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Popemobile: 1905

Popemobile: 1905

Washington, D.C., circa 1905. "Women in Pope-Waverley electric runabout." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Another Interpretation

I don't think that girl is overweight. I think she's just ham-faced.

She'd make a wonderful talking head on any of the cable news networks.

That Poor Kid

She could be a poster child for our times. But look at how amazing their clothing appears! Someone spent a ton of time ironing those creases perfectly. Now that's a lost art.


Since no one else is, I'll come to the defense of the child. I find the snarky comments about her size every bit as offensive as the ones about the Cornetts. Apparently it's OK to ridicule overweight people, but not the poor, rural ones. Shame.

Getaway Car

I didn't know bank robbers used stocking masks that long ago!

O. M. G.

And they say that the kids of today are a little "plump"! I bet she was a bully too.

Jackie McHusky

Women indeed! The one on the left is still shaking down the other kids for their lunch money.

Ray Bradbury's Green Machine

Like a scene from "Dandelion Wine."

Fender Facts

Common at the time, this vehicle has patent leather fenders - 2 layers of leather sewn over a wire frame. The stitching is what looks like pinstriping.

Multi-Valves ?

What is this valve-like thing? 4 on each front wheel. None in back.

[They're tire clamps -- retainers that hold the tire to the wheel. - Dave]

Pope-Waverly Stanhope

There appears to be some confusion in the historical record on the proper spelling of Waverly. Waverley? This post also taught me new auto terminology: Stanhope.

Washington Post, Jul 10, 1904

We have just received a carload of Pope-Waverly Electric Automobiles including: Stanhopes, Physicians' Road Wagons, Road Wagons, and last season's Model Waverly Road Wagon.

Immediate Delivery of: Pope-Hartford, Pope-Tribune, Pope-Toledo, and Cadillac Model B Automobiles.

Pope Manufacturing Co., Washington Branch, 817-819 14th St.

Washington Post, Sep 25, 1904

Pope Automobile: Pope-Waverly Station Wagon.

This Electric Wagon is admirably adapted for shopping, calling, station, and family use. It is elegantly upholstered and as easy to operate as an electric runabout - $2,000.

Pope Manufacturing Co., Washington Branch, 817-819 Fourteenth St.

Near Pennsylvania Ave

The scene appears to have been photographed on E Street NW near the northwest corner of 15th and E. The Willard Hotel is in the background as are the smaller buildings that used to be where Pershing Park is now located.

Driving companion

If that little girl was in the movies she would be cast as the insufferable rich girl who is mean to poor Shirley Temple until she finally gets her comeuppance in the end. I would say "just deserts" but it looks like she's already had them.

Clincher tires

Note the writing on the front rubber: "Goodrich Clincher Vehicle Tire." These were held to the rim with four "clinchers." One problem with these skinny tires is that if the air pressure drops under 60 psi or so, the rim can start spinning inside the tire, ripping the valve off.

Probably one of the reasons the back tires are solid rubber.

No windshield required

That netting keeps the bugs out of your teeth, dontcha know.

The Willard

Looks like the newly built Willard Hotel (completed 1904) in the background. I guess this photo was taken as our motorists were driving on the Mall.

Zoom-zoom with 3 hp

The 1905 Pope-Waverley two-passenger runabout sold for $1,100. A single electric motor at the rear produced 3 hp. The car used 30 batteries.

Interesting driving companion

That kid looks like a cross between Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum in Alice & Wonderland. Is that a flying saucer on her head? And check out the driver's netting! Her head is practically shrink-wrapped. Most of all I covet her gorgeous leather gloves. The car, at warp speed of about 15 mph, I'll bet that was quite a thrill.

Who killed the electric car?

The first time around, it might have been Charles Kettering. Well-to-do women favored electric cars because they didn't require a crank start, as did internal-combustion engines of the day. Cranking could require quite a bit of upper body strength, and occasionally the engine would backfire and the crank would hit you in the head. A few people were killed this way.

Most society ladies never had a need to drive very far, so battery range was not an issue.

The first electric starter was designed by Kettering for the 1912 Cadillac. By 1930 it had become universal, and electric cars faded away.

[Another reason ladies liked electrics was no shifting, no clutch. - Dave]

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