Thursday, April 26, 2012

Robert Oestricher's Kamp Kar

Robert T. Oestricher was the forty-first mayor of Columbus. He served only in 1953, a short time, due to failing health. He was born in 1894 in Nelsonville and then his family moved to Columbus. As a boy he was fascinated by the new horseless carriages. By the time he was a teenager, he was working at the Howe Motor Company, the first Ford dealer in Columbus, located then on South Fourth Street near Fulton Street. He spent his life in the automobile business, forming his own Dodge-Plymouth dealership after World War II. Oestricher invented an early forerunner of the recreational vehicle so popular today. In the early 1920’s he built what he called the Kamp Kar. It was mounted on a Ford one-and-a-half ton truck chassis, and featured upper and lower berths, built-in sink and stove, clothes closets, and cabinets. He took his family on an adventurous trip to northern Michigan in 1924. Christine’s aunt and uncle, Pearl and Virgil Archer, lived in the Kamp Kar in the 1930’s when they were in between houses. Oestricher had spent much time at the old Columbus Driving Park at Livingston and Kelton Avenues, watching such dare-devils as Eddie Rickenbacker, Barney Oldfield, and Louis Chevrolet in their sixty-mile-an-hour feats. When the park became a real-estate development in the mid-1920’s, Oestricher was one of its first home-owners. During his short term as mayor, and his time in City Council, he devoted himself to the expansion of the airport and health services. Christine Hayes

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