Clean Your Car, “The Chicago Way”

Car Wash Bowl 1920 Geoffrey Baer

– photo courtesy of

No, please be my guest and have a longer look at the above photo.  I’ll be more than happy to wait; after all, it’s Valentine’s Day, and I have a delightful little box of all-sorts sitting beside me, taunting me for my attention!

Ah, you’re back! Great!  I was utterly impressed by the ingenuity of the, “Auto Wash Bowl”.  And what a wash bowl it was!  First appearing in St. Paul, Minnesota, the bowl soon became a hit on the Chicago car circuit.

Chicago’s answer to bathtubs for big cars arrived in the form of a large basin-shaped construction.  At a reasonable price of just 25 cents, an attendant would place a cover over the car’s radiator to protect it from the car cleansing!  Car owners would then drive ‘into’ the bowl, complete several circular laps while the ridged concrete of the bowl removed some of the mud and dirt from the vehicle’s undercarriage.

Now Henry

– photo courtesy of

Interesting the car in the above newspaper ad is referred to as, “Henry”, don’t you think? Ah, Mr. Henry Ford, methinks you’ve had more than your fair share of motorized monikers!

A resounding, “Everybody out of the pool” was heard (just kidding; but it would be rather funny, don’t you think?) For those who needed the deluxe cleaning, a quick drive out of the bowl and into a service bay was in order, where an attendant would take over to, ‘finish the job’ (I did say it was the, “Chicago Way” now, didn’t I?)  *grin*

For those who wanted to jump in with both feet (and car), you, yes YOU could own your very own automatic, automobile bathing bowl:

Wash Bowl Chicago– photo courtesy of

Ah, Saturdays at the ‘ol Auto Wash Bowl; good, clean, car fun!

  36 comments for “Clean Your Car, “The Chicago Way”

  1. February 14, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Does it get all that nasty salt off the entire car? 🙂


    • February 14, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      *LOL* Excellent question, John!!! 🙂 Cher xo


  2. February 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Ha ha ha – such early innovation! No really surprised they decided it was easier to spray the water on the car. Our luck and we’d have stalled after driving into the pool 😉


    • February 14, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      *biggest grin* It was quite something, wasn’t it? Ah yes, the sprayer was no doubt soon behind the ‘bowl invention’, as it were! *LOL* I would be stalled after the pool, too!! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Don
    February 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Fascinating – that’s why I so enjoy your blog, Cher, full of surprises and often with an unassuming educational slant to it.Wonderful stuff.


    • February 14, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Thank you so much, Don! You have literally made my week! I do appreciate your thoughtful words! Thank you!!! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. February 14, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    lol if they only knew of Vancouver floods lately 😛


    • February 14, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      Flooding in Van? What’s going on, Andy? Happy Valentine’s Day, by the way! *extra ice cream* Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 14, 2015 at 8:03 pm

        Well, a month ago now we had non stop torrential rain in North Van that flooded at least 30 homes, like literally turned their basements into swimming pools, caused the city over 5 million in damages :O


      • February 14, 2015 at 8:05 pm

        Oh no! I had no idea! We don’t get a lot of Canuck news here as you can probably imagine. I’m really sorry about that. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 14, 2015 at 8:22 pm

        Oh I was fine, I’m on the other mountain, where we were okay except for some heavily flooded on and off ramps which proved an interesting drive, the poor kids though that were affected :-/


      • February 14, 2015 at 9:58 pm

        Ah, well I am really glad you were fine! Yes, the poor kids that were affected; that must have been really difficult for them.


      • February 14, 2015 at 8:03 pm

        Hapee Valentines! xo 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. February 14, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    What a great story. So advanced at the time. Now, you can just run your car through a tunnel of big, heavy brushes and other instruments running across your car and hope for the best. If all goes well, the dirt is removed and none of your car’s external parts are scratched or worse, left dangling, as you pull out.


    • February 14, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      It was really advanced at the time, wasn’t it, Bruce? Oh my goodness, yes, those contraptions are almost too powerful, I think. I wonder how many ‘extra’ items have been left behind after a day of an automatic car wash! Perhaps the auto wash bowl wasn’t such a bad idea after all! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. February 14, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Brilliant and perfect. I really laughed. Thanks for sharing. Hope you are surviving the cold. Hugs, Barbara


    • February 14, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      Thank you so much, dear Barbara! I am so glad to hear that! Yes, we are staying inside a lot this weekend! Thank you also for the reblog! Muchly appreciated!! Hugs, Cher xo


  7. February 14, 2015 at 5:28 pm
  8. yeseventhistoowillpass
    February 14, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Wow those were the days…I wasn’t there but still those were the days…


    • February 14, 2015 at 11:00 pm

      Quite something, wasn’t it! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • yeseventhistoowillpass
        February 14, 2015 at 11:05 pm

        I guess those were simple times….

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 14, 2015 at 11:42 pm

        Indeed, they certainly were!!


  9. February 15, 2015 at 9:50 am

    That’s certainly a fascinating slice of Chicago history – would love to have seen it in action!


    • February 15, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Me too, Veronica! It must have been a sight to see! And I am sure for the time it seemed ‘advanced’! Cher xo


  10. February 15, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Well, that’s one solution to the problem of washing cars, although it seems like it’d have problems with how Model T’s had the power to churn through a straight line at a middling speed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 16, 2015 at 7:21 am

      I am thinking the industrious ‘inventors’ of the wash bowl didn’t think everything through before opening up the bowl, as it were! Somehow I think necessity was the mother of this invention, despite its shortcomings! I do think it looks rather fun though, don’t you think so? *grin* Cher xo


  11. Katsumi
    December 1, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    Salt was not widely used as a road de-icer in 1924.

    My question: During the Chicago winter, does it become the Auto Ice SKating Rink?

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 1, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      That is such a great question! It actually doesn’t; however, in Canada, many places it certainly does become Auto Ice Skating Ring! *LOL* Perhaps back in 1924 Chicago it sure did! 🙂 Cher xo


  12. June 3, 2017 at 11:47 am

    I love this idea, it’s really cute! I’m not sure it would have given the cars a thorough cleaning, and I imagine it wouldn’t have been too kind on the car’s machinery! However, it’s really adorable!

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 3, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Hi Em! *LOL* Oh yes, I agree! When I first saw the photo I honestly thought this must be a joke! Hehehehe Knowing that it was real makes it all the more funny! Thank you, my dear! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

  13. June 3, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Ha Ha! Brilliant!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. June 3, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    OMG! Thanks for sharing it. It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I would’ve liked to have seen it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 3, 2017 at 8:03 pm

      LOL Isn’t it funny, Pam? I feel the same way! Hahaha Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

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