Antique auto comes home

June 20, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

Lassie came home and now a Pope Tribune has found its way home, too.

The Pope Tribune is a horseless carriage that was made in a Hagerstown factory in 1904. It was shipped to a dealer in Norwalk, Conn., where it was bought by its original owner, then sold to a second owner.

George Makowsky of Greenwich, Conn., its third owner, was 17 when he bought it in 1943, just before the Navy shipped him off to the Pacific during World War II.

He returned from the service, restored the little runabout in 1949 and drove it in shows and parades for the next nine years. He parked it in his garage in 1958 and there it stayed until last week when Sean Guy, 42, of Greencastle, bought it.


Guy grew up in Hagerstown. His great-great grandfather, Adam Mowen, built Tribunes in the Pope factory. Guy has several early 20th century Moon automobiles, but he always dreamed of one day owning a Tribune.

Only a handful of Tribunes are known to still exist, said Paul Poe of Hagerstown, who owns a 1903 model.

Guy went to the Internet and learned that a woman in Connecticut had been asking questions about Tribunes.

"I figured she had one to sell so I e-mailed her," Guy said.

It took a few months of e-mail correspondence, but he learned that the woman was Makowsky's daughter. Her father, now 76, was toying with the idea of selling his Tribune. His daughter e-mailed Guy last week and said her father was ready to sell.

Guy drove to Connecticut, met Makowsky and made the deal. He declined to say how much he paid for the car.

The Tribune had been sitting in Makowsky's garage since 1958, the last year it was registered.

Its gum-dipped Firestone tires - 28 inches high by 3 inches wide - were flat, but the car was in good shape otherwise, Guy said.

The car started but wouldn't keep running. Guy said he and Poe will have it running in time to take it to an auto show in Hagerstown this weekend.

Makowsky said he eventually lost interest in driving and showing the Tribune so he parked it in his garage.

"I just hung on to it all these years," he said in a telephone interview.

Asked if he had pangs about seeing the car hauled away in the back of Guy's pickup last week, Makowsky said, "I felt all right. After all, it's going home."

According to the Standard Catalog of American Cars, the Tribune was the smallest, cheapest car in the Pope line of automobiles.

Col. Albert A. Pope, whose family built some of the first motorcycles in the country, manufactured the Tribune in a factory on Pope Avenue. The company's headquarters were in Hartford, Conn.

The 1904 model had a six-horsepower, one-cylinder gas engine, a wooden body on an angle steel frame and weighed 750 pounds. It came with olive green paint with gold stripes, and its single leather seat held two large adults. The car sold new for $650.

The company started to raise the price of the car over the next few years.

By the time the price hit $1,750 the car stopped selling, according to Standard Catalog. The 250,000-square-foot factory, which never made a profit, was closed and sold to the Montrose Metal Casket Company, the book said.

Guy said he just plans to have fun with the car.

"I'll take it to shows and parades," he said. "It's just one of those things you just have to have. I don't think I'll ever find another one for sale."

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