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May 27, 2019

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What was Mr. Long's first name and what car did he drive?

Icon's panel of experts can handle any obscure Bluffton question

The Icon is a well-respected source for most any bit of information about Bluffton history.

Viewers are assured that we offer a panel of local experts to answer all Bluffton questions sent to us.

An example of this expertise follows: (names are changed for confidentiality).

Let’s say that two brother (we’ll call them Dan Groman and Darrell Groman) posed this Bluffton question to the Icon:

When we were in school in the late 1960s-early ‘70s we mowed a lawn on Garau Street, across from the Bluffton Hospital. It was Mr. Long’s yard, but we can recall his first name.

We seem to remember that Mr. Long had a yellow, two-door car that might have been a mid-1950s model. We tried to buy it from him but were unsuccessful. We ended up buying Zoe Hauenstein’s green Chevrolet instead. We think Mr. Long sold his car to someone in Texas.

We can’t recall the model of the car. Can you help us?

First response (we’ll call this responder Charles Hilty, name changed for confidentiality):

The gentleman in question was Ervin "Irvie" Long, who lived in the brown-shingled house right across Garau Street from the Del McGinnis family home.

(Irvie Long's house was demolished during the first expansion of the hospital after the 1964-65 hospital capital campaign.) 

Irvie was the older brother of Carl Long, who was the dishwasher in the Elk Restaurant until Irvie Long sold the business to Chris Mullenhour in late 1945/early 1946.

I believe that I recall Irvie Long driving a 1940 or 1941 Plymouth club coupe or 2-door sedan, but I have no memory of him driving a more exotic car, certainly not one so exotic as to be sold to a collector from Texas.

So, I'm no help, however, the May, 2017, edition of "Hemmings Classic Car" magazine has an extensive, well-illustrated feature article on the 1946-1953 Plymouth "woodie" station wagons.

(You can see a close family relationship to the immediate pre-WWII Plymouth sedans and club coupes such as the one that Ervin Long sold to the Texan, rather than to the Groman brothers). 

Irvie Long was a customer on the paper route that I shared with, then inherited from, John Bauman. I have a pre-school memory of being with my Dad when he played cards with "Irvie" Long, George Klay, Dr. B.R. Herring (veteraniaran), and one or two other men of Dad's generation in the kitchen of the Elk Restaurant on wintry Saturday afternoons in the late 1930s, early 1940s.

The card players lunched on restaurant fare; there were open bottles of beer on their card table. That detail certainly won't help identify/locate an old car, but it does connect you more with Irvie Long and the pattern of the times in those pre-WW2 days. 

Second response (for confidentiality, we’ll call this responder Sam Diller):

That would be Irvin Long, who lived next to the hospital behind Gene Mathewson. At one time he owned the Elk Restaurant, next to the Presbyterian Church, I have no information on his car. Incidentally, Irvin and Carl were related to Mrs. Dome, who died a week or so ago. The Dome’s ran the Nut Shop on the square in Lima.

Third response (for confidentiality, we’ll call this responder Rudi Steiner):

My immediate response to the Dodge question is I don’t recall ever seeing the resident at 123 Garau Street driving a car, mostly I saw him walking as did most prominent Bluffton businessmen.

Charles Lloyd walked through town every day going to the glove factory. Elmer Romey walked up town every morning to the Citizens National Bank where he was president.

Walter Gratz didn’t drive a car so he had to walk to his shoe store sell Red Goose shoes. His wife drove him around town in a variety of Studebakers.

My own father had a ‘41 Dodge 4-door sedan before his famous black ‘46-47 Graham-Paige Frazer. His Dodge was pre-war Dodge generic blue.

In the late 1950’s Molar cars were very popular because of their sleek styling, huge fins, flamboyant color schemes and hemi engines.

Elmer Romey bought a new black and white, ‘57 Chrysler Crown Imperial Coupe, as did the lady who owned the Horseshoe grill after Dave Riser.

Johnny Badertscher and Johnny Lugibihl both drove white ‘57 Plymouth Fury’s with hemi engines. Bob Wilch had a gorgeous ‘58 DeSoto Coupe probably a Firedome.

Wilmer Bechtel, then high school principal, had a generic ‘57 Dodge four-door and my uncle, Bert Oyer owned a ‘58 Dodge Royal 4-door both were two-tone blue.

There was a two-toned pale yellow (but not as yellow as the Groman fire truck) and white Dodge coupe around town that could have been the Long car.

I agree with Mr. Hilty, I don’t see Mr. Long driving a fancy Dodge unless he won it in a card game.

Groman brother response:

Thanks so much for the information on Mr. Long. Darrell and I discussed this last night and we are thinking that this may have been a 1958 or 1959 Dodge Custom Royal or maybe even a 300 or 500. 

I remember it being a very long (appropriate for Mr. Long) two-door hardtop and was a light yellow with maybe a contrasting spear of color.  Cost may have been just over $1,000 in 1973, which was too high for us.  Thanks.