Monday, January 22, 2018

Uses Car Camouflage to Hoodwink Pancho Villa

Ad for the Paige Lakewood 6-66
Unsigned, ANCIENT PAIGE LEADS FAST LIFE. Eighty-Year-Old Owner Camouflaged Car With Mica Dust to Outwit [Pancho] Villa. Nashville Tennessean (Nashville TN) May 29, 1921—

It was back in 1917 that the Paige ceased to manufacture the Fairfield model. These hardy ancestors of the current Paige Lakewood seem to have a way of keeping in the spotlight. The latest to claim attention is one from El Paso, Texas, and the story they tell about it makes one feel that romance is still to be found in the Southwest, even if the broncho and the pack mule have been supplanted in many instances by the lean picturesque motor car.

Working out of El Paso is a frisky young miner and prospector named H.W. Pontius, who is only a little better than 80 years old. But in spite of his tender years, Mr. Pontius is hitting the trail and conducting an extensive business that carries him over a vast stretch of territory, including portions of Mexico, New Mexico and Texas.

His is a rather hazardous calling, for he is obliged to traverse vasty stretches of desert and bad lands and climb many lonely mountain trails. A brush with a bandit or a merry race with a gang of cutthroats is a commonplace adventure for Mr. Pontius; and in the days when [Pancho] Villa was Mexico’s most troublesome citizen the prospector from El Paso constantly kept a weather eye open for that distinguished gentleman of the road, with whom he had several skirmishes.

Pancho Villa with Indian motorcycle

Buying a Fairfield when that model was the pride of the Paige line, Mr. Pontius has been using the car ever since and as nearly as he can reckon he has driven it something like 200,000 miles.

Alertness and speed are not all that are necessary if one is to keep ones skin whole in the territory Mr. Pontius roams. One must be an expert in the game of hide and seek and know how to disappear amongst the sage brush at opportune times. Consequently, Mr. Pontius developed certain ideas in “dolling” up his car that would arouse the keenest interest in our best camouflage artists.

He covered the body and chasis with small particles of mica blown into a wet varnish, in order to make the car as nearly invisible as possible. This accomplished his purpose admirably, for one could hardly make out the outlines of the car at a couple of hundred yards in the desert, and more than once when he was hard pressed the ruse has served him. Several bullet marks in the body of the car—one just back of the driver’s seat—are mute evidence that danger is very real when Mr. Pontius hits the trail.

The Fairfield shows other marks of service besides the bullet holes. The body is held together in a manner by wire, bolts and screws, but Mr. Pontius is still able to haul ore, mining machinery or whatever his business requires. The boys in El Paso have had him out in the “6-60” Paige model [shown above], but while he admits it is a fine car, he allows that his old Fairfield is still good enough for a few more games of hide and seek with the bad men of the Southwest.