With all the hoopla over Jeep's 75th anniversary this summer, I was reminded that many years ago, my mom found a stack of ancient Reader's Digest magazines at a garage sale and bought them for me.
One article that drew my attention was called "Meet the Jeep," a story condensed from Scientific American that appeared in the January 1942 Digest.
The author, Jo Chamberlin, had written a lively, vintage account of what the Digest called "the homeliest and most useful item in the Army's rolling stock -- the midget combat car." He described the vehicle's triumphant debut in battlefield maneuvers in Louisiana in 1941. He also went to Camp Shelby in Mississippi to check out the "jeep" for himself.
Lt. Patrick Summerour demonstrated "the Army's youngest, smallest, toughest baby" to Chamberlin, beginning by pointing out a towing hook on the back end.
"You pull an anti-tank gun here," he told the writer. "Civilians often ask why we don't fight tanks with tanks. Well, a jeep costs $900, a tank $35,000. And these tank-destroyers, towing anti-tank guns, can swarm round enemy tanks and give 'em hell."
Reader's Digest was the best-selling consumer magazine of the day, so you could say it was Chamberlin who introduced the "jeep" to the American public.