At the end of the school year in 1949, my brother Ben decided he would forgo his senior year of high school and move to Muncie, Indiana, to live with our mother. For the first time in my life, I was not living with a member of my immediate family. Ben and I had always been together. Faye, Bob, and Lenna went to other relatives homes and I saw little of them. Sometimes they didn't feel like family as we weren't raised together.
So, here I am alone with my grandparents in Celina, Ohio. One day I met an adult who had a P-48 Powell Motor Scooter for sale. This scooter cost $300 brand new in 1948 (a lot of money then) but he wanted to get rid of it. He offered it for $50. I told Grandpa about it and he said that wasn't possible and that I didn't understand what he wanted for the scooter. He said he wanted to see it and we'd decide if it was worth the amount he wanted. This scooter was perfect. When Grandpa asked him what he wanted for it, the man said $45. SOLD!
Now I had a Whizzer Motor Bike and a P-48 Powell Motor Scooter to get around on. Let me tell you about the Powell. This scooter could really go. I checked the speed with a friend driving a car (no speedometer on the scooter) and got it to 70 miles an hour! It had a 7 horse power motor that was kick started. No key for this one either - a switch to click and you kick start the engine. You could take this scooter if you knew how to ride it. A centrifugal clutch meant no shifting gears. Just give it more gas and away you go. It has a two gallon seat shaped tank (you sat on it with a cushion) and the scooter got 50 miles to a gallon of gas. 100 miles to a tank.
The Powell was made in Compton, California. Here I am in Ohio with a product that was made a few miles from where I now live in California. They are no longer in business. I think they made scooters through 1950 or 1951 and stopped business.
I never took a picture of this scooter. Another regret! So a few years ago I wrote to Reminisce Magazine to a feature they call "Can You Give Me A Hand?" and asked if anyone had a picture of the P-48 Powell. I got seven or eight responses and one even sent me the Parts List of this model which included the picture below. I corresponded with a fellow from Northern California by email for a while. He had a 1950 model which looks more like a small motorcycle. He sent me a picture of it. We exchanged stories of our riding memories and I lost contact with him. If any of you reading this had one of these scooters, let me know in the Comments section at the end of this story.That summer, Grandma became ill and it was difficult for her to be responsible for a 15 year old as well as her husband. So another home was needed for me. (Grandma passed away the following summer.) In September 1949 I moved to Kansas City, Missouri to live with an uncle and aunt. I had to decide what I was going to do with the two items of transportation that I had. I sold the Whizzer Motor Bike to a fellow Daily Standard newspaper delivery boy named Paul Shiverdecker for $100. He was happy and so was I. I shipped the Powell to my new home and used it around Kansas City. I rode it in the winter and got double pneumonia which nearly took my life at age 15. Another story - another post. I rode the scooter to school and parked it on the street. Again, no one ever took it without my permission. Something that couldn't happen today. During 1950 the scooter broke down and I gave it to Uncle Bob who lived in Indiana. He was very handy with machines. The last thing I heard it was in his garage still not fixed. I don't know what happened to it.
I was very fortunate to have the funds to afford these items for my personal pleasure. Grandpa was supportive and helped me to keep them in working order. I had freedom to get around the town and into the surrounding countryside. It was handy in Kansas City as well. I never had a license plate on either of my toys or registered with the DMV as you now have to do. Of course, at age 15, I didn't have a driver's license either. That is needed today. Too much bureaucracy now! A kid can't be a kid anymore! Oh yeah - no helmet!