O.R. Fuller, Auburn-Fuller Co., Pioneer Commercial Auto Co., White Auto Co., KFVD, KFAC, Los Angeles, Pioneer Truck and Transfer Co., Auburn California Co., Auburn Automobile Sales Co. California Branch, Olive Ransome Fuller, Motor Transit Co. (2023)

O.R. ‘Ollie’ Fuller (b. Oct. 5, 1880-d. Aug.20, 1946) was aLos Angeles-based automobile dealer and bus line operator who held thecity’sAuburn distributorship from 1923 to 1932 at which time it was takenover byErrett Lobban Cord. During those years his firm constructed hundreds ofmotorcoach bodies as well as two custom-bodied Cord L-29s (one, anawkward-looking L-29coupe originally built for E.L. Cord, survives, unrestored in Canada)and atleast one Auburn Hearse.

Fuller started his business career workingfor his father’sdraying concern (Pioneer Truck and Transfer Co.) which he helped parlayinto a oneof Los Angeles’ largest trucking concerns.

In 1907 Fuller was awarded a Cadillacdistributorship forFullerton, and in 1909 he returned to Los Angeles to manage a motortruck salesorganization that at one time or another held franchises for Randolph,Rapid, Reliance, GMC and White trucks, and White, Stephens and Auburnautomobiles.

Prior to the start of the First World War heturned tworepossessed White trucks into a small freight business which afteradding a busline (White Bus Line) expanded into an enterprise (Motor Transit Co.)he soldfor $3 million in 1930 ($40 million in today’s dollars).

Established in 1909, the Pioneer CommercialAuto Co.,originally located at 1226-1228 S. Olive St. – later at 1017-1019 N.AlamedaSt., was reorganized as the White Automobile Co. in 1916 and increasedsales ofmotor trucks resulted in a move to 1800 S. Figueroa St., in the heartof LA’sautomobile row. Fuller continued to expand his automobile businessduring the1920s, becoming Southern California’s largest distributor of Whitetrucks andmotor buses, many of which were delivered with bodies constructed inhis owncoach works.

By 1928 the sales of Auburn passenger cars,which were addedin 1923, attracted the notice of Errett Lobban Cord who made asubstantialinvestment in the firm, which was subsequently reorganized as theAuburn-FullerCo. Auburn-Fuller became very successful and during the next severalyearsestablished additional satellites in metro Los Angeles: 1101 S.Figueroa St.,1800 S. Figueroa St., 3465 Wilshire Blvd., 6145 Hollywood Blvd.,Beverly Hills:208 N. Canon Dr., San Francisco: 1147-1155 Van Ness Ave., and Oakland:2111Webster St., California.

Unfortunately the Depression wrought havocon Fuller’sfinances and the Auburn-Fuller Co. went bankrupt in 1932. Its assetswereacquired by E.L. Cord who relocated most of its operations into amagnificentshowroom located in the automaker’s new multi-story art-deco officebuilding at3443 Wilshire Blvd.

By the end of 1932 O.R. Fuller had eithersold off, or had beenrelieved of, his transportation-related businesses and he withdrew tohis family’s3,000 acre ranch north of Corona, California where he remained untilhis deathin 1946.

The family patriarch, Henry Harrison Fuller(b.1832-d.1903),was born in Buckstown, Somerset County, Pennsylvania on June 22, 1832to Henryand Drusilla (Shockey) Fuller and moved to Grantsville, AlleganyCounty, Marylandwhen he was 10 years old. He was trained as a mason but upon reachinghismajority went into the mercantile business with his older brother,ElijahFuller. On February 26, 1854 he married Mary Ann Morewood, and to theblessedunion was born seven children. The first, Anna Losta Delana Fuller (b.Mar. 3,1855), was born in Maryland, the remaining six were born in Mt.Pleasant, Iowaafter the family moved west in 1855: Charles Henry (b. Oct. 14, 1858);MaryDrusilla (b. Dec. 8, 1860); Ortus Benton (b. Sep. 5, 1865); ErnestPearl (b.Feb 16, 1868); Walter F. (b. 1870) and Grace Vivian (b. Apr. 1873).During thattime Henry worked for at a dry goods store in New London, and then rana large boardinghouse in Mt. Pleasant for the Iowa Wesleyan University, which includedfreeliving quarters for his family. During the administration of PresidentUlyssesS. Grant (1869-1877) Henry was appointed Indian Agent at Lemhi, Idahoand he heldthat position for six years. Upon completing his appointment, Henryvisited thePhiladelphia Centennial Exposition (1877), where he decided to visitLosAngeles, California in the hopes of moving his family there. However hedecidedto postpone the move and returned to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa where here-entered themercantile trade. On Nov. 20, 1879 his eldest son, Charles HenryFuller, thefather of our subject, wed Mary Ann (Maude) Spencer and relocated toBeaver,Kansas where they established a small homestead. The union resulted inthebirth of one son, Olive Ransome Fuller, who was born in Beaver, SmithCounty,Kansas on October 5, 1880. Charles and Maude’s marriage was an unhappyone andshortly after the birth of O.R. (as Oliver Ransom preferred to becalled) theydivorced and Charles returned to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa to live with hisfamily.

Mary Anne (Maude) and her young son, O.R.,moved in with herparents and in 1887 she remarried (to George Maddy) and moved to a farmin WacoTownship, Sedgwick County, Kansas, a southwestern suburb of Wichita.For thenext decade O.R. lived and worked on his stepfather’s farm, receivinglittlemore than a rudimentary education.

In 1882 O.R.’s biological father, Charles H.Fuller, purchaseda 200-acre ranch in Azusa, California (present-day Glendora,approximately 18miles northeast of Los Angles) and in 1883 brought his family west, formanyyears engaging in the growing of oranges.

The 1884 California Voter registrationrecord and LosAngeles County directories lists O.R.’s father Charles H. Fuller andhisgrandfather, Henry Harrison Fuller, in Azusa, their occupation beingfarmers.

Also listed in the 1884 Los Angeles CountyDirectory isAzusa resident Fred Zuker (aka Zucker, b.1851-d.1911), a Germanimmigrant (arrivedin 1860) who would marry Charles H.’s sister, Mary Drusilla Fuller(b.1860-d.1945) in 1886.

In addition to raising orange and eucalyptustrees, Henry,the Fuller family patriarch, also served as the local tax collector fortheCounty of Los Angeles. He passed away on March 4, 1903 from the resultsof aninjury he sustained on Feb. 26, 1903 when he was severely injured by ahorse.

In 1886 the two eldest Fuller boys, CharlesHenry (O.R.’sfather - b.1858-d.1929) and Ortus Benton (b.1865-d.1922) Fuller,relocated tothe growing city of Los Angeles to seek their fortunes. Both are listedin the1888 California Voter registration record at 141 S. Hill St., LosAngeles,their respective occupations, laborer, and contractor. By that time theFullerbrothers had gone into business with their new brother-in-law, FredZuker (akaZucker), purchasing a transfer company from GeorgeP. McLain(1847–1930) and Martin Lehman (1851-1917).

McLain and Lehman, two Los Angeles theatermanagers who were also partners in the CityBill-posting Co.,founded the the Pioneer Transfer Co. (aka Pioneer TruckCo. / Pioneer Truck & Transfer Co.), 3 Market St., Los Angeles, in1883 to transport performers' luggage, cargo and instruments(includingpianos) from the docks and railroads to theaters and hotels. McLain waswell-connected politically and after the sale served on theLosAngeles City Council (1889 to 1891 and again 1901-to 1902), FireCommission (1893–1895) and Police Commission (1897–1899).

The Fuller's first listing appeared in the1888 LosAngeles City directory as:

“O.B. Fuller & Co. (O. B.Fuller, Charles H. Fuller and Fred Zucker), proprietorsof thePioneer Transfer Co. (formerly McLain
& Lehman), 3 Market St.”

By that time Pioneer’s teamsters transportedluggage andcargo to andfrom the docks and railroads to theaters, businesses, warehouses andhotels inand aroundLos Angeles.

As their business expanded the Pioneer Truck& Transfer Co. expanded into theranching businessand began acquiring land north of Corona, California near the Santa AnaRiverwhere they grew the hay and bred the mules and horses required in theirdrayingoperations. By 1889 the Fullers had acquired almost 3,000 acres ofpropertywhich became popularly known as the Fuller Ranch.

The 1890 California Voter registrationrecord lists Charlesand Ortus’ respective occupations as truckman and truckowner. On March31, 1891Charles H. Fuller, O.R.’s father, married Iowa native Nellie A. Johnsonin Los Angeles,it was her first marriage, his second. The 1892-1894 voting recordlistsCharles H. Fuller only, his occupation listed as ‘trucking.’

The Pioneer Truck and Transfer Co.'s listingin the 1895 LosAngelesdirectory follows:

“Pioneer Truck and Transfer Co. (C.H.Fuller, F. Zucker),150 Market St.”

The 1896-1897 Los Angeles directories listCharles H. Fulleras a partner in two businesses, Fuller & Zucker and McPherson &Fuller,his address, 419 Jackson, and his occupation ‘teaming.’ Fuller &Zucker’slisting follows:

“Fuller & Zucker, (C.H. Fuller, F.Zucker) Pioneer Truckand Transfer Co., 150 Market St.

“McPherson & Fuller, (J.R. McPherson,C.H. Fuller)livery, feed and sale stables, 220-222 Requena”

Soon after reaching his majority, Charlesand Ortus Fuller’syounger brother, Earnest Pearl Fuller (aka Earl, b. Feb. 16, 1865)moved from Azusa to LosAngeles where he went to work for his brother’s various enterprises.

Charles H. Fuller’s son, Orville Ransome(O.R.) was bidingthe time until he reached his majority and could join his father in LosAngeles. That day came on October 5, 1898, when 18-yo O.R. boarded atrainbound for California. He spent the next several years attending schoolandworking part-time at his father and uncle’s draying concern. The 1900US Censuslists our subject, O.R. Fuller as living with his father and stepmotherat 419Jackson St., Los Angeles, his occupation being ‘at school’, his fatherislisted as keeper of a livery stable. His businesses were both listed inthe1900-1902 Los Angeles directories as follows:

“Pioneer Stables, 220 Requena

“Pioneer Truck and Transfer Co. (F.Zucker,C.H. Fuller),150 Market St.”

Pioneer’s various activities were describedin the September3, 1905 edition of the Los Angeles Herald as follows:

“Pioneer Truck and Transfer Company

“No sort of public convenience is morevalued andappreciated than the services of an up-to-date and reliable truck andtransfercompany, and the people of Los Angeles may well count themselvesfortunate tohave at their command services of the Pioneer company. The Pioneeroperatesfrom sixty to seventy teams and do every kind of hauling and moving alloverthe city, and devote special attention to freight hauling, doing alarge amountof work as distributors of consolidated car shipments, in which latterlinesthey are always to be relied upon for prompt and satisfactorydeliveries. Theyare also general forwarders, looking carefully after all the details ofpacking, billing, etc., for their patrons. In the moving business theyare thebest in the city. They pack the household furniture with care and haulvaluablepieces in padded vans, etc., so that the dangers of breakage in movingarereduced to a minimum. The proprietors of the company are C.H. Fullerand FredZucker, both of whom are transfer men of long experience. This companyhavebeen engaged In the business for thirty-five years or more and haveoperatedunder their present name since 1888, the present management having hadchargesince that date. Their offices are centrally located at 201-203 NorthMainstreet and 101 Market street, and telephone orders over phone PrivateExchange137 receive equally as prompt and satisfactory attention as thosedelivered inperson.”

The firm also ran an extensive ranch locatedin eastern LosAngeles County, just north of Corona, which was detailed in a 1907article inthe Corona Daily Independent:

“Operating a Big Property – Large scale onwhich FullerRanch is conducted: A detailed description of one of the big ranchpropositionsthat are contributing to the prosperity and welfare of Corona

“The Fuller ranch, located northwest ofCorona, is owned bythe Pioneer Truck Company of Los Angeles, and those who have notvisited theproperty have no conception of its magnitude.

