’49 Springsteen’s ad stands outPublished 11:19pm Wednesday, January 18, 2012
In going over a bunch of my old Dowagiac Daily News papers, I’ve found a lot of interesting ads.
I found quite a few about the Springsteen car dealership, so I cut out a lot of them and gave them to Sandy Springsteen, who was interested.
One was a large ad about when they put up a new building and opened it on Oct. 8, 1949.
This caused one of the most unusual advertisements ever written.
Perhaps this was the first time an ad of this kind had been published in the USA.
It all started with a small ad that said a lot of friends of the Springsteens wanted to let them know what they thought of them, as the fair-dealing Springsteens had given to everybody.
This ad said anybody who wanted to be a part of a full-page ad in the Daily News could send $1 to Frank Arndt.
No more than $1 or less.
The response was overwhelming and all who participated were on file at Frank Arndt’s house.
The new building cost $25,000 and was on N. Front and Cleveland streets.
It is a monument to a family which dedicated itself to giving the buying public a fair shake for its money for 23 years of service.
Old Art Springsteen started the business in 1926 with Ezra Nordruff as a partner and started out with only one mechanic in the old Flanders barn on S. Front Street.
In 1927, old Art’s sons, Henry first, then Art Jr., joined the business and sold 127 cars for a banner year.
In 1928, Nordruff sold out to the Springsteens and they managed to make it during the 1929 crash and Depression.
In 1933, they moved the business to N. Front and Cleveland and sold seven gallons of gas and one quart of oil on opening day.
Business got better by day and by year. In 1949, the year they built the 56- by 102-foot cement building, they had four mechanics and four specialists, with Art and Henry making a 10-man staff.
Old Art told one story of when a ragged-looking couple with a horse and wagon stopped and wanted to buy a car.
He showed them all the cars he had. They wanted the one the lady liked, but it was one they had already sold.
But Art sold it to them anyway. The old man paid cash from a big roll of bills.
The old man told Art how he had been brushed off by all the other dealers.
So Art learned you couldn’t tell a man by his clothes.
Clarence Johnson was the general contractor on the building. Other local men involved were Flander and Ferris, Criffield Roofing, Johnson and Maxey, Bob Stevens painting and George Schuur, the cement blocks.
I was a faithful customer of Springsteen’s for many years.
I started buying used cars and then quite a few new ones. I remember when old Art lived on E. Telegraph across the tracks and the real old car he drove, a Pontiac.
I bought several new cars from Bruce when he was a salesman. He was Art Jr.’s son. Henry’s sons, Art and Al, were also owners and I did a lot of business with them also.
Joyce Bashaw, a good friend, ran the office for many years and I always gave her a pint of peppermint schnapps for Christmas, as she had given me little cardinals for my collection on her visits here.
Then one day, after her mother died, she gave me a beautiful fluted white vase with a red cardinal on each side. It was one she gave to her mother on a Mother’s Day and she wanted me to have it.
I always liked doing business with the Springsteen family, but after they sold out I couldn’t do business with the new owner.
“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. E-mail him at email@example.com.
Tags: 'Cardinal Charlie'