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   Vern's Chevys

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As the assistant manager of Sipe Chevrolet, my father (second from left) presents the keys to a big 1948 Chevrolet to Denver Wood, a coach at Cambridge High School.  Denver was the instructor for the school's new Drivers Training Course.

Looking on are L.E. Nugent and Bob Turner of the Guernsey County Automobile Club.  This picture appeared in a half-page ad in the Daily Jeffersonian on April 24, 1948.


According to the ad, Coach Wood had gone to Dayton in January to attend the AAA school for teachers of driving.  The auto club had promised to provide a car for Cambridge students to use, but it wouldn't arrive for a couple of months.  In the meantime, Sipe Chevrolet equipped this car with dual controls, loaned it to the school without charge — and took out a newspaper ad to let everyone know about their public-spirited generosity.

When my father later became a Chevrolet dealer himself, he continued to loan cars to area school districts.  He wrote, “High school driver education was always high on my priority list.  For many years, dual-control equipped cars were furnished to local and adjoining high schools without charge.  As many as eight cars per year were furnished for many years to such schools (before consolidation) as Richwood, Magnetic Springs, Northwestern, East Liberty, Waldo, LaRue, West Mansfield, Green Camp, Ridgedale, Byhalia, and Prospect.”  I learned to drive in one of those cars, a green '63 Chevy with a three-speed manual transmission.

It was probably also in 1948 that a man who ran a plumbing business in the small town of New Concord, Ohio, traveled eight miles east to Sipe Chevrolet.  My father sold him a car for his son, a Marine fighter pilot who was returning from overseas.

The plumber was John Glenn Sr., and his son was John Glenn Jr.  He’s seen below in earlier days with his childhood sweetheart Annie, his wife for 76 years.

© John Glenn Archives, Ohio State University

On my 15th birthday in 1962, the Marine would become the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth.  After that, he served four terms as a United States Senator.