Cumberland Times-News


June 1, 2013

Locomobile and the curse of the black cat

In mid-April of 1926, E. J. Gustafson and his sister, Anne Holrege, set out from Chicago driving a new Locomobile roadster. They planned on enjoying a pleasant, leisurely vacation driving through the northeast United States to Connecticut to get a new set of rear fenders for the roadster.

That was until a black cat crossed their path a short distance outside of Chicago. The small cat had certainly been more afraid of Gustafson and his sister in that powerful automobile than they had been of the cat. In fact, they laughed when one of them recalled the superstition that bad luck follows when a black cat crosses your path.

Within the next week, a series of 13 unfortunate events plagued Gustafson and his sister. The incidents included seven punctures, losing a pocket-book and finding it again, Gustafson spraining his ankle, breaking a mirror at the Biltmore Hotel in New York, losing the car’s license plate, someone stealing a tire from the rack on the rear of the car, and last but not least, an accident in Frostburg.

The Cumberland Sunday Times reported on April 25 that Gustafson and his sister, driving in the Locomobile, had crashed into a Kelly-Springfield test car at the intersection of Grant and Union streets in Frostburg.

“‘More trouble,’ said Gustafson, whose fender and body of a new car was badly damaged, intimating that this was the thirteenth unlucky incident that had occurred since he and his sister left home last week for Connecticut to get a new set of rear fenders. The fenders on his car were in worse condition on his return trip than when he left home, he said,” the Cumberland Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper didn’t note who was at fault in the accident, but the damage was not serious enough to keep the brother and sister in town. However, it certainly proved fortunate that Gustafson had already been going to replace the rear fenders.

Though the accident in Frostburg was the last in the string of bad luck incidents, it wasn’t the worst, according to Holrege.

“Losing a wallet with $135 in it and finding it in New York within four hours time. Can you imagine it? My brother and I stopped at the Metropolitan Motor Club for an interview with one of the officials and in the lobby stopped to make a purchase of some sweets. He laid his pocket-book down and four hours later in a Broadway lunch room missed it when he went to pay for lunch,” the newspaper reported Holrege saying.

They called the motor club several times inquiring about the wallet and finally returned there for their only piece of good luck during the trip. Gustafson found his wallet and they could continue on their jinxed journey.

Gustafson and Holrege said that they hadn’t been superstitious at the start of their journey, but they were later. Hopefully, no one told them that breaking a mirror is supposed to bring you seven years’ bad luck.

Text Only
  • Happy Easter

    For the world’s more than 2 billion Christians, Easter is the day that defines their faith.
    The exact date of Christ’s resurrection is unknown, and even the precise locations of his crucifixion and burial are uncertain. This hasn’t stopped some people from saying they know the answer to these questions and others from trying to find out for themselves, or simply arguing about it.

    April 20, 2014

  • Odds are good that you didn’t know this

    Odds or Probabilities fascinate many people. There is a special website called and an accompanying location on Facebook at /BookofOdds .This website lists 400,000 odds. Three of the people who are involved in this media display have coauthored a book, “The Book of Odds” that presents some of key odds, drawing from polls and statistics published in journals. The authors are A. Shapiro, L.F. Campbell and R. Wright. This paperback was published this year by Harper Collins with ISBN 978-0-06-206085-3.

    April 20, 2014

  • Trivial questions you don’t have to answer

    Every so often in this life, my mind, all on its own, generates questions that have no real answers. So I have decided to pass them on to you. I’m tired of them. If you come up with any answers, let me know. Remember when TV jealously guarded the time zone before 9 p.m. for wholesome shows that children could watch. My gosh, how many years ago was that? It seems like another world nowadays, when you can see murders, torture and rape, or those implied, every hour on the hour, somewhere on your public screen. It might be comforting then, to remember that most children nowadays are glued to their little machines with whole different worlds on them, that they can access all day long. Except that in these different worlds they also can view murders, torture and rape on demand.

    April 20, 2014

  • Think it’s not a small world? You’re wrong

    Yes, you read that right in the paper a couple of weeks ago. I covered a wedding as a newspaper reporter. I’ve retired from doing regular stories because my primary duties lie elsewhere, and I don’t have the time or mental energy for it. But I agreed to do it for a couple of reasons, one of which goes back more than 40 years. The former proprietor of The Famous North End Tavern told me about a wedding that was to take place at the Lions Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care, where his wife works.

    April 20, 2014

  • No Bambi for you, Mrs. Doe

    Some people want so badly for deer birth control to work that they actually think it will, even on wild populations.
    I wish I had a couple bridges to sell.
    A week ago on the Outdoors page we ran the deer there do what deer  everywhere do. They eat the easiest food available such as gardens and ornamental plantings. They walk in front of moving cars. They give ticks and  parasites a place to live.

    April 19, 2014

  • We concur We concur

    We’re certain that Donald Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, echoes what many Americans feel about the complexity of filing income tax returns.
    When he filed his return, Rumsfeld sent the following letter to the Internal Revenue Service:

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Library week

    Public libraries remain one of the best uses of taxpayer dollars. They are open to all. Young or old, poor or wealthy, residents can use computers and read current magazines and newspapers. Compact discs featuring a wide variety of music and
    movies on DVD may be checked out in addition to novels and other books.

    April 13, 2014

  • Terps need to move and move quickly

    The good news is Maryland will never have to play another basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Goodbye, good riddance, sayonara, smell ya, no more of you, stay classy, we won’t let the door hit us on the way out.
    Until we see you in court.

    April 13, 2014

  • Sunday hunting Sunday hunting

    Legislation that increases hunting oppportunities on Sundays in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties has passed the Maryland General Assembly and reached the governor’s desk.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • You’ll never guess who the real hero was (He was six feet tall and bulletproof)

    Most folks know about the 20th Maine’s bayonet charge that repulsed the Rebels at Little Round Top because they watched the movie, “Gettysburg.”
    Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy post ourselves a hundred yards or so away from where it happened in real life. Tourists frequently ask us how to find it.

    April 13, 2014