Indianapolis Auto Show Banquet - 1910

The two attachments below contain articles that report on the grand banquet that was the concluding ceremony to the March 1910 Indianapolis Auto Show. The first article was published April 2, 1910 in the Indianapolis Star and the second appeared the next day in the same paper. Other major events of the week included the floral parade and the industrial parade.
The April 2 article previews the banquet noting the expected speakers, topics and attendees. The festivities were held at the Denison Hotel which housed the headquarters and clubrooms of the Flat Tire Club for members of the local automobile industry. It was at this amazing historic site that industry leaders met regularly to discuss market trends, engineering developments and network. The banquet was scheduled for 9:30 o'clock (I believe this was in the morning to close with a lunch). The event was primarily designed for dealers and other members of the Indianapolis Automobile Trade Association (IATA) but private owners and other interested parties from around the state were welcome guests.
The stated purpose of the event was a kind of "postmortem" as many business organizations perform to gather the "learnings" of the participants and plan for the future. The leaders also aspired to what they called, "a more active state organization of all the automobile clubs in Indiana."
This first article reports that the expected program for the evening would include a series of speeches from government and auto industry leaders. Among them were:

The article reports that Batchelder met with H.O. Smith (the president of the Premier Motor Manufacturing Company) and "discussed many phases of the motor car industry and sport and the dealers are expecting some good thoughts and suggestions to drop from the New York motorist's tongue." Batchelder reportedly visited several of the local factories for a series of meetings.
The second article (attachment AutoShow04310) reports on the absolute marvel that was the banquet - an amazing gathering of entrepreneurs and pioneers of early automobiling. Governor Marshall's messages were met with unrelenting applause. Among his remarks was the quote that appears below:
"I think the automobile is one of the best influences working today to make the American people what they should be. When a man is out riding in his machine he can not be shut up in an office figuring how to grab more money; he is out getting what all American people need, more fresh air, the wind against his pale cheeks, and giving his wife and children more health and pleasure in life. In other words, the modern motor car is making the nation what it ought to be, one of a people who work only part of the time and play the other. I am not against the accumulation of money. I believe in business thrift, energy, economy and the making of money. I tell you, gentlemen of spark plugs and carburetors, that it is not a fair test of a man either to place him upon a pedestal or in the dirt because he either has or has not money. The measure of a man is not from the neck up, but from the neck down. It depends upon what impulses throb here (holding his left hand over his heart). Jim Crow says that you can tell when a man is getting old by watching him change his recreation from tennis to golf. I say that you can tell when a man is tremendously alive when he buys an automobile and starts out to enjoy life. No one likes to take a ride more than I do. I often look with envy at the owner who passes me, as I am walking to the State House, in his machine with three empty seats. I feel like hailing him and asking for a ride, and I, too, know the delight of 'letting her go.' Why, I would be tempted to tell him, 'Pull 'er out and if we are arrested I'll remit the fine.' But, seriously, gentlemen, you must remember the other fellow. The road laws of this state are all wrong and always have been and I don't know when they will be remedied. The way to do it is to make friends. Don't try to imitate our former President killing game when you are riding over the country roads by killing the farmers' chickens, hogs and dogs."
Let's pause here before continuing with the Governor's comments to unpack what he is saying. His commentary concerning the nature of man and how he is measured could easily be construed to be ideology given the speaker's reputation for a progressive agenda. The notion that man must be deliberate in seeking a balance in life between his pursuit of wealth and listening to his heart is at the least interesting. This is especially true in that he was speaking to a room of capitalists each pursuing a growing and risky industry that even then many could predict would endure a shakeout given the plethora of manufacturers. The context, too, was Indianapolis which was struggling with Detroit for supremacy in America as the industry's automobile manufacturing capital - and every man knew the harsh reality that the Hoosier capital was behind. Marshall's commentary about what makes a man feel alive - driving an automobile - speaks to the car culture passion taking root in America even at this early date.
The reference, too, to "Jim Crow" is interesting given that the term has typically been associated with racist "seperate but equal" laws actually used to segregate blacks from the white population in anything but equal status. Still, the reference in this context makes little sense until you consider that the local morning newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, employed a cartoon mascot - a black bird named "Jim Crow" - that was associated with the front page box that reported on both the weather forecast and what actually happened the previous day. The mascot also was presented as a kind of philosopher doling out whimsical commentary on life and politics. My guess is that this is what Marshall was alluding to and everyone understood the reference.
Marshall was known for his wit and he may have been practicing just a smattering of that with his reference to the former president - obviously Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt - and his penchant for hunting wild game. This introduced the era's classic battle between the more affluent in society who purchased automobiles and the less well-heeled farmer who for the most part still relied on horse-drawn wagons. The automobile presented a new risk to property loss for the farmer as the increased speed of the vehicles and the seemingly careless nature of their pilots resulted in an uptick of accidents that killed farm animals.
Perhaps the climatic message of the governor's address was a comment on the good roads movement. While he provided himself an "out," it seems clear he supported the spirit of the legislation and recognized the need for improved roads to fully realize the automobile as a means of not only economic advancement but recreation and social impact. He invited the attendees to the next General Assembly to express their concerns on the issue"
"Come to the next General Assembly in a body and in the spirit of goo roads and if there is anything I can do to help you that is just I will do it. If it is unjust, however, I will do all in my power to prevent it. We all love this state, Indiana. It always has forged to the front in everything it has taken a hand and I want you gentlemen to see to it that it takes the lead in the manufacture of automobiles."
Interestingly, Bookwalter, a Republican, references apparent discussions about Marshall running for office at the national level. He reportedly joked that he would do everything he could to keep Marshall (a democrat) in Indiana.
While Staley, Willis, Smith, David "D.M." Parry and Bookwalter all spoke their remarks were apparently brief and of little consequence. Apparently, the only other speaker with a substantive message was Batchelder. His address focused on an appeal for a better state organization for the automobile club. He pushed for legislation to register cars and uniform traffic laws spanning state boundaries. He also urged the proliferation of road signs to improve the tourist experience.
Bookwalter closed the evening with a reminder that Indianapolis had the greatest Speedway on earth.

AutoShowBanquet040210.pdf415.89 KB
AutoShow040310.pdf795.13 KB