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A Good Turn: 1936

A Good Turn: 1936

Washington, D.C. -- "Safest driver of 1936, John W. Hunter." View full size.

Safest D.C. Autoist Is Chosen;
Drove 32 Years Without Crash

Washington Post, August 13, 1936

        Thirty-two years of automobile driving without an accident or a parking ticket yesterday brought its reward when John Hunter, a merchant living at 7336 Fourteenth street northwest, was selected as Washington's safest driver by a committee headed by Commissioner Melvin C. Hazen. The choice was made in the District Building at the request of the American Automobile Association, which will hold a traffic safety clinic in New York City on August 31. Hunter, who is 57, has estimated that he had driven 600,000 miles. He has never been arrested on a traffic charge or received a parking ticket.


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John Hillen Hunter

Everything I have found in the U.S. Census data shows his middle initial as "H" instead of "W" (1880, 1910, 1920, and 1930) as well as his WWI Draft Registration document which shows his middle name as "Hillen." He was born on June 9, 1879.

He married Francis "Fannie" Lacey Clarke on July 9, 1902 in Washington, D.C. and they had at least three children: Frances Louise, Gertrude I, and John H. Hunter, Jr. His parents were Thomas and Hannah Hunter and his siblings were Mary L., Thomas, and William P. Hunter.

His occupation is consistently shown as farm or agricultural supplies/implements from 1910 - 1930, so he may have added a hardware line or changed his line of business at some point.

He died in 1960 and was laid to rest at Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church Cemetery, Forest Glen, Maryland. His wife is buried in the same burial plot which is online here.

How did he do it?

Mr. Hunter attributed this outstanding achievement to the fact that cell phones had not yet been invented.


The changes he'd seen in the same time difference between 1982 and today! He began driving when cars were no more than veritable puddle-jumpers as compared to the sleek, modern chariot he sits in in 1936! He was so busy adjusting to the year by year changes and improvements in those early years he didn't have time to break the law, and he looks no worse for the wear.

My father's oldest brother saw an almost as impressive development as he was a Ford dealer from 1925 'till 1970--he experienced a year-by-year progression from the Model T to the LTD, then passed away in November of that year.

Silver Spring's John H. Hunter

John H. Hunter might have lived in DC but his business, Hunter Bros. Hardware, was located in downtown Silver Spring, MD at 8126 Georgia Avenue. This photo was taken in front of his store (structure still extant but probably not for long) with the buildings in the background being on the east side of the street (all of them having been demolished long ago).

The Car

1935 Ford Standard coupe.

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