“The ranch consists of more than 5,000acresof land, and isdevoted to hay and stock raising. To irrigate this vast tract 1,000inches ofwater is required, the greatest portion of which flows through a largeditchfrom the Santa Ana River. The balance is supplied by a 64 horse powerengine,which raises 380 miners’ inches, the plant being in continuousoperation. Toadd still further to the supply, another well will soon be drilled andanadditional engine installed.

“The present crop on this big ranchconsistsof 500 acres ofalfalfa, 1,500 acres of barley, while 500 acres is devoted to otherproducts,such as corn, melons, beets, and garden truck, and the balance is inpasture.

“Last year, in addition to the home ranch,the companyrented a dry ranch three miles north of Corona, consisting of about2,000acres, which was sowed to barley and cut for hay. This hay was baledandshipped to Los Angeles, the daily output from both ranches averagingeight carsper day for several weeks. Some idea can therefore be formed of thelarge scaleon which this ranch does things. Still another ranch the company rentedwas onthe Yorba estate of 2,700 acres, near Fullerton.

“Another ranch of still greaterproportionsis one nearSanta Barbara, 15 miles long and six miles wide. This is devotedexclusively tostock-raising, where are cattle, horses, and hogs by the thousands.

“There are now on the home ranch about1,300head of swine,the greatest portion of which will be shipped to the Santa Barbararanch, wherethey are fatted on the pulp from a sugar beet factory.

“In the horse line the company has thebestthe country canproduce or that money can buy. At present only brood mares, stallions,and workanimals are on the ranch, the others being in Los Angeles or on the bigranchat Santa Barbara.

“Before entering further on a descriptionofthe horsesraised and owned on this ranch, attention should be directed to the twoclassesof fast horses raised, thoroughbred and standard. As many do notunderstand thedifference between them, it may be explained that the thoroughbreds arerunninghorses, while the standards are trotters. Of the standard horses thereis astallion that has made a mile in 2:15, and a young filly has made thesamerecord. Of the thoroughbreds there are not very many on the home ranch,as theyhave been shipped to the ranch in the north. However, there are somebeautiesto be seen here, some of the young colts being valued at $1,000 each.

“There is on the ranch a herd of 60pure-bred French broodmares, said to be the largest herd of their kind in the United States.Some ofthese animals were imported from France, and their progeny cannot bebeatanywhere. At the Pasadena horse show last February these mares carriedaway allthe prizes.

“There is a black Percheron stallion ontheranch thatweighs 2,105 pounds. This horse won the first prize at the State FairatSacramento in 1904, when he was only four years old. This fact is allthe moreremarkable when it is considered the horse came into competition withthe beststallions California could produce and was also a stranger in thecapital city,as well as the man who had it in charge. It was a clear case of merit.

“A son and daughter of this horse weigh1,685 and 1,525pounds, respectively. He is also the sire of a span of three-year-oldsthattrip the scales at 3,825 pounds, there being only 25 pounds differencein theirweight. Another span of these colts, less than one year old, weighs2,510pounds; and so on down the line.

“The buildings on the ranch include thesuperintendent’shouse of nine rooms; the dining room for employees, 20 by 60 feet; andtwobarns, 80 by 100 and 40 by 80 feet respectively. The barns have acombinedcapacity for housing 80 horses.

“To handle the hay crop there are 32mowers,16 rakes, 4stackers, 14 buckrakes, 3 headers, and 4 balers. From 15 to 30 men areemployedto conduct the activities of the ranch.

“To operate this ranch on a paying basisrequires skill andexecutive ability. This duty devolves upon W.W. Cochran, who has beenitsmanager and superintendent for the past six years. How well heperformed hisduty is attested by what he has done and the results achieved.

“A short time ago Mr. Cochran lost hiswife,a most amiableChristian lady, a woman who was loved and esteemed by all who knew her.Mr.Cochran has one child, a bright little girl five years of age, whom hewilleducate in one of the Los Angeles colleges.”

In 1905 O.R. Fuller married a Fullerton,California nativenamed Agnes Nicolas and moved to the Olinda Ranch, a 4,400 acre parcellocatednearby that was owned by a Los Angeles syndicate who exploited theland’sabundant oil reserves. Fuller leased a small portion of the ranch toraise hayfor his father’s ever-expanding stables, and with his brother-in-law,PeterNicholas, opened a livery business at 201 S. Spadra St. that inaddition tohorses and mules offered dry goods, feed, and building materials toFullertonlocals.

Like many young men O.R. Fuller caught theautomotive bugand in 1907 was appointed the local agent for Cadillac automobiles andrenamedhis livery business to the Eureka Stables and Garage.

The July 17, 1908 edition of the Los AngelesHerald had ashort article which detailed some hanky-panky going on at a N. AlamedaSt.parcel owned by the Pioneer Truck and Transfer Co. It also mentionsthat atthat time Charles H. Fuller was a member of the City of Los AngelesPoliceCommission:



“Nothing Known of Alleged Lessee, Who inAffidavit DeclaresHe Collected Rents from Two of the Most Notorious Places in theTenderloinDistrict of Los Angeles

“Police Commissioner Charles H. Fuller,president of thePioneer Truck and Transfer company, which has been accused of owningthe housesof ill fame conducted by Vannie Green, 434 North Alameda street, andCamille deGras, 438 North Alameda street, yesterday made public an affidavit,which hecertified as true, made out by "W. Cochrane," who claims he leasedthe property of the Pioneer Truck and Transfer company June 1, 1907.Efforts tolocate "W Cochrane" yesterday were of no avail. No one around thetransfer company's office or at the two properties in dispute seemedable togive Cochrane's address. Meanwhile Attorney Woolwine says he is willingtoprosecute the case, but that he can find no one to swear to thecomplaint. Hecan't get the police department to procure evidence, he says, becausetheywould be working, against one who is Chief Kern's superior in office.Thelatter declines to take a hand in the affair because he declares theaffidavitof Fuller exonerates him. He says: "I do not care to detail an officeronthis case because I have at hand a statement from Mr. Fuller which willprovehe is not guilty of violating this section of the state law." The"state law"—section 316 of the Penal code—reads: "Any person whokeeps any disorderly house, or any house for the purpose of assignationorprostitution, or any house or public retort by which the peace orcomfort ordecency of the neighborhood is habitually disturbed, or who keeps anyinn in adisorderly manner, and every person who lets any apartment or tenementknowingthat it is to be let for the purpose of assignation or prostitution, isguiltyof a misdemeanor." The statute prescribes a penalty of $500, six monthsinprison or both. Somebody has been operating it. But whether or not itwas"W. Cochrane" is not known to the police. Inasmuch as the affidavitof W. Cochrane releases Police Commissioner Fuller from any wrong, thepolicethink, their interest in the matter to all appearances ends. W.Cochrane admitsin his affidavit he is a non-resident of Los Angeles, but no otherinformationconcerning him is given. Just where he may be remains a mystery, andwithoutthe aid of the police it may not be solved. W. Cochrane considers thematterclosed, for he states he has ordered the premises vacated. There are agoodmany people anxious to locate W. Cochrane, and if the truth of hisaffidavit isconfirmed he may be prosecuted anyway. The interesting affidavit of W.Cochrane, non-resident owner alleged, is as follows:

“State of California, county of LosAngeles,ss.

"W. Cochrane, being duly sworn, says thatonthe 1stday of June, 1907, the Pioneer Truck and Transfer company of LosAngeles, for avaluable consideration, executed to me a lease for and option topurchase thefollowing described property, to wit:

"Beginning at a point In the easterly lineof Alamedastreet, at the southwest corner of the tract of land described in thedeed fromJose Perez and wife to Henry Wartenberg, recorded in book 11, page 56of deeds,records of said Los Angeles county, and being one hundred fifty (150)feetsoutherly from the intersection of said line of Alameda street with thesoutherly line of Labory lane; thence easterly along the southerly lineof theland so conveyed to Wartenberg south sixty-eight (68) degreesforty-five (45)minutes, east, one hundred ten (110) feet; thence southerly parallelwith saidline of Alameda street one hundred (100) feet; thence westerly parallelwiththe southerly line of the land conveyed to Wartenberg one hundred ten(110)feet to the easterly line of Alameda street; thence northerly alongsaid lineof Alameda street one hundred (100) feet to the point of beginning.

"That immediately upon the execution ofsaidlease andoption I went into possession of said premises and ever since have beenand amnow in possession of the same and the whole thereof.

"That immediately upon my takingpossessionof saidpremises as above stated I appointed an agent to collect the rents astheybecame due therefor, and my said agent has accounted to me and to noone elsefor said rents. That I am a non-resident of the county of Los Angeles,and uponlearning that objection was made as to the use charged to have beenmade ofsaid premises I have ordered all the tenants to remove therefrom, andam takingand will continue to take the necessary steps to have said premisesImmediatelyvacated. I make this affidavit in justice to Mr. Fuller.

"W. Cochrane.

"Subscribed and sworn to before me this16thday ofJuly, 1908. A.D. Laughlin, Notary public in and for Los Angeles county,stateof California. [Seal]

"I certify that the above statement istrue.C.H.Fuller."

By 1907, the Fuller Bros. Ranch in Coronawas countedamongst the best cattle and horse breeding farms in California. Besidespasturefor the horses, hogs and other livestock, large acreages were devotedto barleyand alfalfa, much of which was exported, and to truck crops, includingcorn,melons and beets.

The Fuller Brother's listing in the 1909 LosAngeles directory follows:

“Pioneer Truck and Transfer Co. of LosAngeles (C.H. Fullerpres, and treas., O.B. Fuller, v-pres., Fred Zucker, sec., G.J. Ramsey,mgr.)201-203 N Main.”

Ortus B. Fuller is listed as general managerof the L.A.Warehouse Co., although he’s not listed as being an owner of the firm,whichwas located at 316 Commercial St. On April 3, 1911, Fred Zucker, theFullerbrothers’ longtime business partner, passed away and his share of thebusiness passedto his sister, Charles H. Fuller’s wife.

The January 22, 1908 issue of the HorselessAge includes the only mention int the trades of Fuller's Cadillacbusiness:

“O.R. Fuller, Fullerton, Cal., agent fortheCadillac car,has purchased the stock of the Oswald Garage, and will continue thebusiness atthe same place.”

The New Incorporations column of the May 20,1908 issue of theHorseless Age included a mention of a Fuller Motor Car Co., which mayor may not be related to O.R. Fuller's various enterpises:

“Fuller Motor Car Co., Los Angeles, Cal. -Capital,$75,000.”

In April 1909, O.R. sold the Cadillacdealership and movedback to Los Angeles. He was convinced the motor truck was going toreplace thehorse & wagon and with the financial backing of his father heformed a motortruck sales business, the Pioneer Commercial Auto Co. and was appointedthe LosAngles agent for Randolph, Rapid and Reliance motor trucks. TheSeptember 4,1910 editionof the Los Angeles Herald pictured a 22-passenger Reliance auto bus thefirmhad recently delivered to a Bakersfield hotel:

“Bakersfield To Have Hotel Bus for $4,500

“Pioneer Commercial Auto Company of ThisCity ManufacturesFine Motor Cars

“In all probability the finest commercialmotor car in theworld is in Los Angeles awaiting delivery, and it is that hustling oiltown,Bakersfield, that will enjoy the distinction of putting it in use for apublicpurpose. For a sale price of $4,500 the Pioneer Commercial Auto companyof thiscity constructed for the proprietors of the Southern hotel atBakersfield thehandsomest hotel bus yet designed.

“The contract called for a Reliance motortrack chassis, butthe body was built and the equipment furnished in Los Angeles. Itscarryingcapacity is twenty-two passengers. The upholstery is of best leatherwith seatsand back of the air cushion type. The woodwork is painted in abeautiful brownshade and the running gear black and yellow. The motor is 60-horsepowerand ispowerful enough to overcome any and all road conditions. Because ofrecentvictories in the great eastern motor truck endurance race fromPhiladelphia toAtlantic City and return, the tires selected are the Hartfords, andthey havebeen supplied by the local firm of Chanslor & Lyon.

