More About the Mail-van Contract—Engineers plus Music—The Auto-Mixte Recalled-"On the Road" in Reality.
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We all suffer from " the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" from time to time. We have our good days, and our days that, to i
put t mildly, are not so good. When I looked in, early this week, at the Polack tire establishment in Basinghall Street, my friend Mr. Fritz Poppe seemed to be hiding behind one vast substantial smile " as Dickens has it : it was obviously one of the good days. First of all, I was introduced to Mr. Max Polack, who is just over on a brief trip from Waltershausen, Quite an unexpected pleasure this, and also to find that he can speak and understand English comfortably, although he will subside into the shelter of his native tongue and wail, for it to be interpreted unless one persists. It soon transpired that an order had just. been settled for 80 sets of solid-rubber tires, 50 sets of these being for the additional Dennis mail vans recently ordered by McNamara. and Co., Ltd. Quite a nice little order, and now the cry is " Next, please."
An item of interest which was crowded out of last week's notes is the fact that the famous Foden Wagon Works Band has been again successful in the recent great contest at Belle Vue, Manchester. This competition excites the greatest possible interest in Manchester and the North generally, and it is highly creditable that, out of the picked bands of the country, the Foden should annex second prize.
At the time I am writing, there is nothing but talk about the Channel swim and that wonderful Yorkshireman Burgess. The very night before it. was accomplished, I was coming up to town from Glasgow and recognized in the train an old business acquaintance, Mr. F. England, who was one of the two principals who originally introduced the Auto-Mixte petrol electric. We talked of motor developments and a hundred things, not the least interesting being Mr. England's several visits to the U.S.A. and Canada. Eventually, the talk went on to what the evening papers called the " crush in the Channel," because of the number of aspirants just then, and Mr. England hauled out a.fine presentation watch duly inscribed with the name of Captain Matthew Webb, given to him 36 years ago when he conquered the Channel. The audience—myself-was duly mystified, and then England vouchsafed the explanation, with a happy chuckle, because he must squeeze in his bit of fun : " I always had a fancy for that watch, so I married Webb's widow." It is my lot, willy-nilly, to spend about half my time in London and the other half in the Provinces. I see, therefore, something of hotel life and rub shoulders with many other wanderers. I have been specially struck these last two years by the vast increase of motor vehicles used by the commercial traveller. This is, perhaps, not so noticeable in the large towns of Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Midlands ; but, when one gets away from the great railway systems, and gets into the corners and the sides of England, one meets a large proportion of men who use a handy two-seater with room for samples at the rear, and also many who do not even carry samples at all. Take Norwich and East Anglia, for instance ; a man covers the ground in half the time. The same with Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth, etc., and, as to Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and the Devon and Cornwall towns, there is a proportion increasing daily which has forsaken the railway for the road. The majority, too, I find, takes no man or boy. In the country towns a motorcar can be safely left at the door, and at night it is run into a garage, where for a small sum it is stored and cleaned ready for next day. I heard many details at Bristol, and in fact saw a photograph, of one well-known carpet traveller who even sleeps in his car for at least six months in the year, and he has had the car body specially constructed with that object in view. That reminds me, incidentally, of an Arrol--Johnston body of the kind which I once saw at Olympia, and I think Mr. Pullinger might with advantage show another_ The Belsize people, also, have worked in the same idea. For travellers covering only a part of England, and calling at all the principal towns, the advantages of a motor vehicle are innumerable, and, for anyone desiring information as to working costs, a note to the Editor of this journal wilt insure full information being imparted either direct by post or through these columns. Commercial travellers will soon really be "On the road" again, and it behoves those who are alert and enterprising to get. in early.