Columbiana man to share early auto knowledge
By LARRY SHIELDS
COLUMBIANA — Dick Weber will be showcasing “Henry’s Fords,” a 16-photo exhibit that he collected over eight years, in tribute to the great automaker.
The collection of black and white photos from the Model T through the 1940s will be on display at the Dale Shaffer Research Library during all four days of the Salem Super Cruise.
Weber is a Youngstown State University graduate and retired engineer who worked at the brand new General Motors Assembly plant in Lordstown in 1965.
He was well-connected enough to get in a corporate photo of the first Chevrolet Impala to roll of the Lordstown assembly line in the spring of 1966 with the inspection department’s white shirt and tie group.
The Warren Tribune Chronicle bought the car from Warren’s Martin Chevrolet and an April 2016 story could find no documentation on the car and concluded it has long since been scrapped.
But there is Weber along with 17 others surrounding the big white Chevy – No. 1 out of Lordstown.
Nine years before that photo, a somewhat younger Weber was part of another first around here.
“I was there on opening day at Quaker City Dragway,” he said.
He doesn’t mean opening day in the sense of an annual event, he means he was there the very first day cars raced in roaring, full-bore competition down Quaker City’s quarter-mile that has seen the greatest drivers ever, like Don Garlits and Don Prudhomme, blast down its fabled quarter mile.
“The very first day,” Weber says again, this time a little more subdued with a bit of reverent amazement.
It was a Sunday, he recalled and his wife of 59 years, Marge, said, “We’ve seen enough of Quaker City.”
Weber left Lordstown and worked for various engineering firms and by living in Columbiana he kept the family close to the auto history he so cherishes.
He has a copy of the incredibly iconic photo, regarding Columbiana and Columbiana history, in which Harvey S. Firestone, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were caught sitting along the Bull Creek, about a mile east of where the Weber’s live today on Metz Road.
The photo was taken next to a small grove with an open field behind the three men, with Ford on the left, Edison in the middle and Firestone.
A hand written note below the photo says it was taken in the late 1920s. There is the added notation, “We believe that photo was taken by a member of the Amos Weber family since the original photo was found among some Weber family photos.”
Weber said his grandfather, Amos, worked for Firestone during harvest time, while an uncle Walter was the head mechanic for all the Firestone farm equipment and another uncle, Ralph worked as a laborer there.
And another uncle, Ike, was the head manager of the Firestone test center.
Weber said they don’t think Amos took the photo so the possibility of who took it resides with his grandparent’s 12 kids, seven boys and five girls, who could have taken the photo.
“We’re we still trying to figure that out,” Weber said, noting by way of age one of the girls has been checked off the list.
Weber said he bought a number of the photos at the Dave and Ed’s car shows at the Canfield Fairgrounds over the years.
With a wealth of information, Weber is one of those walking history books we have in our midst and he expects to be available at his “Henry’s Fords” display throughout the Super Cruise.