“Phil Lyon feels particularly elated attheselection of hiskind of tires, for as stated the eastern contest was the first of itskind everheld In America. The success of commercial cars depends very largely onthequestion of tires. The Hartford solid motor tire has been the longeston themarket and has always held supremacy for endurance and economy. Themethod ofHartford tire attachment with side flanges bolted on through woodfelloe, makesit impossible for them to become loose or tear away. Manager O.R.Fuller of thePioneer company was the real originator of this splendid hotel bus andwasgiven carte blanche orders to turn out a perfect car which would beused tohaul the oil nabobs from the station to the hotel in Bakersfield. Mr.Fullerstates that the car will be sent under its own power to Bakersfieldsome timethis week. A good photograph of the bus is reproduced above.”

The 1910 US Census lists Fuller’s occupationas automobileagent.

The September 24, 1911 edition of the LosAngeles Herald included a picture of a recent Randolph delivery trucksold bythe firm:

“New Side Door Randolph Delivery Sold byPioneer CommercialAuto Co.

“That the man who can afford the expenseandyet who holdsout longest In making the purchase of a motor car for business orpleasure, isapt to develop into a motoring enthusiast rapidly and one of the bestofboosters for motor cars in general, is well Illustrated by the story ofa saleof a Randolph delivery wagon recently made by O.R. Fuller, generalmanager ofthe Pioneer Commercial Auto company, to a business man In a nearbytown.

“This man’s business is retailing lightandheavy hardwareand a large shop devoted to the repair of automobiles, particularlyradiators.Having so many leaky radiators coming to the shop had convinced himthat theupkeep of a car was decidedly expensive, but becoming more interestedin astrenuous demonstration made with a light Randolph delivery wagon, madefor aneighbor merchant, and after several months’ watching the service hisrival gotfrom his car without any mechanical troubles, he asked for ademonstration forhimself and soon closed a deal for a Randolph.

“The lightness and easy running qualitiesofthe car hascaused him to fit it up for a rather unique pleasure car for the use ofhisfamily on Sundays and holidays. Several ‘T’ rails have been imbedded inthe bottomof the car on which a set of adjustable seats can be quickly put inplace and afamily carryall is the result, and on Sunday he drives the car from 50to 160miles on pleasure jaunts. The outlook, says Fuller, for commercial carbusinessthis season in Southern California, is that the demand will exceed thesupply.Particularly is this true of the small deliveries, for there is hardlyamercantile business that can’t be increased by rapid delivery, and theupkeepof a small car is less than the expense of one horse. The fact thatcars can beused for pleasure as well as business is appealing to the smallmerchant whodoes not feel that he can afford two machines. The Pioneer CommercialAutocompany has a fully equipped maintenance station and always keepsseveral cars inreserve to loan any of their customers should their own wagon meet withamishap.”

After Reliance merged with Rapid to becomeGMC in late 1911,E.P. (Edgar Preston) Brinegar, president of San Francisco’s similarlynamedPioneer Auto Co., became the Pacific Coast G.M.C. distributor, andorganized anew firm, the Pioneer Motor Truck Corp., 515 Van Ness Ave., to handleitsdistribution.

The construction of a new garage wasmentioned in the November 30, 1912 issue of Automobile Topics:

“LOS ANGELES, CAL. - The PioneerCommercialAuto Co. isbuilding a huge garage at the corner of North Main and Alameda streets.Thestructure will be of concrete and steel, four stories high, and willhave 48,000square feet of floor space.”

For the next several years Fuller’s PioneerCommercial AutoCo., continued to sell G.M.C. Trucks in Los Angeles, the June 1, 1913editionof the Oakland Tribune mentioning his expertise in merchandisingheavy-dutyvehicles:

“Los Angeles is Big Truck City: G.M.C.TruckMan ComparesTerritorial Advantages in South

“Regarding the marketing of Trucks on thePacific Coast,P.D. Tabler, director of sales of the Pioneer Motor Truck Corporation,callsattention to the fact that many more trucks are purchased in LosAngeles thanin San Francisco.

“Of course, the reason for this is thatwhere they are nomore progressive than the citizens of San Francisco, they have a widerstretchof territory to cover, says the Pioneer Commercial Auto Co., whohandlesthe G.M.C. trucks in that city, under the very able management of O.R.Fuller,has placed a large quantity of G.M.C. trucks in that city within thepast twoyears, aggregating something between $250,000 and $300,000 worth. Thesehave beensold to users in all lines of business.

“Fuller has a thorough comprehensive graspof the industrialhaulage question, has had wide experience in contracting and has alarge andcomplete building arranged for garaging, repairing and installing thelatestdevices. He is therefore enabled to consult with his customer regardinghiscustomer needs, give his customer the service that he knows isnecessary, andbe prepared beforehand for an emergency that he knows will probablearrive,though the customer has probably overlooked it.

“He has therefore succeeded far beyond themost optimisticexpectations, and has gained the confidence and good will of hiscustomers. Itis merely an indication of what can be accomplished with a good line oftrucksto sell, and an intelligent handling of the situation, and a thoroughrealization of the moral and just responsibilities incurred by sellinganycustomer a truck.”

Now that Fuller had to buy his G.M.C. trucksthrough adistributor, he began searching for a competing line to distribute. Heenteredinto negotiations with Cleveland, Ohio’s White Motor Co., and in 1913becamethe Southern California and Arizona distributor for White automobilesand motortrucks. Later that year he repossessed two new White trucks and insteadofreselling them, they were offered to his father on a trial basis, so hecouldsee for himself how efficient they were over his current fleet ofhorse-drawntrucks and delivery wagons.

At the end of the year Pioneer Truck &Transfer tabulatedtheir expenses and determined that the motorized conveyances were farmore efficient,and began purchasing White trucks for use on some of their longer runs,although they wouldn’t become fully motorized for another decade.

In August of 1914 the Fuller brothersdispatched theiryounger brother E.P. Fuller to manage their 500,000-acre Chihuahua,Mexicocattle ranch, Rancho San Domingo, which was located 120 miles south ofthebordertown of El Paso, Texas. Although his life had been uneventful upto thatpoint, a lead item on the front page of the September 22, 1915 editionof theLos Angeles Times reveals E.P. Fuller had been kidnapped by Mexicanoutlaws:

“For Ransom? Wealthy Angeleno is kidnappedby Bandits.

“E.P. Fuller and his Ranch Foreman Held byMexican ‘Red Flaggers.’

“Wife, Former San Francisco Girl, RidesAllNight to GetWord to His Brothers in this City of Seizure of General Manager ofHalf-million-acre Santo Domingo Ranch—Authorities Appealed To.

“Kidnaped and presumably held for ransombya band of Mexican‘red flaggers,’ the whereabouts of E.P. Fuller of this city, generalmanagerand part owner of the great Santo Domingo Rancho, 120 miles from ElPaso, andWilliam McCabe of Santa Barbara, the ranch foreman, are a mystery. Mrs.Fuller,who was left alone upon the ranch when the brigands rode away with hercaptivehusband, reached Villa Ahumada, a railroad station twenty miles away,yesterdaymorning, and telegraphed to his brother’s here.

“The brothers, C.H. and O.B. Fuller,president andvice-president respectively of the Pioneer Truck Company of this cityandmembers of the corporation owning the immense ranch, tried in vainduring theday and last night to get in communication with their sister-in-law.They willleave no stone unturned in an effort to locate their brother and securehisrelease.

“A dispatch from El Paso last night statedthat troops werebeing rushed from Juarez by (Pancho) Villa officers to the protectionof Mrs.Fuller and to secure her husband’s release - indicating that thebandits arenot a part of Villa’s forces. The brigands are believed to be theSanchez Brothers’gang who have been terrorizing Western Chihuahua and who have workedover tothe Mexican Central line to obtain provisions and beef.

“In answer to Mrs. Fuller’s appeal, troopsare being sentnorth from Chihuahua on special trains. The troops from Juarez weresent byspecial request of American Consul Thomas D. Edwards and the Chihuahuaat therequest of Marian Fletcher, consul at Chihuahua.

“Following is the telegram received by theFullers:

“VILLA AHUMADA (Mex.) Sept 21.

“Pearl (E. P. Fuller) and McCabe weretakenby red flaggersyesterday. Have heard nothing from them. No Americans here.

“BERTHA (Mrs. E. P. Fuller.)

“Mrs. Fuller also telegraphed to friendsinEl Paso andreported seizure of her husband to the State Department in Washington.

“E.P. Fuller, accompanied by his wife,wentto the ranchabout eighteen months ago to manage it. It is well stocked with cattle,and oflate Mr. Fuller has been very busy in having them branded. His brotherssay theproperty has brought large financial returns though Gen. (Pancho) Villahascharged them $10 per head for taking cattle across the boundary.

“With slow means of transportation, it isbelieved Mrs.Fuller probably rode throughout the night from the rancho to VillaAhumada toget word as quickly as possible to her husband’s brothers. The road isnot muchtraveled, and if she made the trip alone she must have endured a mosttryingexperience. That she has no Americans to whom she can look forprotection makesher plight the more hazardous, and her relatives have taken steps tosendrelief to her at the earliest possible moment.

“The Fuller brothers have owned the SantoDomingo Rancho forseveral years, and have operated it with great success notwithstandingtheunsettled conditions in that country. The tract consists of 500,000acresrepresenting an investment of $600,000.

“William McCabe, the foreman, is awell-known formerresident of Santa Barbara. He has been in Mexico for a number of yearsand hashad many narrow escapes from the brigands.

“‘We are hoping for the best, but willtakeno chances,’O.B. Fuller said last night. ‘We have communicated with the authoritiesin ElPaso and in the East, and expect them to take immediate action.’

“Early last week a letter was receivedfromMr. Fuller and,while he was optimistic over the situation in the State of Chihuahua,heintimated that trouble was to be expected at any time.

“Mr. Fuller is 48 years old and up to thetime he departedfor Mexico was engaged in business here with his brothers. He is wellknown bybusiness men throughout Southern California. Mrs. Fuller is a formerSanFrancisco girl and her parents now reside there.”

The September 24, 1915 Associated Pressnewswire carried thefollowing developments:

“Goes After Ransom Money

“Dispatches from Chihuahua say thatforemanMcCabe of theSanto Domingo ranch, who was kidnapped with the manager, E.P. Fuller,severaldays ago, is en route to El Paso for $2,000 ransom money to obtainFuller’srelease.

“McCabe was released by the bandits to actas messenger. Ifhe does not return, it is said Fuller’s life will be taken.”

Apparently the $2,000 ransom was paid asFuller is known tohave died in 1938 at the age 70, the 1930 US Census lists him andBertha (whomhe had married on Oct. 14, 1914) as cotton farmers in El Paso. Texas.

The 1913-1915 LA Directories list O.R.Fuller aspresident-manager of the Pioneer Commercial Auto Co., Selig Cahn(b.1869-d.1936), sec-trea., 1017-1019 N. Alameda with the 1915directory addinga satellite facility at 720-722 San Fernando.

The January 13, 1916 issue of the Automobileannounced thatG.M. Flint had been hired on as head of the firm’s White pleasure carsales:

“Flint Heads Los Angeles White

“G.M. Flint has been placed at the head ofthe pleasure cardepartment of the Pioneer Commercial Auto Co., Los Angeles, Cal., whichcontrols the southern California and Arizona agency for the Whiteproducts. Mr.Flint for the past two years has been manager of the local Molinebranch.”

In 1916 the Pioneer Commercial Auto Co. soldtwoWhite auto stagesto the Package and Express Stage Line (aka P&E), a smalloperationthat connected Los Angeles and Anaheim via Whittier and Fullerton. Thefirm wasforced into bankruptcy following a bad road accident, at which timePioneerrepossessed the 2 vehicles and acquired its routes from the receiverand onDecember 1, 1916 Fuller organized his recently acquired enterprise asthe WhiteBus Line. In 1917 he formed the Clark Stage Line, 1017 N. Alameda St,LosAngeles, another automobile stage that ran from Los Angeles to SanBernardino.

