Look Up in the Sky

From the Collection of Gavin Ruotolo in Vero Beach: The 1947 Cushman Model 53A Airborne Tandem Scooter
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The model 53A was a civilian version made after the war. This rare tandem model is painted in a far brighter color than what the military used.

 

In 1902, Clinton Cushman, his brother Leslie and their cousin Everett Cushman began building engines for use in farm equipment, pumps, lawn mowers and small boats. In 1913 the business was incorporated as Cushman Motor Works, and a 15-acre factory was erected on X Street in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

Over the next 20 years, the company found additional uses for its motors, including in domestic appliances and small electricity plants. Cushman also landed some lucrative military contracts during World War I. But when that conflict ended, so did the company’s profitability. The Great Depression only made matters worse.

Then one day, around 1935, a new idea arrived at the plant’s front door — literally. A boy needed some replacement parts for a Cushman washing machine motor, which he had attached to his bicycle to power it. Cushman’s CEO, Charles “Uncle Charlie” Ammon, knew a good idea when he saw it and immediately assigned his two sons the task of creating the company’s first scooter: the Cushman Auto-Glide.

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