Popular Science Monthly -
Scan of original article (pdf format)
The Life and Times of
Things were different in the old
but the spirit of the Model
Garage is timeless.
By Frank Rowsome Jr.
GUS WILSON should die-a wildly improbable event- a social historian could
compile his complete biography. While he lives, the only solid
information about the man are some 355 stories. These provide a mass
of data, but they are also shot through with tantalizing gaps. How old
is Gus? Whatever became of Joe Clark, co-owner of the Model Garage?
Many similar questions arise that cannot be answered positively.
Careful analysis, however, of the works of Martin Bunn, Wilson's Boswell,
does provide some biographical data:
Gus's first public appearance was in July 1925.
Silent Cal was president then, the Scopes trial and the Florida land boom
were in full flower, Rose Marie and the Gorilla were packing the
theaters, and a coal black Model T runabout could be purchased new for $260,
single sentence announces our hero: "Wilson was the mechanic of the
firm, a gray haired veteran of the automobile repair shop, who had been
working on automobiles since the days when they were called 'horseless
carriages.' " His first recorded customer was a Mr. Stevens, a
bankerish man who, emerging from a sedan, announced that he was going on a
long tour and thought "it might be well to have Wilson look the car over."
Gus pronounced the sedan in good shape (one license plate rattled) and then
delivered a long lecture on maintenance. Mr. Stevens, taking notes
during the harangue, drove off pleased.
Model Garage was a wooden structure, evidently converted from a barn or
livery stable. While it had a crank-operated pump outside, there was
also a wheeled portable tank to fill customer's cars. Joe Clark,
partner and bookkeeper, tended the stock room and office and sold gas.
Twice the pimply youth appeared, was identified as "Bill, the kid who did
odd jobs," and then disappeared (continued)