The Concerned Valet

Danny Peters
KBKR in Baker
1950's and 60's

Danny is the latest in our remembrance group that are providing interesting stories of Baker and the surrounding area.

In the mid to late 50s Henry F. Phillips. the person who developed the very popular Phillips Screw, and and Phillips Screw-Driver, was a resident in Baker County. There was speculation that he was working on a proposed development, possibly where he was living in the Keating area. Phillips needed to go to Portland, Oregon on a business trip, and wanted someone to drive him there in his Cadillac.

Phillips contacted Vern Manary, manager of the Baker County Chamber of Commerce, seeking help in finding someone who could drive him to Portland. Vern got hold of Ves Schmidling, owner and operator of the Baker school bus system to see if he had any ideas. Ves indicated that he was familiar with the driving skills of Danny Peters, who was a frequent substitute driver for him, and proceeded to give Danny a call.

Mr. Peters, who worked at KBKR Radio in Baker, checked with Ken Lockwood, owner of the station, to see if he could be made available for such a trip. Apparently it was easier for Mr. Lockwood to replace Danny, than it was for Ves Schmidling to find a replacement for a school bus driver.

Peters reports that he had a very pleasant trip to Portland, transporting Mr. Phillips and a Valet that he kept with him at all times. They arrived at the Heathman Hotel located on Broadway, and proceeded to Mr. Phillips' room in the hotel. After taking the gentleman to his room, Danny received a $50.00 bill, and money to cover his trip back to Baker on Union Pacific. This transaction was accomplished while Mr. Phillips' Valet was making arrangements in the lobby to get a taxi to take Danny to the railroad station.

This was not the only trip to Portland that required a driver, and Mr. Peters had occasion to drive Mr. Phillips a number of times. On the last trip that he made, Mr Phillips again handed Mr. Peters a fifty dollar bill. His valet noted the transaction this time, and he nudged Mr. Phillips, saying, "Don't you think that's a bit much to give him!" This apparently upset Mr. Phillips because he reached in his wallet and handed Mr. Peters another fifty dollar bill. Mr. Peters leaned over to the Valet and said, "Keep talking, keep talking."

There was one more trip accomplished, but it was noted that the Valet remained silent during the monetary transactions.

Just in case you didn't know!!

Henry F. Phillips invented both the screw and the driver that bear his name. The Oregon businessman patented two versions of a fastening device for crosshead screws in 1934 and 1936. Phillips intended the screw for use with automatic screwdrivers and marketed it for mass-production industries such as auto manufacturing.

The Phillips screw can be driven with more torque and holds better than slotted screws. The Phillips system is also self-centering. If you press the tip of the screwdriver against the screw head, it takes only a little wiggling to seat it properly. The speed with which Phillips screws can be used was crucial to the auto assembly line. In addition, Phillips screws are almost impossible to over screw, which was also very important for industry.

Phillips persuaded the American Screw Company to manufacture his screw design, and the company convinced General Motors to use the screw on the 1936 Cadillac. By 1940, most American automakers used Phillips screws. When the U.S. needed to crank out jeeps and tanks for World War II, Phillips screws were an essential component in the war effort.

Interestingly enough, Phillips was not the first to improve on the old slotted screw. In 1908, Canadian Peter L. Robertson invented a square-head screw. The Robertson screw was the first recess-drive fastener that was practical for mass production. It had all the advantages of the Phillips, but Robertson was unable to get it used by American industries. This screw is standard in Canada and is favored by woodworkers on both sides of the border.


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