For the 13th consecutive year, Heavy Rebel Weedkender has just put on the best party in Winston-Salem, including, on Saturday, far and away the best car show in the area. My favorite this year is this lowered White street rod. The sign says that it is driven every day:

 WhiteStreetRod(Click on the picture to see full view)

Ever since the first horseless carriage hit the street, there have been gatherings of car nuts. The image below may show the first such gathering in the town of Winston.

In 1908, R.J. Reynolds purchased a custom 1908 Buick, complete with pinstripes. By early 1909, the Gilmer brothers, John and Powell, had opened the first Buick dealership in town at 227 North Main Street:

MotorCo1909-10

The men identified in the picture all had a high interest in machinery. Gurney Miller was a machinist employed by the Motor Company.  Lindsay Fishel was a mechanic and the president of the company. Frank Meinung manufactured high quality wagons and carriages in Salem. Walter Clayton was a machinist for the Briggs-Shaffner Company. Henry Mickey and Grover Jarvis were important employees of the Salem Iron Works, which manufactured steam engines and mill machinery, and Robah Stowe was R.J. Reynolds’ personal chauffeur.

The building at the right, the Marler-Dalton-Gilmer department store, was a business established in the 1870s on Main Street in Walnut Cove by the Gilmer brothers’ father, John E. Gilmer, Sr. By 1918, there were eight Gilmer Brothers department stores scattered across North Carolina and Virginia.

The Mitchell car, manufactured by the Mitchell Motor Company of Racine, Wisconsin, is parked in the alley between the Motor Company and the Zinzendorf Hotel. The alley served as the first intercity bus station in Winston until, a few years later, the Gilmers demolished the pictured buildings and replaced them with a much larger building that incorporated bus depot facilities in its northern bay.

I am working on a much larger post about the Gilmer brothers’ retail and transportation empire. Coming soon.

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Bill East went to work for the Twin City Sentinel while still in his early teens. When he graduated from R.J. Reynolds High School in the 1930s, winning the Montague Medal for having the highest academic average senior year, he went straight to work full time at the Sentinel. During the decades when all other local history resources were focused on Old Salem, Bill’s occasional “Do You Remember” columns kept the history of the other half of the Twin City alive. We have a decent collection of those columns in our vertical files. And we all owe Bill a debt of thanks.

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