More About Police: How Did They Get Around?

How did police get around in the Roaring Twenties? By walking their beat, of course, but how else?

Horses were common in most cities in the Twenties. And in some places, mounted police are still active today. In the past two years, the lousy economy has forced cities like Boston, Tulsa, San Diego, and Portland to eliminate their mounted police. Larger cities like New York, Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago have no plans to discontinue theirs, so useful are they in crowd control and public relations.

Although every city had a different timetable, it seems that motorcycles were introduced to police work before automobiles, probably because they were cheaper. Philadelphia was one of the first cities to buy police motorcycles, starting in 1906. A few cities began using automobiles in the Twenties, but they weren’t common until the Thirties. Because I’m focused on Hollywood, I was most interested in the Los Angeles Police Department. I checked into their use of cars and learned that the first type purchased was a touring car. The year was 1913. So for my stories, set in Hollywood in 1925, policemen can drive around in cars, in a limited way at least.

Published in: on January 29, 2011 at 4:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

What did Model Ts Cost?


      In my Roaring Twenties mystery series, I want to get the cars “just right.” But I’m not a car person, so I rely on friends—one in particular—who know a lot about antique cars. One of the few things they didn’t know was the price of cars during the 1920s, so I had to research that myself. It turned out to be a fun project. 

      My main character needed to buy a modest American car in 1924. The obvious choice of car was the Model T, something Henry Ford engineered to fit the pocketbook of the average American. Until the Model T, only the very rich could afford a car. Once Model Ts started rolling off the assembly lines, nearly everyone with a job could afford one. That was Henry Ford’s intention. “I will build a car for the great multitude,” he said. “It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one.” And he paid the unheard of wage of $5 a day to his factory workers to build it.

      I soon learned there were many body types of Model Ts: runabouts, touring cars, sedans, roadsters, and so forth. In researching advertisements of the era, I found one from 1924 that hawked Model T runabouts for $265 (by the way, that works out to be about $3,300 in today’s dollars). So I used that body type and that price for my fictitious character.

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 8:15 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,