Did two Gaylord men invent the windshield defroster?

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In September 1931, a pair of Gaylord men were granted a patent on a windshield “heater.” Could that have been the forerunner to the defroster in today’s cars and trucks?

An image of the original 1931 patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (uspto.gov).A news item in the September 4, 1931 Gaylord Hub reported this description of the apparatus for which the patent was issued.

“A novel device in the nature of a heated air blower constructed to deliver a current of heated air against the windshield so as to prevent the collection of frost, snow and vapor.”

Obtaining the patent were the late George Schillo and Gust Plaman. Both men had backgrounds in auto sales and repair in Gaylord. A Minneapolis firm, operating as Windshield Heater Co., was engaged to manufacture and market the device. Schillo and Plaman later announced “marked success” in their business venture.

Plaman’s widow Ethel, a Gaylord resident, told The Hub that neither her husband nor Schillo ever enjoyed any financial reward for their patent or their work.

With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 Schillo became the manager of the Gaylord Municipal Liquor Store. Plaman obtained a Grain Belt Beer distributorship which he operated until the late 1940s.

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