Days of Yore
 
as recounted by

Bill Day

 

 

A Stanley Steamer
Before World War I, in the era of 1917, a group of Haddonfield men maintained a small tin covered wooden shack on the back trail midway between Atsion and Batsto.  It was their lodge during every deer season, and the place for an occasional sojourn during the year.

Automobiles were a rarity yet at that time, but one member of the group, Russ Wilson, owned a topless touring car that ran without using gasoline.  It was a Stanley Steamer.

On any late Saturday afternoon after work, Russ could be seen down at his residence on Lake Street, in Haddonfield spending an hour or more filling his vehicle with water and heating it up by skillfully manipulating the many little wheels on the dashboard.  When everything checked out, the waiting passengers would pile into the monster to travel the thirty-five miles to the woods.

It was a common sight on a late Sunday afternoon or early evening to see that Steamer coming back down Lake Street with a tired, disgusted bunch of men.  The car had always run smoothly, but its tires were always a different story, for always there had been three or four flat tires on the trip.  One evening, the trip was completed with two tires filled with rags to keep them off the rims of the wheels because patches and cement had become exhausted.  After it had outlived its usefulness, this vehicle stood in the back yard of a residence on Hopkins Avenue and the kids in the neighborhood had a playtoy twisting the many dials and taking many an imaginative trip. Finally it went off to a junkyard.

What a treasure that Stanley Steamer would be today if it were still in existence.


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