The Devil Wagon in God's Country: The Automobile and Social Change in Rural America, 1893-1929

By Michael L. Berger | Go to book overview

work himself, the large number and wide distribution of the service stations, all would tend to that conclusion." 131

Homer Croy's physical description in R.F.D. No. 3 of a well- used Model T, though fictional, provides a fine concluding picture for this section:

Among the automobiles which had come to town this morning was one belonging to the Decker family, living six miles west of Junction City. It was a Ford, one that had been banged about a great deal and which was used for both pleasure and profit. It never made a trip to Junction City without bringing something in addition to passengers -- chickens, plows, machinery parts, milk cans, vegetables; on returning it carried out to the farm nail-kegs, gasoline, wire-stretchers, harness, shorts, bran, stock feed. There was no carpet on the floor; one of the fenders was held in place by a rusted wire, and a crack in the windshield had a piece of yellow paper pasted over it. 132

This was a far cry from Curly's "surrey with the fringe on top," yet Ford was destined to sell over 15,000,000 Model T's. Although its popularity waned in the late twenties, the flivver, more than any other car, personified the acceptance of the automobile by rural America.


CONCLUSION

The eagerness with which rural Americans acquired motor cars, especially after World War I, is dramatically revealed by the statistics available. In 1911, it was estimated that 85,000 automobiles were used on farms in the United States. 133 By 1920, this number had risen to 2,146,512, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. 134 Finally, figures released by the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce in 1930 showed 9,724,950 passenger cars on farms and in towns of under 1,000 residents. This represented 42 percent of the total passenger automobile registration for that year. If one adds the cars in towns of 1,000 to 2,500, the totals become 10,994,325 and 47.6

-51-

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The Devil Wagon in God's Country: The Automobile and Social Change in Rural America, 1893-1929
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • I the Coming of the Automobile 13
  • Conclusion 51
  • Ii. the Farm Family 55
  • Conclusion 73
  • Iii. the Rural Community 77
  • Conclusion 98
  • Iv. Leisure 103
  • Conclusion 124
  • V. Religion 127
  • Conclusion 143
  • Vi. Education 147
  • Conclusion 170
  • Vii. Health and the Environment 175
  • Conclusion 200
  • Viii. Conclusion 205
  • Notes 215
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 263
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