Red Curtice Letters, Part 1: Welcome to the General Motors’ presidency

Harlow H. “Red” Curtice was appointed president of General Motors Corporation in 1952, replacing Charles E. Wilson, who had just been nominated for Secretary of Defense by president-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was a heady moment not only for Curtice and his wife Dorothy, but also for those who held GM in high regard. Curtice received scores of congratulatory letters and cards, which are preserved in scrapbooks at the Scharchburg Archives of Kettering University, in Flint, Michigan. I have read many of them and made this transcript.

H.H.C., Letters, Volume I, December 1, 1952

Curtice, left, gets the latest on the new Hydra-Matic plant from vice president Sherrod E. Skinner. GM was leasing the Willow Run facility after fire had destroyed the company's Detroit Transmission Division factory in Livonia.

Dotsy Curtice, Bradford Junior College, Bradford, Massachusetts, Tuesday, Nov. 25

Dear Daddy,

This is the first chance I’ve had to add my little note to the rest of your letters and telegrams.

This past week has been equally as wonderful for me. Everyone in and out of the college has expressed their congratulations and has made me as proud as ever before.

Mr. Pemberton sent this clipping from the Pawtucket Times. Could this be you?! They sort of had the right idea anyway and we must allow some excuses for these New Englanders—By June I promise to have them converted. Mr. P. thought your appearance had certainly changed since he saw you last spring!

I knew before what a wonderful Daddy I had and now I only hope that this piece of your family can live up to all expectations. Even the D+ in Psychology has improved I think.

I’m looking forward so much to coming home tomorrow. I can’t wait to join in with all the excitement.

By the way, Hugh Hartwell wants to know if you would like us to make you a G.M. hat but with a Buick, of course, on top! He and his family send their congratulations too—

I’ll be seeing you tomorrow.

With loads of love to my wonderful Daddy—


Henry Ford II, Dearborn, Dec. 5th

Dear Red—

Congratulations on becoming President of General Motors. It is a job that you well deserve and I know will carry out so well that we better work twice as hard over here.

Kindest Regards—

Henry Ford II

Laura (Adamson Blue, on congratulatory greeting card), Monday, Nov. 24th

Dear Dorothy—    t

Am sending the clippings in the Sherman papers—possibly dozens have sent them to you.

I am so happy over the continued success of your husband—But he could not have gone to the tip-top with out [sic] you by his side.

I often recall the happy times I had as a girl in your family house on Travis—as I went in the crowd with Mary Dale and Ed.

I loved your mother, she was so sweet to all of us. She made the best bean sandwiches—I saw you and your husband last at her funeral here.

Last Xmas Sarah Pitts Young, show [sic] me the Xmas card of your lovely family—and one the year before—

Sure you remember me as Laura Adamson, I am now Mrs. Gaylord Blue thou [sic] my husband passed away 6 years ago.

Again I want to tell you and yours how happy I am that your husband is president of General Motors

Love to the two of you and your three lovely daughters—


Jessie Bourke

Dear Mrs Curtice,

When I opened the Herald Tribune this morning and saw that smiling picture of Mr Curtice with the wonderful caption under it, “President of General Motors”—I thought how proud and happy the girls must be today.

In fact, I felt quite proud myself and happy in the knowledge that one of the biggest corporations in the country had picked the right man.

It gives one a safe feeling to know that a man like Mr Curtice is at the helm—I wish there were more like him.

Affectionately yours,

Jessie Bourke

Mrs. Harry Bradley, 313 North Main Street, Wellsville, New York, Dec. 1st, 1952

Dear Friends—

Yesterday I saw this article in Time Magazine about Mr. Curtice and I want to add my congratulations and very good wishes for his success—The only fault that I could find with this article is that it didn’t put in half the very nice things I could say about him—about you all—However it might take up a whole issue or more to do him justice and that might be asking too much, even for Time—

I do want to tell you however how glad I am and also so grateful that I have met and known you all—

Shall watch the papers for the recording of more things to come—


Mrs. Harry Bradley

M.B. Brainard, president, Aetna Life Insurance Company, Hartford, Conn., Nov. 21, 1952

My dear Curtice:

Just a hurried note to congratulate you on the additional responsibility that has come to you. I do hope that despite your elevation to this lofty post that Mrs. Brainard and I may still be kept on the list of those who received the delightful Christmas cards of the Curtice family.

With kind regards to Mrs. Curtice, I am

Sincerely yours,

M.B. Brainard

Frank D. Cotter, 528 United Artists Building, Detroit 26, Michigan, November 21st

Dear Red—

Mag & I wish to extend to you our most sincere congratulations and best wishes in your newest assignment.

Although we don’t have a dollar invested in the Corporation, as consumers any product carrying a G.M. label is our first and unhesitating choice, and we are proud to know the head man.


Frank Cotter

William W. Crapo, 1325 Ford Building, Detroit 26, Michigan, Woodward 2-7266, Nov 25, ’52

Dear Red:

When we heard over the Radio that Eisenhower had appointed Chas. Wilson, I said to Betty, “I bet that means that Red will be President of General Motors!”

Congratulations on this terrific honor…one of the greatest responsibilities in the world.

We are glad to see that Ike has appointed a production-minded man like Chas Wilson.

Wasn’t the Election wonderful? Golly…Ike said just the right thing in Detroit before elected and has made some fine appointments. The farm organizations and the Radio Farm Editors seem to like Ezra Taft Benson, buy my associates in the grain business in the Thumb don’t like Coöps.

How’s your family? I’ve lost track… Is Mary Leila following up her music?

Betty & I have been attending choir practice and singing in church. Son Henry had a gang of girls & boys at the farm last weekend for a turkey dinner; they listened to the Univ of Michigan Ohio State Game—very disappointing.

Now that you’ve got the country back on the job politically, you’ll have to get that U of Mich Football team back in the running.

Son Stan who is in the Navy is home for a few days. This summer he was at Thule, Greenland, near Arctic Circle; this winter he’ll be stationed on an island near Havana. He seems to have survived his girl marrying another.

Our best to Dot.

Bill [likely a cousin to Billy Durant]

J. Archie Doak, 224_____[Brook St.?], Eaton Rapids, M, Nov. 24—52

Dear Friend

Your will wonder at my written on so important a matter My long acqantne with your father & mother. I thought you would pardon us for taken up your time with so simple a question

I have been connected with the Horners Woolen Mills for many years and when we read the Free Press last week I remarked that Harlowe worked here once all of the old firm have pasted away but Will Horner and he thought he could remember it now. I thought you would not mind my writing this and to prove my memory is still good I am among the older of the woolen mill employees and many old time questions that come up are turned over to me I have past 80 years

Yours Resply [respectfully]

J Archie Doak

H.H.C., Letters, Volume II, December 1, 1952

R.E.McNeill, Jr., president, The Hanover Bank, New York 15, Dec. 8, 1952

I have just returned from a business trip and wish to congratulate you … I know the Company will continue to enjoy its enviable position…

George H. Maines, The Army and Navy Club, Washington, Nov. 27

I wish my good father could have lived to see you president of General Motors. I remember him telling me (about 1938) that someday you would be. He really was a great man for Flint, wasn’t he. [sic]

Now we can claim Dan Reed too, who will be a power in this next Congress, Paul Shafer, who worked on the old Flint Tribune of the Kingsley, Grover White, Arthur Pound regime; and I claim Rep. Jess Wolcott—who went through Officers’ training School with the writer, as did Cronin of Fisher Body division, so with A.S. on the job, Flint ought to be proud and happy.

Good luck, and a hand-grasp,

John C. Manning, editor, Detroit Times, Nov. 24

clubcalumet01    I know Bill Anderman sent you a note of congratulation upon your appointment to the top spot. May I add my good wishes, not only on behalf of this newspaper but, also, personally.

I never have been especially partisan one way or the other in the alleged conflict between so-called “big business” and the rest of the economy. I consider it a mythical antagonism exploited by politicians.

However, in the field of big business, General Motors and “Big Steel” long have been my favorites. They operate efficiently and honestly and with their cards always on the table.

It is most heartening, therefore, that a man of your stature is chosen to run General Motors. I realize what a tremendously tough job it is. In my opinion, the employees and the stock-holders and the public are fortunate, that you were selected for it.

