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Albert Behnke’s Cadillacs

albert behnke cadillac

My grandfather, Albert Behnke, loved a lot of things: his family, his friends, his plants and his company. And, like a lot of men, he had a life-long love affair with cars. For him, it was the Cadillac. He worked hard, so every few years he would order a new Cadillac. He was able to get his first Cadillac (seen above) in 1955. My Uncle Albert recalls that back in those days, the Cadillac was the top symbol of success in the USA; the ultimate luxury car; the best made car. For a German immigrant who started with nothing, this was a big deal for him.

Albert also told me: “They always bought the Cadillacs at some place in Montgomery County near Silver Spring.  Dad’s sales person was usually Jim Coleman who now has various car businesses.  Buying the car was always a big deal.  I don’t remember much discussion on how it was physically shaped – the fins etc.  So the main thing was the color.  Once it arrive, dad would go over it with fine tooth comb.  The slightest defect had to be fixed.  Probably drove the Cadillac place crazy.  But in all the giant vacations out west USA,  it never broke down totally.  He would also have his Cadillac shipped back to Germany when he would go to visit.”

I have so many photos my grandmother, Rose Behnke, took of different cars and trucks we had over the years, but something about this one made me want to share it with you.  I wish we still had this beauty.  I always remember riding in the different Cadillac’s but never in something that looked this cool!  Our good friend, Mr. Steinle, is the man in the suit and more than likely, the other two men were employees at the nursery.

Albert Behnke built the garage in the photo on the property for his pride and joy.  And today it is still standing. Years after he stopped using it for his cars, it became a storage building for food for the swans and ducks along with everything my grandmother just could not throw away. Later, it became the Woody Plant Department’s office. We even for a time stored fertilizer in there. Now, it is home to Ducky Hong’s Bonsai Classroom where you can learn all about growing bonsai.

by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke Nurseries

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Stephanie, I do love to read your posts. Great family history and so insightful. Oddly, just yesterday I was talking to my nephew about my father’s last vehicles.

    1 – Harley Davidson Hog, 1 – little Red pickup, And 1 huge luxurious car – a Cadillac he bought off your grandparents. We called it “the tank.” Could pile a lot of people in there. Could plow through snowdrifts. I became their driver when they were their last days. Parallel parking became a challenge for my dad by that time.

    My father would always call it “Behnke’s car.” “We’ll go to visit in the Behnke’s car.” I am trying to remember when he bought it, but he had it for years. You know my parents did alot of road trips also. My mother was a ‘rock hound’ herself. She didn’t like driving ‘The Behnke’ – not like her pickup, she was short and couldn’t see out the back – BUT – The Behnke had a lot of room and load capacity for all the big rocks they brought back from wherever.

    They didn’t build a fireplace like your grandparents, but had all over the place, house, porch, barn, wagon shed. so, carefully marked with a piece of paper and ink – where each came from. When I cleared out the farm – so few were legible, and paper disintegrated. But, 2 schools and many family members have Grandma’s rocks – like I do myself. All because The Behnke brought them home.

    Sidenote – when they flew to places, my mother ditched whatever in her suitcase and large pocketbook for rocks. Before the TSA. But, my father said one time it was cheaper to drive to Arizona then to pay the air freight on my mother’s rocks. Therefore – drive “The Behnke” in comfort. Albert and Rose – you come from good people.


    Ethel “Pepper” Hoffmeister Scotto. Tom’s youngest daughter.

    Thank you.

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