View Full Version : Sleuthing a Quinn photo, part II

05-15-2009, 08:45 PM
With Richard Quinn's permission, here is the photo that appeared in the May 2009 TW Almanac article on tow trucks.


Here is the same view today:


They have evolved in to a modern recycling operation, as well.
I was interested in when the photo was taken. Richard surmised in TW it was from the late '30s or '40s. Well, when Richard forwarded the print to me, I was able to enlarge it. See the "bills" on the fence on the right? The largest advertises an event on Thursday, Aug. 4th.;) A check of calendars shows Aug. 4th falling on a Thursday in the years 1938, 1949, and 1955. A smaller bill advertising the 100 mile auto race in Stockton appears to show a date (not real clear) of Sunday, Dec. 4th. Same years for that combination of days. Based on the condition of the 1936 truck--even though used in a junk yard--I ruled out 1938 as the year of the photo. So that leaves 1949 and 1955. Richard responds that it is probably around 1949 or 1950 based on another photo he has of this event!!![:0][:0] Wait a minute. Why am I shocked[?] This is Richard Quinn.:)


Seeing the GM sedan pretty much confirms it. A motorcycle expert could probably help here, too.

PERSONAL STUFF: My grandfather worked in the tall faint building in the left background until the 1970s.

LOCAL HISTORY: See the railroad tracks on both sides of the center line in the first photo? Short freight trains ran down these tracks right down the middle of the street through the length of Modesto's downtown, stopping traffic several times a day. Cross traffic was stopped. Traffic on 9th street was able to continue in the outer lane. This was also [u]Hwy. 99</u> until the freeway went in in about 1963! MANY collisions occurred over the years. The railroad was Tidewater Southern. They moved freight from the Beard Industrial tract through Modesto up to Stockton. After much pressure from city government, the trains finally stopped using these tracks in 2000. The rails were removed in 2004.

MOVIE TRIVIA: In George Lucas' American Graffiti, several times there is the sound of passing trains. You never see them, but you hear them. The kids cruised 10th street in their cars, one block over from these tracks. One block further away were the Southern Pacific tracks. So trains were always a presence in Modesto, and George chose to accurately include them in his hometown movie tribute. Yes, I know it was [u]filmed</u> in Petaluma, but he added the correct sound element.

(read it backwards)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3267/2617723594_889afb71cf_t.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2412/2267352617_720245049a_m.jpg http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3286/2679715309_9655c80e5e_m.jpg

05-15-2009, 10:09 PM
Man you've got good eyes, I can barely see the fence! [:0][xx(]
Interesting deductions BTW. ;)

'57 Transtar Deluxe
Vancouver Island

The NW Overdrive Tour in Parksville, BC
May 23 & 24, 2009; check it out at -

05-16-2009, 12:12 AM
That wall is full of interesting items. Great moment in time, Kurt and R.Q. Thanks. [^]


I'd say you are dead on with that 1949 date. The truck's commercial license plate looks about right with the color (1947 through 1950) and the metal year tab in the right corner.




Dick Steinkamp
05-16-2009, 12:16 AM
Great sleuthing, Kurt! [^]

(neat history lesson too)

Dick Steinkamp
Bellingham, WA


05-16-2009, 10:34 AM
The top photo in BarnLarks post made me laugh. At first glance, it looks like the man on the far right has his suspenders on backwards. LOL. Then I realized he is wearing a vest. letdown.

'50 Champion, 1 family owner

05-16-2009, 02:28 PM
Friends; Can anyone ID the tractor hooked to the trailer on the back side of the '36 Studebaker COE in the first photo?:(

Frank Drumheller
Louisa, VA
1948 M16-52 Boyer fire truck

05-16-2009, 03:25 PM
The important part to me is that August 4 is my birthday &lt;G&gt;!

Gary L.
Wappinger, NY

SDC member since 1968
Studebaker enthusiast much longer

05-16-2009, 05:11 PM
The fastback in the third picture is a 1950 Buick. I'm guessing that the tractor in the first picture is a 1930-31 Federal. It appears to have a nameplate on the side of the hood. Most other trucks that had nameplates on the hood had them on the side panel rather than the top panel.


05-16-2009, 06:37 PM
Originally posted by studelark

Friends; Can anyone ID the tractor hooked to the trailer on the back side of the '36 Studebaker COE in the first photo?:(

I was going to guess a '33-'35 White 58 SS tractor, maybe, Frank..?

That spot of "a '50 fastback Buick" might be a Special Deluxe Sedanette, but I don't see the side trim. Those tail lights were much different pre-50, though. Good eye, Terry. That matches the i.d. of that truck plate tab, '47 to '50.

05-17-2009, 12:32 AM
I was guessing International on the other truck. But maybe their nameplate was on the hood side, not above it?