Memories of William Osborn’s automotive fleet from A to Olds

By Kristen Osborn Cart

Long before my grandpa William A. Osborn started working in the elevator business, his father Arthur K. Osborn lost his Nebraska farm when the loan he co-signed for a son-in-law went bad. This occurred around the start of the Great Depression. Being the eldest son, Grandpa had to find another way besides farming to make a living. He was in the National Guard for a time when he was very young, and afterward he worked as an auto mechanic and in construction.

His first car was a Model A Ford. Around 1939, he bought a used 1936 Chevy. By 1945, after he had worked for Tillotson Construction Company, of Omaha, and had moved from a farm where they rented into town, he bought a 1941 Chevy. That was the last used car he owned.

Alice and Bill Osborn, in back, with their brood, from left: Dick, Audrey, Jerry--and the '36 Chevy.

In 1948 Grandpa bought a 1948 Chevrolet sedan. Two years later, he bought a 1950 Buick Special, brand new, and also purchased two new 1950 Chevy sedans. My Dad’s brother Dick likely paid for one of them, which he drove. Grandpa and Grandma went to Oklahoma to pick up the other one for Grandma and drive it back.

These purchases came after Mayer-Osborn Company was established and their first project, the elevator in McCook, Nebraska, was finished.

In 1951 Grandpa bought a new 1951 Buick Roadmaster. Two years later he bought a 1953 Packard, but soon the engine block cracked, so the next year he bought a new 1954 Cadillac and another new Chevrolet for my grandmother. After Grandpa moved to Denver, Dad lived alone with Grandma for a number of years, and he had the use of her car when he worked his first teaching job at Luther College in Wahoo, Nebraska, in the fall of 1955. After 1956, Dad purchased her ’54 Chevy for $1000 and had it when he moved with Mom to Denver. He paid it off by 1961.

Kristen's dad, Jerry, with the 1950 Buick Special.

Grandpa retired from Mayer-Osborn in 1955. He drove his Cadillac until the early ’60s when he bought a new Oldsmobile that he drove for a number of years, finally trading for his last car, a 1968 Olds, which is presently in Dad’s barn. I remember that car and sitting on its burning hot seat in the middle of summer, the inside smelling like softened plastic. I remember when it was new, with seats as wide as a park bench and a big round steering wheel.

Dick Osborn with 1950 Chevy Deluxe

Grandpa did pretty well in his business. There was still a good nest egg after he died in 1977. He had to have a good reliable vehicle because he certainly put on the miles.

2 comments on “Memories of William Osborn’s automotive fleet from A to Olds

  1. kocart says:

    My cousin, Diane Osborn Bell, commented about this post on Facebook. Her father, Dick Osborn, worked on jobs for Mayer Osborn after he returned from the Korean War. Here is what she had to say.

    “That is interesting about the cars. Your Dad has a good memory! Which car is Grandpa driving in the photo? Isn’t that family photo awesome! My Dad was making payments on the 1950 Chevy, I believe when he went into the Army. Grandma always used to tell me that my first car ride was in a Cadillac. She picked Mom and me up at the hospital, after I was born, in the Cadillac. Don’t forget about Grandpa’s El Camino that he had when he passed away. I don’t remember the year he bought that. Ask your Dad.”

    • Diane Osborn Bell says:

      My Dad got drafted and left for the Army in the Fall of 1950 and had to leave the new car behind. I believe that it was sold while he was gone.

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