Please believe, Mr. Curtice, this is not mere politeness on my part. I mean it earnestly and I assure you that if, at any time, the newspaper or I can be of service to you in any way, I want you to call on us.

August L. Marschall, vice president, National State Bank, 810 Broad Street, Newark, N.J., Nov. 24

… congratulations…

I wondered whether you recall our meeting a few years back through the Bonbrights who were neighbors of yours; also at that time, Mrs. C.M. Hall, from Montclair, New Jersey, was visiting the Bonbrights, and we both had the pleasure of spending a short time with you at your Detroit Club.

We have had the privilege of serving General Motors for many years, and visited with Mr. Prentis when he was Treasurer, but have not yet met Mr. Russell. I am planning to be in Detroit within the next month, and will take the opportunity of saying hello to you if you are free at the time, and also visit with Mr. Russell.

Don R. Mitchell, president and General Manager, Ionia Manufacturing Company, Ionia, Michigan (automobile bodies, transportation seating, automotive trim, metal folding chairs, “Ionia” automobile and truck bodies, tubular seat frames), Tel: 800, Nov. 24

Dear Harlowe:

I think one of the greatest thrills I have ever experienced was the announcement I read Thursday afternoon of your appointment as President of the General Motors Corporation. I know of no one more deserving of the position or who can better fill this terrifically important post.

This honor is a great tribute to a man that has devoted his life to hard work and I wish you all the health and happiness any my sincere congratulations.

Arthur N. [Ned or Red] Motley, Parade, 405 Lexington Avenue, New York 17, N.Y. [no date, scrawled in red china marker]

Red Curtice



Good luck

Adolph F. Marschner, judge, The Third Judicial Circuit for Michigan, Detroit, Nov. 21

…congratulations…good health…good wishes of Mrs. Marschner and myself to Mrs. Curtice and the family.

With kindest personal regards,

M.J. Ovalle, M.J. Ovalle Company, Foreign Freight Forwarding, Ocean Freight Brokers, 508 Natchez St., New Orleans 12, La., Dec. 5

…our congratulations and best wishes…

Walter F. Patenge, president & general manager, Wohlert Corporation, Manufacturers of Automotive and Industrial Parts, Lansing-5-Michigan, Nov. 24

It is with pleasure that I want to congratulate you on your appointment as President of General Motors Corporation due to the fact that our mutual friend Mr. Wilson is going in Mr. Eisenhower’s cabinet.

Our entire organization congratulates you also and hopes that your administration will be a most successful one.

F.C. Peters, Industry Committee Advisor, Office of Industry Advisory Committees, Department of Commerce, National Production Authority, Washington 25, Dec. 5

…belated congratulations…

I hope it will continue to be our pleasure to have you as a member of the Automobile Passenger Car Manufacturers Industry Advisory Committee.

Magnus F. Peterson, executive vice president and general manager, Carter Carburetor Corporation, 2840 North Spring Avenue, St. Louis 7, Mo., Nov. 24

…sincere congratulations…

Frank A. Picard, district judge, United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Detroit 26, Nov. 21

My dear Curtice:

Congratulations–now I know that the company will continue to be successful. You came up the hard way and certainly deserve your promotion.

Leon L. Pinkson, automotive editor, San Francisco Chronicle, Fifth and Mission Streets, San Francisco 19, Calif., Garfield 1-1112, Nov. 21

Let me be among the first to congratulate you upon your elevation to the presidency of General Motors. To me it was not a surprising announcement, but a well deserved advancement in recognition of your ability.

As the oldest automotive news chronicler in the nation, in point of service as well as years, I have watrched your official career with interest and have, at times, been able to make note of your many successful contributions to the industry in my columns in the Chronicle.

I am confident that, as top man in General Motors, there will be many more remarkable automotive developments that will be directly credited to you.

I hope that during my next visit to Detroit I’ll have the opportunity of offering my congratulations in person. In the meantime, be sure to call on me if I can be of any service to you in this area.

Anthony M. Rey, office manager, The Waldorf-Astoria, Park and Lexington Avenues, 49th and 50th Streets, New York 22, Eldorado 5-3000, Nov. 24

I was happy to learn of your appointment as President of General Motors. Your many friends at The Waldorf join me in extending best wishes for your continued success.

Leslie B. Robertson, 6420 Maryland Drive, Los Angeles 36, California, Dec. 2

Permit me to congratulate you…

It has been several years since I took delivery of a new Buick at Flint; it so happened that you were away on “important business” i.e. attending the University of Michigan vs Minnesota foot ball game at Minneapolis.

I am still driving a BUICK, 1950, which I also picked up at Flint; and I still claim that “When better cars are built Buick will build, them “.

Since I retired some years ago as Attorney for the General Motors Cor., from my office in the General Motors Bldg., I have been living here in Los Angeles, and think it is the best place for all year round living I have ever seen’ and I pretty well covered a great part of the world in my travels.

Wishing you all kinds of success in your new position, I am,

Edward E. Rothman, Nov. 21

News of your appointment as acting President of the Corporation brought back to Ruth and me a vivid memory of an AC party at the Durant in Flint some 18 years ago. That was when we first learned of your forthcoming transfer to Buick.

Maybe you, too, will recall that the theme song of our evening was “Whose [sic] Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf”—a popular tune of the day.

As we talked about it, we both agreed that the new “Big, Bad Wolf” would be subdued and domesticated just as splendidly as the other.

Our congratulations to you on this richly earned and most deserved new post and our best wishes always for your continued success.

Merryle Stanley Rukeyser, 150 W. Pinebrook Drive, New Rochelle, N.Y., Tel: New Rochelle 6-0200, Cable: RUKEYSER, Nov. 21

May I extend my congratulations and best wishes in connection with your appointment?

It has been some time since I have had the pleasure of a visit with you, and if you are planning to be in New York I hope you will let me know.

Bob Schlesinger, president, Electro Chemical Engraving Co. Inc., 1100 Brook Avenue, New York 56, N.Y.

Mr. Harlan [sic] Curtice

…heartiest congratulations…

Harry M. Seldon, president, H.M. Seldon Company, Realtors, 300 Penobscot Building, Detroit 26, Michigan, Tel: Woodward 1-7800, Nov. 21

It was a pleasure to read in this morning’s paper of your appointment to succeed Charles E. Wilson as the president of General Motors Corporation.

You have come a long way, and I want to extend to you my very best wishes for your continued success as head of the greatest industrial activity in our nation.

S. Abbot Smith, president, Thomas Strahan Co., manufacturers of Fine Wall Decorations, Since 1886, Chelsea 50, Mass., Nov. 26

Congratulations…I think we, too, as citizens are to be congratulated on having Mr. Wilson serving as Secretary of Defense. It is evident that at long last we shall now have an honest, efficient administration in Washington.

We missed you at the last CED Meeting but hope you will be at the next one.

Paul Thompson, president, Bay Trust Company, Bay City, Michigan, Nov. 25

Dear Harlow:

Please accept my sincere congratulations upon your advancement to the high office of President of General Motors. We all felt it was “on the way” and deserving, but deem it our pleasure to send you our congratulations on this well deserved recognition.

Carl Thorgersen, 6111 North Knox Avenue, Chicago 30, Illinois, Nov. 21

Mr. President:

Just to wish you a lot of success.

* Carl Thorgersen born Denmark 1891, married Esther Kling, born Chicago 1898]

From the William Dana Orcutts, 512 Beacon St., Boston 15 Mass.
From the William Dana Orcutts, 512 Beacon St., Boston 15 Mass.

Benjamin Sonnenberg, Nov. 24

My dear Mr. Curtice,

My warmest felicitations on your new designation. You follow in a great tradition. For many years your legend has preceded you. And I know that you will bring to your new, distinctive responsibility the same enlightened vision and keen mastery that has characterized your entire lustrous record.

[card signed with red China marker]

E.M. “Ed” Titus, International Business Machines Corporation, 420 East Jefferson Avenue, Detroit 26, Michigan Woodward 3-7890, Dec. 3

Dear Red,

Ten days ago I was attending an executive school (along with sixty other executives) at our Poughkeepsie factory on our wonderful new electronic “giant brain”, which will be announced shortly after the first of the year. A Poughkeepsie executive came in to announce to the group that he had heard on the radio of the appointment of Mr. Wilson as Secretary of Defense and your elevation to head General Motors. Everyone was enthusiastic.

