Sunday, June 30, 2013

More From LIFE Photographer, Myron Davis

Its the summer of 1945 and Willys-Overland is busy plugging away at selling and marketing the brand new CJ2-A, a vehicle that they have banked their future on practically since they were awarded the contract for the military MB. Just over 1,800 of the CJs were produced that first year that the jeep was sold to everyone from farmers to bankers for a work tool, a runabout, a grocery getter, a business vehicle. And somewhere in all of this the LIFE staff photographer Myron Davis who had photographed troop trains and their load of jeeps to just three years earlier than these 1945 dated photos the June 1942 testing/ training of troops and generals in early slat grills and GPs. I’m not sure how Davis figured into this, whether it was work that he did for LIFE or if whether he was perhaps under contract from Willys-Overland to take these shots as many of the ones that I’ve found pop up later on as press release photos.
I’ve found these first six as a part of the online Google Cultural Institute, an online collection of “exhibitions and collections from museums and archives all around the world.” As it turns out its a source of many, many early jeep gems and photographical reference materials (such as the side to side overhead comparison that aren’t found online in Google’s normal LIFE magazine collection. Only trouble is is that they are a bit of a hassle to “collect” from the online source and so I have download them a piece of the photo at a time and then stitch everything together in Photoshop, but they’ve been worth it for filling in some of the gaps in the early photographic record of the jeep.
As great as they are they’re incomplete as far as info goes on them filling in only the barest details as the photographer and year and month taken. No word on location as I wonder about the going to Sunday church series of photos that Davis took of the five member family in the summer of 1945. Its also a bit contradictory  as far as exact date with another single photo of the family found in Google’s normal online collection. I haven’t found any info on who these people may have been. Anyone have any info? Email if you do. I’d love to piece more of the story together, find out what they thought of the jeep. Being dated July 1945 I love seeing the details of the VEC (very early civilian) such as tool indents, a vestigial tail of its MB progenitor and the column mounted T-90 shifter.

The other photos mainly deal with a technical side, front and rear detailing of the MB, but I wonder if they could be considered CJ-1s, the early slightly modified MBs that led up to the development of the CJ-2 Agrijeeps? What was the purpose of the photo shoot and why the name JEEP stenciled on the hood if it wasn’t an early test of an MB/CJ-1? I’d guess that the dates are not 100% accurate.

I plan on having a bunch more of these and quite a few more from Myron Davis, whose work I admire. As well, I came across another project of Davis’, the aforementioned generals playing around in a ‘handling course’ drive through the mud of Fort Holabird in February 1942. I had filed them away and forgotten to post them. I’m on an impromptu holiday next week so I’ll try to correct them and get them posted tomorrow or Tuesday. Check out the Ford GP and the Willys slat grill!

I’ll also try to get back to the Industrial Equipment binder next week, just needed a break from the scanning this week and I was excited about putting these six shots together (quite actually putting them ‘together’!). I’ll hopefully also be getting a start on touching up and refurbing one of the last sections of the site that needs to be updated, the LIFE Archive. Come back next week and there will be lots more!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Willys-Overland Industrial Equipment Book, Part Six- Snow Plows

