Detailed instructions for assembling the Farmall Cub
In the early 1950s, Bobby Pusch of Issaquah, Minn., wrote a letter to Reuhl Products, Inc., of Madison Wis.: 'I have just received your Massey-Harris (toy) row crop tractor. I must congratulate your company on the making of the best 44 on the market. However, you can understand me when I say I may have a problem. My rear wheel broke while plowing my left, and most important, field. As the time for spring plowing is fast growing to a close, I would appreciate an extra special rush order on this wheel.'
This letter reflects what Reuhl farm toys were all about: realistic, of high quality -and repairable. Thus, manufacturing Reuhl toys proved a double-edged sword: two of the qualities that endeared them to a generation of youngsters - quality and parts service - became their undoing.
Reuhl Products began in the 1930s in the mind of Andy Reul of Madison, who added an 'h' to the company name as a pronounciation aid - ('roul').
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1934, he landed a non-descript job with the Lew Morrisson Fly Company - apparently any job was better than no job with the Great Depression in full swing. And as Nick Russo and Greg Stanmar write in the Introduction to A Dream Comes True, by Allan Hoover, '... (Reul) had a history of being unhappy where his life was heading.'
Next, Reul worked with the Wisconsin Beverage Tax Division, and then he took over his father's implement business in Helenville, Wis. 'The company prospered,' Russo and Stanmar write, 'but this too was not where Reul wanted to make his mark in life. He finally talked his doubtful wife into going to Madison. Once there he began building toy boats in his basement, testing them in the bathtub.'
This turned out to be something he really enjoyed, and he reasoned that airplane hobbyists would welcome a second use for their expensive flying model airplane engines, which until then could only be used in flying.
'(Reul's) basement and bathroom experiments,' write Russo and Stanmar, 'were aimed at developing a quality boat in which the airplane engines could be used, giving two uses for the tiny piston machines.'
So Reuhl Products, Inc. was officially formed, probably in 1940, although the year is undocumented.
The company's first toy, the 'D' Class Bakelite Hydroplane, would exhibit many of the traits that made the company successful: realism, quality, and kits of many parts to be set together (and taken apart) by the buyers, for fun or to replace parts. As the information on the Hydroplane says, 'One of the remarkable features of this kit is the revolutionary method of assembly. ... Detailed step by step instructions eliminate guesswork.'
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