North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

December 27, 2013

Gardendale author releases new book

By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News

GARDENDALE — A well-known local author has released another book, bringing his total written volumes to more than a dozen.

JD Weeks of Gardendale was signing copies of “Premocar: Made in Birmingham” on Dec. 18 at the Gardendale-Martha Moore Public Library.

Sitting beside him was his granddaughter, Beth Shelnutt, who was signing copies of her book, “A Life Between Light and Darkness.”

“Premocar” tells the story of an automobile called the Premocar, which was first named the Preston after founder Preston Orr. The car was made from 1917 to 1923 and was manufactured on Vanderbilt Road in Birmingham, across from what was then Vanderbilt Furnace.

Weeks first heard of the Premocar more than 50 years ago, but his research at that time led nowhere. He resumed his investigation into the story of the car and the company about six years ago.

Much of his research was done at the Birmingham Public Library and included, among many other sources, a viewing of every edition of the Birmingham News from 1917 to 1924 on microfilm.

He also got information from other newspapers from 34 states.

“I picked up all kinds of interesting tidbits that I included in the book,” he said. The volume contains much history and information that was relevant to the Birmingham area at the time.

“Premocar” corrects history in some instances where Weeks found mistakes in old magazine and newspaper articles; the mistakes were then repeated in numerous other sources.

“A lot of information out there wasn’t true, but it gets a life of its own,” he said.

Weeks said he has always liked local history and he is a collector. He saved the first edition of the North Jefferson News, the North Jefferson Vision, Southern Living and other publications. He also has most Phillips High School yearbooks from 1911, when it was called Birmingham High School, Central High School and then Phillips High School. Weeks graduated from there in 1955.

Weeks is not finished writing; he is now diving into other projects.

“I’m interested in anything old in Birmingham,” he said with a laugh.

“Premocar: Made in Birmingham” is available at, at and