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San Jose's One Armed Chauffer

R.B Barrett was quite a celebrity in San Jose during the early 1900's. He was the only one armed chauffer to drive a deliver car in the city back in 1906. He was so adept at driving that bested all the two armed drivers. Barrett lost his left arm during a hunting accident in the Uvas Creek area. He was employed by the Parisian Dyeing and Cleaning Works (owned by "Dick" Moody) to deliver and collect garments from clients all over San Jose.

R.B Barrett seems to be driving a modified version of the Autocar of that era. Here's another example:

There's fascinating details about driving the 'Autocar'.

The machine is an Autocar of twelve horsepower with a double seat for the driver and the rear is housed to shelter parcels. Mr. Barrett cranked the machine and then stepped in. He tooted the horn by pressing an electric button with the toe of his shoe, threw on the clutch. and started. The gasoline lever, throttle, spark lever, speed lever and steering lever are all connected and do not bother the driver while traveling. The brakes are worked with his foot. The machine answered to the mahout's one hand like a thing of life. He releases the steering lever momentarily to grasp the speed lever, but the car does not lose her course in the least. The driver was confident in the most ticklish places and after a short spin returned.


Sanborn Map of Parisian Dyeing and Cleaning Works and 1st and DeVine St
Sanborn Map of Parisian Dyeing and Cleaning Works and 1st and DeVine St



  • San Jose Mercury News, 19 July 1906

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