I was proud of the reaction because it indicated that our executive group was aware of how diligently you have worked in General Motors and how deserving is your promotion. Congratulations and sincere best wishes. As a stockholder of both our corporations, and as IBM Special Representative to General Motors, I assure you my continued support in trying to simplify General Motors paper work and to effect economies in office operations.

Since my official appointment nearly two years ago, I have visited every division, nearly all the plants, and most of the warehouses in the United States. I have worked with GM of Canada and have visited all General Motors plants in Europe. This activity has been in line with your last written recommendation that I work at the operating level. If you ever desire a more elaborate report of my activities on behalf of both IBM and General Motors, I will be glad to visit with you and give you complete details.

Temporarily I am holding down the managership in the Detroit office while the regular manager is ill, but I will be back to devoting my full time to General Motors in the very near future.

Again, congratulations.

DeHull Travis, 1027 Forest Avenue, Birmingham, Michigan, Nov. 21

My dear Harlow,

Heartiest congratulations to you, Sir! The General Motors’ plan of taking care of its deserved own is truly wonderful. All success to you.

Today I seem to be in a trance. It seems so many of my old friends have suddenly become top level figures in the world. Yourself, Arthur Summerfield, Mr. Wilson, General Eisenhower, General Lucias D. Clay, and many more. When I reached Germany in 1946, General Eisenhower, whom I met and knew casually, had just turned the command of the occupied zone over to General Clay who became my top level boss. During my services in the War Crimes Trials as War Crimes Attorney and later as assistant Secretary General of Tribunal I. During my Flint days, I served as attorney for some time for “Art” and his father. Today as I think of it all in connection with myself, it does not seem to make sense.

This has been a great year for General Motors, governmentally, and industrially. Al success to you and it!

[Attached clip from Nov. 20, 1952 Birmingham Eccentric seems to indicate Travis was involved with the Exchange Club]

Dave Treat, Office of the Director and Classrooms, The Clara Elizabeth Fund for Maternal Health, 302 W. 2nd Ave., Flint, Mich., Tel: 8-1174


It has always been a matter of pride to me that I could say you were the President of the Fund’s Trustees, a bit of neglected glory, I guess.

Best wishes for the even more challenging job ahead.

[The Clara Elizabeth Fund was established with a grant from former GM president Big Bill Knudsen in honor of his wife]

Huntington M Turner, vice president, Chemical Bank & Trust Company, One Sixty Five Broadway, New York, Nov. 26

…sincere congratulations…

Sometime when you are in New York, I hope you will stop in the bank.

A. vanderZee, vice president, Chrysler Corporation, Detroit 31, Michigan, Nov. 21

Red, my congratulations upon your ascending to the presidency of F.M. I have been expecting that this would occur and I think it is fortunate for our nation that C.E. has been chosen and that he is willing to take on the defense job and I feel also that G.M. is fortunate in having you on deck to take over the helm.

My best wishes for your continued great success and your good health and happiness.

Earl W. Wall, manager, Hotel Dennis, Atlantic City, Dec. 2

It was exceedingly pleasant news to learn that you have been chosen to be President of General Motors Corporation. Please accept our congratulations and heartiest wishes for a successful and enjoyable term of office.

During this month of December we are hosts to the Buick Motor Division for the duration of their stay while they meet at the Warner Theatre next door to the Dennis. This will give us a chance to visit with our old friends of Durant Hotel days.

We have a fine hotel here Mr. Curtice, and nothing would be nicer than to have you and Mrs. Curtice here for a vacation.

George S. Howell, 1775 Broadway, New York 19, Nov. 21

…warmest congratulations…

R. Clyde Williams, president, The First National Bank of Atlanta, Atlanta 2, Georgia, Dec. 1

…heartiest congratulations…

Our relationship with your organization is most highly appreciated by us and we hope, as one of your important banking connections, that you will have no hesitancy in calling upon us whenever we may serve you in any way.

Thomas F. Williamson, A. Sulka & Company, Shirtmakers and Haberdashers, 661 Fifth Avenue, New York 22, Nov. 24

It was so nice to read that you have been made President of General Motors. This is wonderful news!

We all wish you much success and happiness.

Simeon S. Willis, 400 Professional Arts Building, Ashland, Kentucky, Nov. 24

Dear Colonel Curtice:

As one of my most distinguished Kentucky Colonels, I rejoice to see you promoted, and I congratulate you on your selection as President of General Motors Corporation.

I wish you great success and commensurate happiness in your work.

David S. Holbrook, Algoma Steel Corporation Limited, Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, Dec. 19

This note is just to express to you on behalf of all our people the enjoyment we have had in working with your organization this past year.

I wish to add personally my congratulations to the thousands you must have received on your elevation to the Presidency of such a magnificent firm.

A Very Merry Christmas and a Most Happy New Year to you and yours.

E.R. Brooks, president, United States Steel Corporation, 71 Broadway, New York 6, N.Y., Dec. 18

Dear “Red”—

While I realize that your election was an interim one, I am going to “jump the gun” and congratulate you on being the next President of General Motors Corporation.

Just knowing you and seeing you from time to time as you went up the steps of the ladder, has been a pleasure, and I hope that in spite of your new responsibility that you can make room for an occasional visit.

With all good wishes to you and your family for Christmas and the New Year.

Charlie Dana, Dana Corporation, 290 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y., Dec. 23

Dear Harlow:

I am so pleased at your election—to be—as President of General Motors. Even before I met you, your name was synonymous with one of the best divisions of G.M. and after I saw the way you performed for several years in Flint, I knew that it would not be long before you followed in the heirarchy [sic] of Durant, Nash, Sloan, Knudsen, Wilson, and now yourself. The days of development and growth are not at all over. Purchasing power of America for the many reasons stated will continue for many years to come backed up by the know-how of our merchandising, mining, agricultural, and industrial organizations. There is no one more fitting to be the head of our largest industrial corporation in the world than yourself as I know from my contracts with your company since I first met Durant and his successors you were as equally fitted as any of them and in addition you have an experience, know-how and a foundation of organization and plants that will cause you to be a greater success both for your shareholders as well as your immense organization and the general public that you serve with your many types of production.

If there is anything that I can do, or I should say, we, as our organization and plants are many, do not hesitate to call on me as I have always regarded you, your predecessors, your associates and General Motors as one of my best friends and with whom it has always been a pleasure to serve. You have my hearty congratulations and best wishes.

E. Blakeney Gleason, president, Gleason Works, Builders of Bevel Gear Machinery for over Eighty-five Years, 1000 University Avenue, Rochester 3, N.Y., U.S.A., Dec. 18


Despite the fact that I have not been privileged to talk with you recently, I recall with pleasure our meeting at the Buick Motor Division in Flint, late in November 1935. I associate that meeting with the major role which you had in the placing of the orders for machines offered by The Gleason Works. The subsequent installation proved to be so outstanding that we continue to take pride in having enjoyed a part in it.

I know that the background and ability which you bring to your new position will mean your continuing success with the great corporation with which you have been identified for so many years.

George Gund, president, The Cleveland Trust Company, Cleveland 1, Ohio, Dec. 15

I was extremely pleased to note your election to the office of Acting President.

There is no corporation operated as smoothly and excellently as General Motors! Your organization throughout is an inspiration to your many stockholders.

May I again extend my heartiest congratulations, which I hope I can do in person a little later.

