Getting a new car a year after the end of WWII continued to be difficult


Many people were driving around Henderson in late 1946 with money in their pockets but unable to buy the new car they wanted to drive.

“A year ago the public thought there would be a lot of new cars around that time,” began an infomercial that appeared in The Gleaner on Aug. 12, 1946. “Today there are very few new cars. on the market than there was a year ago.

“Every car dealership has a long list of people who have downpaid a new car and probably won’t get a new one for many months. “

This infomercial plugged in the relatively new auto repair shop that Delbert Austrew had opened at the corner of Center and Clark streets. (Fire has destroyed this concrete block building in recent years.)

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“To keep your car running during this emergency, you need to give it the best possible care, as it will likely take you several years before you can walk into a business and buy the car of your choice and get immediate delivery.”

I’m revisiting this topic that I initially explored on January 31, mainly because it had a big impact across the country – but also because I’m essentially a car guy at heart.

What really caught my eye when browsing through the August 1946 issues of The Gleaner was an August 25 ad for Interstate Finance Corp. This illustrates the great value that even used cars held immediately after World War II.

“Cash on your car,” the ad read. “When you are faced with a situation that requires additional cash, consult us for a loan on your car. Money is advanced quickly and privately for any need or emergency. You can repay on convenient monthly terms.

The value of new cars was strictly regulated by the Federal Office of Price Administration, which, according to The Gleaner of August 14, had again raised the prices of new cars, so that it was on average 25% above 1942 price caps.

“Yesterday’s increases, ranging from $ 62 to $ 322 per car, restored the pre-war profit margins of dealerships, as ordered by Congress,” the article said.

Another article on the Office of Price Administration’s involvement with cars appeared in the Gleaner on August 28. OPA agents raided an ongoing black market car auction in Leesville, South Carolina, which had sold around $ 75 million worth of cars in 14 states – including Kentucky.

“The special agents, pretending to be dealers, quietly bought five automobiles from an open-air market crowded with about 50 dealers and 500 automobiles. They paid over $ 12,000 in payment.

“They said the prices they paid were double the OPA caps and if they had had sufficient funds they could have bought dozens of cars at those prices.”

Car prices back then were relatively cheap by modern standards. Cars that the OPA had priced at $ 1,850 sold for $ 3,300 at auction and expensive cars that should have been priced at $ 2,500 sold for up to $ 5,800.

An example of one of these premium cars was on display Aug. 8-10 at the JV Gasser Garage Chrysler-Plymouth dealership, according to an Aug. 8 ad in The Gleaner.

AJ Crawford had bought a New Yorker, an example of Chrysler’s flagship model, and had agreed to let Gasser display it for a few days at his dealership at 119-121 N. Green St.

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The advertisement touted the new look of the 1946 Chrysler from the front windshield, which featured the harmonica-style grille that Chrysler retained until 1948, as well as many other improvements over the pre-war model. .

The only other display ad for an automobile that The Gleaner ran throughout August was for a Buick, which was also a premium car. Unlike the Chrysler, however, it looked pretty much what it was before the start of WWII.

The advertisement for the Scott McGaw Motor Co. at 8 N. Green St. attempted to assuage the frustration of buyers who had yet to receive delivery of their Buick. “The sweetest flowers attract the most bees,” the ad said. “The best is never the easiest to obtain. It is also the simple fact that Buick presents itself today as the most wanted car in America….

“So it’s smart to act quickly. We can’t deliver the cars any faster than the factory can make them, but the sooner your name appears on our order form, the shorter your wait will be.

The influx of new cars to this area has been offset by the usual process by which the supply of cars has declined, such as wrecks and wear and tear. A couple fell prey to trains at level crossings in late August 1946.

On August 30, Gleaner described a mysterious incident in which an L&N train en route to Nashville and New Orleans struck an upside down car that was straddling the tracks at the Anthoston Highway crossing.

The accident happened around 9.15pm. “No injuries were suffered by the passengers of the train or its crew, reported the railway officials….

“The police were trying to find the owners of the car. Henderson Hospital reported that no one had been admitted for treatment usually needed as a result of such car “accidents”. accidental.)

The train car wreck reported the next day, August 31, was a bona fide accident. Prominent oil dealer Rudy Bryant, 54, was killed instantly when his car was struck by L & N’s Dixie Limited around 5:50 a.m. at the Clay Street intersection.

He was Gulf Refining’s director of interests here and lived in the “lavish Baxter Adams house on Airline Road” that he and his wife bought in June. Adams, of course, was Henderson’s first aviator and barnstormer.

Bryant was Henderson County’s 12th automobile fatality in 1946. The county reached its highest level in 1952 with 27 road fatalities.

Halloween 1946 marked another chapter in an old, familiar story, according to a Gleaner story from November 1. A car transporter loaded with 1946 Dodge coupes struck the underpass on Fourth and Green streets.

“The top of one coupe was cut and a second automobile was knocked off the rack and folded in the fall…. In the past, several vehicles have struck the Fourth Street Overhead Railroad Bridge. “

The Green Street to Fourth Street railway underpass was deepened in the second half of 1955. Prior to that, large trucks had to detour through Water Street to pass under the tracks. The Green Street site experienced severe flooding problems for years until 1990, when drainage was supplied directly to the Ohio River.


Henderson was organizing a National Guard unit again, having been without one since 1917, according to The Gleaner of August 10, 1921.

Norman W. Royster was to be the captain of the company, which was based in an old church on Fourth Street between Green and Elm streets. By this date, 46 men had signed up. Only 14 additional candidacies were authorized, the unit being limited to 60 men.

Those who enlisted had to serve a three-year sentence and had to train one night per week as well as attend the 10-day camps each summer. They earned the same salary as the regular army.

50 years ago

An essay by Albert L. Weeks, associate professor of English at New York University, touted a new toy called the Frisbee as the Aquarian Age’s answer to the yo-yo, according to The Gleaner on August 15. 1971.

Bert Lunan of The Gleaner’s staff convinced a handsome Vivian Mattingly to demonstrate “the art of the frisbee throw” while he took half a dozen photographs of her that accompanied the article written by Weeks.


According to The Gleaner of August 8, 1996, a four-month review by the State Auditor’s Office of the financial records of the Henderson County Detention Center between June 1995 and April 1996 failed to report on over $ 19,000 in curatorial and investment funds. .

County Attorney Charlie McCollom has filed a motion asking that jailer Jackie Combest and his secretary be convicted of contempt of court for failing to follow money handling procedures that were agreed to on June 7 during a meeting with jailer, county attorney, county treasurer and two district judges are present.

McCollom withdrew his motion for contempt of Combest, according to the Gleaner on August 22, but the controversy over the money that was not found continued.

Combest was charged with a misdemeanor or neglect of duty charge on February 4, 1997, along with former deputy chief jailer Terry Haynes, who was charged with felony theft.

In mid-March 1997, Combest tendered his resignation, motivated by a promise to drop the criminal charges against him. Haynes had previously pleaded guilty to a felony and agreed to pay the jail $ 9,000 back.

In resigning, Combest made no admission of guilt to the breach of duty charge; he says he resigned mainly to preserve his retirement pension.

Readers of The Gleaner can reach Frank Boyett at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BoyettFrank.

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