Greeley Daily Tribune from Greeley, Colorado on May 26, 1977 · Page 58
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Greeley Daily Tribune from Greeley, Colorado · Page 58

Greeley, Colorado
Issue Date:
Thursday, May 26, 1977
Page 58
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Thun.., May 26, 1V77 CREELEY (Colo.) TH1BUNE A-3 A 75-year love affair with auto Greeley residents, as did most Americans, fell in love with the automobile and that affair has carried into the present day. The only problem with such a love affair is that as soon as a driver lays eyes on a fancier model the old one is cast aside and quickly forgotten. At first the little gasoline- driven vehicle looked very much like a buggy with the shafts cut off and a bar placed in front to steer the front wheels. Many had engines placed below the footboards crosswise to the direction of travel. They were cranked from the side. Many problems accompanied the first autos on the streets of Greeley and the roads of Weld County. Not the least of which were the many horses which, when seeing their first horseless vehicle, bolted and ran. Buggies would upset, .spilling the occupants, often breaking legs or arms. Of course, broken arms were common among drivers of autos, also. One of the early signs of an automobile owner, aside from his oilcloth hat, silk scarf and leather windbreaker, was a cast on his right arm, the result of attempting to crank a balking engine which often "kicked back" to snap an arm. The first mention of an automobile on the streets of Greeley appeared in the May 22,1902, edition of the Tribune. It simply said, "A gasoline automobile was the attraction on Greeley's streets yesterday afternoon." The following month, the Tribune reported in rapid succession: "E. W. Lantry. Olds agent, has sold a couple to a pair of Fort Collins medics." "Robert L. Clayton was one of an automobile party with friends to Denver. He returned that night." "Dr. A. E. Weaver and H.F. Hurlbutt, going to Fort Collins, caused a runaway near Windsor." "One of the features of the Greeley Fire Department's Fourth of July procession will be a parade of home autos in the lead." On June 26, 1902, an article read, "The Van Sickle Bros, have added a Friedman auto to their livery stock. It is a compound cylinder affair, ten horse power, and can run at a high speed on good roads. It has a coupling bar at the end to which can be attached another vehicle and Will says if the livery business is dull in the fall they will contract to haul wagons loaded with potatoes or beets to warehouses in Greeley. The chief reason for getting the auto is to accommodate traveling men who wish to visit towns in the vicinity of Greeley and arc anxious to do that work expeditiously." And on July 31, 1902, the Tribune said, "Peace and quietness once more reign. Van Sickle Bros, traded their threshing machine for a less noisy auto -- a Darling guaranteed to go 18 miles an hour." The novelty of naming new owners apparently wore off soon, because there was -little mention of auto transactions again until July 15, 1905, when the Weld County Republican noted that Charles Norris of Pleasant Valley became the first farmer in the area to buy an auto. Apparently his was delivered first to give him that distinction, because the week before it had noted that 12 farmers had ordered new cars. In the same edition was the fact that Dr. Pogue and H. F. Hurlbutt had bought new machines. Buying and learning to drive the new contraptions were recalled by many early drivers in Greeley when the Tribune ran a series of articles in August, 1934. Among the persons who told their story about their first autos was Dr. R. F. Graham, who after 30 years admitted re- About the cover The Stanley Steamer was the class of its time and a familiar vehicle in Estes Park in the early 1900s. Only a very few still exist in running order. One is at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. A few years ago one Stanley Steamer was driven from coast to coast by a pair of old car buffs. Good care of vehicles extend the life of them. (Tribune photo by Paul Moloney) that his first attempt at driving. resulted in a permanent dent in the front of his new Cadillac, put there when he accidentally struck a load of hay near Platteville on his way to Greeley from Denver. Another story, related by George Van Sickle, concerned Fred James a resident' of Kersey who had moved to Wyoming by 1934. He said James was one of the first Cadillac owners in the county. After spending a short time in the garage getting acquainted with the vehicle, he headed for Kersey. Within a few minutes he was back, and Van Sickle saw him coming. He stepped outside in time for James to drive by and shout, "Howinhell do you stop this thing?" James had driven home, but found he had not taken time to ask how to stop. He then circled around and came back to complete his driving lesson. Eugene Williams who served for many years as police chief of Greeley, bought a used Cadillac from Van Sickles about 1907. He drove the car for about four years on official business including many trips around the country inspecting livestock. Then'he sold it to Ed Langtry who put on a special body to use it as a laundry delivery wagon. Gene Veldran later bought the vehicle and continued to use it in the laundry business. Williams admitted that as much as he loved his Cadillac there were things it could not do. One day a driver came through town in a large touring car a bit over the speed limit. Williams hopped into his Cadillac and gave chase. "By the time I got to the top of the hill," he said, "he must have been in La Salle." Top speed was 23 miles per hour. Mrs. Williams also learned to drive the little Cadillac and was among the first women to drive in Greeley. Continued on page 6 Vintage fire truck Five unidentified Greeley firemen pose beside their 1902 fire truck in this photo taken in 1910. The photo was apparently taken outside the old Greeley fire station, on the corner of 9th Avenue and 7th Street, in the same block as the present Municipal Complex and fire station No. 1 is how located. The fire engine is one of the first trucks In Greeley with an engine. (Photo courtesy of Municipal MuMum) Insurance changes over years For nearly as long as autos have been part of the Weld County scene, car accidents have been a relatively common occurence. And, for nearly as long as county residents have found themselves involved in auto mishaps, they've been insuring themselves against loss suffered in car accidents. While auto insurance has been a common purchase since the early 1920s, few policyholders today would recognize those policies from the early days of the automotive era. Dean Royer of the D.C. Royer Agency in Greeley notes, for example, that his firm wrote its first auto insurance policy in 1921. (That was a year before George Mecherle founded the State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. in Bloomington, 111.) Those early policies written by the Royer Agency are far different from the insurance purchased by car owners'today. For one thing, the coverage was-much less. Most of those early liability policies, Royer says, offered coverage of $5,000 for one person, $10,000 for one accident and $1,000 for property damage. By contrast, the minimum insurance a driver can presently carry under state law calls for coverage of $15,000 for one person, $30,000 for one accident and $5,000 for property damage. And, Royer says, many of those policies carried a $25 deductible clause. "You can't buy that any more," he says. Then, too, there's the matter . of price. As late as 1942, Royer remembers writing a standard insurance policy that cost a driver an $8 premium annually. "The repair costs were one- tenth of what they are now," Royer says in explaining today's higher rates. "Years ago, we could buy hubcaps for 35 cents." Royer says he believes claim service, too, was better in the early days of car insurance. "It was a lot better. They didn't have so many claims and they could take care of them a lot quicker," he says. State law didn't require motorists to carry insurance in those early days. "It was just a voluntary thing if a guy wanted to protect himself," says Royer. "Auto insurance became a pretty popular item in the early 1930s." Still, there were large numbers of firms writing auto insurance policies, but most were writing combination policies with other companies. Royer explains that state insurance regulations wouldn't allow insurance companies to write policies covering both physical damage and casualties, so fire insurance companies would join with casualty insurance firms to write the policies. While the various types of auto insurance and the prices of insurance have changed through the years, so has the role played by the agent. Royer says, "In the 1920s, if you wrote $10,000 or S20,000 in premiums annually, you wrote a lot. Today, you write almost that much a day."

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