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Glass Wrangler: 1920

Glass Wrangler: 1920

    Young Tom started out in Nails & Tacks and worked his way up.

San Francisco ca. 1920s. "Young man on Harley-Davidson motorcycle -- California State Automobile Association 'Broken Glass Department' patrol." 6.5x8.5 glass negative originally from the Wyland Stanley collection. View full size.


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Mr. Cool

For his birthday he got some goggles and big leather gauntlets, and learned to wear his hat backwards.

Safety Glass

Even though most cars were still open at this time, a few had glass at least in the front and rear, but in almost all cases it was not safety glass, although the principle of making it had been discovered by accident in 1903 involving cellulose nitrate in a broken beaker. One can only imagine the horrible injuries that flying shards of glass could cause in those years. It wasn't until the late 30's that safety glass became pretty much standard all the way around.


I know this will not be posted, but all cars in 1925 had windows, They, at the least, had a windshield. Coupes and sedans were very popular and they had a full complement of windows.

[The majority of motor vehicles in the early 1920s were open cars without glass side windows. - Dave]

Multiple Choice Answer "B"

From the history section of the California AAA website:

1924 - California State Automobile Association

"Emergency Road Service is launched, and receives 429 calls for assistance in the first month of operation. In San Francisco, CSAA deploys a fleet of Harley Davidson motorcycles to assist motorists and sweep broken glass from the streets after accidents."

[The Harley glass patrol seems to date back at least to 1920, as per this interesting article in the January 1921 issue of Motor Land. - Dave]

Broken Glass Department

The other possibility is that he replaces broken windows. I thought replacing your broken car window in the parking lot was a relatively recent thing. Maybe not?

[Most cars at the time didn't have windows. -Dave]


This appears to be 1628 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, headquarters of the CSAA from 1920 to late 1925. Here's a photo taken in the summer of 1920, showing a Locomobile on the same sidewalk.

It Could Be a Good Multiple Choice Question

Does this mean that:

A. He goes around breaking windshields;
B. He cleans up broken windshields;
C. He finds windshields that need replacing;
D. All of the above; or
E. None of the above?

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