Thursday, December 06, 2007

Autos on Campus Help Tell the WRA Story

A few years ago while looking through photos to put on the yearly WRA calendar, I saw many student and faculty photos with cars in the foreground or background, and I thought that it might make an interesting theme for the calendar. Others were not much taken with the idea, so I just filed it away. But having recently written an article where I used a photo of Headmaster Harlan N. Wood taken in 1929 at the spring relay race, the idea surfaced again. That photo shows Mr. Wood and a couple of runners in front of a pace car that could be a Packard or a Pierce-Arrow. It led me to chase down a few more photos of cars on campus.

I'm fairly certain that this photo of Howard R. Thompson, WRA Class of 1918, is the first one we have of a car on campus. Howard is seated on the hood of his car which sports an Ohio license plate for 1916, the year the school reopened. Howard lived in Aurora, so he must have needed his car to get to school. Another large car can be seen behind his.

A favorite classic photo shows seven students from the Classes of '34
and '35 pictured with five cars and two motorcycles. The photo was taken in June 1934 and the two men seated on the ground in front of one of the cars are Louis A. Tepper, the faculty member who ran the machine shop, and Headmaster Joel B. Hayden. A similar photo taken 34 years later in 1968 shows a group of six faculty-owned VW bugs with their owners.

Other faculty members were often identified with their well-traveled autos, including Mr. Shirley Culver's bulbous 1950 Mercury, Mark Worthen's 1948 Jeep Station Wagon with the wooden panel doors, and of course our own Headmaster Skip Flanagan's "HOO WAA" MG sports convertible which ended up as the centerpiece for a couple of senior putzes. But that would be yet another story we'll explore at a later time.