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As It Was: Medford Mayor’s 1919 Packard Convertible Disappoints Visitors

Medford Mayor Dr. E.B. Pickel, proud of his new 1919 Packard convertible with luxurious black leather upholstery, took some visiting Portland doctors on a tour of the Rogue Valley.

Everyone piled into the car, including Pickel’s wife, Mattie, and their 11-year-old son.  A few miles from Medford, Pickel attempted to demonstrate the Packard’s power by crossing Bear Creek. 

The car stalled in the middle of the creek, 15 feet from each bank.  Pickel got out of the car and tried to crank the motor back to life, but that only resulted in splashing water on all the riders in the convertible.  Then he spent some time hunting for his wallet that fell out of his pocket.  An attempt also failed to build a pontoon bridge to shore by gathering tree limbs and driftwood.

Finally, Pickel and two of the other doctors removed their shoes and socks, rolled up their trousers, and pushed the car out of the creek. 

Worrying about meeting their train’s departure time for the return to Portland, one visiting doctor complained that Pickel wasted five minutes lacing his shoes before racing to the depot at the high speed of 30 miles an hour.

Source: “Auto Refuses to Ford River,” Mail Tribune [Medford, Ore.] 21 May, 1909.

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Maryann Mason has taught history and English in the U.S. Midwest and Northwest, and Bolivia. She has written history spots for local public radio, interviewed mystery writers for RVTV Noir, and edited personal and family histories.  Her poetry has appeared in Sweet Annie & Sweet Pea Review (1999), Rain Magazine (2007), and The Third Reader, an online Journal of Literary Fiction and Poetry. In 2008 she published her first chapbook, Ravelings.  She organized a History Day for Southern Oregon.