1894: The World Debut of an Automotive Trailblazer Who Was Also Invested in Airborne, Maritime, and Rail Transportation

July 20, 1894 Errett Lobban Cord, industrialist and trend-setting automobile manufacturer, was born in the city of Warrensburg, Missouri. Cord, …

1894: The World Debut of an Automotive Trailblazer Who Was Also Invested in Airborne, Maritime, and Rail Transportation

Cord loomed large in Chet’s life. First, Chet was the Cord/Auburn/Duesenburg dealer in Washington, DC. Second, Chet was also the dealer for Cord’s Davis and Stinson aircraft, and Chet’s Stinson S Junior was the the plane he flew at the time of the first Washington Air Derby in 1932. Cord’s sale of all of this to AVCO in 1937 (which ended the Cord/Auburn Duesenberg line of cars) was a major event for Chet, who moved back to Chicago three years later.

Chet with his two loves and livelihoods, the airplane and the car. Photo taken at Congressional Airport in May 1930. The plane is a Davis D-1; Chet was a Davis dealer as well as a Stinson one, and he took his pilot’s license test in a Davis. His Davis “lot” was at Congressional.

Sifting Through That Which Remains

A memorable quote from Anne Carlson Kennedy on the death of her own grandfather:

It’s only when you grow up and start trying to assemble bits of information together about the people who have put you in the car, and taken you out again, and lifted you up onto a stack of books on a chair, and taken you round the garden that you begin to discover that they are people too, that they have a whole life of success and disappointment, of hope and despair, just as you yourself do. But then death comes along and you can only go sifting back through the few photos that don’t get lost in all the moving. Reconciling your own sense of who they are and their own vast histories I guess is how you are meant to spend the rest of your own life.

That, in a sense, was the genesis of this site (and to some extent of this one.) It’s obvious that things have gotten a little off track. Mine was a family where there were many “narratives” but often the facts were obscure. It’s been a voyage of discovery. My father never liked this kind of investigation because those in the past were “no longer here to defend themselves.” But in reality I discovered that that legacy they really left behind (or what I could put together) was their defence, and an interesting one at that.

But ultimately what we leave behind is our defence, assuming it doesn’t get buried in someone’s “narrative.” That’s something we should think about, or perhaps should have thought about a long time ago.

Teaching Around the Christmas Tree

Most of you who follow this blog know that this site, in addition to all of my family history, is also the open online host for my Fluid Mechanics Laboratory material, which includes pages for the teaching videos, which I’ve adopted in the wake of COVID. Recently I had to update one of those videos and did it with the following background:

The Christmas tree to my right has a little bit of family history associated with it: it was Chet and Myrtle’s, and probably dates back to the 1950’s. It’s been passed down and now graces these videos. For a better view of it, you can watch the video itself.

In spite of the fact that this year has been a general ordeal, it has been a good one for all of my sites and the YouTube channel. Lord willing, there will be more to come.

Let me take the opportunity to wish all my visitors a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Or, as my great grand-uncle James N. Warrington put it:

An Aviation Legend Makes His Most Pivotal Contribution to Flight Technology — Transportation History

September 24, 1929 U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) Lieutenant James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, who would achieve lasting fame as commander of the Doolittle Raid during World War II, made his most significant contribution to aeronautical technology when he guided a Consolidated N-Y-2 Husky training biplane over Mitchel Field in New York in what was the […]

An Aviation Legend Makes His Most Pivotal Contribution to Flight Technology — Transportation History

Jimmy Doolittle figures in Chet’s aviation story too as a competitor in the first Washington Air Derby (later Langley Day) held in 1932. Chet was the first president of the Washington Air Derby Association.

Chet Liked His Steaks Burnt, Too

The following photograph was proudly (?) circulated by Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign this week:

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I think this is a classic case of “more money than brains” as we used to say in Palm Beach.  And it doesn’t say much for performance either: my grandfather Chet Warrington liked his burnt too, but that didn’t stop him from looming large on the Washington aviation scene in the 1930’s (and other scenes before and after.)  And it didn’t keep him from having an audience with Franklin Roosevelt before the 1933 Langley Day.

Eating your steak “just past moo” (as an old friend from Texas A&M used to say) has somehow become a mark of “sophistication,” which was probably Bloomberg’s motivation behind the sign.  When my wife entered our family, she was derided for liking her steak well done.  But the family–or the nation–which forgets how they got were they were and concentrates on things like burnt steak will end up somewhere else.