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Enthusiast of the Month - Dale Lake

Gael Boardman [ May 2003 ]

Mr. Buick, before Bob Jones saw the light and stopped restoring Model T Fords, was Dale Lake. Dale lived in the house he was born in on a rural road in Ripton. I suspect Pev Peake got him involved formally with the “old car people” but Dale’s interest had always been there.

Dale gets this month’s “BIG E” award, again, after his death. Many of us remember Dale, as does Bill Billado in the following recollection…

“Dale Lake had collected a whole lot of cars and parts and it was Dale that came up with what I needed to put my 1935 Buick 69-C back on the road. This car gained its collector car status at Dale’s in the mid-fifties and eventually found its way to St. Albans in the hands of two other early icons: Gael Boardman and Lanny McHall.
Dale provided the parts and also teased me with his extensive collection of “old iron”, none of which was for sale at that time.

As time passed, things changed in Dale’s remote neighborhood. Folks from “down-country” started buying up parcels of the beautiful acreage and when in sufficient numbers, they decided that they were not impressed with Mr. Lake’s hobby interests, so the battle began! As you can surmise, Dale was not the victor in this legal scrap.

It was at a VAE Meet at the Lincoln Inn where Dale made a tearful plea for the membership to “come and get ‘em” before the crusher deadline arrived. Well, that summer consisted of a season-long VAE hallmark event. Every single weekend, in good weather and bad, the gang was there, competing and negotiating for “who got what”. Among the regulars that I can recall were Tom Beebe, Larry Johnson, Doug Kelly, Roy Martin, Kip Matthews, Tom McHugh, Rod Rice, Gardiner Spencer, Ray Unsworth, Al Ward, Ed Welch, Clark Wright and myself. A lot of man hours were invested, but we got the job done and many treasures were spared the axe.

Anyone who visited Dale’s old iron mecca understood that it was an all day event. He had many a yarn to spin and plenty of sage advice on how to keep our cars in tip-top condition. On one such visit Dale admonished that if one ever had occasion to do a motor job on an Isotta Fraschini, one should seriously consider flipping the car onto its roof somehow, because that would afford the easiest access to the “innards”. He swore he’d done it from the bottom up and it worked real slick.

Although Dale was cordial to all who came to see him, he would always step outside as you approached, never allowing anyone into the house where he lived with his very elderly mother. You can imagine our surprise when during one of the last visits to Ripton, Dale invited our small group of “regulars” into his home. We all looked at each other with expressions of amazement and disbelief… We had finally arrived.“

Dale was Vice President and VAE President in 1959. He made almost all the meets in his only transportation, “an old car”. His “Well, you know…” preceded some of the most interesting and entertaining automobile comments I ever heard. He was a great guy and a 14-carat Enthusiast.

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