Old book provides glimpse of Clintonville history
By Bert Lehman
When Michael Holbrook was preparing for the citywide rummage sale in Clintonville earlier this summer he uncovered a piece of Clintonville history involving the Four Wheel Drive Company.
“I have around 30 boxes of books. I was getting them out for a rummage sale we were having and obviously some of them I haven’t sorted through yet,” Holbrook said. “I was working on sorting through them and I grabbed this one out of the bottom and I thought it was junk because I thought this was the binding. But then I cracked it open and I just about fell over when I realized what it actually was.”
The book Holbrook is referring to contains many pages of photos on canvas material of various trucks manufactured by Memominee Motor Truck Company of Clintonville. Along with the photos, the book contains a copy of a letter of recommendation from a customer of the company. The letter is dated, Feb. 12, 1921.
The letter is from M. Frappier Wholesale Fruits and Produce in Lansing, Michigan. The first paragraph of the letter states, “Replying to your inquiry relative to the performance of truck #1130 Model A-3 I beg to advise that this truck is in active service and has been in use almost daily for five and one half years.”
The letter continues, “It seems to be indestructible, unwearoutable and perfectly dependable in every spot and place under all conditions of roads and weather. Our records show that we have covered over one hundred thousand miles with this machine and aside from the replacement of a few minor parts the original machine is on the job and from all appearances will continue to serve us well for several years to come.
“We commonly load this truck to double capacity and frequently make country trips over very bad roads with heavy loads but it seems to be fool proof and unbreakable. We have three of your trucks in operation and all three are giving us splendid service with low operating cost.”
Based on the letter and the photos, Holbrook has an idea of what the book was used for.
“I believe it’s a Menominee Trucking salesman book from before the Four Wheel Drive was the Four Wheel Drive, because of the pictures and because they had a letter of recommendation in there,” Holbrook said.
Holbrook added that the book includes a photo of an engine, bare truck chassis, as well as interior photos of trucks.
“They also got some snapshots with the FWD sign in the back,” Holbrook said.
Because the photos are printed on canvas material the edges are frayed. This caused Holbrook to think the book was junk.
“I wanted to look at it before I threw it away,” Holbrook said. “I think I opened to a page right away that showed that it was Clintonville.”
After looking at the book closer, he figured it was a one of a kind item.
Through limited research, Holbrook said he found that Menominee Motor Truck Company has a history with the Four Wheel Drive Company.
Since he specializes in vintage books and buys boxes of them at auctions and flea markets, he’s not sure where he purchased the box of books that contained the book of Menominee Motor Truck Company photos.
“I buy so many different boxes of books, I have so many, that I’m not sure where this one came from,” he said.
Holbrook said he will probably sell the book in the future.
“I figured the first thing I should do because it is a real big piece of history from Clintonville, I figured maybe we should at least try to run an article about it,” he said.
If anyone has more information about the book they can contact Holbrook at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-250-2793.