Founded in 1901 as a manufacturer of small internal-combustion engines for farm equipment and boats, the Cushman Motor Works added motor scooters to its product line in 1936. Filling a gap between bicycles and motorcycles, the Cushman scooter was popular among high school students, adults (as an economical "second car") and small businesses. Passenger and cargo models were available. Farmers, salesmen, housewives, and many other people ran errands, made deliveries, and enjoyed pleasure trips. In particular, the Cushman scooter provided expanded personal mobility for two generations of young people. Some states required a driver's license, and some did not require one.
Production of Cushman Airborne military scooters aided the Army during World War II. Consumer production resumed full-force after the war; by 1950 Cushman was manufacturing 10,000 motor scooters per year, and in that year the company introduced its popular Eagle model. Production peaked at about 15,000 scooters per year in the late 1950s. In the early 1960s, imported motor scooters began to erode the company's market share. Cushman stopped building motor scooters in 1965 and diversified into golf carts, utility carts, and other small motorized vehicles.
Thomas Bracco of Springfield, Illinois purchased this scooter in 1945 and rode it to high school, social activities, and the locomotive roundhouse of the Chicago and Illinois Midland Railroad, where he worked as a hostler. He rode the scooter several years and sporadically thereafter before donating it to the National Museum of American History.
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