Al Haake, Alfred P. Haake, Ph.D., Economist, Consultant and Lecturer, 426 North Prospect Avenue, Park Ridge, Illinois, Helen R. Haake, Secretary, Phone: Talcott 3-2019, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Christmas Day

Just to share this Blessed Day with you and to wish you all happiness and success in the great responsibilities that your carry.

brainerdenvelope01Charles R. “Charlie” Hook, chairman, Armco Steel Corporation, Middletown, Ohio, Dec. 19

I heard of your election as President of General Motors while I was on the ship coming home from Europe and intended to write you immediately upon landing. There were several things in regard to the report that had to be cleared up however and Secretary Sawyer gave me an assignment in New York that kept me there until last Friday. When I got home, I found so many things here that Sebald and the others wanted to talk to me about and so many personal things had to be taken care of, that I did not have a chance to do any dictating before I had to go off to New York again last Tuesday. I did not return until yesterday. ]

We have just adjourned an Executive Committee meeting of our Board so I am not waiting another minute to get this note off to tell you how delighted I was when I heard of your election. It was what I expected to happen. Actually we here at Armco have had such a wonderful and delightful association with you for so many years that we are now happy to know that this association will continue. General Motors is indeed fortunate to have you there to take over, and G.M. has added an awful lot to the happiness of my Christmas season through this move.

Most sincere best wishes for the merriest Christmas ever, and a very, very happy New Year.

[H.] Donn Keresey, president, Anaconda Wire and Cable Company, Anaconda from mine to consumer, Twenty-Five Broadway, New York, Dec. 11

Please forgive this belated note to offer the most sincerely congratulations…

Fritz Meeske, VicePresident of our Company, and located in Muskegon, Michigan, and I hope to get to Detroit shortly after the holidays to have a visit with you and our other good friends at your headquarters.

As perhaps you know, we are in constant touch with your various divisions and we have numbered among our good friends over the years Messrs C.E. Wilson, Charlie Miller, Dan Hulgrave, Al Campau, etc.

It is only fitting before I close this letter to tell you also how highly pleased and delighted we are with the appointment of “C.E.” to the distinguished post for which he has been selected by the President-elect.

It may be of interest to you, in the event that you do not know it, to learn that it was through the cooperation of Messrs Wilson and Meeske that our factory at Anderson was erected in 1927, solely for the purpose of supplying your divisions with their requirements of electrical wires and cables. The twenty-fifth anniversary was celebrated last May at Lake Wawasee, Indiana, and it is a source of great pleasure to our entire organization to feel that this warm relationship has prevailed over the years under the most mutually satisfactory conditions.

Walter Joh. Krekels, Wiesbaden, Schöne Aussicht 11, Dec. 9

Please allow me to congratulate you on becoming General Motors’ Acting President.

Exactly four years elapsed since I had the opportunity to congratulate you on the occasion of your appointment as Executive Vice President.

I got the latest news from the December issue of “Time” and “Newsweek”. But also German newspapers gave their readers a story of your amazing success in industry. The headline runs: “From Bookkeeper to Boss of General Motors”.

As there was much discussion here on this topic I could boast about knowing you and your work done at the Buick Motor Company as General Manager and President of that Company.

I often refer also to your advice you gave me at Flint about the set up of an organisation and your saying:

“You can buy the best engineer

and you can buy the best accountant

but you cannot buy cooperation;

you have to build it up.”

In my present capacity as Assistant to the General Manager of the Didier-Werke AG., Wiesbaden, (similar Company as the Harbison-Walker Refractories Company, Pittsburgh Pa., USA) I emphasize your words almost daily pointing out your successful work in building up the Buick organization after 1933.

I am still thankful that I had the opportunity to study such an organization during my visit in 1939/40 in the States.

John M. Olin, president, Olin Industries, Inc., East Alton, Illinois, 570 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York, Dec. 16

Dear Harlow:

…congratulate you…

…every success…

Our relationship with your Company has been one of those very satisfying experiences in business which are so rare these days.

I hope that our paths will cross often and I send you my best wishes.

H.F. “Pat” Wardwell, chairman, Detroit Steel Products Co., Detroit, Dec. 19

Dear Red:

This is a little late but nevertheless heartfelt in congratulating you on your job as President of the General Motors Company. We can now expect them to do real things and continue to make them bigger than ever before, if that is possible.

C.J. Reese, president, Continental Motors Corporation, 205 Market Street, Muskegon, Mich., U.S.A., Dec. 30

Dear Harlow:

I thank you very much for the invitation to attend the GM MOTORAMA of 1953 in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria in New York between 4 and 7 p.m. on Friday, January 16th. I am returning my card indicating that I will attend.

Acknowledging your very much appreciated invitation affords me the opportunity of expressing what I have wanted to do, without intruding on your busy day, hearty congratulations for your new appointment with GM.

Years have a habit of changing people, some for the better and some not so good, but somehow the reading in this case is all for the good and , if at any time in our little way we can be of any aid, I hope we may hear from you.

Wishing you the best of everything for 1953,

Max C. Bunyan, The Arthur A. Johnson Corporation, Engineers and Contractors, 347 Madison Avenue, New York 17, N.Y., Murray Hill 6-1070-1-2, Dec. 31

Dear Harlow:

…congratulate you…

When you were elected President of A.C. Spark Plug and again when you were made President of Buick, I said to myself “Curtice is on the way”, and now comes the crowning achievement, the Presidency of General Motors.

brainerdletter011Met Al Jenkins on the street yesterday (he of the Dale McAlpin boilerhouse affair) and even he had taken time out from making money to read the account of your new responsibility.

How well I remember Michigan’s finest Governor returning from Lansing on the late train Friday nights for his week ends, and how others boarded that same late train at Howard City and Stanwood for the ride north after enjoying, perhaps not wisely but too well, the flowing hospitality of those moist communities, and how the good Governor at Monday morning assembly with his black eyes flashing and his white hair flying would decry the conduct of those boisterous pin-heads who came there not for an education but for a good time, and how they certainly would experience a negative existence.

If Michigan’s greatest Governor could but read the newspapers today I know that he would be one of the first to offer his congratulations, and in all his dignity admit that he had been wrong in his prognostications of the future of at least one of his pin-heads.

Your winning performance must be all the more gratifying when considering the high powered competitors you have been associated with, and as one former boisterous pin-head to another, I just want to say “nice going old man, nice going.

Mark W. Bills, superintendent, Public Schools, Kansas City, Missouri, Library Building, Ninth and Locust Streets, Dec. 3

Your career and service combine to serve as sources of inspiration to everyone who has ability, ambition and willingness to work hard. The recent recognition which has come to you in being elevated to the top executive position in the General Motors Corporation is a source of satisfaction to your friends and all who have faith in an economic system which provides “ceilings unlimited”.

Congratulations and best wishes. Memories of my years in Flint are increasingly valued because of certain personal associations. The privilege of meeting and knowing you in school-community ventures permits a sincere appreciation of the honor that has come to you and the reasons for it. I shall never forget the day when Frank Manley and I visited with you concerning a school election program and your generous gift to that project.

May all the genuine rewards of this further success be yours; happiness, satisfaction because of the larger opportunities for leadership and service, and pride in the heritage you may leave in behalf of a system that has made this country great.

J.T. French, vice president, factory relations, Commercial Credit Corporation, 1330 National Bank Building, 660 Woodward Avenue, Detroit 26, Michigan, Phone: WO-2-2723, Dec. 4

I congratulate you most sincerely…

Looking back the many years that you have been associated with General Motors; your Company has a new chief who knows every; department of the automobile business.

It has been many years since I have had the pleasure of seeing you; I remember very well when you came to Flint and your first position with the A.C. Spark Plug Company. I was a young man then; and have seen you rise to the President of the greatest Corporation in the world.

As an old employee of Buick and Chevrolet it gives me personal pride in seeing you become President of the General Motors Corporation.

George E. Harding, 321 Summer Street, Boston 10, Massachusetts, Dec. 4

Once more I have the pleasure of writing you a note of congratulations, and at the same time acknowledge the good judgment evidence by Mr. Wilson and the General Motors Corporation in that they have chosen the right man.

brainerdletter021    A few weeks ago, while visiting our plants in northern Michigan, I attended the Notre Dame-Michigan game as a guest of Frank Gerbig and that evening I was a guest at a very large dinner party, composed mostly of the chief executives of various automobile corporations, and your name came into the conversation. Please remember that this was before General Eisenhower had asked Mr. Wilson to be associated with him.

I was somewhat disturbed by one conversation, to the effect that the Du Pont people had in mind someone to take Mr. Wilson’s place. As you know, I am a member of some of the Government boards and I thought at that time that this would be a great mistake, particularly with the Government legal tangle with the Du Pont people going on at the present time.