The October 15, 1917 issue of Motor Westannounced a reorganization of the Pioneer Commercial Auto Co.:

“L.A. White Changes Name.

“The Pioneer Commercial Auto Co., Whitecarand truck dealerin Los Angeles, has changed its name to the White Auto Co.”

The next issue (November 1, 1917) of MotorWest mentions they were putting up a new garage:

"The White Auto Co., distributors of Whitecars andtrucks, will have a two story garage, 97x155 feet and costing $50,000,builtfor them at Eighteenth andFigueroa Sts."

O.R. Fuller’s wife, Agnes, fell ill in late1917and passed away inMarch of 1918 without giving Fuller an heir. His WWI draft registrationcardlists him as single, his occupation, automobile dealer, whose business(WhiteAuto Co.) was located at 1800 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. The 1918LosAngeles directory (printed in 1917) continued to list the White AutoCo. asfollows:

“White Auto Co., O.R. Fuller Pres., SeligCahn, sec-treas,automobiles, 1017 N. Alameda.”

The March 15, 1918 issue of Motor Westannounced thatconstruction had commenced on Fuller’s new business:

“Ground for New White Home Broken.

“As the next step in the decision of theWhite Auto Co., LosAngeles, to move from its present location in North Alameda St.district downinto the automobile center of the city lying south of Tenth St., groundhasbeen broken for a new building at the south-east corner of EighteenthandFigueroa Sts.The new home of White cars and trucks willbeconstructed of brick and concrete and will have dimensions of 98 x155 feet.”

When the White Motor Co. ended carproduction after WWIFuller started distributing the Stephens Salient Six, a high-qualitymid-pricedautomobile manufactured in Freeport, Illinois by the Stephens MotorBranchsubsidiary of the Moline Plow Co.

In 1919 Fuller purchased the ARG Bus Co.,which operated aroute between Los Angeles and San Diego via Santa Ana and by the end oftheyear he controlled 3 separate bus operations, the White, Clark and ARGlines, creatinga network of routes stretching from Los Angeles to San Diego and pointsEast (Ontario, Riverside and San Bernardino).

In 1920 Fuller acquired the El Dorado StageLine, whichconnected Los Angeles with Bakersfield. Although the distance betweenthe twomunicipalities was only 45 miles, it required the buses take a perilousrouteconsisting of multiple steep grades and hairpin turns, which took thebetterpart of 10 hours. Bakersfield also served as a connecting point to theSanJoaquin Valley and points north so Fuller entered into an operatingagreementwith two northern carriers - Valley Transit (Bakersfield to Merced) andCalifornia Transit (Merced to Oakland) – thereby creating a means oftransporting passengers from Los Angeles to Oakland without a transfer.The three firms’ pooled motor coaches would be driven from Los AngelestoBakersfield bya Motor Transit Co. driver, from Bakersfield to Merced by a ValleyTransitdriver and from Merced to Oakland by a California Transit driver – allfor onelow fare. By 1921 the system offered 4 round trips per day.

In 1920 Fuller bought out the Mountain AutoLine, a smalloperation owned by Max and Perry Green that served San Bernardino andthesurrounding mountain resorts of Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead, hiring Maxon asthe Motor Transit system’s traffic manager.

On April 14, 1920 the White Bus Line and itsvarious holdingwere consolidated as the Motor Transit Co. and a related corporation,the Union StageDepot, Inc., commenced construction of a modern $700,000 bus terminal,The UnionStage Depot, at Fifth and Los Angeles Streets inCentral LosAngeles in order to provide direct service from L.A. to all of thecitiesserved by the corporation's investors, the May 1922 issue of BusTransportation reporting:

“Los Angeles Union Stage Depot Used by350 Cars Daily

“Arrangement of Joint Terminal FacilitiesBenefits Eight PacificCoast Companies and Their Patrons—Three per Cent of Ticket Sales inDepot PayIts Running Expenses

“Two years ago the idea of a Union StageDepot in LosAngeles, Cal., materialized in the form of an agreement betweenseveral autostage lines and the leasing of a suitable lot at Fifthand LosAngeles Streets, where a structure specially designed for thisservice waserected. When this was equipped and put in service the number ofpassengerscarried on all participating lines showed a sudden increase - as muchas 20 percent in some cases. The Union Depot plan afforded anopportunity toimpress the traveling public with the extent of the motor bus systemstributaryto Los Angeles; it took the small companies ‘off the street,’reducedtheir overhead costs and gave to the passengers of all routes alike theconveniences of a steam railroad depot. Although there is norecordof the number of passengers going through the depot daily,pastrecords show that in the last nine months of 1921 the ticket sales inthis depottotaled $700,000.

“The depot is operated by a corporation,theUnion StageDepot, Inc., which was formed for that purpose, one share of stockbeing issuedto each company desiring to participate. At present eight companies areco-operating in this way. Affairs of the corporation are managed by aboard offive directors elected annually by the stockholders. These directorselecttheir own officers, which consist of president, vice-president andsecretary-treasurer. None of these are salaried positions. Onedirector,however, is appointed to take active charge of the depot inthecapacity of manager, reporting to the board.

“The corporation is operated strictlywithout profit somember companies will not have to pay income taxes on earnings twice.The depotoperating expenses are apportioned among the member companies eachmonth inproportion to the amount of ticket sales over each line in thedepotticketoffice. This is believed more accurately to represent the servicerendered bythe depot to each company than did the first arrangement,which basedthe apportionment on the number of schedules each company operated outof thedepot.

“The monthly assessment on membercompaniesis usually about3 per cent of the gross ticket sales. This, supplemented by rental fromconcessions, pays the rental on the property and the salaries ofemployees.

“The latter include nine ticketagents, depot master,police officer (who has the rank of a full-fledged patrolman in thecity policedepartment), auditor, information clerk and a general inspector. Eachcompanyprovides its own starter and collects tickets from passengers, theresponsibility of the corporation ceasing whenthe depot masteradmits the waiting passengers through the gates to the loading platform.

“One or more ticket agents are on dutyeighteen hours out ofthe twenty-four. During the busiest hours six ticket wickets are used.Eachcompany provides its own tickets. Rates on the valley routes are, ingeneral,about 2½ cents per mile one way. Balanced rates are as follows: 2.12½cents for round trip, 1.87½ centsfor ten-ride book and 1.5 cents forthirty-ride commutation books. There are a few competing routes runningout ofthedepot,these being the old lines that were operatingbefore thepassage of the act requiring that each route secure a certificate ofconvenience and necessity from the State Railroad Commission. Accordingto thejoint agreement, the ticket agents are instructed to offer thepassenger thealternatives of competitive routes and to quote both rates withoutgivingpreference in any way.

“The concessions in or adjoining the mainwaiting roominclude a lunchroom, a cigar and notion counter, drug store, bootblackstand,etc. Office space on mezzanine floors is rented to the PickwickStage Companyand to the Motor Transit Company. The latter company operates 270 ofthe busesthat daily leave the depot (about four-fifths of the totalnumber)and in addition to the office space finds it desirable to maintain a 60x70-ft. space adjoining the depot driveway for use as aservicedepartment. This is in addition to the main equipment and repair plant,whichoccupies a four-story concrete structure at 220 Market Street. Thesmallercompanies operating through theunion depotdo theirinspection andrepair work at their respective garages or where their cars are storedbetweenruns. The only service they get at the depot is gas and oil,forwhich they pay independently of the corporation assessments.

“The service department maintainedadjoiningthe depot bythe Motor Transit Company includes machine shop, tire room, expressroom,washing rack, two stationary and two portable gasoline filling stands.Driverson incoming cars are required to leave on the steering wheel a tagnoting anytrouble or indication of trouble that was observed in the course of thetrip.The inspector removes this tag, examines any parts where trouble isreportedand either has the necessary repair made at once or substitutes anothercar forthe next run. The card itself is filed for reference. Two men fill thegasolinetank and put in oil if any is required, while others inspect the tires;aboutten men are employed in greasing the cars. The car moves to itsposition forreceiving passengers five minutes before the time for leaving.

“Stages drive through the depot inone directiononly, coming in at the Maple Avenue entrance and leaving viathe LosAngeles Street exit. The loading platform is just outside thegates fromthe waiting room and is 8 in. above the level of the driveway. The morefrequent service buses pull in against the curb of the loading platformwhilethe long distance cars leave from the space beyond. There is room atthisdepotforabout fourteen cars to stand at one time in the space reserved for carsawaiting passengers.

“Buses to Travel From Los Angeles ToVancouver

“Tickets are sold in the depot topoints in allparts of the state reached by motor buses, and by next summer, when thePickwick stages are operating over the proposed northern extension ofthe SanDiego-Portland run, through tickets can be purchased fromLosAngelestoVancouver, B. C. The individual cars leaving thedepottravelwithoutchange to Santa Barbara, 108 miles north on the coast run; toBakersfield, 140miles north on the interior run; to San Bernardino, 68 miles east, andto SanDiego, 132 miles south.

“For the longer trips passengersordinarilychange cars atthe points named. The Pickwick system, however, operates a through caronce aday from Los Angelesto San Francisco, 455 miles. When the summerbusinesscommences this year, three through-car runs will be put on betweenthese twocities, one being an owl service which will make the run in the night.These throughcars will be equipped with reclining chairs. The combined routes insouthernCalifornia have a total length of about 2,500 miles and offertransportationpractically everywhere the roads go.

“The Union Depot plan has morethan justifieditself with companies and patrons and is believed to be a permanentinstitution. The idea, at least to the extent of co-operation in ajointterminal, has already spread to a number of other Pacific Coast cities.”


“The Los Angeles Union Stage Depot. Themainpassenger entranceis at the left, under the words ‘Union Stage Depot.’ The executiveofficesoccupy the second floor of this building. The loaded stages emerge fromthedouble exit at the extreme right.

“Interior of Los Angeles UnionStage Depot. Ticket sales wicket on right; gates to stage loadingplatforms in background; despatcher's offices under construction inupper left.”

Fuller also remarried in 1920, to IoneFranklinWright(b. Jun 24, 1892), a divorcee from Arizona (formerly wedded to VernonS. Wright)and in August 1920 the newlyweds were blessed with the birth of adaughter,Marcellie Fuller.

In addition to heading the White Auto Co.and the MotorTransit Co., the 1921 Los Angeles directory lists O.R. Fuller aspresident andmanager of the Union Stage Depot Inc. and vice-president of C.H. &O.B. FullerCo., his family’s livestock ranching business.

One of the White Auto Co.’s shop-built Whitemotor coaches washighlighted in the March1922 issue of the National Taxicab and Motorbus Journal:

“Fast Service Between Los Angeles and SanFrancisco

“Motor Transit Company Los Angeles MakingTrip in Sixteenand One-Half Hours - A Round Trip Fare of Twenty Dollars Being Charged

“Like the coyote of the desert, from whichit takes its name,the new car which the Motor Transit Company of Los Angeles has justturned outfrom its own shops is always on the job. The traveler between LosAngeles andSan Francisco - the ‘Coyote's’ run - may see it, day or night, slippingdowngrades, running with sure grip up mountainous altitudes or dashingswiftlyalong the level. It is the very latest word in long distance vehicles,construction and design alike showing the skilled workmanship and thecleverbrain of the master craftsman.

“The eleven-passenger ‘Coyote’ has manypoints that,especially on this particular route, render it superior to theconventionallong distance motor vehicle. Among these are a better road clingingquality; anequilibrium emphasized by more perfectly balanced frame and a lowertop. It ismounted upon a special White chassis, equipped with heavy bumpers,strongsprings and a reserve fuel tank.

“The car itself is distinctive inappearance, its lower bodypainted blue, its upper body and wheels buff, fenders and runningboard, black.On the upper body are plainly lettered the terminal and way points ofthe ‘Coyote’while, beside the license plate in the rear, is a colored life-likeportrait ofthe little desert animal. On the green glass signal at the top front istheword ‘Coyote’.

