Acquisition No.: 2017-01

Dashboard Bezel; Bonneauville Firetruck.

Item History:

The surprise in finding this simple nondescript part for sale on E-bay on 1/15/17 was a pleasant one. This item represents the first firetruck purchased by the fledgling Bonneauville Fire Co. around 1924 - and suggests that somewhere in barn storage, the vehicle may still exist. Our great-grandparents and elderly neighbors helped to finance and operate this vehicle. They were the men and women of the town who in the early 1920's dedicated themselves to the hope that in the future, no other Bonneauville residents would loose their lives to fire and that local newspaper headlines would never again read; "Bonneauville Babies Burned to a Crisp."

E-bay correspondence regarding the purchase of this item:

(FOR SALE)"1921 [sic] Chevrolet Speedometer Gauge bezel From Bonneauville Pa fire truck."

(PURCHASER TO SELLER)"What is this? We cannot tell the scale. Is it off of a toy truck? Does it say Bonneauville or have any other markings on it? Who has the original truck and is it for sale?

. . . Do you have a picture of the original truck?"

(SELLER) I bought the truck from Bob Degroft in 1979. Mr. Staub former owner and father of Staub Brothers Autoparts current owners, told me he was there when they purchased it in 1921 and took delivery in 1922. I kept the car [sic] till my daughter and I watched the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Movie. We took a whole day cutting it out of the multifloral rose bushes. I put it out front and it sold for $250 a couple days later. Sorry the car part is unmarked. It is the bezel that holds the speedometer in the dash.

(SELLER) "I live in Littlestown you can pick up and pay for it and save shipping. . ." "You can call me at. . . "

Note: see Cat. No's 2001-07 and 2004-09 for additional information on and photographs of Bonneauville's first firetruck. Historic documents generally agree that the Bonneauville Fire Co. was formed in 1924 or 1925. Soon thereafter the Co. purchased their first firetruck, a new Chevrolet. Though not impossible that the vehicle was new-old-stock, it is likely that the firetruck referred to in the above sales text was not a 1921 or 1922 model, but a 1924 or 1925.

On 1/17/17, I met and spoke with Gary Moxley of 1365 Frederick Pike, Littlestown, PA. In the early 1980's Gary had purchased the old Bonneauville firetruck from a neighboring farmer named DeGroft. Gary's father had earlier converted his old Pennsylvania Bank Barn into a shop for selling and repairing Model A Fords. Gary did not disclose his purchase price for the truck. He parked it behind his dad's barn until shrubs and wild rose brushes grew thoroughly through it.

When he finally decided to sell the truck sometime in the mid-eighties he chose a selling price of $275.00. He clearly remembers his dad and friends laughing at him for thinking he would get that much money for the vehicle. Gary spent a day releasing the firetruck from its botanical imprisonment. He "set it out along the road for sale and within a few days a man stopped by with a rollback" (car hauler).

Gary got the last laugh as the man drove off with the firetruck onboard, without even questioning the price. Mr. Moxley did not get the name or destination of the purchaser. He has no idea if it was restored, hot-rodded or parted out, or still setting somewhere in an old shed.

A photo of the old truck was inserted in the speedometer bezel, and it was framed to give the piece some definition, and interest.

Location: Case I
Acq. Date: January 15, 2017
Acquired from: E-bay
Price ($): 5
Type: accession