by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
I was reviewing comments from visitors on TripAdvisor the other day, and had a chuckle over this one: "The Brush Runabout purchased in New York and driven to Oklahoma City by the Abernathy brothers, (Temple 9 and Louis 6 years old!), may be worth the price of admission alone." This was a reference to an exhibit sign located near our 1908 Brush Runabout that tells one of my favorite stories in the museum.
Louis "Bud" and Temple Abernathy were two brave and tough little boys from Frederick, Oklahoma.Their adventuresome ways no doubt came from their father "Catch-'em-Alive" Jack Abernathy, a U.S. Marshal and cowboy. Determined to carry out their father's instructions to "toughen up," in 1909 the boys completed a 1,300 mile, round-trip ride on horseback by themselves between Oklahoma and New Mexico. Bud was nine years old and Temple was only five!
The following year Bud and Temple set out alone on horseback for New York to meet former President Taft, a family friend. During the trip, the boys became fascinated with automobiles and purchased a two-seat Brush while in New York City. After spending one afternoon on the city streets learning how to drive, they set off for home. Six-year-old Temple was so small he had to perch on the edge of the seat and lean against the steering wheel to reach the pedals. How that little dude was able to crank start the car is beyond me.
The Abernathy boys' drive was a public relations coup for the Brush Automobile Company. Everywhere the brothers stopped along the route, they assured any adult who asked that if little boys could drive a car, anyone could. Did they complete the trip? Stop by the museum to find out, and to see our 1908 Brush. It was once owned by silent film star Gilda Gray and is very similar to the one Bob Coghill brought to Fairbanks in 1910.
We now have the delightful book Bud & Me: The True Adventures of the Abernathy Boys available in our gift shop. I highly recommend it!