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The Family Bus: 1924

September 2, 1924. Washington, D.C. "Auto house of Will A. Harris of Texas." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size. I just know there's someone out there who can tell us who these people are.

September 2, 1924. Washington, D.C. "Auto house of Will A. Harris of Texas." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size. I just know there's someone out there who can tell us who these people are.


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Loreta's current status?

I searched the Social Security Death Index and there are no hits for "Loreta Harris." Under "Loretta Harris," the only person who could have been the right age was born and died in Ohio; not consistent with a traveling family from Texas.

This leaves several possibilities:
1. Loreta died before it was common to have an SSN. They didn't exist until 1936.
2. Loreta never got an SSN. It sounds strange, but during my EMT training in 2006 I ran a wealthy elderly patient who somehow still didn't have one.
3. Loreta is alive and well at the ripe old age of 93, still traveling the United States with her 5th pet armadillo. This one's my favorite possibility.
4. There's information on her but I'm missing it. User error. My least favorite possibility.

[You're missing the most obvious possibility -- Loreta got married and has a different last name. You would need to know her married name to look her up in the SSDI. - Dave]

See the USA...

... in your Chevrolet. Surprised no one's commented before.

Steve Miller
Someplace near the crossroads of America

Loreta Harris

If still alive, Loreta would be 93. I wonder what kind of stories she told her grandchildren about the days when she, her mother, father and pet armadillo took to the road. I love these photographs. Shorpy has won another dedicated follower.

First Motor Home

I am sure driving it is just like driving a large pinto. I can't imagine having a "pet armadillo".


the early years.

Ever hear of Beaverboard?

When I was a kid, many people used a product called beaverboard to build temporary structures, partitions, etc. I believe it was made from wood pulp, as is paper, and this paper house reminds me of that light tan material. They certainly look like a very happy trio. My dad often sang a song he called "We don't have any money, but we have a lot of fun." This photo reminds me of that because they obviously followed that philosophy. I love this picture. Everyone's pride in Dad's handiwork is quite apparent. Thanks for the memories.

Unsafe at any speed?

I'm just trying to imagine driving that thing down the road with the very limited visibility it appears to have.


Every Modern Convenience

Washington Post, August 29, 1924

Mr. and Mrs. Will A. Harris Arrive Here from Matamoros, Mex.


In a paper house on wheels, Mr. and Mrs. Will A. Harris, their 9-year-old daughter, and a pet armadillo have traveled 4,000 miles.

They arrived in Washington last night. Nine weeks ago they started from Matamoros, Mexico, and since then have traveled through many States and have been in Canada.

Their house is made of highly compressed cardboard and is mounted on an automobile chassis. The entire length is 18 feet.

In this house there is every modern convenience. There are electric lights, a bath, a gas stove, sixteen windows, a clothes closet, couches, rugs and pictures, to say nothing of the armadillo's cage.

Mr. Harris and his family are from Texas and are teachers of hand writing in schools. They are on an educational tour and visit historic places.

Yesterday was a gala day in the paper house as the daughter, Loreta, was 9 years old.

The tourists will remain here some days and hope to see President Coolidge.


They are parked along the west side of the Arts and Industries building of the Smithsonian, a neat building. Just out of view on the left is the rear of the Smithsonian Castle, another neat building.

Great piece!

Do you reckon they hitched up the field gun when they went on trips? Love this site, by the way - discovered it 3 days ago and hardly left it since. Endlessly fascinating.

The Motorcycle Candidate

Perhaps this fellow, given the motor vehicle and political inclinations? (Although it looks like he never made it to the House --

Mr Harris is a member of the Presbyterian and his fraternal affiliations are with the Woodmen of the World, the Modern Woodmen, the Woodmen Circle and the Homesteaders. Politically Mr. Harris has been somewhat active and is one who may yet reckoned with by opposing forces in the field of politics if the signs of the times are Being read aright. In 1912 he was a candidate for the nomination for the office of Congressman-at-large from Texas, and the Fort Worth Record under date of November 1913 had to say of him the following: "Will A. Harris, head banker of the Woodmen of the World for the jurisdiction of Texas and editor of the Woodmen Journal, attended the Saddle and Sirloin Club banquet to visiting newspaper men. Mr. Harris made a race for Congressman-at-large in 1912, becoming known as the 'motorcycle candidate' because he used one of the in going about the country campaigning for votes. He was born on a farm and hustled his way to the editorship of the Journal. He may become a 'motorcycle candidate' again next year."

A History of Texas and Texans. By Francis White Johnson, Frank W Johnson, Eugene Campbell Barker, Ernest William Winkler

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