However, this righted itself by Mr. Wilson going to Washington, and you can rest assured that all of your friends in and out of the motor industry are quire elated at the turn of events.

Frankly, not only in Washington, but in Detroit, where I have many friends, you are very highly regarded, not only now as a chief executive of what I consider the largest industry in the world, but as a man, and I am sure you are very gratified.

William Holden, executive vice president, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Fort Worth , Texas, Dec. 9

I was happy to see the announcement recently of your election to the Presidency of the General Motors Corporation to succeed Mr. Wilson. This is a fine honor and recognition of your outstanding service to the corporation and to the automotive industry.

I recall most pleasantly our contacts during the visit Mr. Carter and I made to your corporation a few years ago. I hope we may have the pleasure of welcoming you to Fort Worth before too long. I am sure you will want to see your fine new plant when it is ready for operation, or sooner.

Our organization will be anxious to join with Mr. Carter and others in showing you this area.

W. LeRoy “Roy” Jordan, 34 Ridgeview Drive, East Rochester, New York, [writing from] Box 247-Route 4, Siesta Key, Sarasota, Fla., Dec. 5

Congratulations, on being “New Pitcher for GM”.

On our way down last week I picked up a copy of Newsweek and read how you “can pitch, catch, and cover first base at the same time.” If I remember rightly, you do all right at bat, too. May you have many good “seasons” ahead of you.

Being an “old”, retired and “selfish” stockholder, also a Buick owner for a number of years, I will be watching the progress of the Corporation with considerable interest.

However, I don’t expect on this trip to be called to Washington to help revive O.P.S. Let Mike do it!

Major General C.S. (Bill) Irvine, United States Air Force, Dec. 6

Dear Red:

More good news has appeared in the dailies and periodicals lately than I have seen in a long time.

First, nothing could have made us any happier at AMC than to see Chief Wilson appointed to the job of Secretary of Defense. It is our strong feeling that he is exactly the “doctor” we need at this time, in view of his unquestionable ability and tremendous background of experience, and also the fact that he has a clear understanding of the economics of the Air Force relationship with industry.

Primarily, however, I find I have to give “C.E.” a very good grade for picking the right guy to take over the reins at General Motors. I have always had the greatest admiration for the job you did yourself and in the ability you had to pick people to put “the show on the road”. That sort of thing became apparent to me very early in our work with you at Buick during World War II.

When I was in Washington the other day, I heard that Chief Wilson was supposed to have fairly complete freedom in the selection of the three secretaries of Army, Navy, and Air Force, subject of course, to Ike’s final approval. This seemed right logical to me, following military thinking, of letting the Captain pick the Lieutenants. However, it is somewhat unusual for the Washington scene.

I have discussed this matter with Hugh Dean several times and you will remember I mentioned it to you briefly when I saw you in Detroit. We are all very hopeful that Ros Gilpatric will be chosen because, in my considered opinion, he has done a better job as Under Secretary, than any of the previous occupants of that office.

We feel quite sure that his promotion from Under Secretary to Secretary of the Air Force would be both a recognition of the grand job he has been doing, and would assure us continuity in our programs.

We are holding a meeting in New York on the 12th of December with the top executives of the Electronics Industry. Confidentially, we have a few very real problems in electronics that are more difficult than our aircraft problems.

Hope to get to see you again in the near future either at Detroit or here at Dayton.

Merrill C. [Babe] Meigs, vice president, The Hearst Corporation, Hearst Building, 326 West Madison Street, Chicago 6, Illinois, Andover 3-1234, Dec. 4

Dear Mr. Curtice:

From now on, I presume we will have to drop the “Red” and take up the “Mr.” It doesn’t seem natural, however.

In any event CONGRATULATIONS on your appointment to the top corner office in General Motors.

Following my experience with you during War Production days, I would have made you President immediately. You certainly were a great comfort and a pillar of strength to us all during those crucial times in Washington. We never had to worry about production after you took on a contract. Usually, it wasn’t over thirty days before you were looking for another.

More power to you in your added responsibilities … and my kindest regards and best wishes.

Morgan B. and Eleanor M. Brainard knew the Curtices from Cape Cod.

R.R. (Ronald) Monroe, Defense Transport Administration, Washington 25, November 24

Dear Mr. Curtice:

First of all, I was most pleased to learn that Mr. Wilson has accepted the appointment of Secretary of Defense. I was further pleased, of course, to learn that you would take over Mr. Wilson’s active duties with General Motors. Congratulations and the best of luck.

I think I told you it was my intention to leave DTA at an early date as I felt that I have accomplished the several important things that I felt needed to be done and have a couple of more which I know I can complete early in December. This has been an interesting experience and one that I think every top executive could afford to take time off to do. Had I had this experience 10 or 15 years ago, I am sure it could have been of help to me in my positions in top management.

Last Wednesday night I had a call from a group of my friends stating that they were going to recommend that I be considered for the position of Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation. They insisted that my relationships with the transportation industries for such a long period was such that they know I would get the backing of the Railroads, the Trucking Industry and the Air Lines.

First of all, I did not tell them that I could afford to take it and second, as you well know, a lot depends on who may become the Secretary of Commerce. I do recognize that this matter of transportation and the coordination of the various segments of the industry has been kicking around for a long time and it would be a real challenge to bring the industry into a stronger position than now exists. I think, however, it would take a lot out of you because there undoubtedly would have to be a lot of changes in the laws and in the regulations (probably reducing regulations) before any real results are obtained.

I do know that we have a big problem in the matter of developing highways to take care of the increase in traffic. However, I have been exerting some effort towards the possibility of immediate results by recommending the greater use of our rail system in the transporting of long haul traffic via a rail-trailer combination, if you please. I have heard that you have been developing a program involving rail trailer shipments and if that is the case I would appreciate discussing it with you sometime, or if you can write me on the subject that would be fine. I too would like to tell you just what I have done in recent weeks along that line.

I may try to get to Detroit at an early date for I promised Roger Kyes that I would come out and, of course, I would like to see you on the same trip, if possible.

Again, congratulations on your taking the helm at GM.

Charles S. (Carl) Munson, chairman, Air Reduction Company, Lincoln Building, 60 East 42nd Street, New York 17, Dec. 8

Dear Mr. Curtice:

My congratulations to General Motors and to you on your recent election!

All of us are delighted here and we send you our best wishes in your new responsibilities.

John. K. Richards, executive director, National Security Industrial Association (founded in 1944 as Navy Industrial Association), 110 William Street, New York 7, N.Y., Dec. 10

Dear Mr. Curtice:

I was very pleased to learn that you had been appointed President of General Motors to succeed Mr. Wilson. Certainly this is a richly merited elevation and I wish to add my own heartiest congratulations to the many I know you have received.

If there is any way in which the Association can be of assistance to you, I trust you will not hesitate to call on us.

Mason Roberts, Frigidaire Division, General Motors Corporation, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A., Dec. 5

Dear Mr. Curtice:

Your appointment as acting president was received with a great deal of pleasure by the Frigidaire group. I am sure the Corporation will make great strides under your leadership and I would like to say we at Frigidaire intend to redouble our efforts to improve our operation.

I am hopeful that you will be able to spend some time with us within the next couple months as I feel it would be helpful to have you review our future plans with us.

Sincerest congratulations and best wishes.

Mrs. Arthur N. (Laura) Taylor, 15 Fort Hunt Road, Belle Haven, Alexandria, Virginia, Nov. 24

Dear Mr. Curtice –

Possibly you will be interested in an incident, tiny in itself, but perhaps indicative of larger things, which happened last week.

New [sic] of Mr. Wilson’s move into the new cabinet was out but your name had not, so far as I know, been mentioned in Washington papers. One of the oldest and most respected investment advisers had just recommended that I sell all General Motors common stock.

To go back a number of years: while you were at Buick, I think, my husband went into the legal department of GM in Detroit. Mr. Sloan, then president, often found my husband’s slow and cautious mind valuable in appraising contracts; small but steady stock bonuses each Chrsitmas were one of his rewards. Dividends from GM stock, bonus-given and purchased, provide most of the bread for my mother, now nearly ninety-seven, an aunt nearing ninety, and myself, a widow….

