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Who were Frank Cooke and Ralph Cheatham -Springfield Mass??


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I recently bought a 1932 Franklin from a gargage in Springfield Mass. The car was sold by a FRANK COOKE in 1970 to Ralph Cheatham in West Springfield Mass.Cooke signed a reciept that indicated he was a Rolls Royce dealer of such. It was sold to Cheatham as a 1930 and to me also sight unseen.. When I got there the next day it turned out to be a 1932 -163. I was trying to find some information about the men and the car as Im always a bit curious. The car is a original paint rear spare sedan, with wood wheels with large snap on caos like the wire wheels used. Thank you Mike

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Mike... Frank Cooke was the Vintage RR Garage. I think it was in West Brookfield, Mass. in an old Buick dealership. He lived across the street and had cars stashed in buildings all over town. He was Technical Vice-President (? not sure of the title) of the RROC. I knew him slightly as I was probably the youngest member of the RROC, that actually owned an American-made car, at the time. Fantastic shop... he even had a dynamometer. One of his biggest projects was making aluminum heads for Phantom Is. The engine stand in my shop is a copy of one he built for to hold a Silver Ghost engine. Some place around here I have the catalog for the auction of his stuff after he died.

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Joe, Im never amazed at what you have stored under your hat! .The letterhead that the reciept is on indicates Cooke was also a keeper of owners/cars in the prewar years. (roster)Was he a Franklin man also ,or was he a dealer in any make antique car. The car sold in 1970 for $1500.00,a fair amount of money for a 4 door sedan.Ill send you a copy of the reciept for you to see. Its nice letterhead with the RR logo ..How about Ralph Cheatham? Do you know of him also??

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I don't remember seeing Franklins... and it was just about 1970-72 that I was active. But, nothing would surprise me. If my memory serves me, I think he owned the Cooke Optical Company (or something like that) and made very high end optics... for outfits like NASA. I'll try to find the catalog of the sale as that may shed a little more light. He did a regular column in the Flying Lady on technical issues and used to host the RROC Technical Seminars. I went to a few of them as well as visiting with my late friend Andy who had Frank rebuild the engine of a PI Avon. One of the things that impressed me about the shop was that much of the equipment was quite old even then (like my machines) but was extensively rebuilt...

I found the catalog of the sale. He liked brass & steam, had a 1911 Stanley, a 1907 Franklin and an 07 Model R Ford. He also had 25EX, the prototype Phantom II... great stuff. The collection was sold by Bohhams in September, 2006. I didn't know about it but I was at another sale a month later and they were handing out the catalogs as free samples!

I don't remember Cheatham so I probably never met him.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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I don't know of Mr. Cheatham but here's a little more information on Frank Cooke. He was one of a small handful of mechanic gurus competent to work on early Rolls-Royce cars and even today people advertise their Silver Ghosts and Phantoms as having a Frank Cooke rebuild as a selling point. If you want more information about him he has a son, Billings (Bill) Cooke, who learned the trade from his father and is also a fine R-R mechanic who might know something about Mr. Cheatham. Bill and Pierce Reid operate the Vintage Garage in Stowe VT and themselves specialize in early R-R mechanicals.

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google items for Cooke for you, Mike.

REMEMBERING FRANK COOKE

Monday, June 11, 2012

He was like my second father.He was brilliant,educated, self-made, humorous,secretive,a true "Yankee." The Frank Cooke I knew truly was exotic and I tried to emulate him as much as I could at age 20.I was a card-carrying member of the Rolls-Royce Owners Club. I was intrigued by the Springfield Rolls Royce legacy.I learned much poetry of the Romanticists, especially George Gordon, Lord Byron. Josh bears the middle name "Byron" today.

Frank and Marjorie Cooke saw to it I would have a college education by working me 60 hours as week in 1962 and 1963.I asked Mr. Cooke for a job and he gave it to me, twice. He trusted me with his Silver Ghost and allowed me to drive it on occasion.As far as college goes... he once said to me "You have been admitted to St. Louis University for reasons you will never know." Once I got established in St. Louis I wrote Mr. Cooke a letter of thanks. He responded telling me about the updates on the Rolls.He signed his name in lead pencil. Today, I have a book entitled "Kings of the Road" with his pencil autograph "F. Cooke."

In 1950, tragedy hit the young Cooke family on Summer Street, North Brookfield.Little Steven Cooke ran into the path of Charlie Morrison's Buick killing the boy.Marion Varney told me years later "It wasn't Vincent Egan's fault." Marion told of seeing Vincent Egan holding the little body.Decades later when Bill Cosby's son was killed I approached Mr. Cooke on the tragic memory of his son.' It haunts me to this day' Bob. The Stevens/Cooke families were dealt such a cross to bear... and they did with courage and humility.Cooke Optical Co. was truly a Family affair.Billings M. Stevens was the paymaster for Cooke Optical. His back-leaning signature is remembered to this day.Also, I mowed Mr. Stevens' lawn and before that I mowed the Mansion's grounds for Uncle Luke Grondin.Shirley Waytina served as Frank's Secretary for decades!

When I returned to the Brookfields with my young family in 1978 I returned to Frank Cooke.He could be evasive at times when I asked a direct questions.I could see then he was all consumed in his Vintage Garage on South Main Street (Raymond Buick.). Mr Cooke had made his marks world-wide in optics and antique automobiles.He commented on my new Orient Red Mercedes 240-D. As my car got older I would ask Frank 'What to do?" 'This car has been good to you, Bob, so fix it... and fix it again!"I did driving it some 242,000 miles before selling it for scrap....$2,000 scrap!

When Mr. Cook reached age 92 I last saw him in Hannafords with a can of Campbell Soup in his hand."Is this The Ancient Mariner, I asked? Mr. Cooke loved quoting from the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner."how's Mrs. Cooke, I asked? Margie is home dying of cancer." And how are you doing, Frank? 'Hell, I'm 92 so it won't be long..... He was right. months later I was saddened to read Frank Cooke's Obituary.

His tales were long and the Mid-West flavor authenticated his life's journey from Burma Shave to being in Saigon on a ship in a typhoon.While some doubted his veracity I believe it all.My inspirations in NASA come from grinding a reflecting mirror at Cookes.My 1987 exotic-neurotic Cadillac Allante' is my Rolls Royce.... and the wisdom of my late mother, Rita,taught me the virtues in living simply....I truly had the best of both worlds in my younger life and it is the acculturation of Yankee and French-Canadian traits that gives me my Americans of a new generation...Ben, Josh, Chase, Lily, Maddie.I couldn't have done it without the Cookes and I couldn't have done it without the Potvin/Wine/Poulins! <!-- AddThis Button BEGIN -->

TelegramTowns.com - A product of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette=

https://sites.google.com/site/piccadillyroadster/

good to hear from you Mike--Richard Greensboro NC

ps--have fun. got the timing access hole cover from you !!

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Richard ,Thank you so much for all the info. I have the reciept for the Franklin on Franks ROLLS ROYCE letter head. Its very nice/ If you would like the original Ill make a copy and send it to you . You will need to email me your address again. The car came with wonderful spares 1930-32 ,so if you need anything ,let me know. Mike

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