My History of LaDawri Coachcraft in Retrospect
“A Message In A Bottle”: April, 2020
The last time I took a look at my LaDawri history has been quite a few years ago now…in fact nearly 20 years ago and a lot has happened and changed. I have now been retired all these years, I am now in my mid eighties, my LaDawri car no longer exists, and my thoughts devoted to further search have ceased.
My reflections prepared back on 17 May 1996 concluded with “What would we now give to learn the whole story…how great would it have been to have about an hour or two with Les A Dawes himself to hear the real whole story? Les A Dawes…where are you?”
That wish was never to be realized as I subsequently uncovered an obituary in the San Jose newspaper that reported that a Les A. Dawes had passed away some months earlier. My efforts to contact family members through the funeral home proved fruitless due to their policy of family privacy. I appealed to the manager offering to prepare a letter that he could pass on to the Dawes family, but that was denied too…I wrote and sent such a letter anyway and I never heard anything further.
And so my quest, to learn more about LaDawri came to a sad conclusion…close, but no cigar. I was now fairly certain that with Les’ passing, the opportunity to gain any further factual material about the LaDawri legacy was at an end. It had been a long journey filed with a diverse variety of stories, personal experiences, best recollections of a diverse variety of contacts I had managed to uncover, and when all the materials were put together to weave some kind of factual continuity to the history of LaDawri, there remained gaping holes and unsubstantiated facts.
The efforts of my searches were incomplete, perhaps largely inconclusive, and yet within the fabric of my document had to be some truth and I never felt that I had properly connected all the dots to make the correct and accurate last history of LaDawri.
Separately, based on materials I had provided, Jon Greuel carried on the efforts to publicize and collect more LaDawri background information. His major creation was the preparation of a LaDawri web page that was set out on the Internet for all other searchers to find, all the known information about LaDawri. This was a milestone achievement as in one fell swoop, the exposure of LaDawri information was greatly expanded without the relatively fruitless campaign of phonecalls, letters, magazine ad and newspaper article efforts that I had conducted.
And then Geoff Hacker became interested in LaDawri and its history and a new level of technology and informational sleuthing took place resulting in the location of the Dawes family and the uncovering of much detailed information on what became of LaDawri and how Les Dawes emerged from British Columbia to descend upon southern California becoming a major innovator and manufacturer of fiberglass bodied cars during the 50s and 60s.
When Geoff finished, all the details were now known, family photos and company records obtained, and in fact a LaDawri car found for the Dawes family. It has been a rather fulfilling experience to witness the information that has been gathered since my efforts ceased. The extent and detail of factual materials gathered boggles my mind…beyond any expectations that I envisioned during my bush league efforts.
While Geoff has gathered much, I still believe that there are yet more stories and experiences of others who were captured back in the 50s and 60s with the idea of building their own unique car based upon a manufactured fiberglass body, as an expression of their ideas, concepts, dreams, efforts and long hours spent assembling such a car; and then enjoying their finished product. There must be yet some of those individuals who today, sitting back in their recliners faintly remember those days 50-60 years ago when they were young and their specialty fiberglass bodied cars were everything.
As for me, it has been an interesting journey…one that started out as a quest to find out just what it was that I bought that was found under a tree in the front yard of a house in rural northern New Jersey. The years have passed by and I no longer think as much about LaDawri…but one cannot escape the past.
Here about a month ago or so, I received an email message from an individual out of the past. It was from a gentleman who many years earlier had read the 12 August 1980 article in the Vancouver Sun and responded to me with a letter. He recognized then that I was searching for Dawes contacts in the Vancouver area and he thoughtfully included a copy of the Vancouver phone directory listing all the Dawes; together with a sheet of Canadian postage stamps to use on SASE return envelopes to encourage people to respond.
His help was most appreciated, and I did indeed write letters to all those Dawes families back then and received only a few replies stating they were not who I sought. And then, now 36 years later, an email from that very same individual; now retired who had come across that saved Vancouver Sun article and my letter response, who did a GOOGLE search looking for me and sent me an email.
Goes to show you that you never know what the future may bring…it was kind of like dropping a “Message in a Bottle” into the ocean and then one day years later receiving an unexpected response.
John Edw. Gulow
57 Old Academy Road
Chatham, MA 02633
H Phone: 508-945-5234