Last week I went back into old files of GM reports, looking primarily for your past records of service, Mr. Bradley’s, Mr. Evans’ and Mr. Goad’s. I added what I knew from the sort of reports a husband is likely to make to his wife. In your case, I added your air of general well-being when I introduced myself to you at a stockholders’ meeting a few months ago. It added up to the probability that you would be named as the new GM president, with a sound, strong executive committee behind you, and a government more intelligent about business than we have had for many years.

I wrote the investment expert that I was not selling GM.

There will shortly be pressed upon your attention the welfare of nearly a half million employees, three-quarters of a million—isn’t it?—stockholders, an infinity of technical questions; and a goodly slice of responsibility for the welfare of the world. That is a terrific burden…. If, once in a while, you have time to think that there will also be yours a great mass of faith, and some prayers, perhaps these will help.

Don Thomas, managing director, The All-Year Club of Southern California, A non-profit Community Organization Developing All-Year Tourist Travel to Southern California Through National Advertising, Headquarters: Bankers Building, 629 South Hill Street, Los Angeles 14, California, Dec. 5, 1952

My dear Mr. Curtice:

Here is a home-spun type of editorial which Austin Conover did about you in the Hollywood, California Citizen-News.

A new surge of confidence has run through this entire area since the election. Mr. Wilson’s acceptance of the tough Washington job gave everyone a “life”. Those of us who have had the privilege of meeting you at the General Motors dealer receptions out here have also been elated at the enthusiasm with which your new appointment has been received.

America has a great test ahead. Transportation and travel have an important part to play. I outlined part of this opportunity in the attached talk to the nationwide travel fraternity recently.

“Travel’s Part in America’s Crusade”

“Spirit” Made America Great

When danger threatened, we were never divided in thought or in action. We responded as one to repel the threat.

There’s no finer way to become imbued with the spirit which built America, or to renew faded enthusiasm or beliefs—whether you are young or old—than to get out and travel, and see this spirit at work.

Travel Helps Build America’s “Spirit”

The biggest job before this nation is to sell America—and the American Way—to Americans.

A National Crusade

How can you understand, or fully appreciate, or be mentally prepared to fight (when necessary), for a country you do not even know?

You appreciate your home and job more, after comparing them with those elsewhere.

You feel as if you have had a mental tonic…

“Intelligent Travel”—America’s Need

…”Sightseeing with the mind, as well as with the eye”.

Travel—a Wholesome Business

In times like this, when we are exerting every energy to gird the nation to its maximum strength, the health of our “key” men especially is a national asset. I have always thought it a crime that we have let our big executives nationally kill themselves through overstrain.

Travel Helps Unify America

He [the average citizen] relates his gropings and his understandings to his little life—a few miles to work and a few miles home again—to his own so-very-small segment of America, the only part he knows.

See the American Way at Work

Without flag-waving, without hokum and gimmicks, he’s got the thing that makes our country strong and sound. He knows a new America! He’s acquired a real and first-hand affection and respect for America! He isn’t going to let anything happen to his America!

redcurtice02H.S. “Harold” Vance, chairman and president, The Studebaker Corporation, South Bend 27, Indiana, December 8, 1952

Dear Harlow:

Your friends were not surprised, although they were gratified, by your selection to succeed Charlie Wilson. It is an honor well deserved.

W.W. Whitehouse, president, Albion College, Albion, Michigan, December 11, 1952

My dear Mr. Curtice:

May I join with others in wishing you success in your new position as President of General Motors Corporation. We are so glad that Mr. Charles Wilson, retired President, was ready to serve our country in the cabinet of our new President, Ike Eisenhower. There is no man better fitted for that important position than Mr. Wilson and we feel greatly relieved to know of the appointment. We believe tht General Motors is fortunate to have a man of your administrative ability to help guide the future of that important American corporation.

We are interested in a twofold way, first, because Albion College is a stockholder in General Motors Corporation, and, second, because we have heard so much about you from our Eaton Rapids friends. May you have strength for your new assignment.

Joseph M. Colby, Colonel, Ord Corps, Commanding, Ordnance Procurement Center, APO 403-A, US Army, 19 December 1952

Dear Harlow:

Please accept my congratulations for your new promotion to the Top Job at General Motors. Please count me among your strongest supporters.

Harlan Hatcher, president, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, December 9, 1952

Dear Mr. Curtice:

Our very best wishes to you as you take over your new duties and responsibilities. We know you will be extremely busy but we do hope to see you now and then. Your interest in the University has always been deeply appreciated.

Mrs. Hatcher and I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Leila again at the Christmas party at Martha Cook last Sunday. It was a pleasant occasion.

O.B.Kiel, M.D., F.A.C.P, Wichita Falls Clinic-Hospital, Thirteen Hundred Eighth, Wichita Falls, Texas, December 18, 1952

Dear Mr. Curtice:

My wife and daughter wired you while in New York after reading of your recent appointment. I also read about the appointment and have read a number of magazine articles about you. I speak specifically about the Article in Time Magazine. As a matter of fact I have watched your progress from the time you were president of the Buick Company up to the present. I know from many sources what you mean to General Motors and to my way of thinking, and I am not prejudiced, I believe General Motors now has one of the finest presidents they have ever had.

I wish for your success in every way. General Motors is a great company, one of the finest, and I truly believe they have a great president.

David Lowensohn, 1740 East 12th Street, Cleveland, Ohio, December 17, 1952

Dear Mr. Curtice:

Altho a little late, I wish to be included among the many who have had the pleasure of congratulating you on becoming President of what I consider the outstanding corporation of the country.

I know it is a great responsibility you are assuming, yet I am quite sure that you will not only handle the job well but get great satisfaction in doing it. May you have a full measure of success, happiness and good health during your occupancy of the office.

I had the pleasure of meeting you and your entire family, including your wife and three daughters, at the wedding of my niece Susan Giffin and Dale Biggs, at Fort Wayne on August 31st ’52.

Dale attended a three day convention of chemical engineers recently held here, and we had the pleasure of entertaining him at our home during his stay in Cleveland.

Ralph Rooks, Rumford, Rhode Island, December 22, 1952

Dear Mr. Curtiss [sic]

May I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your new position (and what a job)

You must feel wonderful to know that you have succeeded to the greatest position in the country.

I think it is a great thing to reach the top and you have reason to feel very proud.

Wishing you all the luck in the world.

Philip Wagner, 109 Ocean Terrace, Palm Beach, Fla., December 3, 1952

Dear Mr. Curtice:

The enclosed picture was cut out of our local paper, The Palm Beach Times, and prompted me to write to congratulate you on your promotion.

We missed seeing you and your family these last two summers at the Belmont. We did hear, however, from Fred and Portland, a couple of weeks ago in New York, that you were all fine and had a nice visit at the Cape.

I recently sold my Company and have retired from active business. A General Motors friend of years ago, namely, Horace Noble, whom I am sure you will remember as the brother-in-law of the late John Rascob [sic], also saw the picture and asked to be remembered to you.

If any of you happen to get to Palm Beach, we would be delighted to see you again. Our address is—109 Ocean Terrace.

Mrs. Wagner joins me in extending kindest regards to you and your family.

Ben Young, National Bank Building, Detroit 26, New York, December 12, 1952

Dear Red:

Probably the avalanche of congratulatory messages has now passed its peak, and you may have a second to receive the best wishes of one of your real admirers.

“Good Luck” in your undertakings, and if you ever see a snake that needs killing on the side lines, I hope you will call me.

H.R. (Hubert?) Sanford, assistant purchasing agent, Boston Edison

Dear Mr. Curtice:

It gave me a great deal of pleasure to read in the Fortune Magazine of your recent promotion to the Presidency of the General Motors Corporation. I have followed with interest your rise in the General Motors’ Family, as you were instrumental in helping me obtain a car for our late President, Mr. J.V. Toner, when you were Head of the Buick Division of the General Motors Corporation. You have undoubtedly forgotten this incident as it happened in 1946, but we in this Company have not.

Please accept my sincere congratulations in your new position which I feel you have earned.

Fred Walther, 782 Loraine, Grosse Pointe 30, Michigan (undated Christmas note)

My Dear Mr. Curtice:

I also would like to wish you the best of success in your new job as head of the most wonderful organization in the world.

