1949 Arthritis Special
In 1948, a Houston, Texas car dealer by the name of R. J. ‘Dick’ Jackson was an avid golfer. He was not only a member of River Oaks Country Club (their old golf course is the oldest in Texas), his home was off one of the holes. Dick also had a severe case of Arthritis, and found it difficult to walk the course.
Another Member of the club was Preston Moore, who is the first cousin of former Secretary of State James Baker. Preston rode a Cushman Scooter and that gave Jackson an idea. Jackson asked Moore where he bought the scooter, and he told him Watson Cushman on Louisiana St.
Jackson went to Watson Cushman, bought a 1949 Model 60, took it to his dealership and modified it with a front bench to carry three (some sources say four, but they’d better be skinny) golfers and four sets of clubs behind them. There is also a holder for a patio umbrella to shade the driver and golfers. He named it the “Arthritis Special” and patented the design. River Oaks gave him special permission to use it because of his medical condition. Shortly after he received permission to use the “Motorized Golf Buggy”, a few other members also wanted permission to use one. Jackson sold the patent to Watson, his company made a few for the other members.
In time, River Oaks’ members complained of the engine noise, kick starting noise, engine smoking, the dust kicked up by the motorized golf buggies – and they were banned from the club. It would be a few more years before motorized golf carts would be sold in design more similar to today (albeit two rear drive wheels and one front steering wheel – often steered by a tiller), most using a Cushman motor.
I bought this 1949 “Arthritis Special” as part if a five Cushman vehicle lot, from an 85-year-old collector, who is liquidating due to his declining health. He claims that serial number 1111 is the first made by Watson. I know of only three other survivors. A yellow one in Canada, a green one in a private collection, and a blue one on displayed at a Top Rated golf club.
Mine is 100% complete, but I’ve not yet had a chance to work on restoring it. It will be many months before I can get to it. Until I do start the restoration, I’m offering this rare piece of history for $10,000. I understand that it will take a special golf fan, or another top country club to be interested, but I thought I’d throw it out there in case. If not sold by the time I can get to it, I’ll take off the market until the restoration has been completed. I have no title to the Golf Buggy – the seller claiming it wasn’t titled because it was never Street legal. It is to be sold on a Bill of Sale.