A reunion of car model makers

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PHOENIX — By 1953, Anthony Joslin’s parents had saved $3,000, and earmarked it for sending their son to college. But Mr. Joslin was able to pay for his own tuition, room and board at North Carolina State University after winning a scholarship for the 1/12-scale car model he designed and built.

Like millions of other teenage boys from 1930 to 1968, Mr. Joslin entered the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild, an annual car-building and design competition sponsored by General Motors, which asserted that eight million teenagers participated in the guild.

Mr. Joslin and many other guild alumni gathered here last weekend for a reunion, sharing their stories and the model cars they have cherished all these years.

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The models are worthy of being cherished. They are futuristic visions of the highway from the 1950s and ’60s, much like a miniature version of General Motors own Motorama dream car shows. Typically, a young man spent 700 to 800 hours creating his scale-model car from wood or plaster or in a few cases, from metal.

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In the early years of the guild, boys were challenged to use a set of plans they were provided to build an elaborate scale model of the horse-drawn coach that was Fisher Body’s emblem. Fisher Body manufactured car bodies for all General Motors divisions.

In the early years of the guild, the goal was to identify young men with those skills that might be employed in making cars.

After World War II, it was future car designers the company sought, and thus the original 1/12th-scale models.

At North Carolina State, Mr. Joslin studied industrial, not automotive design, and afterward had a career designing instruments, computers and other products for Hewlett Packard.

For Paul Tatseos, winning a Craftsman’s Guild scholarship not only enabled him to go to college, but also to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., a school known for its automotive design program. After college, Mr. Tatseos worked as a designer at G.M. for 35 years.

Mr. Tatseos grew up in Boston. “My father said, ‘You live within walking distance of M.I.T. and Harvard and you’ve decided you want to go to college in California?’” Mr. Tatseos recalled at the reunion.

The scholarship program had an even more striking impact on the Simone family from Providence, R.I. e brothers Jerry, Eugene and Anthony all entered and won scholarships. Jerry Simone spent five years as a designer at Ford before going to pharmacy school. After college, Eugene Simone worked for 45 years at Merrill Lynch. Anthony Simone became a teacher and international school administrator, working around the world and at the United Nations.

“Our father was a tool-and-die maker,” Anthony Simone said at the reunion.

“Mother and father always said we were going to college, but that there was no money in the till for it,” Eugene Simone added.

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But with the scholarships they won for their car design and building skills, the Simone sons were able to attend college.

The Fisher Body scholarships benefited the boys who won and their families as well. With Mr. Joslin attending college on his scholarship, his parents could use the money they’d saved to buy the only house they ever owned.

About jesswaid

Currently, I write police procedural novels with the stories taking place in Hollywood during the early 1960s; a period when I was a street cop there. I've moved to Mexico to be closer to my hobby of studying Mexican history. My friend and fellow author, Professor Michael Hogan, is my mentor. I am planning to write a three-part epic story that takes place in the mid-nineteenth century. What has inspired me was hearing about Los Ninos Heroes, martyrs of the Battle of Chapultepec. Also, my father was born in Concordia, Mexico and knowing his family history is an added incentive.

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