CLEVELAND, Nov. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Kicking off their recently formed alliance, the Smithsonian Institution and the Western Reserve Historical Society are making the swap of the century today as the Smithsonian Institution trades the first U.S. Highway Post Office Bus for the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum's rare 1935 Chrysler Airflow Imperial automobile. "Today, in this age of supersonic air travel, and even experimental space flight, it is easy to forget just how revolutionary the car was when it first came upon the American scene," Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small said. "These two vehicles remind us of those stories. Families will come to learn the stories. Grandparents will tell their grandchildren about a first car ride, or a long bus trip across country, or how the ability to move across vast distances changed their lives. This is what our museums do best -- preserve and display America's treasures so they can reveal to new generations what it means to be an American. This is an exciting start to our alliance and a perfect example of how museums can work together, share resources, and better serve the American public." The two vehicles will eventually go back to their respective museums, but not before each plays a large role in the current plans of both the Crawford and the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian currently plans to use the historic Chrysler when it opens its new transportation exhibit at the National Museum of American History in 2003. The trade represents a homecoming of sorts for the Highway Post Office Bus, however. The vehicle was manufactured in Cleveland by the White Motor Company of Cleveland and made its inaugural delivery run between Washington D.C. and Harrisburg, VA on February 10, 1941. The Crawford will use the bus in an exhibit to be displayed at the grand opening of its new museum, which it plans to open in Downtown Cleveland in 2003. "We want this bus to play a second role in Cleveland's history by being a part of the development of the new museum. Many people today do not realize that Cleveland was once a major manufacturing center for automobiles in this country and companies such as White Motor Company played a significant role in this nation's rich automotive history," said Richard Ehrlich, Executive Director of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Ehrlich said the Museum hopes to find someone who worked at the White production facility in the 1940s to tell them a little about how the bus was made and what was entailed in manufacturing vehicles here in the first part of the last century. He said the Museum is also interested in interviewing any former postal workers who may have worked on the Highway Post Office buses, prior to their retirement in 1974.
SOURCE Western Reserve Historical Society