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Dave Johnson
Dave Johnson (self proclaimed the “happiest man in town”) is co-owner, along with his son Mike, of Dave Johnson Sales at 8535 W. Kellogg. He was born and raised in Wichita, graduating from North High in the Spring of 1953 and began attending Wichita University as an art major and cheerleader that Fall. Dave participated with his mother in the development of the original WuShock, mascot concept, the first costume, and was the first mascot from 1954 to 1955. He began in the car business selling cars for Bob Moore Olds and Grant Davis, getting his own lot at Kellogg and West Street in 1959. In 1966 he became a franchise dealer for Chrysler with Dave Johnson Chrysler Plymouth at 7127 E. Kellogg. He partnered with Rusty Eck in 1984 on the Dollar Rent a Car franchise in Wichita, later expanding to Tulsa and Oklahoma City. He has been married to wife Billie for 55 years. They have 4 sons (David, Rusty, Mike, lost Chris at 35 years of age), 3 daughters-in-law (Sally, Theresa and Toni), 16 grandkids and 3 great grandkids. You can reach Dave (the Gunner) at Dave Johnson Sales on West Kellogg, by phone at (316) 721-0442, or by email at wushock1dj@cox.net.
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2011-11-17 11:38:54
History of auto business in Wichita – series
A: Last month, we discussed Wichita car history through the 1930s and now it is time to bring you up to the current time. As we end this series, you will see that the auto business in Wichita was no different than it was throughout the rest of the country. By 1940, the automobile changed the face of small town America. Everyone bought cars fashioned to match their station in life. Nearly every town had a “Main street,” which served as a gathering place for people as well as the ubiquitous automobile. Businesses catering to the car culture, such as motels and service stations, multiplied across Wichita, and the United States. Roadside diners, such as the Valentine Diners, which began their successful run in Wichita also began their start in this time. The car also obliterated the need for some existing industries, particularly fixed-rail commuter service and animal-powered transit. Trolley Cars, once a staple of transportation in our area, were displaced to make room for more cars. The brick streets were covered with asphalt to provide a smoother ride for the automobile. Auto dealers, also proliferated the area at that time with a car dealership nearly on every corner. Wichita served and continues to serve, as an incubator for car dealerships throughout the country. Car makers would typically use the area to gauge the success other dealerships throughout the country could, and should experience. Car dealerships began to be the familiar face of the city and cars a symbol of happiness for America. Dealerships also changed and grew during this time. After experiencing success in one venue, entrepreneurs would venture into owning additional dealerships, both in the city and frequently out of state. Midway through the century, cars had become a central feature of life for young people. So much so that thoughts of one would evoke thoughts of the other. Cars represented mobility, status, challenge and social freedom. However, it also changed how young people spent their free time with working to pay for the cars became a priority. Now, after a century of the automobile and a rich automotive history in our own area, we can begin to reflect on the impact of long term transport by internal combustion. Nearly every aspect of our lives has developed around this technology. There are many great memories out there connected to cars and car dealerships. Ask around about what others remember. I’m sure you will get to hear a great story.
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