CENTRAL AMERICA THROUGH A WINDSHIELD, 1930

CENTRAL AMERICA THROUGH A WINDSHIELD, 1930
by Arthur Lyon and Joe Lyon Jr.; as told by Arthur Lyon Preface by Larry Lyon Introduction by Sally Denton George F. Thompson Publishing Fall 2017

A remarkably engaging tour de force, this is the tale of two brothers who drove a 1929 Model A Ford Roadster 4962 miles from New York City to Managua, Nicaragua, in 26 days in 1930, during the height of the Great Depression. The June 2, 1930, edition of the Nevada State Journal proclaimed the Winnemucca natives “the first to drive from U.S. to Central America.”

This lively account of their odyssey is picaresque, epic, and charming by turns. The story harkens back to a time when life was simpler and the world was a more trusting place.  It is nothing short of amazing the generosity and kindness these young men, both in their twenties and just out of college, encountered almost without exception in every village and city they visited. It is hard to imagine someone making a trip like that today without dire mishap.

These intrepid young men exhibit a Hemingway-esque sense of adventure and bravado, and good old Yankee ingenuity in responding to the various people and situations they encounter along the way. Their off-the-cuff, yet pithy observations on then-current events and personalities, from the Depression to Nicaragua’s General Sandino, are priceless.

The intrepid roadster does break down on occasion and they spend much of the time figuring out how to jerry-rig it to glide along the railroads of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, until it finally meets its match in the form of an oncoming train in the jungle not far from Managua, which they end up entering on a flat car.

Now both deceased, Arthur and Joe Lyons were brothers born in 1904, and 1909, respectively, who lived into their eighties. After their epic journey, their next major project was the founding and operation of the Boise-Winnemucca Stages bus line, which provided an important link over a short route to California for military personnel during World War II.  Arthur later moved to the Four Corners area and invested in oil and uranium along with his brother. Joe was an engineer who designed and supervised the construction of a pilot model of a tank retriever, which would be the Army’s largest land vehicle in use during World War II.

Larry Lyon, a nephew of the brothers, is a psychologist in private practice in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Sally Denton is an investigative reporter and bestselling author of eight books, the most recent of which, THE PROFITEERS: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World (Simon & Schuster 2016), won the prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Award for Best Investigative Book of 2017.