mud. A team of horses usually rescued the unfortunates.
Lueder’s dirt road, aka Bridge Rd. – clearly a dirt, not even graveled – in front of William and Augusta’s home three miles west of Cedarburg – 1926
NEARBY TOLL ROAD
South of Donges Bay Road in Mequon, a few miles south of Cedarburg. Source – Edw. Rappold
Hopefully, the toll ensured a much better road than that shown in the preceding image! However, looking at the foreground that might well not have been the case.
FLAT TIRES, FLAT TIRES, AND MORE FLAT TIRES
Flat tires (plural for sure) were a constant, expected hazard. The writer’s father as a seminary student in Buffalo, NY, noted in his diary on Nov., 14, 1927 that several of his friends on an outing: “…started out for Pa. Nanticoke. Having gone 100 miles they had a dozen flat tires already. Two new tires brought them back.”
And the next day a bit of a triumph for other classmates: “…were taking a trip to Hanover (Ontario). They started out at 4:30 and arrived there at 12:30 with only a flat tire or two.”
Tires were high pressure (70-80 psi) similar to today’s touring bicycle tires and were therefore more susceptible to sharp rocks and debris than softer balloon tires that came into use later. The dirt and gravel roads of that era were full of metal, e.g., many horseshoe nails, and much other small junk that didn’t affect horse traffic in the least but that readily punctured auto tires. Additionally, the tires of that era were in the earliest stages of development and were of very poor quality when compared to today’s tires.
RACING IN CEDARBURG
Source – Edw. Rappold – 60 mph tops – “Bunns” Klug & “Shorty” Erdmann in the lead. Cedarburg race track – fairgrounds.
Early racing required both a driver and a mechanic in the car while racing. The mechanic operated a fuel pump during the race among other duties. See footnote: Riding Mechanic
The Overland – a hot rod? July 1932 – not quite “Bunns” Klug and “Shorty” Erdman…
Son, Gerald, had fun chopping the body off the Overland and then driving his friends around. DOT regulations and Ralph Nader were decades in the future. Not quite “Bunns Klug and Shorty Erdman” at 60 mph, but fun.
PARTYING WAS VASTLY ENHANCED BY THE EASE OF COVERING DISTANCE WITH A CAR
William and Augusta’s daughters and two nieces, flapper sisters and cousins – 1927. L-R: Dtr. Viola, cousin Erna, dtr. Elda, cousin Anita, and dtr. Cordelia Lueder. All set to party in the 20’s!
A car was a necessity for Edgar’s romance of Alice Heckendorf – distance between the farms was considerable. A truly weird aspect of the courtship: they dated eight years before getting married, and on every single date, they were followed by Art Heckendorf, Alice’s brother. More on that in a future post.
L-R: Cordelia, Elda, with newlyweds – Erich Heckendorf and Renata Lueder Heckendorf and Cousin Erwin Mueller – October 21, 1927.
Cousin Erwin Mueller stopped by the morning after the wedding party celebrating the marriage of Lueder daughter, Renata, to Erich Heckendorf.
L-R: Erich Heckendorf, Cordelia, Viola, and Elda Lueder, and Cousin Erwin Mueller
Cousin Erwin was the Highway Commissioner for Cedarburg Township and also the only employee of the commission. The truck was the sole capital asset the Township had other than its schools. Note the hard tires on the truck – no tubes, no air, and no flat tires, very slow speed – makes a lot of sense.
Prior to this, the township had a horse-drawn grader that was also used in winter to clear roads. Erwin sometimes employed his cousin and close friend, William and Augusta’s eldest son, Edgar, to help with that chore which was far more physical than driving a truck.
Hard partying with nasty consequences. Unscathed!! After the fox farm party, June 24, 1936
Neighbor and friend, Bill Wendt, left an excellent party at the Nieman Fox Farm in an advanced state of relaxation. His worn-out Chrysler had steering knuckles held together with baling wire (this was decades before state inspections were required). He walked away from this unscathed. Incredible!
In their parents’ generation, transportation after similar partying occurred with horse and buggy.
WINTER WAS TOUGH
At the end of the Lueder driveway – a Model T made it through the snow.
Model T of Erich Heckendorf and Renata Lueder Heckendorf. The high clearance of the Model T and chains helped.
Erwin Mueller’s Township truck snowplowing at Lueder’s driveway – likely the blizzard of 1936 which shut the region down. The truck was much improved over the one shown previously.
Bridge Rd., west of Cedarburg. Milk had to get to the creameries and the roads were impassible – winter of 1936. Most farmers still had teams and wagons/sleds. They were needed.
NEXT – JOHN’S MODEL T
AUTO RACING – THE RIDING MECHANIC:
“A riding mechanic was a mechanic that rode along with a race car during races, and who was tasked with maintaining, monitoring, and repairing the car during the race. The various duties included manually pumping oil and fuel, checking tire wear, observing gauges, and even massaging the driver’s hands. They also communicated with the pits and spotted from inside the car. If the car ran out of fuel, or otherwise broke down, the riding mechanic was usually responsible for running back to the pits to fetch fuel or the necessary spare parts.”
Source – Wikipedia
PRIDE IN CAR OWNERSHIP
Source – Mark Seliger, Hamburg, WI
Far north – Hamburg, Wisconsin – Fromm’s first car. Augusta’s Uncle Fred Fromm and her Nieman uncles and aunts settled in Hamburg, Wisconsin. Uncle Fred bought a car in 1911. Quite the elegant vehicle. One wonders where and how Fred had it maintained given the relative isolation and very small population of Hamburg in 1911.
Below, two fine pictures from the Lueder family archives that speak of pride in one’s automobile:
At the Graese farm, not far from Cedarburg. Frau und Mann, a pipe, a jug, their boy, likely the hired hand, and their very own automobile. Life is good!
The boy, Erwin Graese, married into the Lueder family – husband to the Lueder’s daughter, Viola.
Also at the Graese farm – person unknown, proudly posed with his Model T. Classic image.