It’s another era in our country. We were just coming out of the Great Depression. Employment was on the upswing and car sales were better than since the 1920’s. Families with a little more income began to move away from the downtown centers and new neighborhoods were developing at the edge of cities.
Public transportation began serving some of these new housing areas; however it was often not convenient for the new residents to walk to the bus line. They would need to ride to the original mid-town, return home with a supply of groceries, clothing, hardware items, etc. There was only so much a person could carry on a bus or street car.
Thus, the large numbers of small family-owned and operated neighborhood stores began to emerge. These quickly became important to the woman of the house. The husband would drive the family car or take the bus to work. The housewife remained at home, usually with the children, and was the purchaser of groceries and related needs. Neighborhood stores soon realized to be successful, they needed to take groceries, and laundry items to the customer.
With the above being said, the following describes one of the best examples of an all original grocery delivery truck of the last century. This little 1939 GMC panel truck was discovered over 16 years ago by the present owner, Paul Flammang.
He found it in a small garage behind what was once the Laura’s Family Grocery Store in Jewell City, Connecticut. The store was typical for the times, a two-story building on the corner. The shopping area was on the first floor and the owner and his family lived upstairs. Over 50 years ago this building was converted to an upper and lower duplex as the growth of large supermarkets put an end to the family-owned grocery stores.
The delivery truck, used by this grocer was locked in a back garage and had remained there over the years. The family still owned the property.
Paul, a local resident and old car enthusiast, had only heard rumors of the stored delivery panel truck. One day he found a family member with access to the garage and he asked if he could see the panel truck. He could not believe his eyes! It was just like when parked there in the 1950’s. The store logos were still readable on the sides and a few unopened grocery items remained inside undelivered. The log book in the glove box showed the last delivery in 1951 as well as addresses of many regular customers in the neighborhood.
A small ice box was still in the back by the double doors. It held meat on customer deliveries. The water from the melting ice ran through a drain hose in the factory hole for the spare tire clamp and then onto the street. Adjacent to this ice box was a small chopping block and scale.
To Paul, it was love at first sight! He owned a handmade furniture business and wanted the panel truck to add to the character of his company. Negotiations were successful and other than removing the ice box equipment, the panel truck was left as is. Our photos taken in 2012 show how it was found 16 years ago and after it was placed in storage in the 1950’s.
Paul immediately used it to deliver his furniture to New York and Boston twice each month, about 100 miles away for many, many years. Yes, a few motor changes occurred but the exterior has never changed.
We recently met Paul Flammang at our Midwest store with his 1939 GMC panel on a drive from Connecticut to Arizona. He is now retired and will spend his winters near Phoenix. It will be his daily driver there.
The current engine is a Chevrolet 216 six cylinder. Who says low oil pressure babbitt bearing engines can’t stand up to long hours of use?
If you wish to contact Paul Flammang by email: email@example.com