For Historic Trenton’s Day in the Life, we’re’ looking back through newspapers from the beginning and examining everyday problems, solutions, and needs during historic Trenton’s past. Today, we go back to January 6th, 1917. It was a cold Saturday and the New Jersey Legislature was just getting started.
The local labor union was fighting against an ordinance that would be passed by the City prohibiting advertising “sandwich” and bannermen on vehicles operated for City purposes. This fight would fail to sway the City Commission and was unanimously adopted. The commission deemed that it was “not in good form and tended to cheapen the city.” The ordinance was framed and advertised as a way to prevent traffic congestion.
Fires destroyed a stable on Perry Street shortly after 2 a.m. The damage, which included a mangled car, was about $2,500. Luckily, the horses were able to escape. The fire took a little over two hours to put out and was fought by Engine Company No. 6.
John P. Beech, from South Warren Street, was getting the Medal of Honor for his service with the Fourth New Jersey Regiment. The times write that he was distinguished as a Sargent of the Company and received his award due to his bravery at Spotsylvania Court Virginia.
The Seen this Morning section reported on a story about two girls who wouldn’t move when a large man asked for their seat in a Trolley car. Meanwhile, a man with a black eye and swollen jaw was loudly telling his friends “a dentist did it” as he pushed on his tooth.
Finally, a monster-sized ad featured all of the different places you could buy a car in Grand Central Palace or at the Philadelphia Automobile Show. The ad showcased 18 other companies from Trenton that would be attending the shows to sell the newest thing, a car. It was fitting, particularly given Trenton’s place in automotive history. According to FordMotorHistory.com, it has been estimated that fifty different makes of automobiles were manufactured in New Jersey alone during the first half of the twentieth century.
Walter Automobile Company in Trenton was among the pioneering firms which collapsed before the onset of World War I. However, three automobile manufacturers managed to stay in business until after World War I. All three produced hand-tooled cars at great expense. These included the Crane Motor Company of Bayonne, organized 1912; the Simplex Manufacturing Company, New Brunswick, 1907; and the Mercer Automobile Company of Trenton, the most famous of the three, which lasted until the late 1920s. The Mercer Automobile Company was backed by the money of the wealthy Roebling and Kuser families of Trenton, and their cars went into only the best garages. (FordMotorHistory.com)
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