“The interior of the car is no lessattractive, with itscommodious seats upholstered in genuine leather; a separate compartmentfor thechauffeur; window shades that disappear when desired or that may beadjusted togive the modicum of shade and still permit of a free circulation ofair.Already the ‘Coyote’ has come to be recognized as the quickest safetransportation medium between California's two great cities. It is runin twoor three ‘sections,’ depending upon the reservations and it is certainthatwithin several weeks this ‘Coyote’ motor-train special will go out withfive orsix cars in line. Its schedule is sixteen and a half hours. ItleavesLos Angelesat 6:30 a.m., and reaching San Francisco with only two stops enroute,the firstat noon, when a stop of half an hour is had for luncheon and to changechauffeurs; the second early in the evening when the passengers dine atMercedand chauffeurs are again changed, three men taking the car during thetrip. Thefare is $20.00, round trip, while the railroads charge $17.04 for theone wayride. The ‘Coyote’ is operated in addition to the regularly maintainedmotorschedules from Los Angeles to northern points, over thevalley andover the coast routes.”

The Personal Notes column of the June 1922issue of BusTransportation praised O.R. Fuller as a ‘Captain of Industry’ due tohisinitiative in bringing motor coach transportation to SouthernCalifornia:

“California Has Two Outstanding Leaders

“Consolidation of Small Lines BetterPublicRelations andBroad Policies of State Association Credited to O.R. Fuller in theSouth and W.E. Travis in the North

“In California two men stand outprominentlyas Captains ofIndustry in the bus transportation field. To them is due much of thecredit forthe broad policies in the companies they have organized for the spiritofcooperation between the bus companies and for a higher standard ofservice thatis improving relations with the public. Each of these men has maderemarkablyrapid progress in the bus transportation field. They are O.R. Fullerand W.E.Travis.

“Started With Two Trucks

“O.R. Fuller is Los Angeles manager fortheWhite Company.He sold two trucks in 1913 which the purchasers used to start up amotortransport business. After a few months it became apparent that thisparticularmotor transport venture would not pay. Somewhat reluctantly Mr. Fullertookover the trucks and then determined to make them pay for themselves inthetransportation business. Not only was he successful in this but in timeapassenger line was purchased and added to the truck route. Other lineswereadded from time to time and then began a steady growth in the number ofcarsoperated and the territory served. In 1921 the Motor Transit Company,which hadits beginning in the two trucks, operated 6,058,285 passenger carmiles. Thisservice was rendered with about 130 cars of capacities ranging fromeight tothirty two passengers. The company's gross revenue for the year was$1,444,453and a total of 2,152,988 passengers were carried in 1921. The combinedlengthsof the several routes now traveled by the cars of this system total 800miles.*

(*Information supplied by F.D. Howell,executive head of theMotor Transit Co.)

“The Motor Carriers Association

“This association was formed in LosAngelesfour years agounder the leadership of Mr. Fuller, who has been its president untilthis year.From a small beginning the association has grown to include about 200membercompanies operating between 1,200 and 1,500 cars serving the entirestate or,practically speaking, wherever the roads go.”

During the 1920s the Motor Transit Co.acquired additionaloperators that handled the Pomona to Chino, Bakersfield to Taft, andSanJacinto, Lancaster, Verdugo Hills and Victorville routes and evenventured intothe municipal transit business, operating the Whittier Blvd line in theCity ofMontebello in the late 1920s.

A detailed description of Motor TransitCo.’s operations – includingfares, destinations and vehicle types - was included in the July 1,1922 issueof the Commercial Vehicle:

“California's Lead in Bus Travel

“One Big Company Puts It on a RailroadBasis

“A Description of How the Motor TransitCo. of Los Angeles Operates and Controls Buses Which CarryFreight and Passengers in Great Volume, at Fixed Schedules AlwaysMaintained

“How motorized transportation has swept tothe front in theUnited States, especially in the West through the application of soundbusinessprinciples and the elimination of the irresponsible ‘hit-and-miss’operators isstrikingly emphasized in the remarkable development of the MotorTransitCompany, with headquarters in Los Angeles, California. This company, 5yearsago, operated a curb service with three buses between Los Angeles andWhittier,a neighboring community. Today it maintains a fleet of 139 stagesreaching aterritory of 800 miles and branching out in all directions from themetropolisof Southern California. Such is the progress made by this organizationwhich todayis the leading automotive passenger carrying company in the West andone of theforemost in the entire country.

“The remarkable expansion of the servicesofthe MotorTransit Company, whose stages last year covered 6,054,000 miles andcarried atotal of 1,500,000 passengers, has not proceeded without encounteringseriousobstacles. Time and again the company has faced the most severe sort ofopposition en-generated by steam and electric railroad interests, whichfrequentlyresulted in the competing rail lines in various routes slashing theirfareschedules to below operating expenses with a view to crushing the motorstage.

“But the popularity of motorizedtransportation, combinedwith a vigorous presentation of their ideals by officials of thecompany, hasresulted in the organization coming through the acid test in everyinstancewith renewed vigor. In this connection it is interesting to note thatthe MotorCompany has consistently refused to slash its passenger-carrying ratesto belowoperating expenses during periods of rate wars launched by their railcompetitors, and the fact that they did not suffer any appreciable lossofbusiness during such periods justified the position taken.

“The Motor TransitCompany duringrecent monthshas launched some very ambitious services. At the outset these embodiedaconsiderable element of speculation, insofar as public response to theappealsounded was concerned. But they have invariably been successful. Forexample,there is now in regular operation a motor bus service betweenLosAngeles and San Francisco, a distance of approximately 450 miles, whichhasbeen unusually well patronized. The Motor Transit Company isable tocarry passengers between these two cities for $12.85 one way, or $20.00for theround trip.

“On the Southern Pacific Railroad, theone-way fare is inexcess of $17.00. The motor stages leave San Francisco andLosAngeles each morning at 7 o'clock and come through in one day, reachingtheirdestination in between fourteen and a half and fifteen hours, runningtime,which is about the same time taken by the railroads. The stages makethreestops, two to allow the passengers to dine and the other to permit of alittlerelaxation.

“Mexico to Seattle

“Through connections made by the MotorTransit Company withother motor stages operating inNorthern California and inthe Northwestern states, it is now possible for a passenger at theMexicanborder below San Diego to purchase a ticket with stopover privilegesthat willtake him to Seattle, Washington. From Seattle, this same passenger cancontinuehis journey by motorized transportation, if he desires, to points inBritishColumbia, Idaho and Montana.

“The officials of the Motor TransitCompany havefound the time of departure a very important element in the successfuloperation of their various services in California. Take, forinstance, the trip from Los Angeles to Bakersfield, over the so-calledRidgeRoute, a distance of 126 miles. There is considerable travel betweenthese twopoints. The Motor Transit Company found that for theperson inBakersfield to take a train to Los Angeles he must either get up veryearly inthe morning or wait until the middle of the day or past midnight.

“In shaping their schedule of service,the MotorTransit Company arranged to have departures from Bakersfield atthe mostconvenient time for prospective passengers, say at 9 and 10 o'clock inthemorning and around 5 and 6 o'clock at night. The officials ofthe company testedout the sentiment in Bakersfield and by so doing demonstrated that theystoodready to develop their service to the greatest possible satisfaction ofthecommunity. The result has been that the Bakersfield-Los Angeles run hasbeenexceptionally well patronized. The same plan of operation has beencarried outon other routes with the same profitable results.

“Build Their Own Depots

“At all the leading points in Californiacovered by thebuses of this organization, the Motor Transit Company has built, or isbuilding,its own depots. These stations especially those recently completed area creditto any community. The depots of the Motor Transit Company at suchplaces asRiverside and San Bernardino present the very last word in substantialandattractive features and conveniences for the traveling public. Norailroadstation is more thoroughly equipped and organized to care for thepublic thanthese stations of the Motor Transit Company.

“At points where the amount of businessdoesnot justify theerection of a depot by the companyat this time, or the opening ofa company office,an agency is awarded to some establishment conveniently located. Theagenciesreceive a commission of 10 per cent of the first $250.00 gross sales,and 5 percent commission for gross sales over this amount.

“The company has established afare of 2½ cents amile on all one-way tickets. The fares do not include thetransportation ofbaggage. The baggage is checked and none will be handled other than byexpress,except such hand baggage as can be cared for by passengers withoutinconvenience to other passengers, not to exceed 30 pounds for eachadultticket.

“Ticket Time Limits

“One-way tickets are limited to date ofsale, and arehonored for passage only on bus for which sold and for which seat spacehasbeen reserved where such reservation is necessary. When seatreservation is notrequired, tickets are limited to thirty days from date of sale. Thegoingportions of round trip tickets are limited the same as one-way tickets.Thereturn portion is limited to 30 days from date of sale. Thirty ridecommutationbooks are issued, which are limited to ninety days from date of sale.

“Such commutation books are good forpassageof purchaserand members of his or her family when properly signed by each partyentitled touse same.

“The company requires that allreservations ofseat space on one-way or round trip tickets, either going or returnportion,reading between Los Angeles and other points where equipment consistsoftouring cars having seating capacity of 11 passengers or less, must bemade atleast one hour prior to scheduled leaving time, otherwise the right isreservedto send passengers on next regularly scheduled car.

“Reservation of certain seats will not bemade by the company. Thereservations are guaranteed only when tickets have actually beenpurchased andseat space assigned. Reservation of seat space is necessary only fortransportation between points where equipment used consists of thesetouringcars.

“Rule on Refunds

“The company has made aninteresting rule inregard to refunds. Tickets of the company's issue will be redeemed totheoriginal purchaser, at fare paid, when no portion of the trip has beenmade andat the difference between the fare paid and the published tariff farebetweenthe points used if trip was dis continued and not completed, with thefollowingexceptions: Where reservation has been made between Los Angeles andpointswhere the equipment used is limited to a seating capacity of 11passengers orless, and such reservation is not released one full hour prior toscheduledtime of departure of car, for which reservation is made, the refundwill bemade only of such amount of fare as may have been collected of otherpassengersoccupying said seat between same points or other intermediate points.This isdone, however, provided all other seat space in car was occupied andthe company wasdeprived of revenue on account of the failure of the passenger torelease reservation.

“On special occasions, especially duringtheheight of thetourist season, the Motor Transit Company conducts specialexcursionsto various points of interest which have proven a very profitableside-line.

“Revenue from Freight

“The carrying of express and excessbaggagealso provides asizable revenue for the company. The tariff is somewhathigher thanthe rail express charges, but the main appeal of the company isthe promptservice it is able to render. A garage dealer in Bakersfield, forinstance, whois out of a certain automobile part that he needs in a hurry cantelephone to asupply house in Los Angeles, which can have it shipped on an outgoingstage toBakersfield, if it reaches the central Los Angeles depot up to a fewminutesbefore the time of departure.

“Express rates quoted are the rates perhundred pounds ofnormal weight and bulk and value. Where the package is very large, butoflittle weight or value, the rate quoted is applied to the cubic feet ofspaceoccupied by the package (and not the weight) in units of 10 cu. ft.Where thepackage is small in size and of little weight, but of high value, therateapplied is in units of $100, instead of in units of 100 lbs. or 10 cu.ft.Rates quoted are per 100 lbs., if weight is greater than the bulk orthe value;or per 10 cu. ft. if the package is large but of little value andweight; orper $100 if the value be great, but the weight or volume be small; therate ineach case to be applied to the total value, weight or cubic feet of thecontents, above and below the unit given, but in no case below aminimum chargethat is published. Agents must list in each instance the weight, cubicfeet ofspace and the value of the package offered, and bill it on the unityieldingthe highest charges.

