She was born in 1897 and left her mark on national transportation. In Women’s Month we remember her brave story.

The “roaring twenties” in the United States awakened in women, traditional housewives and devoted mothers, a true revolution. In 1920, thanks to the approval of the XIX Amendment to the Constitution, they obtained the right to vote. A radical change in their lives. Tired, they left the famous and tight corset and exchanged it for short skirts, jazz, makeup and the right to seek their own identity (at least with clothing). They drove at high speed and finally began to gain notoriety in different work and social fields. The submissive woman governed by Victorian standards was dying.

In this context was Luella Bates. Born in 1897, she became the first known licensed female truck driver. She was one of the employees of the Four Wheel Drive Auto Co. Because of her skills, she was chosen as the test driver of an FWD truck between 1918 and 1922. Right in the middle of it, World War I occurred, which convulsed the planet. Times were tough, and she was driving her Model B truck on the roads of Wisconsin. After the war, all five of her co-workers were fired from her. Only she, the driver, remained, but as a protester.

Bates with Francis Hugo in NY.  Four Wheel Drive Museum, Clintonville, WI.

Two years into her early days behind the wheel, Bates took her Model B to New York. There she attended the Auto Shop and met with the Secretary of State of NY, Francis Hugo, who granted her the first driver’s license that this state has issued to a woman. An unprecedented fact.

Her paths opened further, Four Wheel Drive decided to send her in 1920 on three transcontinental tours. Bates was the face of the company in an advertisement that sought to demonstrate that the trucks were so easy to drive that even a woman could do it. However, for Luella it was a great victory. Considering the thought of the moment, she had won an immense battle.

Luella Bates driving a Model B, FWD.  Four Wheel Drive Museum.

More than 25 cities counted on its passage. Such was her success that in May 1920 she reached the magazines. Popular Science talked about her in her post, calling her the “A test of female efficiency.” Besides being a great driver, Bates was a mechanic. Which allowed him to keep her truck if necessary. By the late 1920s, Luella was already traveling through the southern states and she was so beloved that she was referred to as “our driver girl”.

 FWD museum in Clintonville, WI.

In 1922 she moved to Milwaukee, where she married Howard Coates. The rest of her included two children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and an amazing past where she, Luella, challenged and marked the history of national transportation.

Saint George Insurance Brokerage Inc, wishes a happy international day to all the women who transformed history, inside and outside their homes.