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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Battered Barouche: 1921

Battered Barouche: 1921

        Using the Internets and clues provided by the photo, you should be able to figure out who this is! It took me about 15 minutes. (SPOILER: The mustachioed gent is most likely W.V. Wolfe, proprietor of the Frederick & Washington Bus Line, advertised in the sign behind the car -- which was actually the bus.)

Washington, D.C., 1921. "Studebaker car." Surrounded by a number of colorful-looking characters. 8x6 glass negative, National Photo Co. View full size.

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Opposites attract

Early on the Wolfe Washington Bus charged a $2 fare and ran a route between the Francis Scott Key Hotel (originally the New City Hotel until it was torn down for the construction of the Key Hotel) in Frederick and the Raleigh in Washington. The bus left Frederick at 8 a.m. and for the return trip, left Washington at 4 p.m. If you wanted to book a seat from Washington you would call the switchboard of the Raleigh Hotel (Main 3810) and ask for the Taxi Desk. You would board across the street.

Take it to the next level

So we know who is depicted, but the where remains unstated.

It seems unlikely that the National Photo Co. photographer would bother going to Frederick, Md. or taking this photo even if he happened to be there. However, the backdrop is definitely not the Raleigh Hotel (the old one or its replacement).

There's no visible sign identifying the clothing store, and "Davis" at upper right apparently refers to some unspecified occupant of the building next door. The broad sidewalk suggests a major downtown DC thoroughfare -- Pennsylvania Ave., perhaps near the Raleigh?

What say you, fellow sleuths?

[The store is the James Y. Davis haberdashery at Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street, across from the Raleigh Hotel. -Dave]

Indeed it is. Here's a detail from this LOC photo showing the same "DAVIS" sign and the fan windows under the furled awning.

Sadly, the Davis Building (or parts of it, anyway) ended up being pasted onto the facade of the Pepco substation at 422 8th St. NW:

View Larger Map

7 Lugs

His Studebaker appears to be a 1917 Series 18 ED-6 7-passenger Limousine. There were two similar models: a Town Car with a totally open chauffeur compartment over which a removable cloth top could be placed, and a Limousine Brougham, which had landau irons and an opening roof over the rearmost portion of the passenger compartment. The Limousine originally cost $2,600, and stood over 7 feet tall.

There was a similar looking model in 1916, but the presence of seven wheel rim lug nuts was not used by Studebaker until the 1917 models. One reference indicates the limousine model continued into 1918, but I did not find any photos of a 1918 model.

William V. Wolfe, USA

Quite possibly our busman's father. From the May 9, 1881, Washington Post:

W.V. Wolf(e)

The sign behind the car is the main clue -- a search of the online newspaper archives for "Washington bus" in the year 1921 led me to the ad below (in which the "Wolfe" on the sign loses the E). The backward writing at the bottom of the photo is another clue.

Wild Guess

Fred K Fox?
He was a Studebaker historian, and the photo says it is Fred K.

Fred K.

Washington Bus Lines. I still don't have a clue who he is though.

Easy Peasy

It's either Wilford Brimley, or W.V. Wolfe of the Frederick and Washington Bus Line. Prediction: In 3 years he'll switch to Packards.

[Clapclapclap. We have a winner! - Dave]

It's a family tradition

In this photo, we see Fred Kramden, father of Ralph. In spite of his jolly persona in this photo, Mr. Kramden was said to, at times, appear almost morose.


Can't quite make out the words at the bottom while looking in the mirror.

Is it ...

Clement Studebaker? Or one of the Studebaker Brothers?

Bus lines

Frank Martz, by any chance?

State of the Art

Driven by a chauffer for hire, who is hoping to garner off-loading passengers from an incoming bus.

[You're missing the clue. And a U. - Dave]

A shady looking character

Is he a Politician?

Car may not have been too spiffy

But that man sure knew what a good shoeshine looked like.

Accordion gate

Is that some sort of gate attached to the side of the car? And if so, what was it used for? Looks like the kind we used to keep kids from falling down stairs.

[A common accessory in those days for carrying your stuff, usually luggage, on the running board, like this example here. -tterrace]

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