Sunday, May 28, 2017

Larrabee Deyo trucking company, whatever happened to them? Anyone ever heard of them?

“The fame of Binghamton is being carried to the far corners of the Earth by its products, and especially by the motor trucks which are made here.”

In 1919, this quote appeared in The Binghamton Press with an announcement that the Larrabee-Deyo Motor Truck Co. had received large orders from New Zealand and Sweden. Business was booming for this local manufacturer, and with their trucks, “Made in Binghamton” was being heard around the world.

The new company grew out of two successful Binghamton manufacturing concerns. Sturtevant-Larrabee had a reputation for manufacturing high-quality horse-drawn wagons, carriages and sleighs since the 1870s. The Deyo-Macey Engine Co. built gasoline engines in a plant on Washington Street. Now, with H.C. Larrabee as president and R.H. Deyo vice president and general manager, the new company was advertised as having “the advantage of the services of men experienced in both the construction of gas engines and in carriage building.”

In 1923, nationally known cartoonist Johnny Gruelle came to town. The creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy characters, and the comic strip “Yapp’s Crossing,” Gruelle was in Binghamton to take delivery of a custom Larrabee Speed Six Wagon “Coach De Lux.” Outfitted with seats that converted into bunks, mahogany cupboards, window curtains and a short-wave radio, it would serve as a house on wheels for Gruelle and his family as they embarked on a highly publicized cross-country adventure.

Following a large order in 1925 to produce Majestic taxicabs for New York City, sales steadily declined. Production of trucks continued, but the company was losing money.

The great depression killed it.

It seems that only a few guys still love them, Roger Luther is one, and he has a website  , and a collection of Larrabees

Local moving and storage company owner James Kocak has a large collection of company memorabilia, as well as several trucks, including a 1923 fire truck. “My grandfather always had Larrabee trucks on his farm,” Kocak said. “As a boy, my father used to ride along as he picked up milk from farms and delivered it to Crowley’s.”

A restored fire truck now sits in a garage of the Binghamton Fire Department. Originally purchased in 1929, it was finally retired in the mid-1960s. Later owned and restored by Jim VanHart, it was eventually donated by the VanHart family back to the fire department.

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