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How Roadside Assistance Was Born

In 1915, five motorcyclists started patrolling the streets, looking for motorists in distress.

AAA kick-started its roadside assistance service back in April 1915, when five motorcyclists working for the Automobile Club of St. Louis founded the “First Aid Corps.”

The group didn’t wait to be called. They drove through the city’s streets on Sundays looking for stranded motorists, making minor engine and tire repairs for free, for members and nonmembers alike. They helped 24 folks on that first Sunday and 171 by the end of the first month.

The service was wildly popular. The club was flooded with grateful letters, including one from Carl Simons, manager of the St. Louis branch of Studebaker Corp., after his inner tube was repaired by one of the mechanics.

“I don’t know who was the originator of this service idea, but it is the most splendid feature we can call to the attention of prospective (AAA) members,” wrote Simons. “And you may rest assured that every purchaser of a Studebaker car will be solicited by me personally to become a member of the St. Louis Automobile Club.”

Studebakers may not be around anymore, but the rest, as they say, is history.


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