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home : spring valley tribune : historical view July 10, 2014

12/12/2012 11:06:00 AM
What a Christmas gift: A Grant Six Model G
Glimpses of Yesteryear
The Grant Six instruction book.
The Grant Six instruction book.
Commander Elmer Langworthy, a ‘hometown boy.’
Commander Elmer Langworthy, a ‘hometown boy.’
By Mary Jo Dathe

Wow, what a Christmas gift this would have been for a family in 1919: A Grant Six Model G! The photo shows what must have been an elegant "convertible" with its fold down top and spoked wheels. The Grant Motor Company located in Findley, Ohio, produced automobiles from 1913 to 1922. There were four and six cylinder models, and the 1916 six-cylinder five-passenger touring car sold for $795 in the United States, although they also exported cars to England.

The "Parts Price List and Instruction Book" at 40 cents, shown here, is part of the Spring Valley Historical Society collection from an unknown donor, on display in the lower level of the Methodist Church Museum. The instruction book is very specific and detailed in how to operate and care for the Grant Six. It was cautioned not to start the motor until all of the following had been attended to: l) Fill radiator with clean water. 2) Fill gasoline tank at rear of car. 3) Inspect oil level gauges on crankcase. 4) See that all parts requiring lubrication are supplied with proper lubricants. 5) See that battery is properly connected and in condition to receive charge per instructions on page 31.

One could then proceed: See that l) hand control is in neutral position; 2) hand throttle lever on steering gear is set about one-half inch from the top; 3) spark lever on dash control is pulled out; 4) do not pull out choker lever or button on dash control when motor fails to start immediately or weather is cold. Now, start the car: l) insert key in panel switch on dash; 2) with left foot press down on clutch pedal to disconnect motor from transmission; 3) press starting button with right foot till motor starts.

The book goes on at length with one whole page of "dos and don'ts," including how to shift gears, when to use same, how to stop the car, climb or descend hills, and more. The lubrication schedule was thorough - every 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 2,500, and 5,000 miles there were things to be oiled and/or greased, and specific instructions for every phase of maintenance, with detailed drawings. It was astonishing to find page after page on timing valves, carburetors, the gasoline vacuum tank, radiator and cooling system, ignition system, lighting and wiring system, clutch, transmission and universal joint, front and rear axles, gears, springs, tires and rims, and much more. It makes one's head swim to imagine the knowledge required of the "backyard mechanics" and the shop mechanics in those days.

Who might have been able to afford such a neat motorcar? In the original 1955 Spring Valley history written by John Halbkat, he highlighted four West Point and Annapolis appointees from Spring Valley: Commander Elmer Langworthy, Commander Fay Wilsie, and Lt. Wilbur Sample III of the U.S. Navy, and Col. Francis Graling, U.S. Army. Choosing one of these was not easy, but let us focus on Langworthy, whose family may have been one of those with the means to buy such a car.

Langworthy was born in Spring Valley in 1888, graduated in 1906, and completed studies at Annapolis in 1910. While attending the academy, he participated in dramatics and athletics; after graduation he was assigned sea duty in foreign and colonial waters. It is fascinating to know that in 1911, at the coronation of King George of England, he was a field lieutenant and personal aide to the officer commanding the U.S. forces in the "grand fleet" during this occasion.

In 1914, Langworthy was attached to the presidential yacht, the U.S. Mayflower, and was also a White House aide to President Woodrow Wilson. During World War I, the Commander made 11 round trips to Europe and served the Secret Service carrying dispatches between Washington and the London Embassy. His brilliant career continued; he was commanding the U.S.S. Goff when it met the U.S.S. Memphis, bringing Col. Lindbergh home after his successful flight to Paris. Along with newsmen aboard, he was the first to welcome the young aviator home.

After retiring, Langworthy was engaged in the investment business in California. In 1941, he was called back to active duty during World War II and ordered to Mobile, Ala., where he assumed duties as port director of all ports on the Gulf during the war.

A descendant of early Spring Valley families, his grandfather, B.F. Langworthy, was a local printer, and his father, Forest Langworthy, took over the Spring Valley Mercury newspaper and served as editor until his death.

Yes, noteworthy families of whom we can be proud, and perhaps one of them may indeed have enjoyed driving a Grant Six automobile.

Spring Valley Greenhouse

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