Some time ago, the folks at All Over Albany stumbled on this great little scrolling map device, posted at the David Rumsey Map Collection. Not only is it possibly the coolest motoring map device we’ve ever seen, but it appears to have generated quite a bit of excitement in those early days of motoring in the Capital District. Well, at least it excited P.J. Kehoe, secretary of the Schenectady Club of the New York State Automobile Association. In the organization’s “Motordom,” published September 1921, there was clearly anticipation of the club’s membership drive, which was going to be aided by the press corps of the Rota-Ray corporation, makers of this ingenious little navigation device that allowed motorists to scroll from map to map as they traversed the state.
As MOTORDOM goes to press there is impending at Schenectady, scene of the annual meeting in October, a membership campaign that will be well worth watching from the standpoint of new methods involved and co-operative action on the part of a live wire membership.
With the slogan, “Make It Three Thousand,” the Schenectady Automobile Club, using the organization and press team of the Rota-Ray Map Systems, is putting on a blinger of a campaign. The thing has been in preparation for two weeks and with the heartiest support of the newspapers of Schenectady and vicinity the campaign is almost certain to come through with a great deal of glory for all concerned.
Noting that a “live” campaign would show the optimism of business men regardless of what business conditions may seem like, Kehoe’s report said that the auto industry was on the edge of another boom that would herald the “resumption of normalcy.” Enrollment in the auto club was 1200, and they were seeking a 200 percent increase from the 9000 car owners in the district.
Of course there are always certain people in a community that join the automobile club annually as a matter of course, but on the other hand there are more who have to be shown and led to righteousness by means of personal and individual effort.
The big feature of the campaign was to be a “transcontinental race” with cars entered by “practically every dealer in Schenectady – nearly 40 all told.” The race was to start in Schenectady’s public market, with Mayor Lunn firing the starter pistol. It turns out it wasn’t a race at all, but a competition in which dealers and others racked up “miles” and passed certain cities as checkpoints according to the number of new automobile club members they signed up – and the Gazette routinely reported this “race” in ways that made it appear it wasn’t out of the ordinary. “Running parallel with this are all sorts of stunts to put the jazz into the ten big days when the automobile and the Automobile Club of Schenectady will occupy the center of attention in that immediate vicinity.”
The president of the club, E.D. Manson, and his “live” board of directors, with the assistance of the Rota-Ray organization, were able to add “uncorkable pep” to the campaign, which was to mobilize city officials, organizations, theaters, and Boy Scouts “into a big mobile driving force that is going to move things.”
The Schenectady Gazette of Sept. 16, 1921, headlined one story “Arrows Point Out Motorists’ Duty”:
This morning Schenectady awakens to the slogan “Follow the Arrow” After the city went to bed at midnight, cars with bundles of cardboard arrows departed from the club headquarters at the Mohawk hotel for the various through-routes leading into Schenectady and from the outskirts of the city brought long lines of the markers into the business section with the club headquarters at the Mohawk hotel as the focal point. All motor car owners of Schenectady who have not yet become members of the club are asked to “Follow the Arrow” and “sign up.”