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Starke Wreck: 1940

Starke Wreck: 1940

December 1940. "Wrecked cars of Camp Blanding construction workers. Starke, Florida." Medium format acetate negative by Marion Post Wolcott. View full size.


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Sign of doom

I remember as a young kid going with my dad to an auto salvage yard to look for a part. I came upon an auto that had obviously been in a head on collision. As I looked around the interior I notice a crescent shape indentation on the metal dash. And then it hit me. It looked exactly like the outline of someone's teeth. From that point forward, seatbelts became my friend.

Clean slate

Judging by all of the sinks and bathtubs.

Massachusetts Drivers

Keeping junkyards busy since 1940.

TerryCarroll you're absolutely correct

Your posting is spot on. We should be thankful they "don't build them like they used to." My family was in a wreck in an old Buick in 1954, that but for the grace of God, none of us would be here. My father went through the windshield just before the steering column went through the back of his seat. Fortunately he left an opening in the window for my 2 year old brother to fly through. I was fortunate to have a 16 year old sister that held on to me at 3 months old, as the car tumbled and rolled several times down the road. My first cars were 1960's and early 70's vintage models. Every one of them had the master cylinder go out at least once, leaving me to drive down the road with no brakes.

And the Missing Tag

Quite a ways from 1940 Florida to 1950's Oakland, but Signal30 could still apply.

Never mind the cars

I'd like to get my hands on one of those bathtubs.


You beat me to it Hayslip!
1934 Hudson Terraplane Coupe
1937 Ford Deluxe Tudor Slant-back Sedan

Car ID

L-R: 1934 Terraplane (made by Hudson) and 1937 Ford.

"Blanding Worker Is Killed in Accident"

AP wire service item in the Tallahassee Democrat, 12-31-1940:


Automobile wrecks back then ... prior to the 1970s, actually ... were just horrible. Without seat belts, and certainly no air bags, and with a steel "dash board," a rigid steering column, non-collapsing body panels, etc., one simply went smack into the shattering-glass windshield (if one wasn't crushed under the crumpling roof, as starkly imagined in the car on the left). So much of what we take for granted (and are even broadly ignorant of), including sophisticated suspension, antilock brakes, radial tires, unibody construction, and myriad sensors and responding gizmos (see: broadly ignorant), were simply absent on those primitive beasts of the roadways (with horses being far more intelligent and responsive, half-a-lifetime earlier).

My late mother-in-law lost her beloved brother to such a horrible wreck in the same year as this photo. She was 5 and he was 10. He was the bright light of the family and already a gentle mentor to my young mother-in-law. She talked about him regularly, until her own death at 85. And from what I heard, that wreck was probably at 35 mph, when their uncle lost control on a winding country road and hit a tree.

(A certain golfer recently lost control and hit a tree, similarly, but at 50 mph faster than that earlier wreck. Looking at his vehicle pulled from the ravine, the damage seemed oddly mild, more like the car on the left than the one on the right.)

Speed Racer

“aw, I blew your doors off! See, one of them is leaning against the building!”

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