by Bob & Sue Jaussaud
On Thursday morning, September 3rd, we picked up Lulu in Oxnard for our journey with her to Needles. From the start, as we traveled down the road, she attracted a lot of attention. Folks just had never seen anything like her.
Riding high and proud, tourists, travelers, truckers and even highway patrolmen checked her out. She is truly an individual with a lot of style. When we pulled off the Interstate for a much needed break, a big-rig pulled off with us to get a better look at Lulu. She may be almost 100 years old, but she still has what it takes.
Lulu started her life as a sedan in 1924. We believe she was a Chevrolet Superior model and originally cost about $500. Her sedan days, perhaps in Missouri, were very limited and by the late 1920’s she had been converted into a housecar. As such, it is likely that she traveled with the dust bowl migrants following Route 66 to California in the early 1930’s. We know that in1936 she was registered in California by a Mr. R. Winzer, who kept and enjoyed her for 40 years. Looking through Lulu’s maps and mementos, it is easy to imagine Lulu and Winzer traveling together all over the western
United States and Mexico. Probably with the advent of World War II, Lulu was finally given a well earned rest.
After the war Lulu stayed hidden in Winzer’s Los Angeles garage until she caught the attention of Gary and Marilyn Peithman. They bought Lulu in 1976 and moved her to Irvine, but it doesn’t appear they ever used her for camping.
Thirty plus years later Lulu somehow ended up under a tree near Lake Los Angeles where she was rediscovered and taken to a Model “T” swap meet in the San Fernando Valley. That’s where Larry Reid saw Lulu and fell in love with her. Larry stored Lulu in his furniture factory for a few years then donated her to the Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard. There she was a star attraction and one of the museum’s most unique displays, but when the museum was forced to move and downsize, Lulu became available. Visiting the museum on their last official Saturday at the old location, Sue and I found Lulu tucked away in a corner and I experienced one of my many costly epiphanie$ (Money is well spent when it leads to fun. Well, isn’t it?). Now Lulu is home where she is comfortable in our Needles garage near Route 66. She is being given a much needed clean-up to get her ready for her possible introduction to the El Garces Harvey House and Railroad Station in Needles. A lot needs to be done before that can become a reality, however. In the meantime, we have determined that Lulu’s engine is likely repairable and, if we can locate a few critical parts, Lulu could carry us down the road again on her own. Wouldn’t that be a hoot!
So how did a 1924 housecar come to be known as “Lulu”? Well, Lulu is truly a time capsule from the 1920’s. Stepping through her door, one is virtually transported back in time. Lulu still has her original furnishings and most of her original equipment. There is an old set of red and white camping dishes. On the bed there is a wonderful depression era quilt. The medicine
cabinet is filled with old potions. There is even a 1920’s vintage Kodak camera. On her walls we noticed two very old photo portraits; one of a pretty young lady and one of a handsome young man. The young man remains a mystery, though we do know his photo was taken at the Butler Studio in Salt Lake City. The young lady is identified on the back of her photo only as “Lulu.” So… Sue and I felt our housecar should by rights be named “Lulu” to honor the mystery lady whose portrait has traveled with her for so many miles and years. ~ Bob and Sue