Photo of The Month – Jun 2006
Contributor: Society Archives
All we know about this photo is from the visual clues. Two well-dressed men are driving a Cliffside Mills Store chain-driven, solid-tired Model-T loaded with four mud-spattered trunks. It’s standing at the northeast corner of the Store Building. This was before 1920, for construction of the Memorial Building had not begun (in the space occupied by the white clapboard structure at right). The driver is identified as “Vick” and he certainly looks like Vick Fortune. We can assume this little truck played a number of roles in the daily goings-on of Cliffside: navigating the muddy streets delivering merchandise to customers, picking up incoming shipments from the train station, and perhaps delivering travelers from the train to the hotel and boarding houses. Some questions come to mind: What’s in the trunks? Were the trunks always on the truck to hold the items being hauled? What led the Ford Motor Company to presume that rear fenders weren’t needed on their commercial vehicles?
Update: This information on the truck in the photo arrived from Richard Mauney, formerly of Rutherford County, now living in Mooresville, N. C.:
The Ford truck is a kit truck, not a factory-made truck. It is built from a Model T roadster.The small sprocket is attached where the rear wheel was on a regular car. The small trunk (cooter shell) was removed and the frame was lengthened and whatever type bed the owner wanted was constructed. Only the rear tires are solid. The front ones are regular car wheels. Several companys offered these kits as an inexpensive way to make a truck. Actual Ford Model T trucks did not use a chain drive system, they had a worm gear differential to get the proper gear reduction. Also, Ford called the trucks model TT.
A reader, Eloise Whisnant-Fuleihan, believes one of the men in the truck is her grandfather, Dr. J. F. Whisnant, a dentist in Henrietta, shown in another setting in the photo at far right. (See Photo of the Month. September 2002.) She says he was at the Cliffside Mill a lot. Indeed he was one of R. R. Haynes early partners. We’ll let you decide if these are the same man.