Two days after the summer solstice, the first official day of summer, I thought that it was pretty funny that the section of the 1952 Willys-Overland Industrial Equipment binder that I come to next was the snow plow section. On a steamy hot early summer day, I bring to you the memories of that far away time of winter and snowstorms. Of the many jobs that the jeep was suited to do, perhaps one of the best it was suited to was as a four wheel drive snow plow. Though as many of us can attest to, the relative light weight of the jeep makes for a very jarring plowing experience, though there is something very liberating about slamming into and moving a  big pile of snow!
From the beginning of the 19th century horse drawn plows to the eventual complete mechanization of snow removal the emphasis was on getting it done faster and more efficiently. This culminated in larger and larger snow removal devices, particularly by the time that the roads were becoming more and more filled with vehicular traffic by the 1920’s. It needed to be done at a faster pace. With the growing urbanization as well as the later suburbanization the call for private lots like shopping centers to be cleared of a winter’s storm grew. This led also to the sale of smaller units such as the jeeps of the 1950’s utilized. I don’t know how many snow plow companies have existed that marketed themselves to the smaller four by fours like the jeep, but three are represented in the 1952 binder, K and K of Denver, Colorado which boasted the ‘Minute Snow Blade’ capable of being removed in one minute, Scheneker Iron Works Inc. of Buffalo, NY (of which both cities are notorious for their snow fall...) and the only one remaining in business, Meyer of Cleveland, Ohio.
Meyer may have had a foot up on the other two companies as they are well represented in early jeep advertising and were a local to Toledo company. The Meyer’s insert shows not only testing by an early civilian CJ-2 Agrijeep but an MB and a pre-production Willys MA model! Pretty neat details!
I tried looking the two companies who are no longer out there up to see what I could find. Of K & K I could find nothing immediately. The address Google Maps lists 1134 Broadway in Denver is shown as some sort of remote ‘City Hall’ location, but at least it may still be the original building?
Sadly the location of Scheneker Iron Works in Buffalo has gone the way of many an upstate New York business- abandoned and/or torn down. The 350 Sycamore Street location in Buffalo shows an empty and depressing lot. I couldn’t find much about them online either except for a mention by someone online looking for more info on a Scheneker plow setup they bought... ten years ago, a century ago in the world wide web . Come back next week for the next installment of the Equipment binder and check out what is in the album here
In need of an all-jeep forum in your life where all of the members are friendly? Want to meet other jeep lovers who get excited about an old jeep? Curious about a new project? Have a tech question? Want to meet someone just like yourself? Then check us out!
In need of an all-jeep forum in your life where all of the members are friendly? Want to meet other jeep lovers who get excited about an old jeep? Curious about a new project? Have a tech question? Want to meet someone just like yourself? Then check us out!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all of my fellow fathers out there. I had planned upon more of the Industrial Equipment binder but ran short on time today and well, time waits for no man, father or not. I was thinking about using this photo in next year’s calendar. But this was such a perfect photo in honor of Father’s Day that I needed to use it. Taken nearly 60 years ago during the week of July 18, 1955 its a touching photo, I think. The man’s name is Cam McKenzie and I believe it was taken in Idaho. I had a nice conversation with the seller and he had this to say: 
“Sometimes you just know when you're doing the right thing and I'm very happy the photo has found a good home. The man in the photo is Cam McKenzie. He worked with my father in Cuba when my dad was a geologist locating spots for oil rigs. Mr. McKenzie moved to Idaho and that is, I'm assuming, where he got the Jeep. His son's name is Rory. I don't recall the woman's name. I only met them once when I was six or seven and we were driving through Idaho on a family vacation. Sorry, but that is all I can remember about them. Thanks again for keeping the past alive.
I always love it when a good story comes along with the photo. This is part of the reason why I began If by some stroke of luck you happen to know anything further about Mr. McKenzie make sure  to contact me @ I’ve been thinking lately about the stories that I’ve accumulated here and the stories that I am still looking for. I’ll have an update regarding them soon. Until then, enjoy your Father’s Day!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Willys-Overland Industrial Equipment Book, Part Five- Equipment

I’m just going to cover the beginning of the next section of the 1952 Willys-Overland Industrial Equipment Binder today, Equipment. It pretty well covers the gamut of add-ons that a customer could equip his jeep out with for the business and private world. From the very beginning, W-O knew that they were going to market the jeep (and all of their vehicles, but especially the CJ...) to as broad of a customer base as they could. It was what was needed to keep themselves afloat financially. It was ironic then that they didn’t and were sold to Kaiser the following year, but this binder is pretty good evidence of their sheer imagination and attempt to sell jeeps. I’m also fortunate enough that this one was used, but not abused. Plenty of hand- typed notes detail the costs and little stuff that a dealer could easily present to a potential customer. Plenty of things in here I’ve seen before listed in ads and various brochures such as the slightly later Kaiser Specialized Vehicles and Equipment brochure/ book, but there are also some nice surprises like the Eleco Lubritruck that transformed your 3A into a mobile delivery truck of oil for the big rigs, buses or dump trucks in your fleet and the Spen motion picture equipment and trailer that allowed you to become your own traveling PR fleet. And the Han-D-Crane, a sort of third wheel that you could town behind your jeep pickup and then use it to perform various high lifting operations on the job site.
Its all very cool to me and all right here or by clicking on the thumbnail at the top. Come back next week and I’ll get into the next section of the Equipment heading, plows and winches. Yep, alot more to enjoy there! In the meanwhile are you in need of an all-jeep forum in your life where all of the members are friendly? Want to meet other jeep lovers who get excited about an old jeep? Curious about a new project? Have a tech question? Want to meet someone just like yourself? Then check us out!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The 2013 Calendar- June

June 6, the 69th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy that set in motion acts of great and tremendous importance is still a few days away, but I wanted to post this today. The June 2013 page was chosen as it illustrates a common fact of that time, the role of the jeep against the devastation of the war. Of course, for all that the jeep was a tool of war, so too was it a too, of the rebuilding of the post-war world as well. And this page should remind everyone of the sacrifices in europe that took place June 6, 1944.
I was planning to present more pages from the Industrial Equipment binder today, but decided to keep it short today in anticipation of having Dave Eilers from at my house for lunch. He and his wife are in the midst of a cross country journey that culminates with a visit to the Bantam Jeep Festival in Butler, PA in a few short weeks.
Check out the 2013 calendar that is still available here with all new never before seen photos of the unstoppable jeep! Come back next week when I hope to have more of the Industrial Equipment binder!