“Agents' Instructions

“The following instructions issued bythe Motor TransitCompany to its agents should be of interest to allmotortransit companiesoperating express services:

“‘Some packages have weight and take upverylittle room inthe load and are of small value. Others, like crates and hat boxes maytake asmuch room on a load as a several hundred pound package, and yet have noweight,or may take as much room as a heavier package and yet have a highvalue, or mayhave practically no weight or no volume but a high value. The rates,therefore,in this schedule must be figured to bring the greatest charge in orderthat thecompanywillbe protected against the value claimed or the amount of space used inthevehicle. Therefore, this rate schedule assumes that for the purpose ofloss anddamage and space occupied and all other matters being taken intoconsideration,100 pounds of weight without bulk, or value, will about equal in cost10 cubicfeet without much weight or value, or a package valued at $100.00without muchweight or space. The Agent must, therefore, until he gets so familiarwith hisrates that he can at a glance assume which of the three units is to beused inbilling, calculate the charges per 100 pounds of weight, and per 10cubic feetof space, and per $100.00 in value, in each instance, and then bill itat theunit that produces the highest charge.’

“‘Take as an example of a car axleweighing50 pounds, wherethe weight would carry as against the value or the bulk, valued at$30.00, withnegligible occupation of space, and assume that this axle is to beshipped fromLos Angeles to Santa Ana, carrying the rate in the tariff of 85 centsper 100pounds, or per 10 cubic feet, or per $100.00 in value. The weight of 50poundsat 85 cents per hundred pounds would give a total charge of 45 cents.The valueof $30.00 at 85 cents per $100.00 would give a total charge of 26cents, whilethe cubic contents, being negligible, would only produce the minimumcharge.This axle, therefore, should be billed on the basis of its weight of 50poundsat 85 cents per 100 pounds, or 45 cents.’

“‘Take now a hat box from a millinerystore,occupying onecubic foot of space, weighing five pounds, and valued at $10.00,between thesame points so that the rate will still be 85 cents as above. Fivepounds at 85cents a 100 pounds would yield a charge of 4½ cents, which referring toRule 3would call for a minimum charge of 15 cents. One cubic foot capacity attherate of 85 cents per 10 cubic feet would give a rate of 9 cents forthispackage. This also would fall under the minimum of 15 cents as shown inRule 3.While the cost of $10.00 at 85 cents per $100.00 would give a charge of9 centsso that all three classifications would then fall under Rule 3 andcarrytheminimum of 15 cents.’

“Billing by Dimensions

“‘Now take an open crate of dimensionsof 2feet by 3 feetby 3 feet, filled with lettuce, weighing 85 pounds and valued at $2.50.Wehave, first, a volume of 2 feet multiplied by 3 by 3, which equals 18cubicfeet. 18 cubic feet at 85 cents for 10 cubic feet would be 1.8 centstimes 85cents, or $1.53 total charge, or at 85 pounds, you would have 85 poundsat 85cents per 100 pounds, or 72 cents total freight charges, or at a valueof $2.50at 85 cents per 100 dollars in value you would have 26 cents. Thisshipment,therefore, would be billed at its cubical contents at $1.53.’

“‘Take now a piece of jewelry valued at$25.00, weighing onepound and having practically no cubical displacement This could befigured atsight without carrying out the three calculations, that it should bebased onthe value, the volume and weight being negligible, or $25.00 at therate of 85cents per $100.00, or a total charge of 26 cents.’

“All express charges must be paid inadvanceunless theconsignor or consignee has on file in the office of the auditor ofthe MotorTransit Company a sufficient bond of indemnity in twice the amountof thecredit asked for. This bond must provide that the sureties thereof willholdthe carrier harmless in the event that shipment is refused by consigneeondelivery and guarantee the carrier payment of all carrier chargesagainst suchshipment, including the return charges, if any.”

Although he couldn’t break in to therailroad-controlled LosAngeles Motor Coach Co., L.A.’s municipal bus line, Fuller’s Whitetruckdealership furnished them with White buses. After completing onesatisfyingsale of 81 motor coaches, Fuller remarked:

“Well, we feel a little bit pulled upourselves over thisrecord for we sold eighty-one White buses right here in Los Angeles toelectrictraction companies in one order. The Pacific Electric and the LosAngelesRailway Company divided the order and are now using these White busesin theiraugmented combination train and bus service.”

The White Auto Co. also furnished White tourbuses to Yosemiteand Yellowstone National Parks.

When Moline Plow withdrew from themanufacture ofautomobiles in 1923 Fuller became the Los Angeles distributor for theAuburnautomobile, a similar vehicle manufactured in Auburn Indiana. By thattimeFuller was concentrating on his expanding bus business and theday-to-dayoperations of selling motor vehicles was handled by his long-timefriend andbusiness partner, Selig Cahn (b.1869-d.1936), who in addition to beingWhiteAuto Co.’s secretary and treasurer had recently become vice-presidentas well.

O.R.’s father and uncle continued to headPioneer Truck& Transfer Co. of which Charles H. Fuller (his father) waspresident,treasurer and Ortus B. Fuller (his uncle) vice-president until thelatter’sOctober 18, 1922 passing after which the bulk of his estate (includingtheranches in Chihuahua and Corona) passed to his brother, Charles. Twoyearslater ill health forced Charles H. Fuller to retire and his son O.R.took overthe Corona ranch. In late 1927 O.R. changed its name fromthe PioneerRanch to the O.R. Fuller Rancho and as an initial project expanded itsdairyand poultry operations, hoping to extend its distribution territory. Bythat timethe cattle ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico had been sold off and E.P.Fuller, C.Hand O.B. Fuller’s younger brother, had moved to El Paso, Texas where heengagedin raising cotton until passing away in 1938 at the age of 70. During1928 O.R.commenced construction of an elaborately appointed Mission-style‘hacienda’(aka ranch house) at the Fuller Rancho which he named Casa Orone (O.R.+ Ione).

The 1927 Los Angeles Directory listsFuller’s White Auto Co.as the sole Los Angeles’ Auburn Motor Car Co. distributor as follows:

“Auburn Motor Cars – White Auto CompanyDistributors, 1800S. Figueroa, Phone Westmore 1211”

The 1929 LA Directory continued to listWhite as thedistributors, but now includes another dealer:

“Auburn Motor Cars – Bates Motor CarCompanyDistributors,2525 W. Washington, Phone Empire 4177

“Auburn Motor Cars – White Auto CompanyDistributors, J. M.Roush, mgr., 1800 S. Figueroa, Phone Westmore 1211”

As his automobile sales increased Fuller’ssuccessfulbusiness attracted the attention of Beverly Hills resident ErrettLobban Cord,the very same man that controlled the Auburn Automobile Company, and in1928Cord purchased a substantial interest in the White Auto Co. which inthe fallof 1928 was reorganized as the Auburn-Fuller Co., the October 18,1928issue of The Motor Age Reporting:

“Now Auburn-Fuller Co.

“Los Angeles, Oct. 15 - The name of theWhite Auto Co.,southern California Auburn distributors, has been changed to theAuburn-FullerCo. The change was made for the purpose of more closely identifying theorganization with the line of cars handled. Along with the change ofname comesthe announcement that William J. McGhee has been appointed generalmanager.”

The influx of capital launched a multi-yearexpansionprogram that saw Auburn-Fuller Co. establish sales and service outletsindowntown Los Angeles (3465 Wilshire Blvd.), Hollywood (6145 HollywoodBlvd.),Beverly Hills (208 N. Canon Dr.) and in 1931 they bought out theJohnson-Blalack Co., San Francisco’s Auburn distributor (1147-1155 VanNessAve., Lloyd S. Johnson, manager).

Now that E.L. Cord was back in the retailautomobilebusiness he kept abreast of what his competitors were doing, especiallywhen itcame to advertising. His two main competitors in the high-priced field,EarleC. Anthony (Packard) and Don Lee (Cadillac), spent heavily on radioadvertising, an expense that was greatly reduced if you owned your ownstation,which both men did.

Earle C. Anthony owned KFI in Los Angeles,and a pair ofantennas installed on the top floor of his 1000 S. HopeSt. Packarddealership relayed those broadcasts to San Francisco’s residents via apair ofantennas mounted on top of his 901 Van Ness Ave. Packard dealership.

Don Lee owned KHJ in Los Angeles and KFRC inSan Francisco,the latter’s studio residing on the top floor of Lee’s 1000 Van NessCadillacdealership, which was just across the street from Anthony’s Packardstore andseveral blocks away from Auburn-Fuller’s northern Californiaheadquarters.

There was a fierce level of competitionbetween Earle C.Anthony and Don Lee and in February of 1929 Errett Lobban Cord, who hadthefinances to play with the ‘big boys’, purchased his first radiostation, KFVD,from the McWhinnie Electric Co.

The purchaser of record was theAuburn-Fuller Co. and inMarch, 1929 the station’s license was altered to reflect that KFVD wasnowowned by the Los Angeles Broadcasting Company, a new wholly-ownedsubsidiary ofthe Auburn-Fuller Co. The studios were located at the Hal Roachstudiocomplex on Washington Blvd. in Culver City. Primarily a popular musicstationit broadcast classical music that featured various ‘Auburn’ brandedorchestrasas well as comedy shows featuring some of the Hal Roach studio stars.

Apparently E.L. Cord liked the radiobusiness and in Aprilof 1931 the Los Angeles Broadcasting Co. purchased religious stationKTBI andchanged the call letters to KFAC which was a play on its new owners –Fuller,Auburn and Cord. When Cord’s new Wilshire Blvd. office building wascompletedin April of 1932, he relocated both station’s studios into thebuilding’spenthouse floor, the February 15, 1932 issue of Broadcasting reporting:

“The Los Angeles Broadcasting Co. willspendmore than$100,000 within the next 90 days for a new transmitter and studios forKFAC,Los Angeles. The new transmitter will be of the most modern type andwilloperate with 1,000 watts on 1300 kc. The studios are to be in aspeciallyconstructed penthouse atop the new Cord Building, now being built.Marvyn S.Adams, technical supervisor, is in charge of construction of the newtransmitter, a 304-A model ordered from Western Electric Co. He said itshouldbe ready for installation by the first of March.”

TheNovember 15, 1931 edition of the OaklandTribune announced that Auburn-Fuller was now the exclusive distributorof Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg automobile in the state of California:

“New Distributor Named for Popular Line ofCars

“One of the most important changes inPacific coastautomobile distributorships was revealed today by Charles A. Clark,westernrepresentative of the Auburn Automobile company, in an announcement oftheacquisition of Auburn-Fuller company of Los Angeles of the exclusivedistributorship of Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg automobiles for theentire stateof California, succeeding the Johnson-Blalack company, who formerlyheld thedistributorship for the northern part of the state.

“In making the announcement, Clark statedthat O.R. Fuller,head of Auburn-Fuller company, and widely known for his successfulautomobilemerchandising methods would direct the entire operation of this immenseretailautomobile selling organization, and that Lloyd S. Johnson, formerdistributor,would be the general manager of the Auburn-Fuller company for thenorthern partof the state.

“‘No change in northern Californiadealerships isanticipated,’ Fuller stated.”

That last sentence did not hold true as B.H.Rogers, thelongtime Auburn distributor located at 3020 Broadway, Oakland, wasforced outin January of 1932 and replaced by an official Auburn-Fuller Co.operationlocated at 2111 Webster St., (cor. of 21st St.) Oakland, which wasmanaged byR.L. Marston.

The 1930-32 Los Angeles directories nowlisted 5 separateAuburn-Fuller facilities:

"Auburn-Fuller Co., O.R. Fuller, pres;H.A.Andrews,V-Pres.; V.J. Mapes. Sec., Walter Peterson, Treas.; Automobiles, 3465WilshireBlvd., Tel Trinity 2621; 1101 and 1800 S. Figueroa; 6145 HollywoodBlvd., 208N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills."

Their 1932 San Francisco directory listingfollows:

“Auburn-Fuller Company, Lloyd S. JohnsonGeneral Mgr.,Distributors Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg Motor Cars, 1155 Van Ness Av.Tel. ORdway 5831.”

During the mid 1920s Motor Transit Co.offereddirect service to the following Southern California Communities: ElMonte, Sunland, Whittier, Pomona (allLosAngelesCounty); Fullerton, Anaheim (Orange County); Ontario, San Bernardino,LakeArrowhead, Redlands, Big Bear Lake (all San Bernardino County);Riverside(Riverside County); Bakersfield, Taft (all Kern County); and Oceanside,LaJolla and San Diego (all San Diego County).