Phil Smith (undated Christmas note)

Mr. Curtice –

My heartiest congratulations on your new appointment. A toast to one of the world’s few business men who can be dealt with on the back of an envelope and its [sic] as good as a [illegible] contract. General Motors is most fortunate in its choice of President.

O.W. Habel, general works manager, Saginaw Steering Gear, Division of General Motors Corporation, Saginaw, Michigan, December 18, 1952

Dear Mr. Curtice:

I wish to take this opportunity to offer my best wishes to you in your new job as our President.

Mrs. William Edward Stanwood, Valldemosa, Mallorca, July 4, 1953

Dear Red:

You will be surprised to hear from Spiff-Mason-Stanwood, and, this letter should have been written sometime ago. I told Dottie in Flint last February that I was inspired to send you my congratulations on becoming President of General Motors. I think it is wonderful and I am so happy you are in that position. This is the opinion of little me.

You are certainly the man for the job, Red, and we all know with your exceptional ability that your administration will be a great success. My best wishes toward that goal.

Last March, I told Dottie of my plans to live in Spain for a while. We no longer needed our home in Boston, as my two Mason sons, Sid and Timothy, are now naval aviators, and all over the glove. Sid received a commission in the regular Navy from Congress, so he is in forever.

Spain provides much of interest. I am being educated and in a few days attend a summer course—University of Zaragoza. Had a few weeks University of Madrid—very interesting, for any generation.

You will be interested to know, Red, how very kind Mr. Bruce Hamon, G.M. Overseas Division, has been to me. He gave me a letter of introduction to Señor Jose Pastor, Asst. Director, G.M. Peninsular, S.A., Barcelona. I presented my letter, July 2, in Barcelona.

Not only did I have an interesting chat with Señor Pastor at his office, but also was invited to luncheon at his home to meet his delightful wife, beautiful daughter and her husband. Wasn’t that nice?

Señor Pastor is quite a person, and again I salute G.M. for the selection of top executives. Bow.

Other courtesies extended by Señor Pastor were transportation and storage of two suit-cases, thereby eliminating weight for Air Travel to Mallorca.

I am so grateful for the kindness of G.M. and I did want to tell you this too, Red. My sincere thanks.

My best to you, Dottie and the girls,


A.C. “Arty” Furstenberg, Dean, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Nov. 24

Dear Red:

It was a wonderful announcement I heard over the radio the other night, which carried the news of your elevation to the top position in your great Corporation. Mickey and I could not refrain from offering a cheer. You have done a magnificent job, and after your many years of arduous work and tremendous responsibility you are deserving of the honor which has come to you and which your presence brings to the Corporation.

I know that you will never be satisfied with anything less than your unfailing devotion to duty, but I do hope that you will have, nevertheless, some opportunity for relaxation and a little enjoyment in your new office. I wish these pleasures also for your good family, that they and you may have many years of healthful and joyous living.

Both as regards the important part Dotty has played in your years of marvelous progress and her fine spirit of friendliness and cooperation, the highest terms would not be misplaced in her praise, and it is with more than ordinary feeling that I send my congratulations to both of you.

Undated card

Dear Red,

We are so delighted at the news! There just aren’t words to express our happiness in the fine recognition you have received. Our congratulations go to the General Motors organization for the wisdom it has shown in its selection, and our best wishes to a gentleman who is more than adequate for such a challenge.


Mott and Laura

Mrs. Hugh Lusk “Jean” Raynor, Flint, Michigan October 23, 1952

Dear “Red” and Dotty—

Congratulations to the man who by ability faith and endeavor has reached the heights and to the devoted wife beside him who has so truly and faithfully aided and supported him all the way.

My sincere hope that the future stretches before you as bright and promising as the achievements you have accomplished.

Mr. and Mrs. Coleman J.(?) Ross (undated card)


We are proud of you

GFP (undated embossed notecard)

Dear Red:

May I join the thousands of friends who today have the great thrill of sending congratulations on your promotion. Hal was so positive it would be there was no element of surprise when I read the good news. I regret he could not be here to send congratulations to the one man he felt would make a perfect President for General Motors.

My sincere best wishes for your continued success.

Love to Dottie and the girls. I know they are mighty proud.



Floy[illegible] H. (“Mrs. T.A.”) Wharton, 1211 N. Woods, Sherman, Texas, Nov. 22, 1952

Dear Dorothy,

Our most heart-felt congratulations on the great honor paid your fine husband by his Company!

We have watched his rise through the years, to positions of power & responsibility, with the greatest pleasure and pride because of you whom we have loved from childhood. And now that he has gone to the very top, we know that it has been because of his real worth, honesty and ability. We, your Sherman friends feel with you the thrill of this high tribute to you. The happy home you have made for him has, no doubt, done much to inspire his heart and life, and help him reach the place of high esteem in which he is held by his associates.

Our new President gives us renewed confidence in our people and it does our hearts good to see the keen selections he is making in the men to fill his Cabinet. He seems to be honestly seeking not only men of ability, but of real honesty of purpose. It does seem as if we are at a turning point in our Government and National Affairs—and men of strong Christian character are being called out to lead America to her best. Which I hope will mean to make our Land speak out for Christ and His Kingdom.

May we not fail our Heavenly Father in this our day and time, but prove ourselves worthy of the “high calling” which He places before us in this crisis.

I have thought of you & your lovely Christian family so often, and at this Thanksgiving time I thank our Kind Father for families like yours which hold the world together, brighten it, and show us the true way of life.

Give my especial love to your Katy. I know her best and blessings on you all.

Marion Goodale, headmistress, Kingswood School Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, November 21, 1952

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Curtice:

Great is the excitement in Kingswood School over the announcement of Mr. Curtice’s appointment to the presidency of General Motors. None of us is surprised, but we are very pleased and feel the warm glow of satisfaction which comes when the accomplishments of one of the “family” are duly recognized.

Please accept our congratulations and very best wishes. My own personal kudos, as well as the school’s, are extended.

Emily H (Mrs. Edwin A) Hammer, 10 Crestmont Road, Montclair, N.J., November twenty-fifth

Dear “Mike”—

Just about as I was to start writing a note to Mr & Mrs Curtice yesterday your newspaper came so I decided to write to you instead, for I am sure Mr Curtice would be deluged with mail and I know you would convey to the entire Curtice family Henry’s [?] and my best wishes and congratulations

Wasn’t it just wonderful? I was terribly upset when Truman left the White House where he belonged and campaigned for Mr Stevenson using such ordinary language not befitting the President of the United States. Then I thought of what you said last summer that “Eisenhower would surely be elected” and new hope came to me. [____] all over now and I am just thrilled that Mr Curtice has been elevated to the highest position in GM.

My only wish is that Mr Hammer is not with us to help the cheering along.

Thanking you for your kindness in thinking of me and love to all my friends in Flint

Mildred Hardwicke, Sherman, Texas, Nov. 23, 1952

Dear Dorothy and “Red”—

Please let me add my congratulations to the hundreds of others you have received. Surely there is a justifiable pride in top achievement which has been reached through ability and hard work. My best Sunday hat off to you!

And I want to rejoice with you on another matter—your fine family. I spent the evening with Mrs. Wharton soon after you and your daughter were her, Dorothy. Did she sing your praises! That visit meant so much to her. She showed me the lovely picture of all of you taken in Honolulu. I never saw a finer happier group. Congratulations again!

We will always feel that you “belong” to us too.

Ellie & Sam Harned [?]

[Original watercolor-and-ink cartoon depicts Red at the top of an inverted pyramid of desks with A.C. Spark Plug at bottom, then Buick, Ex. V.P., and Pres., and he’s answering two phones at a time. Meanwhile, Dottie and the three girls look up adoringly and Dottie says, “What will you do now RED? There’s no place higher to go!”]

Perry D. Helser, assistant director for magnesium & titanium, Aluminum & Magnesium Division, Department of Commerce, National Production Authority, Washington 25, 100 Maryland Avenue, N.E., Washington 2, D.C., November 25, 1952

Dear Red:

Ethyl joins me in sending to you our sincere congratulations on your having been chosen to succeed Mr. Wilson as President of General Motors Corporation December 1.

