FLIVVER: The Robert E. Howard WORD FOR 2015

1924 Model T Assembly Line: The 10 millionth Model T was produced on June 4, 1927. From the collections of The Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company (04/22/08)

1924 Model T Assembly Line: The 10 millionth Model T was produced on June 4, 1927.

Our Occasional Guest Blogger Brian Leno was surfing the web, checking on info on old time boxing, and stumbled across a great little article on cars and F. Scott Fitzgerald — with a nice section on flivvers. As Brian says, “Who would know more about flivvers and the 1920s than F. Scott ‘Flapper’ Fitzgerald?”

The survey is from 1993, by Luis Girón Echevarría — and not an ounce of academic wankery in it. Only four pages — with the main bit about flivvers on p.75 — you’ll breeze right through. Really good stuff on Fitzgerald. The only significant reference to an automobile in his writing that I didn’t see (and I may have glanced over it in passing) is from his 1920 debut This Side of Paradise and the lines about

his mother waiting in her electric on the graveled station drive. It was an ancient electric, one of the early types, and painted gray.

Yes, they had electric cars in 1920 and before, Tesla isn’t doing anything new.

There’s also a nice quote about the ubiquitous Model T (millions and millions of flivvers, as indicated by the historic Ford photo at the top) being associated with “farmers with manure on their boots,” which adds to the authenticity of Robert E. Howard in “Wild Water” referring to the ranchers coming in on flivvers, horseback or carts. Of course rural ranchers would have had flivvers, not the Stutz that Fitzgerald longed for. . . .

And if you need more of a nudge to surf over and check out the article, how about a racy cameo by John Steinbeck: looking back on The Depression in his 1945 novel Cannery Row, Steinbeck wrote that “Two generations of Americans knew more” about the coil of a Model T than they did about “the clitoris.”

I think he put his finger on it.

And the defense in the case of Robert E. Howard not knowing what a flivver is rests.

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