1919 Special Monthy Meeting By: Bernie Cooney

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RRR looks back to 1919

 

On Thursday, July 21, 2016 our members who regularly attend our meetings were in for a treat. Longtime members, Bernie Cooney and Jay Raskin teamed up to present a long ago chapter of our nation’s history.

 

At the end of World War I (the war to end all wars) war weary soldiers returned home. Fighting in trenches for several years was certainly no picnic.  In spite all the evils of warfare, there are often technical advances.  It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention.  Safely home in 1919 Secretary of war Baker organized convoy for the newly developed Army Truck Corps.  The days of the Calvary were numbered.  The military version of Old Dobbin, would reside with its civilian counterpart.  Trucks from manufacturers like Mack, Packard and FWD were hauling the Army and its equipment.  The problem was that America’s good roads movement hadn’t kept pace with the Army’s technology.

This 5,000+ mile trek took two months. It would have taken much longer if a Maxwell Crawler Tractor (dubbed “The Militor”) had not been included in the equipment used.  Passenber cars included (of course!) Cadillac Dodge and Packard.

It should be noted that one of the observers (signed on at the last minute) was then Lt. Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ike wrote extensively about his adventures  with the convoy.  It should be noted that the 1919 Convoy provided the impetuous for the Eisenhower Interstate Road System.

Fortunately the entire ordeal was photographed by the Army Signal Corps. We obtained three 8 mm  films, eight minutes apiece to show to our history loving audience.  After nearly 100 years much of the film has degraded almost beyond viewing.  But enough remains to appreciate the trials and tribulations of the then modern Army.  Sources such as the Lincoln Highway Association and Dwight Eisenhower’s library provided invaluable  information for this project.  It should be mentioned that the technical resources of Jay Raskin made an interesting story even more entertaining.

The following RRR members enjoyed their travel back in history: Jules Baron, Ken Clayton, Bob Rankin, Dan Espy, Bob Losco, Ted Mandalakis, Isabelle Lehnhoff, Andrew Monahan, George Maslow, Jay Raskin Doug Lansing, Bernie Cooney.  Special thanks to Andrew Monahan and George Maslow for photos.  A special visitor was in the audience:  John Halanan, Director of the New Jersey Chapter of the modern Lincoln Highway Association.

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