During the late 1920s transit passengersfaced abewildering array ofbus companies, fares and service area restrictions. In order to makelife easier for all, In 1926-1927 the California Motor CarriersAssociation divided the market amongstthe three largest operators: Motor Transit Co., California Transit Co.and Pickwick Stages. The Tri-Stage Merger, as this agreement wascalled, mandated that MotorTransit Co. give up its long-distance routes to Lancaster, BakersfieldandSanDiego and became a suburban bus line serving Los Angeles, Orange,Riverside andSan Bernardino Counties. In exchange, Motor Transit gained the rightsto carrylocal passengers anywhere in its system. The merger required MotorTransit divest itsBakersfield routeto the California Transit Co., which would now connect Northern andSouthernCalifornia via the Central Valley Pickwick Stages, which had recentlyacquired theOrangeCounty routes of Crown Stages.

Fuller’s father, Charles H. Fuller, died onAug. 27, 1929 andon April 3, 1930 O.R. Fuller sold the Motor Transit Co. to PacificTransportation Securities, a holding company controlled by Greyhound,Pickwickand Southern Pacific. The purchase was part of Greyhound's scheme tonationalize the country's small operators into one cohesivecoast-to-coast bus system operating under the Greyhound banner. At thetime Southern Pacific,Santa Fe andother regional railroads were replacing poorly-performing railroadfeeders with buses, greatly increasing their bottom lines.

Fuller received a small amount of cash and areported $3million in stock from the sale and remained on the board of directorsof MotorTransit. Pacific Transportation Securities subsequently renamed itselfPacificGreyhound Lines and eventually sold off most of MotorTransit’sroutes to the Pacific Electric Co.

Once his father’s estate was settled, Fullerlegally inheritedthe 3,000 acre Fuller ranch which was located 6 miles northwest of theCity ofCorona in what is now Eastvale, California.

Cord, as enthusiastic about airplanes as hewas aboutautomobiles, entered the airline business in 1930. Century Airlinesserved theMidwest from a Chicago hub; Century Pacific flew from Grand CentralAirport inGlendale to San Diego, Bakersfield and San Francisco. Both airlinesusedten—passenger Stinson aircraft. Cord appointed Fuller president ofCenturyPacific Lines, a small commuter airline formed in 1931 to competeagainst railand bus lines in the profitable California / Arizona corridor.

Cord insisted that his employees work longhours at lowwages. It was no different for the Century pilots, whom Cord considered'glorified chauffeurs' and paid at about half the normal rate. Atfirst, thepilots were glad to have any job they could get and suffered insilence. Butwhen Cord announced further wage cuts in 1931, the Chicago—based pilotswent onstrike.

Cord kept expenses low, not only to competewith rail faresbut also to offer a low bid on a U.S. Post Office airmail contract.However,Cord’s business practices made him no friends with the government. U.S.PostOffice officials noted that the pilots were so demoralized they flewunsafely,threatening the stability of the entire airline network. During thestrike,Cord often referred to the striking pilots as 'Reds' and 'Communists'offendingother government officials enough to prevent him from ever receivinganotherairmail contract.

Relations with Cord and O.R., who hadinitially admired eachother, deteriorated. O.R. questioned Cord’s treatment of the Centurypilots,the Auburn factory workers and the Auburn dealers. Cord forced dealersto stockimpractical, poorly selling models and balked at providing repairs whenthosecars developed mechanical problems.

Century Pacific used a small fleet of E.L.Cord-builtStinson aircraft and in early 1932, Aviation Corp., (AVCO) the parentcompanyof American Airways, launched a hostile takeover of both CenturyPacific andCentury Airlines by creating a labor dispute with Century’s pilots.Cord wasnot amused and spent the next few months secretly purchasing largechunks ofAviation Corp. stock. At AVCO's fall board meeting, its directors wereunpleasantly surprised to learn that Cord was now Aviation Corp’smajoritystockholder (34%), which effectively gave him control over Century andAmerican.

On January 29, 1932 a Century Pacificairplane crashed inthe mountains south of Bakersfield, killing all aboard. Because of badweatherand rough terrain, five days passed before the victims were found.AlthoughMotor Transit buses had been involved in the occasional accident,nothing as seriousas this had ever happened while O.R. owned the bus company.

On or about May 12, 1932, Fuller received aletterthreatening him with death unless he provided $50,000. The lettercloselyfollowed the news that the remains of aviator Charles Lindbergh’skidnappedson, Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., had been discovered just fourmiles fromhis N.J. home.

Fuller turned the letter over to the policewho promptlydetermined it was sent by Carl Poehnl, Fuller’s recently terminatedchauffeur. Accordingto the following United Press wire story dated May 16, 1932, Poehnl wasquicklyarrested:

“Motor Magnate Intended Victim ofExtortionPlot

“Los Angeles, May 16 - (UP) — O. R.Fuller,millionaire head ofthe Auburn-Fuller Motor company, was revealed today as the intendedvictim of a$50,000 extortion plot following the arrest of Carl Poehnl, a formerchauffeurin his employ.

“‘Your life is not in danger if you complywith our demands -remember, you're an ideal target for the mob,’ read a portion of a notereceivedtwo days ago by Fuller, according to police. Detectives said they heldproofconnecting Poehnl, with the plot. Poehnl denied the charge.”

By mid—year Century Pacific Airlines hadgone out ofbusiness, and Auburn—Fuller went into receivership.

The July 7, 1932 edition of the OaklandTribune carried the following public notice relating to the latterfirm's bankruptcy:

“In equity No. 3287-5 Order limiting timefor presentationof claims.

“In the district court of the UnitedStates,NorthernDistrict of California, Southern Division.

“Wake Development Company, a Delawarecorporation and PacificFinance Corporation of California, a Delaware Corporation,Complainants, vs.Auburn-Fuller Company, a California corporation, defendant.

“This cause came on to be heard this 24thday of June, 1932,on the application of Maynard McFie, Ancillary Receiver, for an orderlimitingtime for the filing of claims against the receivership estate herein,and uponconsideration thereof and good cause appeals.

“Now therefore, it is ordered adjudged anddecreed that thecreditors of Auburn-Fuller Company present and make proof of theirrespectiveclaims to Maynard McFie, Receiver for the Southern District ofCalifornia, athis office at 3443 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, or toMaynardMcFie, Ancillary Receiver for the Northern District of California, attheoffice of Hiram W. Johnson. Jr., his attorney, 892 Mills Building, SanFrancisco, California, on or before the 30th day of July, 1932, andthat allcreditors and claimants failing so to do, within the time thus limited,shallbe barred from participation in the distribution of the assets ofAuburn-FullerCompany, and it is further ordered that, public notice of this order begivenby posting a copy thereof, in three public places in each of thefollowing:City and County of San Francisco, State of California, and County ofAlameda.State of California, and it is further ordered, that copies of thisorder bepublished for one week in the following newspapers: San FranciscoChroniclepublished in San Francisco, California, and The Oakland Tribune,published inOakland, California, and that said publications must be completed on orbeforethe 15th day of July, 1332. Dated: June 24, 1932, A. F. St. Sure,Judge.”

Much of O.R.’s wealth was in stock, whichwere by now nearly worthless. He did not bother to attend the CenturyPacificdissolution hearing on July 13, 1932 where Cord and his lawyers triedto preventO.R. from getting his share of airline stock.

Cord had nearly finished constructing a newoffice buildingat 3443 Wilshire Blvd. to house his various business enterprises andhad plentyof extra room in which to put a new flagship showroom and servicecenter forAuburn and Cord automobiles. The service entrance was located at 640 S.Mariposa (mailing address for KFAC)

By the end of the year Fuller had eithersold off or beenrelieved of his transportation-related business activities and withdrewto hisfather’s 3,000 acre ranch north of Corona, California.

The Auburn-Fuller Co. was gone from the 1933San Franciscodirectory which lists the E.L. Cord-controlled Auburn Sales Co. at1147-1155Van Ness Ave., with H.B. Liggett, manager.

The garage and service department was housedin the basementwhich was accessed via large doors located around the corner on S.Mariposa St.and the firm's listing in the 1933 LA directory being:

"Auburn California Company, DistributorsAuburn, Cordand Duesenberg Motor Cars, Main office 3443 Wilshire Blvd., Tel Fitzroy3123,Branch 1366 S. Figueroa, Tel Prospect 4818."

The firm's branch facility at 1366 S.Figueroa St. formerlyhoused Unger & Watson Inc., a distributor of radio sets, equipmentand automobile accessoriesand was eventually razed for use as a parking lot which is locateddirectlyacross the street from the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In 1934 the Auburn California Co. wasreorganized for thefinal time to the Auburn Automobile Sales Corp., Calif, branch; itslisting inthe 1935-1938 LA directories follow:

"Auburn Automobile Sales Corporation,CaliforniaBranch, Distributors Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg Motor Cars, Mainoffice 3443Wilshire Blvd., Tel Fitzroy 3123, Branch 1366 S. Figueroa, Tel Prospect4818."

By late 1932 the Depression had also put asevere damper onDuesenberg sales and unsold chassis were piling up in Indiana. Thingswere justas bad at many of the firm’s authorized coach builders, Walter M.Murphy inPasadena closed down that year and many others were close tobankruptcy.Designs and bodies in the white dating from the early thirties weremothballeduntil sales slowly began to pick up in 1934. Although Duesenberg salesnationwide were almost non-existent, the Auburn Automobile Sales Corp.,Calif.branch, had some luck selling new ones providing their coachwork wasupdated tomatch the competition's which at a bare minimum required adding skirtsto thefront fenders. Much of the updating was done by Bohman & Schwartz,aPasadena firm founded by two former Walter M. Murphy employees.

When Murphy closed down, a number ofcustomer’s cars (forexample Eddie Peabody and Gary Cooper's Duesenbergs) remaineduncompleted, and twoformer Murphy employees, Christian C. Bohman and Maurice L. Schwartzoffered tocomplete the work in their own small shop. They named their firm Bohman&Schwartz, and rented a building in back of Prosser's Garage at theintersectionof DeLacey and Green Streets in Pasadena. Bohman ran the sales andaccountingoffice, while Schwartz ran the shop and did almost all of thebodybuilding.They purchased some of Murphy’s shop equipment at auction and hired anumber ofex-­Murphy employees, including Milt Pfeiffer, Mark Farlow, WhiteyCompton andJack James. With a much more modest overhead, the pair were successfulinestablishing both a fine reputation as coachbuilders and they succeededas ateam for twelve more years and then independently for another seventeenyears.

Rudy Stoessel, Paul Erdos and Oscar Haskeyall worked atAuburn-Fuller Co. at various times as did Burton K. Chalmers, autosalesman tothe stars. All four eventually worked at Darrin of Paris and after itfolded in1939 they formed Coachcraft Ltd. at 8671 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood,California.

As the official name of Auburn-Fullerchanged several timesfollowing its bankruptcy, most of its LA customers continued to referto thefirm as Auburn-Fuller into the late 30's. After E.L. Cord's automobilemanufacturing business collapsed, the showroom at 3443 Wilshire wasdiscontinued and the service department relocated one block north to3479 W. 6th St. where it remained into 1940 when it too wasdiscontinued.

When Auburn-Fuller entered into bankruptcyproceedings, E.L.Cord purchased its Los Angeles Broadcasting Co. subsidiary from thereceiver.In late 1936 Cord sold KFVD, the lower-powered of his two stations, toFrankBurke’s Standard Broadcast Co., who relocated it 338 S. Western Ave.Cordswitched KFAC to an all-classical format in 1945 and added an FMstation,KFAC-FM in 1952. He retained ownership of Los Angeles Broadcasting Co.until1962 when he sold it for $2 million.

On November 27, 1934 the Associated Pressnewswire carried the following update on the Auburn-Fuller Co.bankruptcy action:

“Creditors of Firm Wait Final Action

“Associated Press Leased Wire) LOSANGELES,Nov.47.—Creditors of the Auburn Fuller Company, a $1,500,000 automobilesalescorporation, today awaited final action of equity receivershipproceedingsinvolving the company. Federal JudgeWilliam P. James yesterday signed a receiver's report indicatingcreditors willget from 98.01 to 100 per cent of the face value of their claims. Hehas yet todischarge officially the receiver from further obligation and settlethe litigationwhen the final dividends are paid.”

