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Icecapade: 1921

January 1921. Washington, D.C. "Penrose car, accident." Beside Senator Boies Penrose's car, casualties here include a mailbox, emergency call box and a lamppost. The tree survives with a dented trunk. View full size.

January 1921. Washington, D.C. "Penrose car, accident." Beside Senator Boies Penrose's car, casualties here include a mailbox, emergency call box and a lamppost. The tree survives with a dented trunk. View full size.


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"Ugh, thanks God I am not some James Dean."

Not Necessarily Red

The circa 1920 Winton shown in the photograph is not necessarily painted red.

Page 209 of Bowden's book is mentioning events from 1913 or 1914. The car Senator Penrose purchased back then was red. This car, built around 1920, is not the same one as described in the book. Both cars are Winton Sixes.

Red Wreck

A red Winton Six for Fellow Oakie.


"I believe in the division of labor. You send us to Congress; we pass laws under which you make money...and out of your profits, you further contribute to our campaign funds to send us back again to pass more laws to enable you to make more money." -- Senator Boies Penrose (R-Pa.), 1896, citing the relationship between his politics and big business.

An honest politician!

Re: Sharp Ride

In 1923 when my mother was 3, she was in a car accident in the D.C. area that put her through the windshield. The left side of her face was cut from temple to lip. It must have been pretty bad because she said the hospital doctors weren't going to do any repairs. However one doctor took on the task and saved her life. This photo has answered questions I have had for so long.

Multiple dangers

It's not just the lack of seat belts and the non-safety glass (though those alone were good enough to kill). The steering column in those days was essentially a harpoon, and any head-on collision was likely to spear the driver.

Colorize this Winton Six, please!

Shorpyite stanton_square's post, with the embedded book preview on the life of Boies Penrose, details on page 209 that the color of Mr. Penrose's touring car was "screaming red" with a bright red leather upholstery.

Could someone please colorize this photo to show the bent automobile in all its red glory, and post it to Shorpy for all to see.

When I zoomed-in to the radiator emblem on the wrecked auto, it does seem to be a Winton Six medallion.

Attached below is a photo of a Winton Six radiator emblem that I found on the internet.

Sharp ride

I used to work in automotive and the last company that I worked for, before heading into my new field, was in automotive glass. Check out the windshield on this car. It was plate glass; no safety glass but just plain old window glass. Can you imagine what would happen to your face if you went through such an accident? Even in this photo, it looks as though the front glass just broke up on impact. Still very dangerous.

Winton Six

According to the following delightful story in Boies Penrose, Symbol of an Era, by Robert Douglas Bowden (1937), Penrose's auto was a Winton Six painted "screaming red." The senator's driver was one Walter Mancer.

Text messaging

Is it possible the Senator was text messaging with the window open that caused him to have the accident and while awaiting EMS caught pneumonia ?


Penrose's Wikipedia page has already been updated to add a link to this picture and note the possibility that the crash may have been related to his death the following year.

[The senator's death came from pneumonia after years of declining health. - Dave]

Accident Prone

Can't find any info on this specific crash but Penrose had a history of automotive mishaps.

Washington Post, Aug 22, 1917

Penrose in Peril When Auto Blazes

Senator and Friends Leap from Car to Escape Death.

Senator Boies Penrose returned to Washington from Philadelphia yesterday after a perilous experience near Baltimore, when the senator and two friends were compelled to leap from a blazing automobile.

The car is believed to have taken fire from a lighted cigar which had been tossed from a passing car and which lodged in the top, which was down. IN an instant the car was ablaze in the rear and directly over the gasoline tank.

The senator and his friends escaped injury owing to prompt action by the chauffeur, who brought into play and extinguisher and put out the blaze. The body of the car was badly scorched and the top entirely destroyed.

This is he second experience of this kind Senator Penrose has encountered within two years. In 1915, while motoring from Pittsburgh headed for Washington, his car caught fire near Greensburg, Pa. and became a total wreck, the senator and his party having a narrow escape from the flames.

A feature of the campaign of 1914 in Pennsylvania, when Senator Penrose was a candidate for reelection to the Senate, was his large red touring car, which became well known throughout the state, as it took him into nearly every country.

The senator is considered the most enthusiastic motorist in the Senate. In the last three years he has crossed Pennsylvania along the Lincoln highway and other routes from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and return more than 100 times.

Fatal crash?

I noticed that this crash was not listed on his Wikipedia entry, so I added it and cited this photo as a reference. I also noticed that he died in 1921. If this photo is circa 1920, perhaps this crash was fatal.

[This crash had nothing to do with his death, which came from pneumonia after a year or so of declining health. - Dave]


You can see, quite clearly, that car windshields did not have safety glass in those days. Was it the Senator's head that broke the windshield?

Early Excuse

I understand the USPS is still using this crash as an excuse for undelivered mail.

Got Mail?

That has to be the biggest mailbox in town. He must have been admiring it when he crashed into it

It's a wonderful life

George Bailey, you been drinking?

Time to upgrade.

If Senator Penrose insists on driving on the sidewalk, maybe he should look at the FWD from an earlier photo.

Man --

They sure don't make trees like they used to.

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