April 14, 2024

Pop and His Automobiles

Among the items given to us by the family of the late Ann Lang was a booklet containing anecdotes compiled by various family members in 1995.  In one of the articles, Ann writes about her father, Elmer (Dewey) Steinle, who owned Lion Clothing for many years.


Pop and His Automobiles


“Grosspapa Steinle had a successful brewery in Delphos and about 1905 he purchased an automobile.  He decided he was too old to learn to drive (approaching 60), so he sent his son, Elmer, to learn to drive and thereafter to chauffeur the family.  Pop always said he was twelve when he started to drive.  This incident led to a life-long love affair with the automobile.


“The first car I remember was a Nash Touring car.  It had no window glass in the doors.  When rain threatened, Pop had to put on “side curtains” made of isinglass on the front and back doors so we wouldn’t get wet.  One day we were coming from Lima and Pop had to get out and put the curtains on when we reached the Walnut Grove Cemetery.  It was raining pretty hard then but he thought he could beat the rain home.  Mom, of course, had been telling him so for quite a few miles!


“In 1927 we got a Studebaker sedan.  It had windows and even two bud vases in the back seat.  Julie and I went on vacation with Mom and Pop in this car.  Jim was too young and stayed home with someone???  We spent most of this vacation in Canada.  We came back across the border on a Sunday morning.  There was a very long line of cars because U.S. Customs was searching every car and apparently every adult for smuggled whiskey, beer or wine.  There was a small Catholic Church nearby and Mom went to church.  After church she threw the bottle of booze she was supposed to smuggle in a river.  Personally, I think she made a wise choice.


“In 1931, Pop purchased a second-hand Graham Paige—similar to a Cadillac.   It had very low mileage and he got a very good buy on it because a man in Toledo had committed suicide in it.   No one in our family seemed to be bothered by this.  Mom never learned to drive and the “hired girl” drove Mom on errands.  I remember Lucille Kuhlman would take Mom and Notre Dame sisters to Lima.


“A 1935 and 1936 Oldsmobile were the cars I learned to drive.  My age group was the first to take tests to receive a driver’s license.  A 1938 Buick was the next car and it had to last through WW II.  Pop and Jim and Margie were rear-ended at a construction site in Indiana going out West on vacation.  The car burned up – luckily they got out of the car in time!!!


“Jim Lang found a 1947 Chrysler in Detroit.  Pop never liked that car and in a few years he was back with Buicks.  A very sad day in Pop’s life was when he had to give up driving.  He was a very good driver—never had a serious accident.  I wonder how many miles he drove?

“I want to mention Pop’s most daring auto trip.  He and his friend Carl Lange  left Delphos in 1914 to tour the West.  They were also testing tires for a tire company and they sold gold monograms (initials) to new car owners.  I think out West the customers were few and far between.  Anyway, after about six months and thousands of miles, Pop said they ran out of money in Ogden, Utah, sold the car and came home by train.”  

First person stories can really make history come alive.  The museum is very thankful for this and for all the other memoirs in our collection.  Do you have one you would like to share?  Or perhaps this can be the incentive to get your family memories on paper.


The Canal Museum is undergoing 1st floor renovations, but remains open.  Visit us on Thursday mornings from 9 to noon or on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 1 to 3.


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  1. David Robin says

    My family and I just recently bought and moved into the old Steinle house. Any information I can get about the history of the house would be great

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