O.R. Fuller expanded the ranch by leasingadjacentproperty untilit grew to almost five thousand acres. And although the lived inBeverly Hills, the Fuller family enjoyedspendingweekends at the ranch and in 1928 commenced the construction of anelaborate ranch housenamedCasa Orone (combining O.R. and Ione).

In a 1983 oral history, Fuller's daughterMarcellie recalledhis legal battle with E.L. Cord, to whom he was deeply in debt:

“Cordwantedthe ranch, and my father was determined not to lose it.”

One of his aunts (probably Mary DrusillaZuker) helped him rescue the ranch financially, and after his‘retirement’ in1931 Fuller moved to the Casa Orone with his wife Ione and 11-year-olddaughter, Marcellie. The operation was described in great detail in anarticlewritten by L.C. Flora that appeared in the December 1, 1931 edition oftheCorona Daily Independent:

“Progress Is Theme of Operations of HugeFuller RanchO nearCorona

“Mr. O.R. Fuller, who operates a 5,000acreranch nearCorona, appears to me to be a man of vision. As I talked to him, itseemed tome that the fever of the much talked of depression slipped off andthingslooked much brighter.

“It is a well-known fact that no concernisbigger than thehead of it – that the very personnel and operation reflects the thoughtandaction of that head – it is undoubtedly true of the Fuller RanchO.

“From the time one enters the doors of theoffice one isimpressed – first by the courtesy of those receiving one; next theorderlinessand cleanliness of the institution, and upon being shown through theplant thisimpression was confirmed.

“Before I had finished a tour of theimmenseproperties,accompanied by Mr. Fuller’s genial superintendent, Jim Coveny, I wasamazed atthe outlay and effort which created an institution such as this.

“Perhaps the average Coronan does notrealize that theFuller RanchO has now approximately 3,000 acres under cultivation; 800additional acres being cleared and leveled for a 1932 crop; a 200-inchwellbeing drilled which will add to the 12 wells pumping from 100 to 300inches,all supplied with modern equipment for irrigation purposes.

“At the present time the dairy herdnumbersabout 1400animals, representing Holsteins, Jerseys, and Guernseys. There are morethan500 cows milked. Milk and cream distributed in Corona and surroundingterritoryis of the highest quality and the demand is growing steadily. Thesanitarymethods surrounding the operation and handling of milk and cream isbestdemonstrated by the thoroughness of the various operations making forcleanliness and purity. Their entire herd is inspected at frequentintervals bycounty, state, and national government authorities.

“Too much cannot be said of the FullerRanchO poultry plantwhich now consists of about 7,500 Rhode Island Red and White Leghornchickens.The poultry plant is being increased each year and eventually quartersfor20,000 layers will be filled. The eggs and meat birds are to be sold tocustomers of Corona and surrounding cities.

“Another unique sideline to this immenseinstitution andwhich, to my mind, emphasizes the human element entering into theoperation andsuccess of the Fuller RanchO, is the wild bird farm where some 800birds ofvarious breeds, such as pheasants, quail, peafowls, and guineas, allfind ahome undisturbed.

“Turkeys, too, are raised in greatnumbers,fattened andprepared for your and my consumption.

“Which all goes to show that thepersonalityof the guidinghand of any institution is reflected from the beginning to the end ofitssuccessful operation – and take it from me, Coronans will make nomistake insupporting this home institution.”

Fuller also built up its poultry businessandwithin a few yearshad become one of the largest turkey ranchers in Southern California.FullerRancho trucks delivered milk and eggs all over Southern California.O.R. openedthe Fuller Rancho Market, a drive—up grocery store, in Pomona.

To produce additional income, Fullerconverted the CasaOrone hacienda into Fuller Guest Rancho in 1937, which with a fewadditionsprovided overnight accommodations for 25 guests. Its customers weretreated toan Olympic-sized swimming pool, a poolside bar and a 5-star restaurant.Moreadventurous guests could take a cruise on the nearby lake or tour thecountryside on horseback.

However, the Ranch’s biggest attraction wasits illegalgambling, with card tables and slot machines designed to he quicklyhidden if alaw enforcement agents paid a surprise visit. O.R.’s daughter Marcellierecalledthat many famous and not-so-famous celebrities frequented the Rancho,the mostwell-known visitors being Linda Darnell, Olivia deHavilland, W.C.Fields, RochelleHudson, Garson Kanin, Jeanette MacDonald Groucho Marx, Ken Murray, JackOakie, MaryPickford, Gene Raymond, Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Red Skelton, ElizabethTaylor, SpencerTracy and Claire Trevor.

Fuller also started subdividing the ranchinto building lots,many of which had views of the adjacent Santa Ana River. One of theearlyresidents was character actor Charles Grapewin, who claimed to have wonit fromO.R. in a poker game, the April 26, 1939 Associated Press newswirereporting:

“Won Two Acres on the Lake in Hot PokerGame

“Hollywood, Calif. – (AP) – CharleyGrapewinis going tofish this summer from his own private lake front. He says he won it ina pokergame.

“And to hear the 67 year old movecharacterstar tell it, itwas some game.

“He’s up visiting his old friend, O.R.Fuller, who operateda guest ranch at Corona, some 50 miles from the movie lots. One nighthe’splaying Ollie Fuller a game of seven card stud.

“‘I’m sitting there with the 10 and jackofhearts showing,’Charley tells it, ‘and Ollie has one ace up. Ollie deals the cards andI drawthe king, queen and nine of hearts. I don’t know what he’s draw in thehole,but pretty soon we’ve got all the cash in our pockets on the table.We’ve gotan agreement against checks and IOU’s, so that looks like the end ofit, butneither of us wants to quit.

“‘I’m looking out the window at the lakeandsee theprettiest two acre point out there you ever saw. I tell Ollie I’ll behim myhouse in Los Angeles – it’s a nice house – against that two acres.

“‘Ollie’s hot and he says, ‘You’re on –andget ready to moveout!’ I say, “I don’t think I’ll be moving out.” So we turn up thecards andOllie’s got three aces in the hole – but I’ve got a straight heartflush!’

“That was nine months ago. Today theconcrete has alreadybeen poured for the foundations of the Grapewin home on the lake.

“‘All my life,’ Charley chuckles, ‘I’vedreamed of a placewhere I could fish like I‘m going to do. No tackle, but a fishing poleand acork and a worm, and just sit and watch the cork bobble. I’ve got 410feet oflakefront there – and it’s an hour and a quarter to the studios, andvice-versato those yellow- and silver-bellied perch.’

“But look here Charley! What did Mrs.Grapewin say aboutputting her home in a poke pot?

“‘She didn’t know about it,’ said Charley,‘till it was allover. But we’ve been married nearly 43 years – and she’s always thoughtI hadgood judgement.’”

During World War II, medical staff andpatients from thenearby Naval Hospital (Norconian Hotel) visited the Guest Rancho forrelaxation, while German prisoners of war worked the fields. ShortlythereafterO.R. Fuller developed cancer, passing away on August 20, 1946. Thefollowingobituary was published in the August 21, 1946 edition of the CoronaDailyIndependent:

“O. R. Fuller, Head of Famed Rancho, DiedonTuesday - WithFather Operated Bus Line That Now Is Pacific Electric.

“O. R. Fuller, proprietor of the FullerRancho, one of theoutstanding guest homes of Southern California, died at 10:45 p.m.Tuesday athis home about four miles north of Corona. For the past several monthsMr.Fuller had been in failing health and for the past few days he had beensinkingrapidly. Born in Kansas, October 5, 1880 as Olive R. Fuller, he was theson ofearly California residents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Fuller. He wasknown betteras ‘O. R.’ or ‘Oliver’. He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Ione Fuller,and hisson-in-law and daughter, C. Clifton Towers and Mrs. Marcellie FullerThompson ofLong Beach, and his grandson, Fuller Clifton Thompson. There are nosurvivingbrothers or sisters.

“Corona Landmark for Years

“The vast Fuller Rancho of seeminglyunending acres with itsprivate lake, the Tavern-On-the-Lake, until recently operated by GeorgeDawson,the Charles (‘Grapes of Wrath’) Grapevine residence to the west of theFullerRancho and the hundreds of acres devoted to farming have constituted aCoronalandmark for a half century. Formerly the Fuller Rancho was the home ofone ofthe largest turkey farms in Southern California. More recently thepoultry farmoperations and production of grain have been the most important. At onetimethere was a large Fuller Rancho dairy farm in operation.

“Charles Fuller, the father of ‘O.R.’, wasone of thelargest early day dealers in automobiles and trucks in Los Angeles,beingengaged in that business for a quarter of a century. He purchased thefarm,however, more than 50 years ago and operated that as a ‘hobby’ alongwith hisimportant automobile and truck business. Later he was the sole owner oftheMotor Transit Bus Lines, operating the big red buses which served thesouthernpart of California, including Corona, Riverside, San Bernardino andintermediate points to Los Angeles and far beyond. This is now thePacificElectric railway, owned by the Southern Pacific.

“Rancho Built 25 Years

“‘O. R.’ became associated with his fatherin the operationof these bus lines and the two operated important automobile, truck andbusline businesses for many years. The beautiful, rancho house was builtabout 25years ago. It was used for a great many years as the private residenceof theFullers and was converted into a guest house in 1937 and withoutquestion isone of the most beautiful guest houses in Southern California, with fewif anyplaces in Los Angeles or elsewhere which rival it for beauty, arttreasures andgood taste. Splendid meals also are served. Funeral services will beconductedFriday at 2 p.m. at the Chapel of W. A. Brown and Son, 1815 SouthFlowerstreet, Los Angeles, and burial will be in Los Angeles. Mr. Fuller wasprominent in Masonic circles. He was a Shriner and a 32nd degree Mason,amember of Malaikah lodge in Los Angeles.”

By that time a portion of the original 3,000acres had been leasedout or sold to third parties for ranches and small housingdevelopments. Ownershipof the remainder of the property, which included the guest house anditssurrounding outbuildings, passed to his widow, Ione Franklin WrightFuller (b.Jun 24, 1892), who subsequently shut down the Guest Ranch and onJanuary 1,1948 remarried, to Harvey Uriah Weeks. The couple remained on theFuller Ranchountil her death on August 24, 1951, the Corona Daily Independentreporting:

“Mrs. lone Fuller Weeks Died Today

“Mrs. lone Fuller-Weeks of the FullerRancho, Corona, diedthis afternoon at her residence after a prolonged illness. Mrs. Weekswasformerly the wife of the late O.R. Fuller, founder of the Motor Transitlineswhich is now the Pacific Electric. Mr. Fuller died August 20, 1946. OnNewYear's Day, January, 1948, the wedding of Mrs. Fuller to Harvey Weekstookplace in the spacious ranch home that has been a local land-mark foryears. TheFuller ranch house was built some 30 years ago as a private residenceby theFullers and later became one of the outstanding guest homes in SouthernCalifornia. In recent years it has been closed to the public. Mrs.Weeks leavesher husband, Harvey Weeks and a daughter, Mrs. Marcellie FullerThompson ofCorona. Service arrangements are pending and will be announced.”

In order to settle the estate her home andwhat remained ofthe original Fuller Rancho property was sold to Walter Koenig, a localdairyman, who subsequently resold most of the land for agriculturaluse. The haciendawas purchased in 1959 by the Good Samaritan Center, aLutheran retirementfacility that housed 66 seniors until 1967 after which it served asthehome of the St. Katherine’s Home for Boys, a youth counseling facilityoperatedby the Greek Orthodox Church.

In 2004 the property was razed and dividedinto parcels andredeveloped into tract housing. In 2010 the original 3,000 acres thatmade upthe Fuller Rancho and its surrounding area were incorporated as theCity of Eastvale,California.

© 2015 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com


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