President's Message

President’s Message: Jul-Aug 2023

Last year, I received a call from long-time member and past Dodge Brothers President Harry Reding.  He enthusiastically told me about an item coming up for auction.  I got excited about it too.

It was a sheriff’s badge, presented to Horace Dodge in 1926, that appointed him as an undersheriff for Wayne County, Michigan.  The auction was only a few days away.  Harry felt that this would be a great piece for our club to own and display at Meadowbrook Hall.  I contacted Meadowbrook Hall Curator Madelyn Rzadko about this.

There was little time to sign up for online bidding and no time to have a board meeting to discuss the idea.

I spoke with Barry Cogan and Earl Groendyke, two past club presidents, and we all felt it was a good idea to try to buy the badge at the auction.  I tried to sign online and needed help with the website.  The days ticked by, and when I spoke to Madelyn, she said that she had already signed up for bidding.  We needed to determine the badge’s worth.  We had some idea based on its weight.  The auction house had advertised on their website that it was solid gold.  They said we would probably be bidding against investors looking for the weight of the gold alone.  This made me very nervous because I did not know if someone would buy and melt it.  Telephone calls went back and forth, and we decided that Madelyn would bid online during the auction.  I would be on the phone with Madelyn authorizing her to bid up to a certain amount.

When the auction day came, Madelyn and I were very nervous.  I feared the phone wouldn’t work or we would get cut off.  I called Madelyn in her office about 20 minutes before the auction started.  We spent the extra time on the phone planning our strategy.  Things moved quickly when the auction started.  Up, up, and up the bidding went.  Every time we go outbid, Madelyn asked me if I should bid more. YES!  I’ve never been very good at auctions.  I usually get carried away with the auction’s excitement and bid more than I should.

At this point, we all knew that if we didn’t win this item, it would never be seen in public again.  Furious bidding continued until the end of the auction.  In the end, we were triumphant, and the badge belonged to us.

The next few days were a flurry of activity.  The badge shipped from New York City to Meadowbrook Hall, in Rochester, Michigan.  Barry Cogan volunteered to represent the Dodge Brothers Club and presented the badge to Madelyn at Meadowbrook Hall.  The badge will be on display there.

Thanks to Harry Reding for his initial find and prodding us to action, Madelyn Rzadko for bidding, and Barry Cogan for doing the leg work.  This Dodge Brothers artifact has been saved for future generations and is part of our club’s legacy. 

Happy motoring,

Mark Ounan

Dodge Brothers Club President