A Few Words About That Taxi
After reading the article “A Few Words About This Picture” (by Bobby Lowich, Fall 1992), I am left to wonder if old photographs can be trusted. Experience, however, has taught me that they do tell the truth, and that problems arise from interpretation. This is an interesting article, but I think the photo needs further study.
The author asserts that the vehicle is “a [Model T] Ford from the radiator to the steering wheel.” This is simply not the case. There are no Model T parts visible at the front end or anywhere else on this fine-looking machine. The quirky characteristics of the Model T in both appearance and operation are not soon forgotten, and they are not found here.
Following are some of the obvious differences: The Ford was equipped with a single transverse mounted spring in the front and another in the rear; this vehicle has frame horns with fore-and-aft mounted semi-elliptic springs both front and rear. The wheels appear larger and stockier than the Ford’s, and have six mounting lugs instead of the Ford’s four. Missing from beneath the car is the distinctive shape of the Model T’s one-piece transmission housing and engine pan. And there is no mistaking a Model T’s steering wheel, whose spokes and hub protrude above the rim toward the driver. This is not one.
Aside from these points there is the intriguing question why anyone would cobble together a Ford taxi when just such a car was marketed by Ford. In 1918 it was sold for the amazingly low price of $595. That’s a fraction of the price quoted by the author for a pieced-together Ford taxi.
One final comment concerns the assumption that the tires were painted for the photo session. I think not. Tire casings have not always been black, and in the era of this taxi many were gray—including the tread. I am inclined to think that what we see in the photo is not a hasty paint job but dirt on light gray or white tires.
William E. Worthington, Jr.
National Museum of American History
A Few Words About That Taxi
Mr. Lowich’s article contains information about my grandfather. His name was John H. Ohmer, not Ohlmer. Also, the man under the hat in the cab’s rear side window was my uncle Col. Robert Hubler, not Charles Huber.
I certainly have enjoyed reading your publication.
Frederic L. Ohmer
The editors reply: The car in the photograph is in fact a Yellow Cab, built around 1915 by the W. W. Shaw Livery Company of Chicago. Invention & Technology regrets the lapses in our usually rigorous fact-checking system that permitted these errors to reach publication.
A Miner Matter
In the Summer 1992 issue the article “Safety First, at Last” (by Mary Blye Howe) caught my attention. The fullpage picture of an unidentified miner on page 55 is of my father, Merritt Bundy. The picture was taken around 1942 at the mine entrance on the family farm. He mined coal there for ten years, supplying coal to many area homes from 1936 to 1946. He is now ninety-two and still lives on the farm. Of course the mine heading was filled in years ago. I guess he has outlived his unsafe mining practices.