You are especially well qualified to serve the corporation in this top-level capacity, and your conscientious efforts down through the years certainly entitle you to this recognition.

We wish for you Divine Guidance in the discharge of your daily duties and the continued success you so well deserve.

Nancy & Jim Hinkle [?], November 23, 1952 [last letter of surname is covered by the binding]

Dear Mr. Curtice,

I can’t tell you the thrill it gave me as I was doing my housework to hear your name ocme over Carlisle’s one and only radio station. I wasn’t actually listening to what was being said, but I didn’t need a news cast to tell me that you had become President of General Motors.

I was tremendously happy when Eisenhower was elected president of the country and I was quite thrilled when Mr. Wilson was named to his cabinet. But when I heard that you had become President of G.M. I was slightly breathless. I had the feeling I probably have if a member of my family had suddenly won the Irish sweepstakes. Actually and practically speaking, there shouldn’t have been too much surprise for me. I have remotely known only a very few great men, but knowing you is knowing greatness, and I am prouder than I can ever express in words to humbly say I know you.

It takes strength and ability and honesty and every really fine quality there is to be chosen the leader of the world’s largest manufacturing concern. The very fact that you were chosen only proves that you have all these qualities—even though I, and many others, didn’t need this news to have it proved to me that you are the embodiment of greatness. But Jim and I still wanted to send you our very most warm and sincere congratulations.

With our deepest affection,

P.S. This article was on the front page of the Carlisle Evening Sentinel, Friday, November 21, 1952.

Mildred Hufstader, Atlas, Michigan, November 23, 1952

All day long last Thursday when good news was coming so fast on television and in the papers, much of the time I found that my thots [sic] were of your mother—next to being so happy myself about you and this top honor that has come to you. I could almost see that little shy pleased and proud look on her face and her sweet sweet smile—it’s a real privilege Red, to know you well enough to be able to say sincerely how proud I am to call you my friend and may you be given the wisdom and strength to continue the leadership that has become so much a part of you—

Always sincerely,


The Keliehor [?] family, undated greeting card of congratulations

Kiwanis Club of Eaton Rapids, Michigan, December 1, 1952

Dear Mr. Curtice:

We, the members of the Eaton Rapids Kiwanis Club, extend our sincere congratulations to you for your recent appointment as acting president of the General Motors Corporation.

Eaton Rapids is very proud to have one of her native sons so distinguished. May good fortune and success be yours.


22 signatures

[Illegible signature], Berry Schools, Mt. Berry, Ga., Nov. 24, 1952

Dear Mrs. Curtice:

I received from Mrs. Ma______ a copy of the News Advertiser that gave me the first word I had had of Mr. Curtice’s promotion. This is a very short note to congratulate a very busy lady who is undoubtedly swamped with messages of congratulation. The appointment was, of course, certain to come whenever Mr. Wilson stepped out, but it is very gratifying to know that one’s predictions have come true.

Will you please pass on to Mr. Curtice with a congratulation upon this merited attainment, this special one. He is to be especially congratulated upon having a most gracious lady to share his honors—a lady who will have not only ability but graciousness and charm to serve her well in the office of First Lady in General Motors.

Very sincerely yours,

William G. Mixer, M.E., foundry consultant, 1626 Elwood Avenue, Flint 4, Michigan, December 5, 1952

Dear Red,

Although I saw you personally, I should like to add my sincere congratulations for the high honor which has been given you. Also, may I wish you the very best in such a great responsibility.

It was always a pleasure to be associated with you in the old days and in looking back through all the years, the reasons for this honor are very apparent.

Helen and all of the Mixers join me in wishing you every joy and success in the great undertaking.



Winfield Scott Munn, Eaton Rapids, Michigan, Nov 22, 1952

Dear Harlow:

The people of Eaton Rapids and vicinity are certainly proud of you and your accomplishments and wish you unlimited success in your new role as head of the General Motors Corporation.

For some time yesterday I seemed to be the Bureau of Information as newspaper reporters kept the wires busy and one made a personal call, brought her photographer with her and we drove to Petrieville and they took pictures of the old home; she called on Neva Bentley-Butler and was loaned a picture of the old school house and in the group besides her was yourself and Herbert Van Aken [?].

The whole venture was mighty interesting and it pleased me greatly to say that I knew the Curtice family well and used to see them often when I was a clerk in E.E. Corbins grocery store—

The family—dad, mother and two bearfotted [sic] kids Leroy & Harlow—How things have changed—More power to Harlow.

Wishing you continued success, I beg to remain

Most sincerely yours

W. Scott Munn

My personal regards to Mrs. Curtice.

Joseph Palma, M.D., Straub Clinic, Kapiolani Street at Thomas Square, Honolulu 14, Hawaii, November 21, 1952

Dear Red:

Everyone, and especially me, has taken a new lease on life resulting from the clearing atmosphere of Eisenhower’s election.

His choice of Mr. Charles S. [sic] Wilson to head the defense program serves to increase everyone’s confidence in his ability of leadership because Mr. Wilson will be good for the country.

Equally true, and heartiest congratulations, for the opportunity afforded you to assume the responsibility as head of General Motors—and you too will be good for General Motors. I a msure all your friends are delighted.

Julie and the children join me in sending our warmest Aloha to you and your lovely family.

Sincerely yours,


Herbert Van Aken, executive committee, Michigan Agricultural Conference, “Michigan Agriculture Profits When Michigan Agricultural Organizations Work Together,” State Association of Soil Conservation Districts, Eaton Rapids, Michigan (undated)

Friend Harlow:–

Just a line to tell you of our pride and pleasure as your fellow townspeople in your advancement to acting President of General Motors. All of us rejoice in your promotion and wish you every success in your undertaking. May the Good Lord help you and give you health and wisdom to do the job well.

Yours sincerely

Clyde I. Webster, judge, The Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan, The Circuit Court for Detroit, Detroit 26, Michigan, November 21, 1952

Dear Mr. Curtice:

As from one Eaton Rapids boy to another, I say “Congratulations and best wishes! I was very much pleased to see president-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower get off to such a good start by appointing Charles E. Wilson, president of General Motors, Secretary of Defense. I thin read with a great deal of pleasure and personal pride of your appointment as president of General Motors Corporation to succeed Mr. Wilson.

I have watched your career and your gradual climb from one position to another, and finally to the very top of the largest and greatest corporation in the world. I have been particularly interested because we both received our early training and instruction at the high school in Eaton Rapids, Michigan.

With kindest personal regards, I remain

Very sincerely yours,

Friday, Dec 5

Congratulations Boss—

I’ve tried your chair—it doesn’t fit—so I guess you’ll have to carry on aline.

Best wishes for the Holidays and always,


R.W. de Guichard [?], Four Seventy Park Avenue, New York, 12-7-52

Dear Red:

As H.H.C. used to say: “That’s mighty fine”, and it is.

Congratulations to you, the same to General Motors and my love to Dotty.

As always,


H.C. Gillespie, Rout 2, Box 398, Corpus Christi, Texas, Wednesday Nov. 27th-1952

Dear Red:–

Henry delivered your message—”Give my love to Mary-Lee:–but I will not accept it unless you promise to come down next year to hunt and keep that promise and you schedule time too. We were all very disappointed that you could not accept the invitation this year and Dick (Mr. Kleberg) was especially so—I think they had planned many pleasurable events for you, Harley and whom ever the third party was to be. Of course Henry was more than disappointed and Henry Jr. Cornelia and I shared this disappointment with him—for we had looked forward with great pleasure to seeing your again but when we read of Mr. Wilsons call to Washington on the president elects Cabinet we were a little afraid it might have effect with your plans. “The plans o’ men oft going aglee” and so we have another year in which to plan another “get to-gether” way down here in Texas. Henry and I would especially love seeing you again for we both realize we are living on borrowed time, as the old man said “Tempus is a fugitin'” Love to Dotty and your three young ladies and with our kindest remembrance to any interested friends and our love to you always—

I am—

Yours truly,


Tell the “Hufstaders” we are still among those present.

Link to continue with Part Two of the Curtice letters.

2 thoughts on “Red Curtice Letters, Part 1: Welcome to the General Motors’ presidency

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