Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society: My kingdom for a car

Vic Anderson and his wife Annie in their Ford on Pequot Lakes' Main Street in the 1910's. Vic had a blacksmith shop located where the Post Office is today.

A strong case can be made around the contention that human beings and the internal combustion engine were co-dependent from the beginning. Joined at the hip, to coin a mixed-up metaphor; one of those inevitable collaborations that pivot a civilization on its heels, without brakes or a turn signal.

Growing up in the early years of the 20 th Century put a boy smack in the middle of that action, and what a delight it was! The fact that any given car would work at any given moment was the constant miracle, and the problems that kept the motor from running were constant, but trivial, irritations for a boy to overcome.

The late Les Tweed remembered those times in these words:

“Our transportation was a four-door Model ‘T’ Ford, complete with an oval rear window. My memories are quite vivid of all the 'Don’t ever do this!' or 'Don’t touch that!' Most important was, 'Don’t ever take the rock or block of wood from in front of the rear wheel!'

This served as the parking brake. Coasting downhill from the house to the barn started the motor and thus there was no need to crank.


“The Model ‘T’ had three pedals: Low, Reverse and Brake, in that order from the left door side. Usually the Reverse pedal was used as a combination brake and reverse, if the brake band was worn out. Now there was no brakes on each wheel as later models came out with; a mechanical brake on just the rear wheels and later on all four wheels. This was a big selling point for the car salesmen, who in those times actually came off the car lots to your farm or house to sell a vehicle.

“Roofs of all cars were cloth fabric and needed a lot of maintenance. A roofing coat was painted on to repel water and weather. Most radiator caps had a visual thermometer to show radiator temperature. A gas gauge was standard equipment on the later, more expensive models. The Model ‘T’ owner usually carried a cut-off yardstick and knew from experience the number of gallons per inch.

“Antifreeze was not the permanent glycobase, it was mostly alcohol based and it boiled out very easily at low temperatures. A container with proper ingredients was kept for on-the-road problems. Car heaters were not too reliable. Usually a hot manifold heater was used, providing it wasn’t cracked and cause carbon monoxide problems in the car. All lighting for headlights was powered by a generator, belt driven from the engine. High RPM: bright lights. Low RPM: dim lights.”

This discription was taken from Tweed’s booklet, “Boyhood Memories of Pequot Lakes.” Tweed lived, worked and raised his family in Pequot Lakes and is fondly remembered by many. The Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society owes him a great deal for the planning and work he put into organizing the society and building the museum in the Cole Memorial Building.

His booklet is available for purchase from the Pequot Lakes Public Library and the Timeless Appeal shop, both located on Rasmussen Road in downtown Pequot Lakes.

Karen Bye is president of the Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society.

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